With the increase in remote working – and decrease in physical meetings and networking – many businesses websites have become their only ‘shop window’.
So, how do you start to evaluate or improve the effectiveness of your company’s website, especially if you’re contemplating a new one?
Sarah West, Managing Director of B2B marketing experts Full Mix Marketing, suggest a few aspects to explore to ensure a successful business website.
When evaluating or building a business website, it typically has to fulfil two objectives.
The first is to appeal to your customers, give them the information they desire and encourage them to act. The second is to represent your business in a way which you and your colleagues feel proud of. It is your shop window, after all.
Success comes from achieving both, but result may depend most upon the former.
Most of us have visited a website which is all about the company but difficult to decipher what they deliver. Chances are, you then looked elsewhere.
Be careful not to evaluate or specify a website purely from your own perspective. Try to view it as if you were a busy visitor looking for a particular product or service. Better still, ask an unconnected third-party to give their opinion.
Know your audience
Key to any evaluation is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes.
Our typical client is fictitiously called David. He’s a director, over 50, has a lot of experience in his technical field and identifies with certain brands. Whilst this is not everyone we deal with; this and other key attributes are a benchmark of the key decision-makers we work with.
A good starting point of any website review is to detail your typical customer. Give him or her a name, age, background and identify their needs and preferences.
Write it down and – at every focus point or decision – ask yourself “What would they want?”
When creating website content, it’s reasonable to start at the top of each page and finish at the bottom before moving on to the next page.
However, have you ever read another business’s website like that?
The reality is that most busy business people typically scan read and flick through a website until they find the specific information they need. They may visit just 2 or 3 pages and read only a small proportion of the content.
It is therefore important to make sure your website passes the ‘scanning’ test.
Give someone just a few second to look at a page or two and ask them what impression or message they get.
If it is not clear – or not the impression you want to give – work on using titles, images, breakouts and the page design to ensure the right information stands out.
Explore, but don’t always follow
Take a look at how your competitors have designed their website – particularly those who are more successful. Are there elements you’d like to include in yours?
However, just because they are bigger and have more money to spend on marketing, don’t assume your competitor’s website is better.
Again, put yourself in your customers’ shoes and scan the website for the information they might need or desire. Is that detailed animation or long company biography helping or hindering?
Keep Google happy too
Chances are you are going to rely to some degree on organic (free) traffic to your website from search engines like Google or Bing.
Google can’t evaluate images or clever design. Instead, Google wants to see content (text) which is relevant, well crafted and authoritative.
This can create a dilemma, as scan-reading visitors can be put off by the ‘boxy’ text which Google may appreciate.
The key to satisfying both is to give the information within your website a hierarchy.
Titles, headlines, breakouts, quotes and graphics can draw attention and quickly communicate core information and messages. Technical pages, blogs and resources can provide the detail which both Google, and someone nearer the end of the buying process, value most.
Remember, only around half of all visitors will enter via your homepage and – even in B2B – an increasing percentage will view your website on a mobile device.
Keep it simple
For many B2B companies – particularly those in business services, engineering, technology or innovation – it can be difficult to communicate everything you deliver.
The result can be a complicated website with a confused navigation and mixed messaging.
Avoid talking in clichés. Whilst it’s good to be an ‘enterprising delivery partner for innovative solutions’ this takes a critical seconds for a visitor to decode.
So, start at the basics. Does the webpage clearly communicate what you do? Does it make it clear how you stand out? Does it supply all the information needed or an easy way to find more? Does it make a persuasive argument?
Images, colours and design can be subjective. So, rather than letting them be the focus of your website, ensure it’s your message which shines through.
“Welcome visitors. You’re in the right place for what you need. Let me tell you more…”
The Right Balance?
Successful B2B websites are about balancing the need to quickly communicate the right message with the need to provide reassurance and greater detail. The key is to think like your customer.
More help can be found at www.fullmixmarketing.co.uk/digital-marketing/