8 Of The Best B2B Marketing Myths
During my time as a part time Marketing Director, I’ve developed around 20 web sites. The sites are all different but there are some basic rules about web development that, if followed will make your life easier, give you a better site and probably reduce the cost too.
Know What You Want to Achieve at the Beginning
Yes, I understand you want a web site, or more probably, a new web site; but that isn’t the question I’m asking. My question is what is the web site for? What do you want to achieve with it? How will you know if it works? Do you want a digital brochure, to educate existing customers, to sell your product or service online, to generate new sales leads? Each of these things will result in a quite different site.
Think it through, then write it down and make sure your web developer understands what you need to achieve as well. If they don’t understand what you are trying to achieve it’s pretty difficult for them to build a site that will deliver it!
Think Twice Build Once
Many web developments run in a spiral, instead of going straight to the answer they spiral round it, getting a bit closer to the desired result on each circuit. An apparently endless process of review and explanation. This is generally because the actual site development starts much too early in the process. Some refinement is inevitable but this spiral is time consuming, frustrating and will drive your developers to try almost anything just to see if you like it this time.
Even worse, spiral development frequently results in a committee decision about the final design. After all, a camel would have been a horse if the poor creature hadn’t been designed by a committee.
Get the definition right, first.
Process, Process, Process
To avoid the development spiral, you need a decent development process. Start with that written definition of what you are trying to achieve and think about what pages you need on the site and what each of those pages is for. A good way to think about pages is that every page should either educate, build credibility or sell. If a page you are planning doen’t do any of those three things ask yourelf if it’s genuinely required. Next work with your developer to develop some outline designs for each page (wireframes) and make sure your brand standards are clearly defined (logo, colour, typography, photographic styles as a minimum) Then, and only then, when all this is clear, agreed and understood; you are ready to start building your new site.
When you are choosing a web supplier ask about their process too, make sure it’s robust. If they answer this question by talking about technology before building an understanding of your business be very cautious!
The Big and Small of it.
Once upon a time, many, many years ago, web sites were read on square monitors attached to desktop PCs. It isn’t true anymore; yes, PCs are still used, but most browsing is done on mobiles or tablets.
So, design and build your site to work that way. Think about how it will look on a mobile first, and then adapt it to larger screen sizes, not the other way around. Also, ensure its responsive and reformats itself to suit the viewer's screen; your site visitors will be happy and your Google rankings better too.
Pretty well every web site is managed using a CMS, Content Management System. Much the most popular is WordPress, it supports about half of the world’s web sites; though you’ll also hear of Drupal, Joomla, Concrete 5 and a number of others. The point using a standard CMS is that the skills to develop with it are widespread and there are lots of utilities (generally called plugins) that can be added to the CMS simply and cheaply to enhance your site and make the build quicker too.
There are still a few web vendors who will want to use their own custom-built CMS, generally selling them on the basis that the development will be easier or quicker. Unfortunately, it also means that you will be locked in to original supplier for maintenance and development at whatever price or service level they choose forever. There won’t be any plugins either.
My advice; if you are told that you need a custom CMS, ask politely where the exit is and walk briskly towards it.
Content is King (and Queen and Crown Prince too)
To state the obvious, no one (perhaps except your mother?) is going to look at your website to admire it, they are going to look at it to find things out about your business and how you can help solve their problem. That’s where the site content; the words, pictures and videos come in. It’s pretty rare that the web developers also produce the content, web developers are technical people, not writers or photographers. It’s generally left to the site owner.
There are a couple of reasons to take your site content very seriously. Firstly, it’s what the human beings who look at your site will read, secondly, it’s a big part of what Google looks at when deciding if your site is a good place to send someone in answer to their Google search. Good content in an ugly site will always beat lousy content in a beautiful one.
Start by doing a keyword search, possibly using an online tool or a specialist. This will tell you what words you need to use to get the right people to your site. Then draw up a content plan, what content do you need on which page to suit the purpose of the page. Finally, write the words, source the photographs and film the videos to fill the spaces.
Human beings have a very short attention span, particularly when looking at a web site. Your content needs to be relevant, be concise and get to the point in the first sentence. Good writing is a skill, if you are not sure you have it, pay someone else who does.
It’s unusual that a site development is late because of technology or build. It’s almost always because the content isn’t ready, so start early.
Don’t talk about yourself
Another no sh*t Sherlock moment. Visitors don’t come to your site to see you talk about yourself, they come to find out what they need to know. Don’t occupy the home page with your company vision, beautiful photography that isn’t relevant, or videos of your last company social event (I’ve seen it done!) Give your visitors what they are looking for then make it easy for them to find out more by going further into the site.
It’s never finished
I’m frequently asked, “when will the web site be finished”. My reply is usually that it will never be finished; a bit flippant perhaps but it’s true. Your web site is a living breathing being and needs regular nourishment, firstly because your customers will return to a good site to find out more, secondly as Google will rank a regularly refreshed site more positively and finally because your business will change and you’ll always want the most current information available.
There is nothing worse than a site that clearly hasn’t changed in years. If you cannot do a good job on your window to the world, what will your prospective customers think about the rest of what you do?