Earlier this month, I wrote a post to help marketers who are in the midst of a website redesign. The post included the five things B2B websites need to include or have in 2015 and beyond.
Writing that post got me thinking about the whole website redesign process and how an organization comes to the realization that they really do need to start over with their site.
In our experience at Imagine, usually the decision to completely redesign a website is driven by the need to enhance the way a company is generating and nurturing leads, and positioning themselves to compete and win in the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). When an organization decides they need to focus on growth, there are many conversations that need to happen. Many of those conversations are directly related to the redesign of their website.
So before you begin your redesign or even think too much about the five musts for your new site, there are four things your team needs to discuss and agree upon. These four things will help further your desire to grow and will make your new site more effective.
1. Business purpose/results
Think about it this way. You’re “hiring” your website to do a job. What is that job description and how will you assess success? What has to happen so that you can give your website an excellent review in a year?
The answer to these questions may vary some from organization to organization but it is for sure, much different than it was the last time you tackled this project.
In the past, websites served as a repository of information. If you sell products, it may have been like an online version of a catalog. Prospects could visit your site to get a phone number or look up a specific service. Features and benefits of your products/services dominated the site. In a nutshell, it was all about you.
Today, your website needs to be more about your prospects and less about you. Its main purpose should be to educate, inform and be helpful to those you are trying to attract. That doesn’t mean you have to eliminate product specifications or an online catalog. You just need to present the information in a different way.
Websites look vastly different in 2015 from a design and content perspective than they did even two years ago. Make sure your organization is clear on the purpose and the focus – your prospects and customers.
2. Buyer personas
For those of you who read this blog on a regular basis, I’m sure you think we sound like a broken record…buyer personas…blah, blah…buyer personas. That said, buyer personas truly deserve all of the attention we give them. Without them, the path to growth is broken at best.
There are still many Most small to mid-size B2B organizations have not defined their buyer personas. They believe they know who their target audience is but they haven’t taken it to the level that defining your buyer personas does.
Before you can design or redesign your website, it is vitally important that your buyer personas are defined and agreed upon by your organization. After all, how can you build a website if you don’t understand who you are building it for?
The likelihood is that the business purpose you determined is going to require that you create a personalization strategy for your website. Without clearly defining personas, it’s impossible to talk about anything but your “solution” – and that’s a commodity.
The buyer persona exercise stretches beyond the sales and marketing teams. Make sure you get input from the top to the bottom of your organization…anyone who has contact with your customers and prospects has something to add. When you’ve gathered all of the information, share it with everyone. Before you move forward with the design of your website, be certain everyone is at least in 90% agreement on the personas.
Remember, buyer personas are a work in progress. They are not a report to be stored on a shelf. Continually review and update them as you learn more about them. If you take a growth driven design approach to your website, adjustments will be easier.
If you need help getting started with your personas, here’s our workbook.
3. Buyer's Journey
Once everyone has agreed on who you’re building your website for, you can move on to defining the journey. Each of your buyer personas takes a different path. It is important to build/design your site to accompany your prospects on their journey.
Every journey begins with the realization that there is a problem that needs to be fixed or a need that is not being met. At Imagine, we call that the epiphany stage. It is followed by awareness, consideration and decision.
As you plan your site, consider the types of content that will be needed to move your personas from one phase to the next. For example, during the epiphany stage, your prospect is just figuring out that they may have a problem. Plan for a wide range of content that addresses a lot issues that are important to them. Blog posts work well.
Of course, you’ll need to address content at every stage. We recommend using a content map to help you track what you have and where it fits. Click here to download our template.
4. Teaching point-of-view
Before you can begin to create content, you need to agree upon your teaching point of view. Remember, the purpose of your site should be to educate and inform. Everything you create should teach the reader something.
As you create content, ask yourself if it lives up to your teaching point of view. What are your buyer personas learning from each piece? What questions does your content answer? Are you being helpful?
B2B websites truly are the hub for all of your go-to-market and growth initiatives. As you design the next version of yours, make sure your entire team is on board and everyone is clear on the role your site plays in your future success.