Website Playbook for the Season

Across the country, millions of executives are stressing about their teams' bottom lines. Unfortunately, for many of their enterprises, those energies center on their fantasy football teams, not their brands. 


With football fever affecting both casual and diehard fans, Website Magazine drafted an all-star team of digital players who can directly influence a company's Web success. This Website Playbook for the 2013/14 Season follows a typical fantasy football roster and includes a plan for every virtual position.




Just like Eli Manning, Jay Cutler and Philip Rivers are the leaders and public faces of their football teams, CEOs such as Mark Zuckerberg, Marissa Mayer and Meg Whitman shoulder much of the publicity (good or bad) surrounding their enterprises. Companies of every size have someone in their organizations that serve in the top leadership role. For many, this is the CEO, president and/or founder. In short, when they look good, a business looks credible and one worthy of clients' dollars and business.


One way to establish credibility is by gaining authority. Contributing content, like guest posts, to reputable publications is a surefire way to do so. With bylined articles, CEOs (and the like) can not only grow their personal brands, but also their companies. Business thought leaders should draft an article synopsis (a small brief covering what the CEO or ghost author will write about) and then submit it to media outlets that cater to like-minded audiences.


Companies should start with a small, dream list of publishers because most will require article exclusivity. If no interest is garnered, then move on to the second half of publications that may want to run the material. Once they get the go ahead, companies should ensure that multiple eyes review the content before sending off to an editor.


If the material is published, brands should remember to publicize the article on social media, websites, etc. Guest positing can be a solid plan for making a company's leadership look good, which, in turn, will make a brand look good. 


Running Back


This season, Minnesota Vikings Running Back Adrian Peterson was a lock for fantasy football's top-drafted player because of his 2012 performance (a big reason this editor won her league last year!). This season, it's time to ask yourself who carries the ball in your organization.


Most Web workers should say customer service. Investing a top pick in customer service, like most fantasy owners did with a running back this year, can grow a digital business in measurable and immeasurable ways. With 42 percent of service agents struggling to solve customer issues due to disconnected systems, archaic user interfaces and multiple applications, high-quality customer service in the digital age can be tougher than the Seattle Seahawks defense. 


Connecting the different customer touchpoints is a worthy, yet costly investment. Bridging the gap between customer service agents and social media, however, takes minimal resources, but can yield high returns. Take the @UPSHelp Twitter handle, for example. It's UPS's dedicated customer support account, which manages user expectations to the tee. Every organization should borrow from UPS's social media playbook. Since Twitter users expect near real-time responses from a brand on this network, UPS has managed its customers' expectations by including when the page is staffed. 


What's more, UPS customer support moves conversations off its Twitter account to its email, so its team can obtain the information they need and explore options with the customers. It's a well-accepted notion that it's as high as seven times more costly to attract new customers than it is to retain existing ones, so remember to invest in your ball carriers. 


Wide Receiver


Quarterbacks may be the face of many organizations, but some of the most animated or even controversial players in the league (historically and currently) are wide receivers (think Terrell Owens, Hines Ward, Randy Moss, etc.). Like wide receivers, search engine optimization produces unparalleled brand awareness but isn't without scrutiny. SEO professionals (or SEOs) are as good as their industry awareness levels. They are required to keep abreast with guidelines and best practices. 


Tight End


Talented, but sometimes undervalued, tight ends can be a bright spot in any offense. They can not only be a target in the end zone, but they can also block when needed, paving the way for teammates to make important plays. In the digital world, brand promoters can serve the same purpose. One could say even the loudest critics aren't a match for offensive, steady powerhouses like Nordstrom (whose number one goal is always customer service) or Apple (with its unwavering market strategy to increase brand loyalty). This is why brands need to commit to listening to brand advocates, being where they are and engaging them in relevant ways. This starts with marketers who can earn their companies extra yards by using reputation monitoring tools, as well as creating, marketing and leveraging hashtags appropriately. Hashtags aren't just for consumers, they can help brands cut through the social noise and extend its reach. See how hashtags can mobilize, connect and activate brand advocates.  




There's no two ways about it, kickers are siloed players in their organizations. In training camp, they typically practice away from both the offense and defense teams and are often seen by themselves on the sidelines. They are the loneliest after missing a field goal, but revered when they win the game or hit a 63-yard marvel like David Akers. Every company has siloed players (or departments), which can be detrimental to a website's success. From email marketing and social media initiatives to search engine tactics and distribution plans, there needs to be continual collaboration between departments in order to grow a business. And, what better platform is there than social media to encourage communication? 

Microsoft's Yammer can serve as a private social network for companies looking to connect employees (even kickers) and the projects they are working on. It can also make executives more approachable, which can lead to a rich environment or shared ideas. 


Defense/Special Teams


While cliche, defense wins ball games. Defenses create additional scoring opportunities for their offensive counterparts and can make their opponents wish they never showed up. Designers and developers can have the same impact for a website. They are integral to providing a compelling, reliable and intuitive user experience for any digital property. They need to stay up to date with the emerging trends and best practices to consistently meet and exceed user expectations. Organizations also need to give them the tools and education they need to succeed. Two years is ancient in Web time, but in 2011 Website Magazine published the 50 Top Sites for Web Designers and most have stood the test of time. Additionally, developers should be part of their community, whether by encouraging their participation in open-source projects or by hopping on to a design-based social community.




The digital season promises to be exciting and surprising. Make sure to stay tuned to to see what players come off the bench.