Around this time of the year, I get more calls and emails about redesigning industrial websites. This of course is very good news for my industrial marketing business but there is usually something missing that makes me cautious.
My “Spidey Sense” is heightened whenever I hear the other person say something like “We need to spruce up our website so we can be found in Google.”
It goes without saying that being found in Google is a must but there are two wrong assumptions in that statement.
- Sprucing up or making the site look pretty is not going to produce better results beyond a spike in traffic right after the launch. You are not going to be any better off than you are now but will have spent thousands of dollars in nothing more than a cosmetic facelift for the current site.
- A website redesign is not the same thing as search engine optimization (SEO). Don’t expect to suddenly appear on the first page of Google just because you’ve done a site redesign. SEO that produces sustainable results requires implementing proven white hat tactics and consistently applying good content marketing practices.
Design, aesthetics, coding and maintaining branding standards are all important. However, the single biggest factor that determines the success of an industrial website redesign is content. I say that based on my experience in successfully redesigning and launching several websites for manufacturers, industrial distributors and engineering companies.
Content is what fuels the digital marketing engine, drives traffic and generates quality leads from industrial websites. That means content is the foundation for SEO, differentiation, thought leadership, engagement, conversions, acquisitions and retention of customers just to name a few of the goals that you want to accomplish with the redesigned site.
You need to ask a few important questions about content before you start a website design or redesign project. It doesn’t matter whether you do this in-house or outsource it; you need good answers, preferably backed by data and research. Here are some of the questions that I ask to help me plan for content before starting an industrial website redesign project:
- Who are the different people that your content must address? This is very different from asking who your customers are. I need to define influencers, specifiers, functional buyers and end users in order to create content that will address their specific needs.
- What content assets do you have, what can be repurposed and what new content do we need to create? Answers to these questions help me create a content matrix to identify gaps.
- What is the purpose of each new or existing content asset? Answering this question helps me create more relevant and stronger calls to action.
- How will the content help your visitors move forward in their buy decision?” Replacing outdated copy with new product specifications is only part of the solution. Your content must be driven more by help and less by hype.
- Who are the in-house Subject Matter Experts (SME) that will contribute content? Identifying and making a list of SMEs helps me prepare interview questions and develop an editorial calendar for blogging as well as contributing technical articles to trade publications and industry portals.
- How will the redesigned site fit and drive your sales process? I can say with virtual certainty that your website redesign will fail if it doesn’t drive your sales process and/or you don’t have a buy in from the sales team.
- How will you distribute the content in order to increase its reach and attract new customers? I need to understand if these channels exist or do I have to create them by identifying appropriate industry portals, social networks, groups and other online channels.
- What CMS, CRM, Marketing Automation and site analytics are in place? The answers to this question may not be directly related to content creation but have a significant bearing on how the site content ties together Sales and Marketing and provides good insights on what is going on with your site and which visitor is taking what action.
It is important to look beyond the basic Traffic numbers, Page Views and Bounce Rates from Google Analytics. If you lack the expertise yourself, have a knowledgeable person interpret Google Analytics data for you so you can draw meaningful conclusions about the weaknesses in your current site. Don’t let the old adage, “I know half my marketing is working, I just don’t know which half” happen to you.
Without asking these critical questions, you will most likely fall back on copying and pasting content from your current site that isn’t performing for you in the first place. When all’s said and done, the content from your redesigned website must help to differentiate your industrial company, bring your in-house expertise to the forefront, and build strong relationships that are based on earned trust. Refer to my posts “How Industrial Content Marketing Builds Stronger Relationships Based on Trust” and “Content Marketing for Industrial Companies.” Also read some of my previous posts that are categorized under Content Marketing.
There are many more questions that need to be asked regarding user interface and experience, responsive design etc. but what I’ve written here will give you a good head start in redesigning an industrial website. One that is likely to produce results instead of becoming just another “pretty” site.
Download our free Step-by-Step Guide to Web (re)Design guide for additional questions to ask and a checklist for gathering answers.
What questions did you ask before your last website redesign? Did you run into any roadblocks?