Industrial Website Redesign – Defining the Needs and Goals

Written by Kathy Kassera Mrozek
Website under construction: Defining the need for and goals of an industrial website design

The first step in building a plan for designing or updating a B2B industrial website is to define the specific need and what your goals are. Decisions that you make in this stage will lay the groundwork for a successful project.

Table of Contents:

  1. What are the reasons for redesigning or updating your website?
  2. Assess how well your current B2B or industrial website supports sales and marketing
  3. Gauge your current performance through analytics and data
  4. Consider your competition when setting goals
  5. Formulate your plan
  6. Should you redesign your existing industrial website or just update it?

What are the reasons for redesigning or updating your website?

In undertaking a website redesign or strategic improvements to an existing industrial website, it’s important to start with “WHY.” Why do you want or need to make these improvements? What’s not happening today that you want to have happen with your site? What metrics should be improved or changed, and by how much? How will you know that this effort has been successful?

In a recent informal poll, we asked industrial and B2B marketers, “What are your biggest drivers for improving your website?”

The number-one answer, at 57%:
Old content or positioning

The next three, tied at 14% each:

  • Not delivering quality leads
  • Hard to edit/maintain
  • Outdated look and visuals

Other responses included technical reasons, such as a CMS version nearing end-of-life, a change in branding or business model, or an acquisition requiring major re-thinking of the site architecture. Similarly, the overarching goal for a completed redesign or update is usually one or more of the following:

Demonstrate Leadership: The website is your most visible brand and communication asset. It can be used to position you as a forward-looking leader in your industry through the quality of its visuals, user experience and content. It can help you outperform competitors in the web landscape. It can help attract talent. Your industrial website is the best vehicle to clarify your positioning, who you are and what you’re best in the world at doing.

Showcase and Engage: Most industrial marketers need their website to offer an impressive, rich experience that helps technical audiences find information and solutions quickly. The goal is to educate, inform and inspire them to reach out when they’re ready to talk to sales. Many industrial websites struggle to offer the information that engineers seek in a concise, user-friendly and comprehensive way.

Generate Leads: Industrial B2B lead-generating websites must be fine-tuned to attract quality leads. They need specific vehicles for handling MQLs and SQLs, and they should be connected to CRM and MAT systems for further marketing and sales nurturing. Your industrial website design should inspire consistent leads, by effectively representing how you can help the visitor accomplish their goals.

Update to Better Tooling: A new website on newer software, done right, results in better load times, UX and editability. You can build in functionality that supports your current needs and becomes the basis for future anticipated needs. Common features for an industrial website design, beyond marketing and lead generation, include localization/translation, distributor portals, connections with ERPs, advanced filtering abilities, e-commerce and more.

Assess how well your current B2B or industrial website supports sales and marketing

It’s easy to say “it’s old and outdated” or “it’s not good,” but why, specifically, do you and others have that impression? It’s important to do a little bit of work cataloguing the specific things that are not working with your website, as well as aspects that are working well and that you’d like to continue in some way. A good industrial website should be clearly helping sales and marketing efforts in a way that brings the two disciplines closer together.

Start by thinking through the successes and shortcomings of your current site from a marketing perspective, and also talk with the sales department and other critical stakeholders, covering questions like:

  • Does your sales team actively send prospects to the website for more information? Why or why not?
  • How does sales use your industrial 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?
  • Is the website more than five years old?
  • Does your industrial website have technical issues or limitations?
  • Do you encounter issues when editing the site?

Gauge your current performance through analytics and data

In addition to gathering qualitative information through discussion, it’s a best practice to include some quantitative data, even if you know that your current site isn’t ranking or performing well. It’s always helpful to have a benchmark to show how far you’ve come.

Start digging into analytics. Look at average monthly users and leading indicator engagement metrics like session duration, pages per session and bounce rate. See if it’s different for different channels, for converting traffic, and whether there are any seasonal variations.

Note what content types or sections show the highest traffic and engagement, what content is showing up well as organic landing pages, and what content shows a high bounce rate or just low traffic overall.

How does your industrial website design perform in organic SEO right now? What target keywords would provide the most benefit if you improved your rankings for them?

Most importantly, get a measure of how many leads you’re getting per month from the website (lead quantity) and how those leads are performing (lead quality). What percentage of leads turn into sales proposals or quotes? Are they typically good fit prospects? What percentage increase of lead quality and quantity would represent a good initial goal? What would be a stretch goal? When you set goals for improvement in lead quality and quantity, it’s helpful to use an ROI calculator to quantify the potential benefit of website improvements.

Consider your competition when setting goals

In addition to focusing on what your customers need and where you need your business to go, be aware of what competitors are doing with their websites. You don’t want to fall into “keeping up with the Joneses” mode, but it’s important to be aware of the competition and how your site might compete better and help you gain market share or otherwise improve your market position. You want to ensure that you’re both clearly differentiating yourself and meeting (ideally exceeding) the level of quality that competitors are offering online.

Look at your top three competitors. What are they doing better than you are that you think a redesign of your site could match or exceed? When making this list, remember that each of the things you’re writing down should also make strategic sense for your business.

Formulate your plan

The details might not be in place yet, but any plan to improve or redesign a website needs to start with clear goals and objectives. Start listing out the following as you begin your plan, creative brief, or outline:

  • Current state: What’s working, and what’s not working?
  • Top three UX or business goals
  • Top three competitors, including their market position vs. yours, and the opportunity at stake
  • Your top three KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). These are likely to be 1) an increase in lead quality, 2) and increase in lead quantity and 3) an increase in a traffic or engagement metric.

You might go about next steps differently based on whether you plan to update your existing site or redesign it. This is an important decision to think through.

Should you redesign your existing industrial website or just update it?

This is one of those questions where the answer is almost always “it depends.” If you’re not sure whether to go all in or approach it more surgically, consider these questions:

  • Is the site more than five years old? If yes, you’ll benefit from the newer tech that comes with a new industrial website design.
  • How far apart are the current state and the future desired state? If they’re close, you might be able to get by with updates to the existing site.
  • Are the overall UX, visual design and CMS set up well, and the primary need is additional or new content? If so, you might be able to make major headway with easy content changes. If the visual design and UX are far from where you want them to be, improving them with updates to the current site could take just as long as a redesign, and in the end, you’ll still have an old codebase. 
  • Are the most important changes focused on a particular page or section? If yes, begin by updating those sections.
  • Do the necessary changes feel like an emergency? It’s possible to implement some high-impact Band-Aids to a site that’s been neglected for a period of time, while also starting a longer-term redesign project for more broad-based improvements.

Looking for a deeper understanding of when, why and how to redesign your B2B website? Check out a webinar, or learn more about our upcoming on-demand virtual course, B2B Website Strategy for Lead Generation.

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