Have you ever heard of web designers using a data-driven approach to onboard web design clients? It’s not a new idea. People in other industries do this all the time. It’s just not very common in the web design world. It is a little bit complicated, but I think you’re going to find it fascinating. If you’ve ever wanted to stand out and give people a reason to work with you without lowering your rates, I highly recommend giving this a try.
There are three main steps in the process. Let’s take a quick look at all three steps as well as a few surprising benefits to this approach.
Step 1: Establish The Purpose
I do not target clients that are looking for websites. I work with clients that want business results. Therefore the purpose of the project is NOT to deliver a website that makes the client feel happy. The purpose is to build a lead acquisition funnel that gets the client more customers.
Before I accept the project, the client and I talk about the objective. It is a story-driven conversation, not a rundown of line-item services in a proposal. I like to demonstrate (usually with a slide presentation) the customer journey that we'll be developing to acquire new customers. In tech terms, I'm illustrating their funnel and why it works.
In a nutshell, I'm walking them through the Traffic >> Leads >> Clients story.
I'm answering these three high-level questions:
- Where is the traffic going to come from?
- How are we going to pull leads from the anonymous traffic?
- How do we nurture the leads into paying customers?
The goal of this step is to make it clear that the primary purpose of this relationship is results.
Step 2: Set Target Metrics
Now that we’re clear on the purpose and how the system works, we set some target metrics to aim for with each step of their funnel. Ideally, I’ll have access to the client’s website analytics so I can see what their current conversion rates are. If I don’t have access to their actual data, I use these values as my “gold standard” target metrics.
Once the funnel is optimized, we’re aiming for numbers like these:
- Opt-in rate for lead magnet: 15% – 20%
- Conversion rate from lead to customer: 5% – 10%
- Average client value over 12 months: $1,000+
Obviously, I'll adjust these numbers based on the client's industry and their current website's performance (if they have one). But these are roughly the numbers I look for when working with local professional service businesses.
From these three primary target metrics, we can calculate how much traffic we need in order to hit the client's revenue goals.
For example, if I can hit the high end of these gold standard numbers, that means:
- 1 in 5 visitors joins the mailing list
- 1 in 10 leads on the list becomes a new client
- Each client is worth $1,000 in annual revenue
That means for every 100 visitors, 20 people opt-in and join their nurturing sequence. For every 20 people in the nurturing sequence, the client gets two new customers. Granted, it's hard to hit these numbers. But even if you only get halfway there, the client is still getting one new customer from every 100 visitors.
We can use the $1,000 average customer value to figure out what we can afford to spend to generate the traffic. Suppose we want a 4x return on investment (ROI). We can spend $250 ($1,000/4) to generate 100 visitors. That means we can pay about $2.50 per click.
See how knowing these basic numbers can reveal incredibly important information? This shows the client that you know what you're doing and underscores the purpose we established back in step one.
Step 3: The Optimization Process
The third step is to quickly show the client that every component of the website is part of the process. For example, the homepage – or any landing page on the site – is going to have a specific structure with the following categories/sections of content.
- Audience qualification copy
- Summary of their offer (what they are selling)
- Who the people are at the business (establishing authority)
- Social proof (building trust)
- Primary call to action (book a call/buy a product)
- Secondary call to action (email opt-in)
We'll A/B test all of this stuff to maximize the performance of the page. The optimization process, however, must be done systematically so you can keep track of what's actually going on.
Changes are made based on the data, NOT your (or your client's) feelings.
Charge More, Not Less
I’m frequently asked what web designers can do to stand out and show value without lowering your price. Testimonials, case studies, and your portfolio can help. But even if you don’t have any of those things, a data-driven approach like this is the clearest way I know of to demonstrate the value you’re bringing to the table. Now you can value-price your work as a percentage of the value (which the client wants as high as possible) as opposed to a “good price” (which the client wants as low as possible.
You’ll Certainly Be Remembered
If you’re competing for a client against other web designers, this approach will set you apart like a shooting star! It is a major difference because you’re focusing on making sure the client actually gets what they really want. While everyone else is talking about how many pages they want and the client’s favorite colors, you’re talking about driving revenue, and you’re using actual data to underscore your points.
When everyone else your competing against is nagging the client about colors, fonts, and page speed, you’re going to be remembered as the one who talks about what your client actually cares about. You’ll be remembered. Guaranteed.
Handling Website Access Requests
After going through the three steps above, I've never had a client ask for website access to edit their website. Occasionally, a client might request access to the website for other reasons like:
- They don't want to be locked out of their site if the relationship ends.
- They want access to feel more secure about their investment.
In that case, I'm certainly willing to create a user account for them. I'm not trying to restrict their ownership of the website in any way. I'm just crystal clear that if they make changes to the website, it's going to break the optimization process, and they will be sabotaging their own results.
Handling Change Requests
Change requests are like access requests in that they can break the optimization process. Some change requests are important to make immediately. Good change requests are things like:
- Fixing factual errors in the website copy
- Product price is wrong
- Hours of operation need to change
- Contact information updates
- No longer offering a product/service
- Remove/Add employee pictures
Anything like that, I'll jump on immediately.
If the client just wants to make changes to the site because they simply feel like it, then I'll refer them back to the process we talked about before we began the project. We make changes based on data, not feelings.
Solution First Agency Framework
This process is only possible with a Solution First Agency framework for your business. There needs to be a repeatable and tested solution so you know what your target metrics are. If your business model is based on selling ad-hoc services on a price-per-hour basis, it virtually impossible to build a profitable business. You'll just be stuck freelancing.
When you're ready to start applying this to your business, schedule a call with me. On average, our Solution First Agency model is 3x more profitable than the old-school approach of selling websites. I’ll help you define your offer, build out your lead pipeline, and land clients.
The call is totally free. We’ll go over the details of how you can use data-driven onboarding for your clients. If you want my help implementing this, we can talk about that too and see if it is a good fit for both of us. If not, that’s totally fine too. Either way, I’m inviting you to tap into over two decades of my experience to fast-track your success. This call will be one of the best hours you’ve ever spent on your business.