B2B Website Strategy for Lead Generation Whitepaper

B2B Website Strategy for Lead Generation

How to Plan a B2B Industrial Website That Increases Lead Quality and Quantity, Whether You're Redesigning or Improving an Existing Website

Marketers know that getting the right message to the right person at the right time isn’t as simple as it sounds. Your website is the hub of your marketing, but a website that doesn’t produce quality leads makes your marketing department look like a cost center instead of an investment in future growth.

Whether it’s time for a complete redesign or you intend to make agile improvements over time, these eight principles are proven ways to guide the process of turning your website into a lead-generating business engine:

Table of Contents

Principle #1: Define the needs and goals
Principle #2: Know your audience
Principle #3: Articulate who you are
Principle #4: Guide visitors to critical actions
Principle #5: Prioritize features
Principle #6: Plan critical content
Principle #7: Organize the homepage and navigation
Principle #8: Write the strategic plan
Conclusion: Approach Your Website Redesign with Confidence
About Windmill Strategy

Principle #1: Define the needs and goals

Before hiring a partner, before assigning random tasks, and before making a major budget request, you must define the needs and goals of the website project. Decisions that you make in this stage will lay the groundwork for success.

These are the primary questions and considerations for defining the needs and goals:

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?”

Want to Keep Reading?

Unlock the rest of this page and access this whitepaper.

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  • Outdated look and visuals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.

Before launching a new Industrial web design for any industrial company—or any major new marketing undertaking, for that matter—it’s important to know what you want to achieve.

Principle #2: Know your audience

Once you’ve defined your needs and goals, whether for a new site, or for improving or redesigning your existing website, you need to figure out who it’s for. Who’s your audience?

Table of Contents:

  1. Your best customers are not just any customers
  2. Defining your audience: the basic steps
  3. Defining your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile)
  4. Understanding key persona patterns
  5. Interviewing customers
  6. Creating high-level personas
  7. Make your website resonate with your core audience

Your best customers are not just any customers

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing, especially not in B2B industrial companies with niche audiences and complex products and services. These offerings are not for anyone and everyone, and if you approach your website and marketing with the idea of casting a wide net, you’ll miss the mark. To be truly effective, each piece of your marketing and content needs to be laser focused on attracting, engaging, and converting the very specific people who will come to represent your best customers.

Truly knowing your audience is one of the key principles of a great industrial website’s design and strategy.

Defining your audience: the basic steps

There tend to be two polar extremes in approaching a definition of audience. On one hand, consulting companies and large agencies might insist on months of detailed research and investigation, pulling together exquisitely detailed personas and market research before taking any further steps to build a client’s website. On the other hand, a CEO or other internal stakeholders might insist that they’ll “sell to anybody who can use our products! Why would we limit ourselves?” 

Neither extreme is ideal.

We believe the best approach for your B2B industrial marketing website lies somewhere in the middle, a sweet spot balancing effort and results. It’s important to do the work to identify who you’re talking to and what they’re looking for, but you also want to get the right information out there so that the audience you’ve identified can buy from you sooner rather than later. By focusing your website on your best prospects and guiding them along a path toward what you most want them to do, you’ll make your website an effective, lead-generating, sales and marketing tool.

Here are the basic steps: 

  • Identify your highest value customer groups and define your ICP
  • Understand key persona patterns for B2B technical companies
  • Interview a few key customers to get more detail on what they’re looking for
  • Create high-level personas

To be clear: your ICP or Ideal Customer Profile describes the ideal company that is your customer. Personas describe the individuals within those companies. Both concepts are important, but we recommend keeping it simple by focusing on ICP first, then high-level personas.

Defining your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile)

Seeing the entire website through the eyes of your highest-value customer groups will create a positive customer experience and greater lead generation. Targeting ideal customers doesn’t preclude serving other customers, too. But you want to make it easy for your ideal customers to find you and to feel they’re in the right place.

What to ask the sales team

Your sales team will be a valuable source of insights, starting with: Who are your current and past highest value customers? What makes them valuable?

