Is it Time for a Website Refresh?
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On Message | Marketing & More is a new quarterly editorial department inspired in part by input from The Cannata Report's Dealer Advisory Board that explores key dealer channel marketing topics and trends. "Website Recharge" is the second of four 2018 installments, the first being "Branding Awareness." Researched, sourced and written by The Cannata Report, On Message | Marketing & More is presented by Clover's Amplify Digital Marketing Platform.
As a companion experience to reading this story, we have also included a video, provided by Clover's Amplify Digital Marketing Platform. Simply click on the video player above as prompted to watch.
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More than you probably realize, your website is the first and lasting impression customers have of your business. It is the foundation for attracting new customers and creating new profits. It is the cornerstone of your marketing program and it tells your organization’s unique story.
Sure, you were happy with your website when it launched, but is it a state-of-art representation of your business now? The one constant in the independent dealer network today is change. Does your website reflect how your business has evolved?
With each new technological advancement, changing algorithm, and trending design concept, the lifespan of a website is shrinking. Experts place it in the 2-4-year range.
In addition to changing technologies and trends, consider the changing persona of your customer. Buyer 2.0 of 5 or 6 years ago has evolved and is researching you and your competitors online and 70% through the decision-making process long before engaging with sales reps according to the 2017 Buyer’s Survey Report. And yes, millennials are making B2B business decisions.
New customers mean new behaviors. Today, user experience (UX), the ease at which a visitor uses your site, is as essential as SEO. If a user can’t easily engage with your website and get the results he or she needs, he or she is clicking over to your competition.
According to Debbie Levitt, principal of Ptype, a full service UX and product design agency in San Francisco, changing human behaviors such as shortened attention spans are influencing website design. Changing human perceptions also impact today’s online experience.
“People’s standards are getting stricter and stricter,” she said. “They are less amazed by websites. They now expect them to be easy, they expect search results to read their minds.”
Levitt reviews a site’s UX through content analysis and by conducting detailed interviews with her clients and their past, present, and current customers to create customized optimization reports. Taking it a step further, she will engage a third-party service that allows her to watch videos of customers using a website to further document and analyze user experience.
Tom Conlon, owner of North Street, a creative services boutique agency in New York City, also implements an extensive pre-design discovery phase with his clients that includes identifying pain points – both on the front and back end – and creating user personas to determine what elements of a website need improvement. According to Conlon, the user personas provide insight into the tools, services and products that help a client’s customers succeed, critical intelligence that can be an anchor for content.
With creating a successful UX as a guiding principle, consider the following to determine if your website needs a revamp:
- Mobile – A site must be responsive and reorient for screen size. “Google now prioritizes responsive sites in its mobile search results, so your old site is actually hurting you if it isn’t responsive,” said Conlon. He also advises that if your site is built on Flash it will be invisible on mobile.
- SEO – Traffic is worthless if users leave because they can’t navigate your site. “Search engine data should be used to understand how users engage with your site,” observed Conlon. “We should only start to think about keywords and basic on-page optimization once we have this solid foundation in place. Nailing your keyword strategy is so much easier once you have a solid structure without internal duplication.”
- Priority of Information – Key messages should be ranked and presented in order of importance with appropriate calls to action.
- Copy – Keep it short and simple.
- Navigation Menus – “It used to be hip to have a dropdown menu that opened up into multiple sub dropdown menus linking to every conceivable page on your site, but what that does is force the user to basically choose their own adventure to navigate your site,” said Conlon. A website must guide its users.
- Conversion – Each page should have a clear (CTA) and users should easily understand what steps you’re asking them to take. “Too many websites bury the #1 thing they want people to do. Don’t get distracted with marketing messages – the goal is warm leads!” advised Levitt.
- Branding – Again, don’t get distracted with marketing messages. Levitt warns against crowding homepages with every possible marketing message a company wants to convey.
- Red Flags – Popular components from the early days of the Internet like image carousels, disjointed stock art on homepages and three-column layouts that mimic newspapers and magazines have aged out for business websites.
- Green Lights – Think short, compelling videos, keyword-rich blogs, high-quality photography, testimonials and big call-to-action buttons.
“Instant, granular user behavior data has made web design focused on conversion more than anything else,” said Conlon. “On the one hand, it can be a little disheartening as a visual person to design to the data. On the other hand, putting as few barriers as possible between the user and what they ultimately want is great design.”
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