Some B2B websites are treasure troves of great content just stacked to the ceiling. And the librarians need not implore visitors to whisper… because there are so few visitors anyway.
What does it take to get your website humming like a cocktail party?
The Five Jobs
To get it working for you, you need to understand the five jobs your website needs to perform for your visitors:
- Potential Solutions: Prospects need help learning about or solving a problem so they know what kinds of solutions might be available for their issue.
- Potential Fit: Prospects need to know what solutions might be appropriate for their particular situation
- Priority options: Prospects must identify the best competing solutions in a sea of sound-alike claims
- Proof: Prospects must have evidence to present a strong case internally for their recommended solution and outside vendor.
- Partnership: Prospects considering significant B2B investments don’t just buy a product; they seek a long-term company relationship.
Get Your Website on the Job!
With that framework, today we get to the fun action part – the 12-step program to quickly engage your internal stakeholders to identify and commit to making improvements in your website. The best part is that the whole process is anchored in helping your prospects make progress on their consideration journeys in a way that favors their including you in it. Besides, it’s kind of fun. But you can tell your team it’s part of your effort to “introduce gamification to the website development process”. It sounds so impressive.
- Gather: Collect a group of your colleagues (and whatever beverages help them think and share freely) for a 2-hour experience. There should be at least as many participants as you have personas. They should come from a variety of departments so you get a variety of perspectives and don’t appear to exclude any customer-facing internal group. This is important.
- Personas: Each selects one of the personas your website needs to win (Feel free to email me if you need help with this).
- Stages: Identify top 1-2 journey stage(s) when your persona tends to use vendor websites (Feel free to email me on this too if you need help).
- Visit: your #1 competitor’s website as your chosen persona in the stage when this persona tends to check vendor websites. Adopt their issue and try out the website as a way to gain help with it.
- Register: sign up for their newsletter with a personal address. See what kind of response, if any, you get. See what they are sharing with their prospects.
- Rate: Give the website ratings on how well it performs each of its 5 jobs. Use a simple 5-point scale and total points.
- Critique: Note the ways that website does or does not help you accomplish your goals
- Repeat: do the same for your #2 competitor website. Stay in character.
- Return: Now that you have assessed two other sites as resources, visit YOUR website. Be sure to stay in your persona and not slip into a defensive “insider” mode. Act as though you had never been to your own site.
- Compare: Now assess all three websites as potential resources for your persona. Identify the competitive strengths that you can apply to your website as well as your weaknesses you want to change. Focus on the top 3-5 changes.
- Plan: Create an achievable, simple implementation plan for the key changes. Benchmark the metrics that will reflect your improvements.
- Repeat: Great job! But keeping your website competitive is not a one-time adjustment. Plan to repeat every 6 months so you always stay competitive, aware of your competition, and thinking like your prospects. Keep coming back – it works if you work it!
So there it is! A simple, fast, and effective to focus your improvement efforts and make some progress now! You know, one day at a time.
What we’re not saying
What’s not to like? There is one challenge (of course). You may have noticed that steps #2 and 3 assume you know your personas and their journeys. But many B2B marketers do not. Or worse, they assume they do, but they don’t really – because they have never done real persona research… you know, talking with actual prospects about why they are not (yet) customers and how they made vendor decisions.
Persona research is NOT a two-hour project, but it is surprisingly inexpensive and timely… and remarkably powerful. (Contact me for guidelines). If you have NO time or money, then start with your best guesses. But recognize that 99% of the time this contains important errors and costly blind spots if you don’t supplement it with real conversations. (Just ask your spouse about projections vs. conversation). But first things first. It’s about progress, not perfection.
Measuring Program Impact
As a result, you can expect to see 10-20% lift in three categories of metrics:
- Visitation metrics such as session duration, # pages/session, and bounce rate.
- Engagement metrics such as downloads, signups, repeat visits, and average # pages viewed.
- Response metrics outside the website such as # meeting requests, lead conversion rate, and… sales!
Make progress! Keep it simple. One day at a time. Let us know how it goes!