Among high-value customers and prospects, find out about their buying teams. What can your salespeople tell you about who’s on the buying team? On that team, who is usually doing the research? Who is leading the inquiry? And who makes the final decision?

Define patterns for ideal customers based on:

  • Company Size (in terms of both dollars and number of people)
  • Project Size (in dollars)
  • Annual Budget (in dollars, for the product or service you provide)
  • Industries or groups of industries  
  • Geography

Identify four-to-six customers you wish you could replicate. What do these customers have in common?

In terms of your company’s offerings, which ones currently deliver the best customer lifetime value to your company? Which ones bring in the highest margin? And which offerings are an easy-to-sell way to begin a relationship that can be cultivated over time to turn a new customer into a larger, long-term customer?

Summarize your ICP findings

From the information you’ve gathered, flesh out specifics or ranges for company size, project size and annual budget. What types of projects, needs and applications characterize ideal customers? Rank the top three industries or groups of industries, and don’t forget about geography. If your company serves a specific geographic region, this will automatically narrow your focus.

Understanding key persona patterns

As you flesh out your ICP, you’ll see a pattern of one or two key people coming up in the buying cycle. Typically, we see two, sometimes three, primary archetypes among B2B and industrial buyers.

The most important of these persona archetypes are The Influencer and The Buyer. The Influencer is usually an engineer or another technical specifier or designer. They don’t sign off on the final purchase, but they make recommendations and validate decisions. They might find you while working on sourcing vendors for new projects or trying to solve a particular problem.

The Buyer is a high-level corporate person doing due diligence. They care about cost, performance and delivery. They rely on The Influencer to vet potential vendors. The Buyer wants to see a website that signals credibility and a sense that the supplier will continue to be around in the future.

Another persona you might target is The End User, who will influence lifetime sales and may be empowered to search for alternatives to a failed technology.

Interviewing customers

If possible, interview a few customers and/or prospects to gather additional input for creating ICPs and personas. From your conversations with the sales team, identify four-to-six names of people to talk to. Here are a few questions to ask and then analyze for patterns:

  • What are their challenges? 
  • What are they looking for in a partner, supplier or vendor?
  • What information and content is helpful for them in different phases of the buying cycle?

This article provides additional sample persona interview questions as well as other tips.

Creating high-level personas

Start with the basic archetypes and flesh out specifics based on discussions with your sales team and any interviews you do. Of course, the patterns of your research might reveal different or additional personas, but try not to get too granular. You don’t need seven or eight personas.

Here’s an outline you can use to pull together some details for each persona in a simple Word document or Google Doc:

  • Age range
  • What is their day like? 
  • What keeps them up at night? 
  • What do they call the solution? 
  • How do they search for it?
  • How do they benefit from your offerings?

Make your website resonate with your core audience

The most important activities to help you clearly articulate the audience segments for your B2B industrial web design are:  

  • Identifying highest value offerings/services/products
  • Identifying ICP and personas
  • Identifying any secondary classification of importance (such as industries, applications, etc.)

A great industrial marketing website is designed to be a match between what your customer is looking for and what you want to show them. Your website can serve information to anyone interested in learning more about your offerings, but you want it to resonate the most with, and speak the most clearly to, your core audience, as defined by a type of company, persona(s) within that company, and what they’re looking for.

Principle #3: Articulate who you are

Does your website’s initial view clearly outline what you do, who it’s for and why prospects should care? If not, this is one of the highest-impact changes you can make when you redesign your website.

A strong positioning statement will attract and engage those who are a great fit, while subtly allowing those who aren’t a great fit to easily discern this and opt out. Your positioning statement should include some of your SEO keywords and choosing these is also critical to attracting and engaging the best prospects.

Table of Contents

What is a brand positioning statement?

A brand positioning statement communicates essential facts about your company — what you do and who it’s for and why a prospect should care. It should be brief — no more than a few hundred characters — and it should be visible in the initial “homepage hero” view of your website.

