The way all of us are doing business is rapidly changing. It’s not good enough to have a pretty website with a bit of static content and a few forms to gather contact information. Businesses need to define measurable business objectives for their website, track performance and optimize constantly. Let’s see if you can answer some of these important questions: What is the purpose of my website? What actions do I want my website visitors to take? Am I measuring the effectiveness of my website?
The answers to these questions lead us to the theme of this blog – Is your website doing its job?
Before you can tell if your website is effective or needs a revamp, the first thing you need to define is who your website is for.
Who Is Your Website’s Audience?
Different websites are meant for different people, serve different purposes and therefore require a different approach to design and build.
Chances are your business already has target buyer personas or “semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers” as defined by HubSpot. If not, your first step should be to identify and document your target buyers. When building a new website or evaluating the performance of your existing website, you should always do so through the lens of your target customers.
One of the biggest mistakes stakeholders make is assuming they are their target customer, or that they think and behave like their target customer, and they’re building a website for someone like themselves. Your pre-conceived ideas of what a customer wants or needs aren’t always accurate and could mean you are developing a website that won’t succeed in doing its job.
Now that you know who your website is for, it’s time to look at what you want your website to do for your business and target customers. Here are some ideas for your consideration:
B2B Lead Generation
On a website that is designed for the purpose of generating sales leads, the goal is likely for visitors to fill out a contact request form, email you directly, or pick up the phone and call you to learn more. When they first arrive on your homepage or a landing page, it should right away be evident what value your business offers and which pages to visit to learn more or get in touch. You have just a few seconds to make a good first impressions or you risk visitors getting frustrated and bouncing off your site. These days, over 87% of shopping journeys start online according to FastCompany. And that’s increasingly true of B2B buyers as well, especially as millennials take over leadership roles. Having a strong website is essential even for B2B companies these days.
Some businesses require ecommerce capabilities to sell products and services directly to customers. Having the capability to sell to your customers online comes with several advantages including: convenience for your customers, the ability to transact business 24 x 7 x 365, lower operational costs and the ability to reach a broader audience. Ecommerce will only continue to grow as our business landscape rapidly evolves, and that’s true for both B2C and B2B. In fact, B2B ecommerce is projected to be the largest area of ecommerce growth between 2020 and 2025 and two times bigger than B2C in 2020, according to Forbes. While there are many self-serve ecommerce platforms on the market, investing in a custom ecommerce solution for your website, that is designed to meet the unique needs of your business and customers, is sure to generate better results and keep your customers coming back.
There are companies in the enviable position of having a monopoly or few direct competitors, but they still need a solid website. Customer self-service websites can have a direct impact on a company’s productivity while greatly improving efficiency in handling customer queries, giving customers online control over their account, and providing a place to get answers to common questions or perform routine tasks. A customer self-service website can reduce the need for staff to answer calls, boost efficiency and improve customer satisfaction. Like any website, for a customer service site to be effective it needs to be intuitive and user-friendly.
Automated Data Collection
When a company routinely collects or needs to use specific information to conduct business, for example home builders who sign up buyers to various wait lists and mailing lists, having online forms that easily gather and organize that data into a format your staff can use saves time, speeds response time and is, quite simply, more efficient. Typically, these types of websites are integrated with a CRM system that allows you to easily conduct and document client communication and automate email marketing. A responsive website, one that is designed to resize itself depending on the type of device and screen size it’s being viewed on, is the norm with new website development nowadays. And it’s especially important for your website to be responsive when customers will be submitting forms from various devices like laptops, tablets and mobile phones. You want to make the process as easy and frictionless as possible.
Some websites are not transactional at all and simply aim to educate their visitors. For example, news, online directories, blogs, health or some government websites. In this case, structuring your content and navigation in a way that makes it easy for visitors to find what they are looking for is critical. You might be tempted to do something unique and clever in your main navigation. But this is a time to stick to a familiar format and not overcomplicate things or else you might confuse your users. Keep it simple, clear, easy to understand and act on. Well-organized, high-quality, trustworthy content that is search engine optimized (SEO) should be your primary consideration.
Companies that are publicly traded have strict rules to follow regarding shareholder disclosure and the provision of company information. When it comes to informing shareholders or increasing capital, providing high quality, attractive and informative content can assist with investment decision-making and attracting new investors. A shareholder or investor website needs to clearly lay out financial, operational, sustainability information and the latest company news. They often need the capability to host webinars and conference calls, so you need to consider the appropriate event hosting platform integrations or maybe even a CRM.
These are just a few examples of common website objectives. Many businesses may find the job they want their website to do crosses a few categories, so it’s critical to set priorities for your website and then tailor the structure and design to meet those primary goals.
The bottom line is that customers of all stripes—younger, older, B2B buyers—are for the most part beginning their buying journeys online, often with the help of search engines like Google, social media or review sites and directories. And this will only continue to increase as the business landscape evolves. So having a website that stands out amongst the competition, is functionally up-to-par, delivers what visitors are looking for and converts new business, is critical to your business success.
If you need some help assessing your website’s performance, design and functionality or need help with a new website strategy and build, reach out to us for a chat.
Check out the other posts in our website series: