Establishing your manufacturing website's needs and goals is the groundwork for a successful website.
You know your website is the center of your marketing. It's your brand's most visible and accessible asset. It can also be one of the most significant components of your marketing success. But, if you're like many B2B manufacturers, you're overstretched trying to do everything while figuring out a strategy to increase your website's value as a marketing tool.
When people come to our marketing agency asking for a manufacturing website, they don't have a clear picture of what they want their website to look like, how it should function, or how to make it attract their target customers. They know they need to make a change but aren't clear on the drivers for change. Do you feel that way? If so, that's OK. Before diving in too deep, the best place to start is to identify needs and goals. Having this information is vital to laying the groundwork for a successful website.
Why do you want to update your website?
When thinking about strategic improvements to your website, it’s essential to ask yourself what you think needs to be updated, then ask yourself, “why?” Why do you want to make a change, and how will you know if your efforts are successful? There’s a standard list of answers that we usually hear from manufacturing clients. These are the top five.
- Content is old content/messaging is outdated
- It doesn’t deliver consistent/quality leads
- There was a change in product structure/product expansion
- It doesn’t align with the business model anymore
- The visuals and branding is outdated
Before building a website or undergoing a website redesign, you need to know the goals you’re looking to meet, not just line items of what you need fixed. Usually, website goals include one or more of the following.
Generate High-Quality Leads
As a B2B manufacturer, you know your website needs to be fine-tuned to generate the high-quality leads you need for business growth. It requires clear conversion paths for MQLs and SQLs. Your manufacturing website design should inspire consistent leads by effectively representing how you can help potential customers accomplish their goals.
Position Your Business As An Industry Leader
Your website should be leveraged to position your company as the forward-thinking leader you are. Remember, it's your brand's most visible asset, so it needs to outperform your competitors in the digital landscape. This is the best opportunity for you to communicate your message to your audience and define why you're the best solution for your customers' problems.
Engage Your Audience with Information Helpful
One of the biggest marketing challenges manufacturers face is not knowing how to showcase their information clearly, concisely, and in a way that engages their audience. Often it's challenging to navigate websites to find the appropriate product and how to buy it. Your industrial website design needs to provide website visitors with the experience they expect and the information they need to make a decision. Otherwise, they'll give and find a competitor that offers a better online experience.
Does your current website support marketing & sales efforts?
It's important to document specific things that aren't working. It's easy to say your website is old, outdated, or just not your preference. While that's good to note, it's even more helpful to know what specifically isn't good and why you feel that way.
Spend some time thinking through what works well on your current site and, then, on the flip side, what its shortcomings are. A good manufacturing website design aligns marketing and sales efforts. So, consider it also from a marketing perspective. Think about what message your website communicates to your customers, what opportunities for conversion exist, and if your company and product information is accurate and up-to-date? You also need to talk with the sales department and other key stakeholders about what's not working. It's essential to fully understand the gaps to accurately set your website goals.
Here are a couple of good questions you can cover with your marketing and sales stakeholders.
- Does your sales team actively send prospects to sections of the website for more information? Why or why not?
- How does your sales team currently use your website in their process?
- Does the content on the website reflect your current offerings and future priorities?
- What areas are good, which areas need to be changed/improved, and how?
- Does the website reflect your brand well? The quality of your offerings? What makes your website feel off or misaligned?
- Is the website more than five years old?
- Does your website have technical issues or limitations?
- Do you often run into problems when trying to edit the site?
Do you review analytics to gauge your website’s performance?
You’ll be able to glean productive insights on website goals and performance through discussions with your marketing and sales team members. However, we also recommend taking a look at quantitative data as well. Even if you’re not where you want to be with your current site performance, we understand. But it will help your manufacturing website design process to have clear benchmarks to know how well your changes are performing.
At a minimum, we recommend starting by looking at leading indicator engagement metrics. There are various numbers to review, but be sure to evaluate monthly website traffic, pages per session, and bounce rates.
These metrics can show you what type of content or pages have the highest website traffic and which are the most engaging. You’ll also see what pages show up in organic search results and which pages are not getting attention.
However, the best measurement is how many leads you’re getting per month from the website (lead quantity) and how those leads are performing (lead quality). What percentage of online leads turn into sales deals? Are these online leads typically a good fit, or are they interested in different things? If your percentages are off, pause and figure out where they should be to hit your business growth goals. We created a worksheet to help you figure out your leading indicator metrics and goals.
What are your website goals? How will you measure success?
At this point, you might not have all the details or answers figured out, and that's completely OK. But, you should have enough to start pulling together a plan for your manufacturing website design. By documenting clear website goals, you'll start your website design process on a much better foot. As you begin the next step in preparation for your website build, write down our answers to these questions.
- What's your website's current state? What's working, and what's not?
- What are three of your top website goals?
- Which companies are your top three competitors, including their market position vs. yours and the opportunity at stake?
- What are your top three Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)? These may be 1) an increase in lead quality, 2) an increase in lead quantity, and 3) an increase in a traffic or engagement metric.
What happens after these steps might look different based on your choice to either have a complete website redesign or simply updates made to your existing site. This isn't an easy decision to make, but with clear website goals defined, you'll have a clearer picture of what the intended outcome should be from either option you chose.
Should you undergo a website design or update the old one?
There’s no right or wrong answer to this question. You can almost always argue against one way or another, but consider these questions as you make your decision.
- Is your manufacturing website more than five years old? Often, we find that businesses with websites older than five years would benefit from newer technologies that come with a new manufacturing website design.
- How large is the gap between where you are and where you want to be? If the website goals you documented don’t feel all that far off from where you want to be, you can usually get by making adjustments and updating the current industrial website you have.
- Does the visual design and CMS need some heavy work? If your graphic design and ability to use CMS aren’t where you need them to be, it’s just as much work to get an old code system to connect to a new design as it is for a website redesign. Plus, your new manufacturing website design accompanied by a rock-solid CMS system, like HubSpot CMS, in our opinion, usually results in longer-term success.
- What is the primary need for updated content? Usually, if you need major content changes, these can often happen within an update to your current site without undergoing a complete overhaul.
These questions are just the tip of the iceberg for understanding the best option for your manufacturing website.
If you’re looking for a deeper understanding of why and how to redesign your B2B website, we’re here to help. Start by downloading our website goals definition worksheet. This simple, one-page worksheet will allow you to have a clear picture of what you’re looking to achieve as you start working through your manufacturing website design process.
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