Placing the positioning statement front and center will help fulfill the primary purpose of any marketing website, which is to attract, engage and convert those prospects who are most likely to become great customers. The site needs to be 1) found by the right people and 2) contain language that resonates with them.

Your positioning statement should be general enough to speak to all your customers over a long period of time — unless your business changes drastically, the positioning statement will not change. There’s plenty of room elsewhere on your website and in other marketing to address specific segments of your audience.

An important step in developing your positioning statement and in your overall website redesign is identifying critical services, products and revenue drivers.

Identify critical services, products and revenue drivers

Your company may offer a lot of services or products, to anyone who will buy them. But, for the sake of your primary positioning statement, it’s important to claim a focus. What is your company known for? What products or services bring in the most revenue? Which offer the most growth potential? Review these services, products and revenue drivers with the sales team and with leadership.

In addition to these primary, high-value offerings, what are your most important applications and industries? Is there more potential for growth and future revenue in a specific industry? Or in a group of industries or applications? If you want to position your company as a specialist in a specific field, you’ll want to avoid listing every industry under the sun.

Going through the exercise of cataloging these items is a building block for drafting your positioning statement itself. Critical products and services, and applications or industries, should be prominently shown on your website’s homepage, and some of them, or families/categories of them, may end up in your positioning statement.

Write a draft positioning statement

Most positioning statements share three critical pieces of information:

  1. Who you serve: It must be more specific than “anyone and everyone.” Write to your ICP (ideal customer profile) and personas.
  2. What you do: This is the specific product or service deliverable that your client receives when working with you, including what’s in it for them, and how you are helping them succeed.
  3. What’s unique about working with you: What differentiates you or makes you better than the competition? Why should they choose you? Why does your work matter? Why should anyone care?

A very simple way to start drafting a positioning statement is to fill in the blanks in this sentence: We do _____ for ______.

Add a differentiator: We do (differentiator) ____ for _____.

If you can substitute a descriptive verb for “do,” all the better.

Next, gut-check this against your top three competitors. Is it similar to their positioning? Does anything need to change to differentiate you? Go back and make changes if needed. Writing a breakthrough B2B positioning statement is an art and a science. It’s easier to write if your company has defined its mission, vision, core values and direction.

After making any changes, brainstorm some variations. You can take this further with a writer during the redesign project. The statement language serves to communicate what you do to your website design team, as well as to your website visitors.

Clarify your elevator pitch

Let’s say a prospect is new to you, hears your positioning statement and wants to learn more. What supporting information, sometimes called a “reassurance statement,” would they benefit from? What would you tell someone about your company in a 30-second elevator ride?

Author Donald Miller, developer of the StoryBrand framework, refers to creating your “one-liner,” like a movie pitch for what your business can do. He recommends framing your elevator pitch around a problem, a solution and a reward.

What impact does your company make on your prospect’s business? What benefits do they get from working with you? A positioning statement can’t say it all, so this piece of information, whatever you choose to call it, should support your positioning statement in a prominent place on your homepage. This way, users can learn more even before they click “learn more.”

Identify primary SEO keywords, part 1

Search engine optimization also helps to articulate who you are, in the language that your prospects are actually using to search for a solution. Some of your keywords should appear in your positioning statement, as it’s likely also the primary heading on your homepage.

What keywords do you think your best customers are using to describe your offerings as a whole and your specific products or services? Identify topics and sub-topics, including product names and generic terms. Many keyword research tools are available to help.

Then, take this language that your prospects are using and cross-reference it with the language that you’ve clarified around what you offer in your positioning statement. Often, internal language within a company, even within the sales team, is not the same language that prospects type into Google. Your prospects might be trying to find the very solution that you’re selling but referring to it differently. What are your best customers calling the solution?

A great way to start looking for, or verifying, positioning statement language that matches the language that your best customers use is to do a few quick customer interviews or persona interviews. Ideally, have a writer or neutral third-party conduct the interviews, instead of sales representatives. We’ve developed a set of helpful interview questions.

