Any B2B marketer who’s worth their salt knows that their website is a key tool in their armoury. It’s more than ‘just’ an asset. It’s an advert, a library, a megaphone, a receptionist, a handshake, a knowledgeable smile, a map, a directory… you get the picture. So ensuring it continues to engage your market and your audience is critical.
However, any B2B marketer who’s worth their salt also knows their website needs regular TLC interspersed with bouts of serious attention. The thorny topic of budget for a redesign and rebuild has to be raised periodically, if it’s going to keep doing all those wonderful jobs. So how do you win the holder of the purse strings over?
Prepare the way…
Everyone takes a deep breath when their website needs an overhaul. When it’s not just about changing banners anymore, a serious think has to entail. Building your case is critical, therefore, so that you can justify your proposal and illustrate just how much difference a change will make. So what should you consider doing?
Conduct an audit – Interrogate the analytics; understand your site’s current strengths; spot where improvements can be made.
Construct a strong brief – Set out your case with vigour; explain the anticipated return on investment; involve other departments that will benefit in the process.
Set realistic expectations – Don’t overpromise; be open about the headcount you need; show how you’re keeping things lean.
Choose your design partners carefully – Ensure they have the necessary experience in B2B website design and build; don’t be distracted by cheap quotes; make sure they understand your objectives.
Conducting your audit…
If you’re standing still you’re falling behind, as they say. It doesn’t matter how brilliant your site was two years ago, your market will have shifted and your audience’s expectations changed. If you don’t keep up with them you’ll lose credibility and customers. So what are you looking for when you audit your site? You’re looking for signs of these changes happening and the impact they’re having on your business. Signs include:
Web technology changes – Including new regulations and standards, browsers and connectivity, and download speeds.
User experience changes – In the marketplace, including different media and device usage, what your competition are doing, and B2C expertise (B2C often paves the way for ideas that B2B can harness).
Performance metrics changes – Including repeat and new visitor stats, contact/conversions, and SEO positioning.
Out of date content – Including old news articles, old products and services, old messages and calls to action.
Constructing your brief…
When constructing your brief for outside agencies involve other departments right from the start. If your sales or finance departments will be impacted by changes, get their thoughts at this stage. If there are aspects of your current website that cause them operational problems, this is an opportunity to iron them out and improve efficiency.
The key to then constructing a useful brief is to be absolutely clear about your objective(s) for the new website. What does it need to achieve? And what difference will this make to the business? Both these things very important. You may not want to state the return on investment in the brief itself, because it’s likely to be sent out to external partners for quote, but it will definitely form the basis for any discussions you have internally. Your anticipated RoI is fundamentally the reason why you’re proposing a rebuild in the first place.
Setting realistic expectations…
There are various aspects to this. First, there is the RoI. Be realistic, or at least offer a range of anticipated returns. And be prepared to explain how you’ve come to those figures.
However secondly, there is the impact on the organisation during the rebuild process. Do you need headcount to achieve this? Do you need input from other departments, AKA their time?
And then there is also the anticipated timescale for the launch of the new site. Missed deadlines do affect both your personal reputation and also faith in the project itself. Unfortunately that’s just human nature. So think through the project timing and use of resources carefully, and then map these out in advance so you can back your assessment up.
Choosing your design partners carefully…
Be warned. There are many fly-by-nights and start-up designers out there. They will promise the world and they will present you with quotes that grab your attention. But any money spent on a project that doesn’t work for you is, bottom line, a cost to your business. So interview the design partners you’re wanting to quote. Find out what their background, experience, and track record is like. Make sure they have both the technical and market design skills you need.
And once you’ve narrowed down your list, then make sure they are absolutely crystal clear on what you’re trying to achieve… and why. This is as much to their benefit as to yours. Clarity helps to ensure deadlines can be met; because time is money for everyone.
A final word…
A website rebuild and redesign is usually necessary at some point, so it needs to be embraced as a positive change not just a time consuming budget cost. Done well, it WILL make a difference to your business. And in more ways than you’ll anticipate. Yes, there should be a good return on investment; we’ll suggest that’s a given. But it will also boost staff morale, make them proud to be a part of your business, and hopefully get your audience chattering and engaged in a meaningful way over a long period of time.
So if you’re ready to get going, now is the time seek clarity and move on to enjoy the journey. The outcome will reap superb rewards…