Does your corporate website suck?
OK, that’s kind of a broad question. Let me rephrase it…
Is your website achieving what you need it to achieve for your company?
Don’t torture this too much. Just a simple “yes” or “no” will do.
And if you aren’t sure how to come to an answer, keep reading and we’ll figure it out together.
Define Your Goals
In almost every case, the main goal of a corporate website is to build revenue for the company. Within that, there might be any number of smaller goals. For example:
- make a sale directly online
- increase awareness of your brand
- convert visitors into leads, complete with contact information
- facilitate finding your physical location(s)
…just for a small sample.
So your particular goals for your website could be almost anything. But whatever those are, the question is always the same:
Is your website doing its job?
If it’s not, it’s time to change something.
If It’s Broke…
Say you’re a pencil manufacturer. You’d have a machine for making pencils, of course. Now suppose it stopped making pencils one day—what would you do?
Option A: ignore the problem
Option B: Fix or replace the machine so that it makes pencils again
Take your time, I’ll wait.
…Did you come up with an answer?
Of course, you’re going to either fix the machine so it makes pencils again, or you’re going to replace it with a machine that does its job.
Whatever it entails, you want to get things back to working order.
The problem is, too many companies ignore the problem if the website isn’t performing.
“Well, we’ve got a website, so that’s good enough” is a common sentiment. (Note: no it’s not good enough, because just having a website is not a useful goal.)
So today I wanted to tackle that issue, with a handy list of nine signs it might be time to rebuild your corporate website. If you have any one or a combination of these, chances are you’re due for some web work.
These apply no matter what your specific goals for the website might be.
Sign #1: Your Corporate Website Is Not Driving Revenue
As I mentioned earlier, building revenue is almost universally the #1 reason for any company to have a website at all.
In the final analysis, your website is a marketing tool. If you sell your products or services directly online, it’s also a revenue stream.
Either way, it should be making money for your business.
How do we determine if it’s performing this job adequately?
- For an e-commerce site: are sales being made? (Follow-up: are enough sales being made?)
- For all others: are you acquiring new customers as a result of people visiting your site?
If the answer is “no,” that’s a sure sign that it’s time to make adjustments or rebuild.
Sign #2: Traffic Is Down
If you’re monitoring your web traffic like you should, you’ll have the pulse of what’s going on with your site visitors.
In the chart above of our example website, we can see that while there have been highs and lows here and there—overall the site traffic is on a downward trend, especially in the last 4–5 months.
And don’t limit yourself here to looking at just unique visitors. How long they’re staying, which pages they’re visiting, and which pages they’re leaving from are all important metrics as well.
Declining traffic means your website is not delivering enough value to get people interested. Your concern here is to adjust or rebuild so that people want to come, and then to keep coming back.
Sign #3: Your Goals Changed
No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.
– German military strategist Helmuth von Moltke
The reason you got into business in the first place may not still be the reason you’re in business today.
Let’s say for example that you went into business to make amazing pencils. After a while in business, though, you found that there was an even bigger demand for pens.
So like a savvy entrepreneur, you expanded your product line to include pens. Before you know it, now you’re dealing in twice as many pen products as you are in pencils.
Now you have a website that no longer encompasses everything you offer. In fact, 2/3 of your product line is missing!
To educate your market about your fabulous new ink-based writing devices, and/or to make sales—you’ve got to update the website.
It also might be a more subtle shift. Maybe your company provides a service, and you’re phasing out Package A in favor of Package B, so you really want people to sign up for the new one instead of the old one.
If your website was built to drive people to Package A, you’re going to need to adjust it to guide them more to Package B.
Does this require some small tweaks, or a complete overhaul of the site? As always in marketing land, the answer is: “It depends.” But some kind of adjustment is in order if your goals have changed.
Sign #4: Your Target Audience Changed
Suppose that you provide a professional, done-for-you (DFY) service, and your website is accordingly built around that. But after several years, you pivot to offering online courses around your area of expertise.
You’d better believe that you need to update your website!
Now your target audience is no longer people in need of your services, but rather the do-it-yourself crowd…
These two audiences are vastly different.
How you present yourself to them, what you say to them, the types of emotional responses you want to elicit from them—everything changes from the DFY world to the DIY world.
If this is you: time to get cracking on a new website!
Sign #5: Your Marketing Strategy Changed
What was your main channel for marketing last year?
Is it the same as what you’re doing this year?
There are a world of options out there for marketing your business. Some include:
- Yellow Pages (yes, even today)
- Pay per click online
- Search Engine Optimization
- Email broadcasts
- Local online directories (Yelp, Google Local, Manta, etc.)
