Friday, January 6, 2017

"Your website is your employee..."

Kudos to Jim True at last night's Tampa Bay WordPress Meetup. In the middle of his talk about organizing content he said this:

"Your website is your employee..."

He briefly elaborated on that before he went into the evening's topic.

That reminded me about a marketing campaign I created 30 years ago, when I was selling computer hardware. I suggested that a new PC would work for 24 hours a day without vacations or sick days for less than minimum wage.

I had forgotten that campaign until I was cleaning out old files last year. I found notes and materials from that time. However, I didn't connect the PC-as-employee campaign concept to web pages on the Internet until Jim's comment!

Define Employee Expectations

Jim pointed that you would clearly define responsibilities before you hired someone to work with you, and that you should do that with your web site, too.

One task for an entry-level employee would be to answer the phone and answer questions about your location, hours of operation, and maybe to collect their address so you could mail a flyer or two in the future.

It will take more training for that employee to record sales, enter them into your business flow, and answer questions about the status of an order from last week.

And the more complex your product, the more training you will have to provide. Can they suggest add-on products?

You can probably see where I'm going with this: treat your website like your employee. Should it show your hours of operation, give directions, answer frequently-asked-questions, and/or record orders?

Employee Manual

For a small company, the "employee manual" can be a single piece of paper used by the owner to explain expectations.

For a larger company, the Human Resources department will literally create and publish an Employee Manual that covers everything from attire to hours to vacations to training to....

For a small company, the website expectations can be a single piece of paper; a larger company the request for bid can be a small book!

Cost ~ Return on Investment

Once you have a handle on your expectations, you can decide your "virtual" employee's benefit to your business.

A 40-hour work week has 2,080 hours a year.
At 24 hours a day, a year has 8,760 hours.

In Florida, our minimum wage is about $8/hour. That doesn't cover mandated unemployment insurance, mandated workman's compensation insurance, or employee benefits like health insurance, or paid time off like sick days and vacations.

So, let's play with those numbers:

2080 hours at $8/hr = $16K (40-hour work week)
8760 hours at $8/hr = $70K (24 hours a day for a year)

So... if you have minimal expectations of your employee/website, your minimum budget should be in the range of $10K to $16K. Per year. This will basically get your phone answered! But don't be surprised if it rapidly spirals up to the $70k/year range.

But you're still getting a Deal(tm) at those rates if you do it wisely.

This budget is for the whole project:
  • Domain registration & reliable web hosting
  • Planning/Preparation (think "employee manual")
  • Installation/Implementation (think on-the-clock "training")
  • Monitoring & Review
    • Are they there every day?
    • Do we need to change uniforms?
    • Are they earning their keep?
This project management topic is an whole new discussion....

The take-away is this is:

"Look at your web presence as an employee for expectations, performance, and cost."

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