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The Wrong Engagement Level Puts Your Website Project At Serious Risk

By Erin  |   Business Website Tips

Diamond Ring

It’s been a year and a half since I wrote a blog post on thinking about ROI differently. (In a nutshell—I suggest you think about your website or online marketing project’s ROI as being a Return on Your Involvement, not just thinking about it as a Return on Your Financial Investment.)

After watching a few clients over the past year struggle with this concept, I’d like to bring it to the forefront again. Not giving it serious consideration and not being honest with yourself about this one issue alone can cost your business money.

A LOT of money. 

And time.
A LOT of time. 

And it’ll likely create significant frustration for you as the cherry on top.

You don’t want those things, do you?  If you’d prefer to avoid these things, you’ll need to be brutally honest with yourself before you make the decision to invest in an online marketing or website project. 

Unfortunately it’s exceedingly easy to fool yourself in this arena.  We see businesses do it all the time.  I hope you won’t make a similar mistake for your business.

Want to learn from others’ costly mistakes?

Read on.

Getting engaged

When it comes to marriage, you’re either engaged or you’re not.

This is far from the truth when it comes to your website or online marketing project, however.  In a website or online marketing project, there’s an entire spectrum of engagement.

Being under-engaged in a project can spell disaster.

Being over-engaged? Well, that’s nearly as problematic as well.

Under-Engagement

Some clients hire a marketing or web agency to do amazing work, then call it a day. 

These clients hope the agency will take care of everything for them and leave them alone. They don’t want to be bothered with communications, reviewing work, or contributing to the process.  (Because, after all, projects are processes, not things.)

And when these clients do receive requests from their agencies for communications, reviews, or assets—as they inevitably will if they’re working with a competent agency—they often push aside or completely ignore those requests. 

We see it.  All. The. Time.

When clients under-engage, things get messy quickly, the agency can’t deliver promised results, and the client’s money gets wasted.

A current client’s under-engagement

We’re currently working with the owner of an amazing retail business. The owner is kind, wonderful, warm, and sweet, as is her staff.  I and my team love her to pieces.

She’s investing good money with us every month for a continual improvement plan to increase the effectiveness of her website (along with its monthly sales), to increase her social media channels’ engagement, and to drive more traffic to her site.

Unfortunately, there’s an under-engagement problem.

She and her staff have become so busy that they’ve decreased their engagement with us to the point where, several times now, we’ve had to completely stall all project work. 

During many weeks we’ve not received assets, answers, or decisions required to move forward.  We’ve not received final approval for completed work, and our requests for the completion of small, simple tasks required on their end have gone unfulfilled.

The client continues to pay their monthly investment, but we’ve become unable to deliver the results promised as large efforts like this require a basic level of engagement. The client’s money isn’t generating an ROI, because there is so little involvement from them at this point in time. 

Fortunately, we’ve been promised things will turn around and their under-engagement is an anomaly because of exceptional outside circumstances that have been happening, so we’re looking forward to making an impact for the client in the upcoming months.

Er… you’re a bit too engaged

Years ago we worked with a client who engaged with us from the start.  An appropriate amount of engagement. 

Our contact at the company was resourceful, decisive, responsive, and committed to completing the requests we sent to her.

Halfway through the client’s website design and development project however, she left the company and we were connected with a new project manager at the business.

Her actions defined the concept of over-engagement.

We began receiving “check in calls” 2 to 3 times a week. We received emails asking why we’d not replied to previous emails she’d sent us within the previous 2 hours.  We received request after request after request for designs to be altered—5% darker gray here, increasing font size by 10% there, testing out 8 different feature images, then testing out 6 more after that.  You get the picture.

When it came time to work on the homepage’s copy, we went through 14 rounds of revisions.

14.

(Typically we’d end our engagement in a project if things went this far south.  However, in this instance the client agreed to pay well for the scope expansions.)

Needless to say, the amount of money the client ended up investing in their website skyrocketed. In fact it nearly doubled—all because of the over-engagement of their project contact.

On top of it all, the client’s final website was exceptionally less effective than it would have been had the project manager simply exercised a bit of intellectual humility and trust in our expertise, allowed us to guide the project appropriately, and committed to being engaged without being over-engaged.

How to properly commit to an engagement so you get the most bang for your buck

Keep what I’ve shared today in mind. And exercise common sense.

If you’re simply too slammed (or have the potential of being so) to communicate and work together with your web or online marketing agency, be 100% honest with yourself.  Either don’t start your project or be upfront with agencies you speak to before you hire anyone.  If the agency knows you can’t be highly engaged in a project, they may alter their plans, they may let you know they can’t deliver the results you’re hoping for, or they may make alternative suggestions. (Unfortunately, if they’re not a good agency, they may still take on your project and promise great result. Be careful.)

Beware the over-engager. If the person you assign as a project manager/project’s primary point of contact for your company is a perfectionist, is highly anxious, or is the type who agonizes over decisions, beware. Consider a different project manager! These characteristics alone can derail entire projects and end up costing your company a tremendous amount of money, all while increasing the chances you’ll receive a lower quality final product.

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Questions?  Thoughts? Leave a comment; we’d love to hear about your personal experiences with engagement.

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