Thirty-seven days into ten24 Web, and my education in web development here has almost been equal to an undergrad degree! Managing corporate websites for many years for former companies, I've known and utilized the benefits of a corporate website that provides high value to visitors including a clean design, user-friendly navigation, rich content with SEO so they can find us, and social media integration so they can continue talking to us. What I wasn't prepared for are the costly afterthoughts of web development projects that almost always occur.
Our clients and prospects appreciate the fact that we ask the hard business questions they hadn't yet thought of. Most of these questions are asked during Discovery, a common phase among web development companies. However, are the questions that your web designer is asking related to design and functionality or tied to business goals, both short- and long-term? We're finding it's more the former than the latter. A website is not just a pretty face, it has to be a strategic initiative. Sounds straightforward, right? Easier said than done.
B2B companies' primary investment for 2011 (70.7%) will be web development. Today's B2B websites have to be robust enough to provide incredible visitor experiences.
A content marketing strategy should accompany a website to ensure the company's goals are being achieved, and modified quickly if not. This may sound overwhelming, but it's just a start for corporate websites that are trying to attract, engage and convert visitors.
Companies must make their websites a priority. Their websites need to be aligned with what they are trying to accomplish both internally and externally. For that reason, websites have to be truly functional and useful for both customers and prospects while containing internal resources and costs. B2B companies need to become more serious about integrating and using social media not just for content distribution but for meaningful dialog as that's a weakness with most B2B companies today.
If you'll be investing in a new website next year, here are a few questions to think about before you make a final decision.
1. What are your short- and long-term corporate goals, and are the goals for the website aligned with this mission? If so, how is the success of the website going to be measured?
2. How important are content marketing strategies - SEO, PPC, landing pages, and email - mobile capabilities, and marketing support services such as marketing automation, analytics and CRM to the success of the site?
3. What types of content (pages, video, blog posts, events, news, documents, images) will you present on the site, how often will they be updated and who will manage the updates?
4. Do you have the internal resources and expertise to engineer, design, build, support and market a database-driven (CMS) website?
Today's B2B websites need to be kept fresh almost daily (weekly at least) to both provide value to visitors and drive business. Is your organization doing that?