Website performance is something that most B2B executives, frankly, don’t pay proper attention to. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of unintentional neglect, where competing demands for time push website performance farther down the priority pole. In other instances, leaders may consistently devote time to assessing their website and its performance but spend that time looking at the wrong things.
So how do B2B leaders balance their many responsibilities and still include time to effectively assess and improve their website’s performance? Below, we outline four principles for ensuring your website delivers everything your business needs.
Articulate your website’s objectives
In most cases, one doesn’t begin a journey without having a destination in mind. For B2B websites, that means you first need to clearly define what it is that you want your website to do. Your website’s objectives might include:
- Position our company and our people as thought leaders in our market
- Serve as a digital brochure of our organization’s services and solutions
- Increase the awareness of our brand(s) and our value proposition
- Provide a portal for existing clients to support their business needs
- Generate new leads for our business
- Support and enable online purchase of our products and solutions
It may be tempting to say “yes,” to all these objectives and even more. However, your website objectives will most likely comprise a smaller subset of these items and/or others. Whatever combination of objectives you set for your organization’s website, be sure that all your website’s stakeholders are aligned on them and share a common understanding of what each means.
Enable and define performance measurement
With your website’s objectives now in place, you’ll need to be sure that the data needed for proper measurement is being collected. This will include the proper stakeholder(s) overseeing the setup of tools like Google Analytics and/or similar website analytics platforms and, for advanced measurement, may also include the integration of your CRM, marketing automation or other marketing technology applications.
Once you’ve enabled measurement via the tools above, you’ll have access to a dizzying array of data about the interactions taking place on your website. The challenge is then to determine the right data to look at for each of the objectives you set.
Leaders often focus only on high-level metrics such as overall traffic, unique users, average time spent on site, bounce rate and average number of page views. While these metrics are important from a macro perspective, they only tell part of the web performance story and do not give specific insight into progress on each objective. Let’s look at an example.
If “promote our organization and our people as thought leaders in our market” is an objective, data that answers questions such as those below will help to illuminate whether your efforts are paying off.
- Are interactions (e.g. traffic, page views) with our blog, white papers and similar pages geared towards thought leadership content trending upwards?
- Which content and authors are resonating most across different regions or time periods?
- How are we ranking compared to competitors on search keywords and phrases that we’re targeting?
Remember, it’s important to understand the specific data and views you’ll need to measure performance on each of your objectives. Also, if you don’t have the right historical data to compare your current performance against, use your first month’s data as a starting point and compare against industry benchmarks where available.
Focus on your audience, not on yourself
Every aspect of your website should be built or written with a focus on the needs and goals of your customers and prospects. To be clear, executives cannot, and typically should not, invest the amount of time that it would take for them personally to assess this for every element of their website. They can and should, however, set that as an expectation and principle for their organization to follow.
One common manifestation of this issue is B2B website verbiage and focal points that are framed in a “look at me and my features” manner instead of a “these are your needs as we understand them and here’s how we can help” approach. It’s fine to dive into fine details about your products and services on your website but do so in the context of your customers.
A great organization that exemplifies this principle is Moz (www.moz.com), a provider of search engine optimization software. Their website’s primary homepage (at present) leads with a succinct and impactful fact and needs statement, “5 billion searches are performed every day. Be found.” Followed by a succinct goal/benefit statement, “Drive customers to your website,” before adding, “with the all-in-one SEO tracking and research toolset build by industry experts.”
Metrics such as “bounce rate” (the percentage of those who leave your site after only viewing a single page), “average time spent on site” and “average page views” can be helpful indicators of whether your website’s content is resonating with your audience.
Invest the right energy and resources in your B2B website’s performance
As noted above, executives are not afforded an abundance of time to attend to all the details of their website’s performance, but that doesn’t mean they can fully abdicate responsibility for its success. Leaders must be disciplined in routinely reviewing progress on each of the website objectives they’ve set forth. To put it another way, if leaders don’t demonstrate that website performance is a priority, it won’t be a priority for others either.
Implementing a dashboard for recurring review is one effective and efficient way that leaders can get a clear picture of performance trends. When properly constructed, dashboards provide an almost instantaneous understanding of what’s happening and surface constructive questions that foster further improvements and opportunities.
Beyond their investment of time, leaders also need to understand the level of resources they’ll need to invest in from a human and financial standpoint to ensure website performance sustainability. The pace of digital change is lightning fast and those who don’t embrace it with action limit improvement and set a stage for performance declines. Consistently ask your website leadership – what’s next? What are we doing or not doing today on the web that’s keeping us from getting to the next level?
Adopting the four principles for B2B website performance outlined above will help executives maximize returns on investment in their organization’s website and the impact of the time they devote to ensuring that their digital objectives are met. Being disciplined in demonstrating and championing these principles will also support the right expectations of detail and discipline from those who contribute to and manage your website daily.