If customer interviews aren’t possible, ask the sales team what your best customers are saying about your top service/product lines and what led to their purchase decision. Anecdotal information about what your best customers are “calling the solution” can provide some interesting insights.

This information forms the beginning of your SEO keyword research, which you can advance by typing the terms you’ve collected into Google’s Keyword Planner, looking at the search engine optimization of competitor websites, and using other online tools to find similar keywords and volume. Your positioning statement should serve as a calling card to your target audience. Researching how they are looking for solutions such as yours will not only help them find you but will help them quickly recognize you as the solution.

Identify primary SEO keywords, part 2

One tool that can help you explore your direct competitors’ SEO efforts is SEO Meta in 1 Click, which lets you see the meta details (title, description, H1 and alt image tags) of a specific page. You’ll need Google Chrome to use this tool.

Another technique that has proven valuable is keyword gap comparison, which shows things such as keywords you share with competitors and words they rank for that you do not. There are several paid tools that offer this capability, such as SEMrush, and you may want to sample a few before investing in one.

When you use SEO keyword tools, especially in the context of a B2B industrial marketing website, remember that intent and specificity are more important than volume. It’s easy to be led astray when you notice high volume for a more general, consumer-oriented term, but optimizing for this kind of term won’t help your business. For example, let’s say your organization extrudes polycarbonate lenses used in lighting fixtures. You’ll see much higher volume around keywords for the fixtures themselves, but these represent searches made by consumers who, if they came to your website, would quickly see that you’re part of the supply chain, not someone who can sell them a light fixture.

Better keywords for you will be aligned with what an engineer or technical person would search for when trying to find a new solution or source a new vendor. These keywords will have much lower volume, but they will be more specific, and often they will be longer phrases.

Go for quality and intent over quantity. Having a lot of visitors to your site sounds exciting, but if they land and then quickly leave without any further interaction, it will damage your overall SEO progress. This is called a bounce, and having a high bounce rate will lower your site’s overall credibility. You will be better served by targeting a handful of lower volume, but higher accuracy, keywords. Collectively, these will raise your site’s performance and authority.

Once you have an initial list of words, sort by those that indicate a high intent to buy. Make sure to separate them from words that would fall higher in the funnel (showing research/interest but not intent) and terms that are too broad to be a good match.

After prioritizing, look at your number-one keyword. Does it fit into your positioning statement, or into a headline above your positioning statement? If you don’t feel right declaring it on your homepage, is there a better keyword that would fit? SEO and positioning need to work together as a system.

Quality SEO is about marrying your goals with the highest probability search terms that will deliver new people directly to your website. Don’t change your voice and overall goals to match what you think will be better traffic. Your positioning statement should be authentic and accurate.

Principle #4: Guide visitors to critical actions

Your B2B website has a very important job. It must attract, educate, inform, engage and ultimately convert new prospects of two types: those who are ready to talk to sales, and those who are in-target but not yet ready to buy.

If they’re not ready to buy, you want them to be engaged enough to provide contact information so that you can continue to nurture the lead.

How do you guide visitors into taking action? Maybe you’ve heard that the key to a great user experience is to look at your website through the eyes of…a user! True, but it’s a two-way street. The best B2B industrial marketing websites will give prospective customers exactly what they need and are looking for, but also provide them with what you, as a vendor or solution provider, need the user to know. You want them to feel that they’re making an informed decision—and to actually be informed—when they choose to take action on your website. You also want to make it very clear and simple for them to act.

An industrial website design that successfully generates marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) and sales-qualified leads (SQLs) is a happy marriage of what the user is looking for and what you need them to know in order to be convinced that you’re the answer.

Table of Contents

Recommended B2B SQL and MQL strategies

For your website to be great at its primary job—converting visitors into MQLs and SQLs—it’s important to first make sure that you’re attracting the right people, and that it’s clear to them what you do, in a language that they understand. Once you’ve addressed that, it’s time to think about what you want them to do.

