How to Prioritize Features for a Successful Industrial B2B Marketing Website Redesign

Written by Kathy Kassera Mrozek
How to prioritize features for a successful industrial B2B marketing website redesign

Unless you’re planning an industrial B2B marketing website redesign project as a sole proprietor (and even sometimes then), you’ll hear plenty of competing opinions on what to include in your new website to make it a success. As a B2B industrial marketer, you’re focused on making your industrial B2B marketing website work as a solid lead generation tool. It must deliver qualified leads to the sales team by convincing your best-fit prospects that your company is the solution to their problems.

Things can get challenging, however, when there’s more than one cook in the kitchen. Although your marketing team is probably small compared to the size of the overall organization, an industrial B2B marketing website is an important tool for the whole company — for recruiting staff, for communicating with existing customers, for representing the company and its leadership well within the industry, and for reflecting credibility and quality out to the larger community, including business peers in other industries.

If you’ve been working closely with the sales team and delivering quality leads already, they’ll have a lot of trust in your guidance, but will also have important insights to be taken into account. Product division heads want to make sure that they’re well-represented, too. If your company is an ESOP, you might have many owners to listen to and appease. Pretty soon, a shortlist of “must-haves” turns into a laundry list of requests, with competing and overlapping priorities that can delay a project, create scope creep or sometimes even prevent a project from getting off the ground at all.

After painting this dismal picture, however, I can tell you that there is good news: you can avoid the “too many cooks” scenario with some purposeful prioritization and clear communication around the industrial B2B marketing website redesign project and its most important features.

Plan and prioritize features (while managing expectations and avoiding scope creep)

If you’re leading the process, we recommend doing some research on your own and presenting a plan to the various stakeholders for them to review and comment on. As a marketing leader, you’ll have the most experience with planning an industrial B2B marketing website redesign, knowing what it must accomplish from a marketing perspective and understanding how it stacks up against the competition.

Start by working with the sales department (which you’re hopefully working closely with anyway) to make a list of features that address organizational and sales needs and things that customers need and want, based on what you’ve learned from customer interviews. These might include robust product filtering, product comparison tools, connecting products or services to relevant case studies and industry/application pages, and vice versa. Online chat, better search or filtering for how-to videos, material guides or resource articles might be on the list.

To get more specific around what’s working and not working about the current industrial B2B marketing website, consider this multifaceted, open-ended question:

Overall, what features, content or integrations do you believe would help the website be better at:

  • Helping customers find what they’re looking for
  • Convincing prospects of our value proposition
  • Supporting the sales department
  • Functioning as a marketing tool that generates qualified leads
  • Helping customer service
  • Reducing overhead/back office costs
  • Attracting talent

Site-wide CTAs that fit your audience and sales process, like “Get a quote” or “Start the conversation,” and carefully placed opportunities for users to access gated content, signups/registrations or other MQL opportunities should be on your list of must-have features (if you don’t already have them).

While working on the list, don’t lose sight of things that are happening under the hood of your industrial B2B marketing website. What integrations are currently in place, connecting the site and its data to third-party tools? Common integrations include connections to CRMs, ERPs, marketing automation tools, and HR platforms. Are these integrations and third-party tools working well, or do any need to be replaced or upgraded? What’s the timeline for these changes, and what should or should not hold up progress on a website effort? What can be changed at a later date, as a separate project?

Compliance is an increasingly important consideration for any industrial B2B marketing website. What are your requirements around GDPR and CCPA? What accessibility needs do you have? Is translation a nice-to-have feature or an absolute requirement? Is e-commerce a current need or a future goal? Would a quote cart be a good interim solution?

Perform competitive research

As you form your list, also take a look at what your most marketing-savvy competitors are doing on their industrial B2B marketing websites. What’s missing from your site, and what could you do better than they do? Ask yourself and others, “What do you see in competitor websites that you wish our website had, and why?”

Be sure to look at your top three competitors (whether you consider them marketing-savvy or not). Look at businesses you know you compete with for customers, as well as competitors for your most important SEO terms. They are not necessarily the same list!

If your competitor websites aren’t terribly impressive or aren’t meaningfully better than your website, move up to the next tier in terms of size and geographic reach, to larger competitors that have divisions you compete with. Also look at websites for similar products/services in similar industries that your most important prospects might be familiar with.

As you review competitors, keep a list of the features that you see as helpful to the user and/or the company, noting the competitor, the feature and why it’s important.

Get input from internal stakeholders

Doing your homework before getting feedback from everyone else on the team makes it easier to keep the planning of the website firmly grounded in marketing needs and objectives — without getting sidetracked by other agendas. But you will need to consult the others on the team, and they will of course have valuable contributions to make to the overall planning process.

If your stakeholders include a handful of key executives and product division heads, schedule a meeting well in advance. Provide plenty of prep time and a clear agenda, asking all attendees to do some research and thinking ahead of time, so they can come to the table with their recommendations and requests for a website, and the reasoning behind them.

If you have a very large number of stakeholders who need to have a voice in the project, a survey might be the best tool. This way everyone’s voice is heard, and everyone has an opportunity to weigh in, knowing that you’re prioritizing based on greatest need and impact. You’ll be asking them essentially the same multifaceted question you have already considered.

Here’s a simple approach to a template for such a survey. Create a form, using Google Forms or another tool, or simply an email. Send it to the heads of departments (customer service, sales, product divisions, upper management) to survey their wishes. Don’t include your preliminary list of ideas in the email.

