A well planned and architectured website can play a major role in how a business markets and sells. It can power communication, educate customers and help establish value with prospective buyers. It can help influence opinions and buying decisions.
Although some companies market and sell successfully with little or no reliance on their websites, it is also true that more than ever, buyers tend to form opinions about companies in the online space. And the website is an important asset in any business's digital footprint.
Still, many small and midsize enterprises out there don't go much beyond setting up their company website. They are often not paying much attention to the role it plays in their business processes, and they rarely perform a deeper analysis of the visitor journey, and the impact their website is likely to make on those that land on it. On top of that, updates can be rare, websites can appear static and poorly connected with real business potential. Sometimes, website messaging and information structure can be seen to evolve much slower than the company itself.
To better understand if and how a website is supporting sales and marketing functions in a company, it is useful to pay attention to the following.
Is the website used by sales reps?
It can be enlightening for a business to examine how often and in what ways is the website visited (and used) by their own sales people. Company websites can be valuable assets for sales teams, but they can also be surprisingly disconnected from business realities.
Does it offer pages and resources like product descriptions, tutorials or videos, useful in day-to-day sales work? Is it possible to rely on it when introducing or presenting the company? Will it help show what the company does, and help create an outstanding impact? Are links to pages or sections emailed in correspondence with clients and prospects?
Answers to these questions are very different from company to company, depending on their size and industry, internal processes, and even company culture. Some sales teams don't rely on their company websites in their day-to-day work. Sometimes, this arises from the organization itself, or the very nature of products and offerings. In other instances, it can mean that the website does not present or explain the company offering in the best way. This will push sales teams to rely on other assets when trying to close deals. If they haven't found the website useful in the past, they probably didn't get used to visiting or using it much. Also, they might not be aware of all things that a good website can do in a sales process.
Does the website help establish value?
On the marketing side of things, it is useful to check how successful a website is in conveying and demonstrating value proposition. Does it successfully show to visitors the best of a company's expertise, experience and value for those buying from it?
In B2B, a potential buyer will often examine the website of a potential supplier very carefully. This will be to perform due diligence, to find any information they might have missed while evaluating the potential partner - anything that will help develop a better understanding of a company that still hasn't proven itself through a business relationship.
Does a website surface most valuable deals and partnerships in meaningful ways? There are companies with great projects and consistent high-quality work in their portfolio, but that can't be seen on their websites.
Company websites are becoming important touch points, with a potential to make an impact on current and prospective clients. They play more and more prominent roles in business outcomes.
A prospect or client can visit a company's website at different stages of engagement - before they get in touch with the company, after a conversation at an event, after they buy, and well into the business relationship cycle. Every visit is an opportunity to make an impact, so wise businesses and marketers will pay close attention and tune web interactions with care.
Are the employees visiting the website?
In many companies, the website is maintained by a small number of employees, sometimes one person only. The bulk of coding and design can be outsourced to external providers, which can alienate the process from the rest of the company. This can result in low number of visits from within the company and low engagement of employeees with the website. This also means that employees might not refer the website to their friends, acquaintances and potential recruits. Things will not get better if the site is not updated regularly, and if it doesn't strive to be interesting for the employees as well.
For companies trying to change that, the process can be challenging. It will require adopting a different approach to how the web pages are updated and marketed internally. Having employees fully engaged with the digital face of the company is a source of great value for a business, as it affects not only sales and marketing, but also internal marketing and employer branding.
Does it play a role in communication with the company?
The list of functions a website can do in client and corporate communication is endless. In e-commerce, online banking and a number of digital services, website is where ordering, purchase and billing happens.
In more traditional industries and services, the actual purchase or service consumption will often happen off the website. Still, the website will have plenty of roles to play in pre- and post- purchase stages, as well as in educational and influence tactics (newsletter opt-in, e-book or studies downloads, free trial signups etc). In some industries, it will be an important interface for support querries, a knowledge base about products and how to use them.
Interested in how your own website is doing, and what else it could do? Get in touch now. Include your web address so we can take a look.