23rd October 2020 •
You don’t need us to tell you how important your website is for your brand. And the changing way the world is doing business today means it needs to work even harder for your company than ever before.
Until recently, in-person interactions had been considered the most valuable steps in the customer buying journey for the majority of B2B businesses, but right now industry events, face-to-face prospect meetings, live product demos and customer site visits are all on hold – and the chances are they will never quite be the same again. Businesses that are able to reimagine their customer journeys and adapt their online presence to create deeper, more holistic and more engaging experiences will see the benefit on the bottom line.
We asked some of our most experienced strategists and technical experts for their top tips to help you make your website work even harder for your business.
We definitely recommend reviewing and evolving your website regularly, but treating your website as a one-off or standalone project is never the best starting point.
Richie Banyard, our Digital Project Director suggests, “Think of your website as a living organism that touches every part of your business, industry landscape and the wider world. Your website needs to be current, it needs to reflect the latest changes in your business strategy, leverage the right technology, and most importantly meet the needs of your audience today.”
Remember, your website is rarely the first step in your visitors’ journeys. Whether it’s search, social, advertising or elsewhere, they will be arriving from somewhere and they will have questions they are trying to answer.
And don’t forget a great website is about much more than marketing. It’ll work for different parts of your business. By creating a website that serves marketing, sales and customer service teams, you can create a truly joined-up customer experience.
The moment someone lands on your website, you’ve got a matter of seconds to capture their attention and persuade them to keep scrolling. Given that we’re now looking to websites to fulfil the role of many face-to-face interactions, it’s more important than ever to connect on an emotional level with your visitors.
Torpedo’s Strategy Director, Ben Hodge believes that effective storytelling and brand expression has a big role to play. He says, “Every single interaction, from a tiny alert message or your call to action buttons, through to hero video content on your homepage is an opportunity to reinforce your brand personality and build a relationship with your customers.”
Jeremy Onion, Technical Director, agrees. He’s noticed an increase in organisations using their websites to give customers a more human, personal experience. This can be anything from chatbots to 360° video tours or virtual showroom experiences.
For Julie Fernandes, Torpedo’s UX Team Leader, it’s clear that many organisations approach their websites from an internal perspective- “I often see sites that are created based on the goals of the business,” she says, “But that doesn’t always align with what the visitors are trying to achieve. If you don’t help your visitors to meet their goals, they will go elsewhere. It’s all about striking the right balance and understanding the relationship between your goals and your customers’ goals.”
The importance of understanding your visitors is a point that Ben echoes. “Customers need to know that you understand them before they’re ready to be sold to. Without feeling that sense of alignment, they simply won’t be receptive to your solutions.” He says, “understanding what your customers want and need is a crucial first step if you’re going to successfully engage with them in a meaningful way.”
It’s always worth recapping on what you already know about your audiences.
Often, marketing teams have insights in the form of personas, customer survey responses or audience research. If you don’t have the information to hand, try turning to other parts of your business, especially sales and customer service teams, to see what they can tell you. They’re likely to be able to share recent customer feedback and other data to provide an up-to-date snapshot.
Your website analytics is one of your biggest sources of customer data. It should be one of your first ports of call when you’re embarking on a new web project or making changes to your existing website.
Take the time to implement tracking on your site and analyse the data you already have using a tool such as Google Analytics. Auditing your site in this way and paying attention to vital statistics like number of visits, time on page and bounce rate for each page gives you a very clear indication of what’s working for your current users, and what’s falling short.
If you have access to SEO experts, or have the time to explore some of the free SEO tools that are out there, the start of a new website project is the ideal time to invest in some thorough keyword research and an SEO strategy. Julie says that SEO performance is one of the most common reasons customers want to make changes to their website down the line, so it pays to think about it properly at the start, “Often SEO isn’t really considered at the beginning, so if you’re planning a new website, it should be on your list of key requirements from go-live.”
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, begin with the end in mind. Whether it’s an update or a brand-new website, make sure everyone is clear on what the business objectives are. Are you trying to establish a new brand? Launch a new product? Sell straight off the page? Connect customers with resellers? Or just capture data?
According to Technical Director, Jeremy Onion, “A website is a tool, the technology we use is secondary. You need to know what you want to achieve, first- and then we can help you with the technology and the expertise to achieve it.”