by Kevin Kennedy
So you work for or own a small or medium sized business. You have a website, you’re not sure if it is adding any value, but you’re also not sure you want to spend the time and money to upgrade it. What should you do? Ask yourself or your team these ten questions. If 75% -100% of your answers are “Yes” then you can feel somewhat secure that your current website is doing its job and supporting your organization’s well-being. If, on the other hand, most of your answers are “No” or “I don’t know”, then you probably should begin planning for a website redesign or upgrade.
This is the most basic of questions and might keep you from even reading the remainder of this brilliant blog post. If the answer is “No” it is probably obvious that you’re embarrassed or not proud of your site or at the very least, don’t feel it will help you gain new business. If the answer is a clear “No” feel free to contact me now. If you answered “Yes” or “Maybe” keep reading.
Questions #2 and #3 follow closely with our first question. Number 2 is another simple question and in my opinion a clear indicator of what you should do if the answer is “No”. If you don’t believe your website will help a prospect decide to do business with you, then how could you possibly be unsure that you need a new site? In this day and age, your website is the new Yellow Pages and the first place anyone will go to learn about your business or organization. As the face of your brand and your company, you should be able to confidently say “Yes”!
Does your current site look professional or is it old looking with outdated content? Does your site position your organization as an expert in your field and/or communicate your value proposition? This question relates closely to the first two, and in my humble opinion a “Yes” answer should be your minimum expectation if you are considering keeping your current site (along with questions #1 and #2). Your bare minimum expectation should be that your website supports your organization’s credibility, brand positioning, and ability to positively influence potential clients. Even if your site isn’t optimized for search and/or bringing you new business, at the very least, it should support your traditional sales process and help sway prospects you send to the site.
If you answered “Yes” to questions #2 and #3, then your site is at least supporting your business and improving your chances of closing sales – even if prospects were directed to the site via a sales person or another marketing initiative (trade show, direct mail, etc.). The next step in the evolution of your website marketing is for your site to actually help create business leads and to convert them in one way or another, depending on where they might be in your business’ unique purchasing cycle. Is your site producing leads for your sales team?
One of the main ways your website can help generate sales leads and new business is if it is optimized well for search. If your site is optimized for keywords associated with your product and/or service offering, then you are more like to have higher levels of visitors (prospects) on your site. Can prospects find you when they type in your services on Google search (or Bing, Yahoo, etc.)? And typing in your company name doesn’t count – if they can’t find you by typing your name, then you are in really in trouble. Do you even know where your site ranks on Google's search results for important search terms? Before you can even know if your site is doing well in search, you must first know what keywords you are targeting. Do you have a target list?
Even if your website isn’t generating lots of new leads, it could still be adding value for current customers – helping to improve your retention rate. If it is, then it is adding value for your business. Is your site providing useful knowledge or expertise that benefits customers? Is your site helping to improve service levels and customer satisfaction or reducing support costs? Depending on your business, it could be as simple as an FAQ section or as elaborate as a customer portal or video help site. Your website can support various parts of your business – not only sales and marketing.
This may not sound quite as important as some of the previous questions above, but it can be. If your site is not designed well from a usability perspective, you might be wasting the traffic you do get. If it isn’t clear what you do or how to find certain information on your site, visitors might leave before you can get them to convert – buy, call, register, etc. On the other hand, if your site is user friendly, you’ll likely have a lower drop-off rate (people leaving your site), more time spent on your site, improved conversion rates, and a more positive brand perception.
One very important component of usability in this day and age is whether your site is mobile-friendly, or responsive to the device (desk-top, tablet, smartphone, etc.) the user is on, so that users can easily navigate, find information, and consume content (text, video) no matter the device. This is critical for a number of reasons, as close to 60% of website visits now come from mobile devices, but even more so since Google's recent “Mobilegeddon update”, which penalizes non-mobile friendly websites (dropping them in Google search results).
To confidently answer a number of my previous questions, you probably need to be connected to a web analytics tool such as Google Analytics. If you aren’t it doesn’t necessarily mean you need a new website, but at the very least you should plan on measuring your site activity. Google Analytics is free and provides an abundance of data about your site. Remember, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it."
To be successful these days, your website needs to be a living, breathing entity. If you have a website that you think is effective, but it never changes, then it won’t be effective for long. An effective website should be designed so that your organization can proactively market new products or services, initiatives, or events. So if you update your site, be sure to consider what types of content (blogging, events, case studies, project galleries, white papers, etc.) fit best into your organization’s content marketing strategy. You’ll also want to make sure it is easy for non-technical, business people to update your site, so make sure you have a content management system (CMS) that makes online marketing easy.
There you have it – my ten questions to determine if you need a new website. If you have additional questions that would help evaluate whether an organization needs a new site, please let us know. And if you’d like to discuss your specific situation, please contact me.
Kevin Kennedy, Marketpath’s VP Marketing and Professional Services, has been working on business strategy, digital marketing, and website technology for over 20 years. Prior to joining Marketpath in 2009, Kevin worked for Delta Faucet Company, including roles as Director of E-Business, where he led the company's technology strategy, and Director of Interactive Marketing.
Kevin graduated with a B.B.A. in Finance from the University of Notre Dame and received his M.B.A. from Eastern Michigan University. In his free time, Kevin enjoys spending time with his wife, Bridget, and their five children, travel, and various sports activities, while also participating on the non-profit boards for The Children's TherAplay Foundation and Juega Como Campeon.