The marketing department is planning and prioritizing features and content for a new website redesign. We’ve already spent some time thinking about what’s needed from a marketing standpoint, but to avoid surprises and scope creep down the road, we’re asking for your input on what’s important in this project. Please share with me your individual opinions on:  

  • What’s working and not working about the current website? 
  • What do you see in competitor websites that you wish our website had, and why? (List the competitor, the feature and why it’s important.) 
  • What features, content or integrations do you believe would help the website be better at:
    • Helping customers find what they’re looking for
    • Convincing prospects of our value proposition
    • Supporting the sales department
    • Functioning as a marketing tool that generates qualified leads
    • Helping customer service
    • Reducing overhead/back office costs 
    • Attracting talent
  • Rate the features you come up with from your point of view, thinking in terms of the company’s overall success, on a scale of 1–10, with 1 being the highest priority and 10 being the lowest. (Use a 10-point scale no matter how many items you have.)

Prioritize and justify your plan according to revenue and business objectives

Once you’ve received input from the internal team, begin prioritizing, putting the marketing and sales needs front and center. Think through the most impactful “must haves” vs. the “nice to haves,” which could be prioritized for a later time.

A phased approach to redesigning your industrial B2B marketing website could be the best move—your site will go live with what you really need sooner and you’ll use your budget more strategically.

The MoSCoW process — Must Have, Should Have, Could Have, Won’t Have (this time) — brings some objectivity to the process of prioritizing features, which can help make team members feel heard and acknowledged, even if their most-wanted feature—a dealer portal, let’s say—is a “won’t have” this time around but is slated for a second phase a year from now.

Review your ICP and key personas

As you prioritize, review your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) and key personas — as you’ll want to prioritize features around what’s most critical for these audiences. Often this includes patterns that look like this:

  • Persona 1 (Influencer) (Often an engineer or technical person)
    • Features or content that help them evaluate a solution/vendor
    • Features or content that build trust in your problem-solving abilities for their specific need
    • Useful content that helps them in their careers (creating MQLs)
  • Persona 2 (buyer) (Often C-level, purchasing department)
    • Features or content that help them evaluate a solution/vendor
    • Features or content that build trust in your organization as a future key vendor/supplier.

At this point you’ll have gathered a lot of information and notes. Sifting through them objectively can be a challenge! We have two different methods we recommend — a spreadsheet option and a sticky-note option.

The spreadsheet approach
To use the spreadsheet approach, compile all the items you’ve gathered into one spreadsheet, with columns for:

  • Feature
  • Description
  • Source (s)
  • Persona (Who is it for? In addition to your two primary personas, add job seekers, existing customers, distributors, admin, marketing, sales)
  • Reason? (revenue/sales, marketing, talent, customer service/retention, admin cost/savings, distributor support, other)
  • $, $$, $$$ (your best guess as to complexity to build/implement)

Then, given all of the above, assign a relative importance on a scale of 10 (no matter how many items you have), with 1 being most important, 10 being least important.

Next, sort by relative importance.

Rated 1-3: These are your MUSTs.

  • Do you have strong paths for SQL and MQL? 
  • Are all important, functional and required current integrations and tools represented? 
  • If you built this and only this, would the website be improved from where it is now? 
  • If not, go through and re-assign priorities. 

Rated 4-6: These are your SHOULDs.

  • Do all of these items serve an important business purpose? 
  • Would these items be OK to launch without, but added as iterative improvements 2-3 months post-launch? 
  • If not, go through and re-assign priorities. 

Rated 7-9: These are your COULDs.

  • Do all of these items serve an important business purpose that is worth spending money and time on creating? 
  • What would be the consequences of not including these items? Do they all have a consequence if not included or a job to do if included?
  • Would these items be OK to launch without, but added as iterative improvements 4-6 months post-launch? 
  • If not, go through and re-assign priorities. 

Rated 10: These are your WON’Ts.

  • Do the items here represent things that might be nice to have but don’t have a business case to justify the cost to build/integrate or implement at this time? 
  • Are they things that seem not important or necessary to the website’s marketing success? Can you justify the reason why they are not?

The sticky-note approach
If the spreadsheet approach makes your head spin, try another method. Assign each feature to a sticky note, put them all up on a wall or whiteboard in a small group meeting, and go through the process of “keep, kill, combine”—decide for each note whether to keep it, remove it or combine it with another note.

Then, organize the sticky notes into four quadrants: Urgent/Important, Not Urgent/Important, Urgent/Not Important, Not Urgent/Not important (a principle adapted from the Eisenhower Box). Here’s a quick overview of the four boxes and how you can treat them:

  • Urgent/Important means Must Have (mission critical features that are absolutely necessary).
  • Not Urgent/Not Important means Won’t Have (at least in this phase).
  • Not Urgent/Important means Should Have (it’s not 100% mission critical, but really “should” be included).
  • Urgent/Not Important means Could Have (these are the “nice to haves,” some of which may be cut for budgeting purposes, or phased in later).

Ask for one more round of input

After you’ve prioritized the items, using either the spreadsheet or the sticky note method, circulate this MoSCoW list, prioritized and grouped, with reasoning noted, among the team members. Remind them that you’ll be getting further input from production resources on the overall cost of each item. Then, hold a check-in meeting for anyone who wants to provide further feedback, and adjust as necessary. 

This prioritized feature list, including the items that are NOT included, as well as those most heavily prioritized as MUST-HAVES, will serve you well as you go through your industrial B2B marketing website redesign process, especially when, as is inevitable, requests for certain features surface during the build process. With this thorough upfront planning, it’s likely that you’ll have already thought through the same or a similar feature. You’ll be prepared to demonstrate that the feature was already assigned a level of importance that justifies it being developed after the initial launch, so as to not hold up progress. 

Remember: don’t let perfect get in the way of good! Prioritize features and keep moving ahead.

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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