It’s more critical than ever to have an up-to-date, contemporary website for your B2B enterprise. Prospects are deep into their online research long before they connect with a sales rep, so your site needs to make a great first impression—it’s your digital front door.
Critical as it is, it’s also a major project and it needs to be done right. Thinking about these 6 things before you jump in will help ensure your project goes smoothly.
1. Can you get by with some updates, or do you need a complete overhaul?
If your site is three years old, or older, you’re probably due for a complete redesign. Technology and user expectations are constantly changing and you can’t afford to be behind the times.
Your website should be responsive so it works seamlessly on any device, including your prospects’ smart phones. Today’s B2B decision-makers use mobile devices during all phases of the buying cycle. Recent research reported by Search Engine Land revealed that 49% of B2B researchers use mobile devices to do research at work, and Google reports that number is escalating fast.
Your Content Management System (CMS) may be outdated as well. An older site could be built on a platform that is cumbersome or impossible to update. If your competitors are posting fresh content regularly and easily, they’ll be ranking higher than you in search results.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is another area that is ever-changing and requires regular adjustments to stay current. There are things you can do today to improve your site for search, but to build a truly SEO-friendly site, it should be an integrated part of your website redesign process.
2. What is your long-term vision, and what things are most urgent?
If you know you need a website update, but don’t have the budget to do it all at once, you can tackle it in phases. But don’t jump in and do this piecemeal. It’s critical to have a long-term vision first. Then you can get the framework in place to accommodate the priorities you need today, as well as elements and functionality you know you’ll want to add down the road. Having a long-term plan also enables you to plan and budget for those important future updates more easily.
For example, if your site looks off-brand or outdated, start with a brand refresh and get your value story right. Then you can plan and budget to address big-ticket functionality pieces later. Working with a strategic partner is a great way to sort out what elements of your site can be tweaked right away and what can wait, all in accordance with your business goals.
3. Is your website generating leads?
The days of your website serving solely as a showroom for company information are long over. That’s still an important part of your website’s job, but with all the tools and tactics that are available today, your site has to be a workhorse, too. It’s the hub of ongoing marketing efforts and it should be generating leads that your sales team can use.
You should be serving up fresh content—via a blog or news page—that demonstrates your insights into your prospects’ problems and how your expertise can solve them. You want your content to be found by those B2B researchers who need you. This drives traffic to your site, and to thoughtfully crafted landing pages designed to turn prospects into leads.
A site redesign also offers an opportunity to integrate it with a marketing automation platform or a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. That lets you capture robust information on your site visitors and where they are in the buying journey, and this information gets forwarded to your sales team.
4. Are there ways your website could be used to improve productivity?
Some burdens can be lightened for your fulfillment or call center teams by providing frequently requested information or support tools on your website. Thoughtful navigation should guide users to what they need without them having to call in. This frees up team members to focus on other priorities.
There may also be opportunities to integrate your website with the business systems you use. For example, you could provide real-time updates on product spec sheets, streamline internal communications or access key data bases more easily.
By thinking of your website as a productivity tool, you can develop strategies that will pay off by reducing time spent on manual tasks, and freeing up your team for other work.
5. What outside expertise do you need?
With any major project, it’s important to realistically assess what you can do internally and where you’ll need to call in outside support. A website redesign is no different. There are many skills involved and most companies don’t have them all in house. To knock your project out of the park, you’ll need to leverage expertise from these three areas.
Marketing strategy: Whether internal or external, it’s important that the web team is led by people who understand your strategic business needs and can develop an effective tactical plan to meet them. Your content and structure must support your marketing goals and convey your value proposition in a compelling way that instantly lets visitors know how you differ from your competitors. This means determining all the content and functionality that your site will need and planning for its creation. It also covers user experience, meaning how you will guide users through your site to help them accomplish what they’re trying to do.
Brand strategy: Your website is above all, a marketing and communications tool. Do you have the staff capabilities to make sure the look, feel and messaging of your website reflect your brand accurately? If you don’t yet have a cohesive brand, use your web redesign as an opportunity to establish your brand strategy.
Technology: Even if you can manage the marketing strategy and branding, you’ll still have programming to worry about. Many firms don’t have web developers on staff, nor the bandwidth to manage a web development vendor through such a large-scale endeavor.
6. How many partners do you want to oversee?
Once you answer question 5 above, you’ll need to decide if you want to work with multiple outside partners, or just one. Finding a single seasoned partner who understands all aspects of building quality, high-performance websites can save you from a lot of time and trouble down the road. A redesign is a complex project requiring ample upfront planning, scheduling and lots of ongoing communication. By having one accountable partner, who can handle and oversee the entire project from start to finish, you’ll prevent a lot of headaches so you and your team can focus on other things.