And that’s just scratching the surface!
When you invest in an advertising channel, you want the web page they reach to match up with the experience they had consuming the ad.
You achieve that through maintaining the same design/tone from ad to web page, and matching the offer to the ad. (More details on this from our friends at Digital Marketer, at http://www.digitalmarketer.com/ad-scent/)
If your marketing has changed and your landing pages no longer match up—you’ve gotta update your web site.
Sign #6: You’re Growing Into New Territory or More Locations
This is a good problem to have! All the same, it does require a solution.
Opening a new location across town won’t take much effort. Adding an address and updating your location finder/map will generally do the trick.
Things get a little more complicated with a new territory though. People living in different areas of the country—even different areas of the same state—have disparate cultures.
Travel from Alabama to Minnesota and you’ll see it.
Travel down the road for just an hour or two and you’ll see it as well. Our company is based in Denver, and on a recent trip to Grand Junction (about 200 miles away) I was struck by how much friendlier and personable everyone was there compared to in the big city.
How you approach people in one region may be vastly different from how you need to approach them in another. Make sure your website grows and adapts to the native culture.
Ideally, the people you’re trying to market to will be saying, “Wow! It’s like you read my mind!”
Sign #7: You’ve Re-Branded Your Company
Say your company began life as ABC Widgets for the Home, Inc.
Now you’ve rebranded as XYZ Solutions, Inc. because you’ve broadened your services to include lots of different stuff. You’re not focusing primarily on residential consumers anymore, and you’re not even specializing in widgets.
This goes hand in hand with the idea of changing your target audience. It may also overlap with moving into new territory.
We worked with a client once who transitioned from catering to residential exterior projects to targeting more of the apartment remodeling crowd. Homeowners are vastly different from apartment complex companies!
Besides that, they were making a concerted effort to gain a foothold on the west coast. All of these things combined led to a re-branding of the company.
Needless to say, they needed a completely new website!
Sign #8: Company Ownership Changed
Joe, owner of 123 Success, likes to connect emotionally with his clients.
As such, that is how the corporate website shows up. Plenty of emphasis on personal connection, and getting to know the people behind the company.
But now Joe’s retiring, and here comes Bob instead to run the company.
Bob is a no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners type. His style is direct, to the point, without a lot of fluff. And because he’s in charge now, that becomes the overall user experience for the customer.
We’re not here to say that one or another of these styles is better. But with the change in ownership and a change in tone, it’s going to be necessary to re-make the website in the new owner’s image.
Similar to maintaining “ad scent,” customers will be turned off if they are attracted to the emotional-connection website, only to find when they engage with the company that it’s more of a to-the-point experience with little in the way of frills.
Your website needs to indicate what your customers will experience when they engage with your company.
(Side note: this needs to be a strategic change, not just a change because the new owner likes puce instead of blue. See No One Cares What Color You Like)
Sign #9: Your Design Is Out of Date
When was your website built?
Put it another way: When was the last time your website design was updated?
Hopefully it’s more recently than the 1990s…
This is an actual web page that’s live in 2017.
You’ve got to love the real-time weather widget and the animated US flag (yes folks, it really blows! …in the wind).
Not to mention the keyword-stuffing in the top paragraph.
But even if you’re more modern than this, you still might be due for a design refresh.
As an example from our own corporate website, we rebranded in 2012 after a few years in business (see #7), and accordingly launched a new website.
After a few years, though, it was starting to look a little… tired.
Not terrible overall, and certainly pretty good by 2012 sensibilities. But as the trend has continued to shift to flat, streamlined, and simple, this look didn’t quite feel “hip” or “with it” anymore.
Compared to our new website—well, there’s really no comparison.
You can see we’ve shifted the design to big, bold images. Information is presented in small, easy-to-digest chunks, which is in line with how people tend to consume content these days.
We’re also segmenting our visitors by interest, right from the home page. But that’s a strategy for another post.
All of this is simply to say that if it’s been a few years since you worked on the design of your website, it just might be time for another look.
Hint: sliders are no longer all that cool; 3-D styling (skeuomorphism) is passé; big, bold images and easy-to-digest text win the day.
Did any of the nine points above ring true for your corporate website?
If so, it’s time to take a long, hard look at your website and see where you can work to improve it.
If not, you aren’t off the hook! You still need to monitor your traffic and your conversions, and be prepared to adjust things if you get off track in the future.
It’s also wise to keep an eye on the site, and consider making incremental design changes as time goes by. This will keep you up to date with the latest fashions, and help you avoid #9 at least.
Do you have any other ideas? Share them in the comments!