As a Marketing Manager with ADP’s corporate marketing department, I have been assigned to lead various product-specific marketing initiatives supporting a diversified group of business segments. Among these tasks, none was more important to the strategic direction of the business than leading the development of ADP’s web site adp.com.
ADP, a leading $5 billion technology company with over 425,000 clients worldwide, lacked a consistent or aggressive Internet strategy. Instead, each business unit or division was driving its own website strategy and execution. More often than not, the result was a fragmented message: a cluttered, company-centric website that failed to effectively communicate our broad range of products and services.
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Despite its market leadership, ADP was meeting neither the expectations of users nor the needs of clients. The company was also missing a tremendous marketing opportunity and risking losing market share because our competition was operating at a far higher level than ours. Realizing that corporate marketing could add value across the company’s business segments, I initiated and led a plan to redesign the website and fully leverage the Internet as a marketing channel to drive branding, product awareness, and sales lead through an integrated and path-driven website.
My role was specific: develop a strategy to improve navigation, communicate the complete range of ADP’s products and services, optimize the flow of traffic to drive leads for the business segments, persuade visitors to purchase ADP products and services online, and create a platform for ADP’s evolving E-business strategy. This initiative was highly challenging because of the complexity of the service offerings, the diversity of the business, and the overwhelming political bureaucracy within the organization.
With a limited budget, limited resources, and limited supervision, I designed a four-phase strategy to re-evaluate the current website and replace it with an active, path-driven site. The strategy included a review of the company’s current navigation and content, a strategic assessment mapping navigation and functionality against corporate and divisional objectives, and the design and architecture of the site. Furthermore, we developed a plan to validate our recommendation with market feedback through client and prospective client focus group interviews.
The first phase encompassed an overall program review, analysis of all current ADP and industry Internet market research, a web traffic audit, and internal interviews with senior management. In familiarizing ourselves with current industry practices, we also reviewed ten competitors and twelve business-to-business leaders’ websites. These 22 sites were carefully evaluated for their relative strengths and weaknesses in the areas of navigation, content, degree of user-centricity, and organization. The second phase included a design exploration.
Working together with a web design firm, we developed five different design options. In phase three, we gathered market feedback through focus group interviews conducted with both clients and prospects based on the current web site and on the new design options. The final phase involved feedback-based revisions to the designs, which will be presented to ADP’s Executive Committee in April and launched in May 2000.
The project was a success. Our recommendation was received with exceedingly positive feedback by both the business units and the Executive Vice President of Marketing. In addition, I have been awarded the honour of presenting the project to the Executive Committee in April. Our long-term goal is to develop an entire adp.com team dedicated to servicing clients and marketing on the Internet.
The management skills I have gained from this project have been invaluable to my career growth. I have learned the value of qualitative and quantitative research, experience in fiscal management and project management, and the importance of matching corporate strategy to Internet strategy.
More importantly, the experience has taught me the value of gathering senior management “buy-in” through the progression of a project. I was able to successfully gain the support of senior management by maintaining open communication and making them part of the process.
Ultimately, this support was critical to the success of the project, which has brought my department and me increased visibility within the company — a development that, in turn, has led to more important projects. Through the success of adp.com, I am now regarded as an effective and respected manager who has the ability to analyze and lead complex projects from concept to completion while gaining the support of senior management.
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