For most marketing websites, the answer is simply “give us their contact information.” With contact information, you can:

  1. Have the sales team follow up and close the deal, or
  2. Market to the contact and nurture the relationship until they’re ready to buy.

If your products are suitable for e-commerce, or sold through a distribution channel with those capabilities, you might want the user to make a purchase, but in this article we’ll focus primarily on options A and B.

To cover both options, a B2B industrial website must provide:

  • adequate overview information on what you do, typically on the homepage,
  • overview and detailed information on your products and service offerings,
  • case studies,
  • information about the company and its history, and
  • an easy way to make contact.

In the next section, we’ll take a deeper dive into each of these bullet points.

Ultimately, your industrial website design needs to check the boxes for all of the questions that a prospect might be asking, consciously or subconsciously, as they visit the website. Can this provider help me solve my problem? Do they understand my situation? Do they have experience and knowledge from doing similar things before? Will they be easy to work with and help me succeed professionally? Do I trust them?

Intertwined with the critical information and pages on the website, you’ll need to suggest next steps, in both subtle and straightforward ways. These next steps are the critical actions that result in MQLs and SQLs for your company.

Drive SQLs or Sales Qualified Leads from primary CTAs

When a prospect completes an online form, they trust you enough to share their name, phone number and email address and agree to talk to your salespeople. Technical audiences tend to only take this step when they’re convinced you can solve their problem and they’re sure they can derive value from talking with you.

To guide prospects into filling out your contact form, your industrial web design has to provide information that convinces them you can solve their problem. Beginning with the homepage, which orients a prospective new customer to your business, each section of the website should answer certain questions:

  • Homepage: Does this company do what I am looking for? What differentiates them? What areas do they focus on, or what specific products/services do they offer? What is their specialty?
  • Product/service pages: What are the specifics on how their offerings work, and will they be compatible with my problem/situation?
  • Industry/application pages: Does this company understand my unique needs, and are they experienced in my specific application? Have they done this enough that they know more about my problem than I do?
  • Case studies: How has this company solved unique problems before? Do they have the experience to solve my problem? How do they go about solving problems, and what is the process like?
  • About: How long has this company been around? Can I trust them to continue to be around, and to be a key supplier into the future?

Once you’ve convinced them—better yet, while you’re convincing them—you want to make it extremely clear, simple and easy for them to take action.

Typical calls to actions (CTAs) use language like “get a quote,” “contact us” or “start the conversation.” A CTA can take the form of a button in the upper right-hand corner of every page, as well as a prominent callout or simple form on the footer of every page.

Product and service pages, as well as resource articles, should also end with a text-based CTA that connects a problem discussed in the article with how you can help the prospect.

CTAs should be pervasive (on every page), so the prospect sees the patterns for where they’ll show up on any page they visit, and never has to think hard about finding a place to click once they’ve determined that they’re ready. If someone is on the fence and has to hunt around for a button or form, they might decide to put off making contact—which leaves time for a competitor to gain their attention and capture the lead.

CTAs should be tasteful and fit in with the overall design of the page, but they should attract attention rather than blend in.

Attract MQLs or Marketing Qualified Leads from soft conversions

Visitors to your website aren’t always ready to buy, and in that case they don’t want to waste their time talking to salespeople. In fact, at any given moment, it’s often the case that most of your total addressable market is not ready to buy. Your goal as a marketer is to be top of mind when they become ready.

Website visitors who match your key personas but don’t have a project or need on their radar right now are likely prospects for the future, and you can start building trust in their eyes now. The goal is to convert their anonymous web visits into an exchange for their contact information, so that you can nurture the relationship in a helpful, non-salesey way, priming them for a future purchase and supporting positive word of mouth.

For these visitors, you want to keep useful information flowing without putting up a lot of barriers. These early-in-the-process researchers might be very interested in and actively reading your product or service content, industry information, case studies and other resources. When you keep the information flowing, without a required form or “gate,” you gain the trust of this audience. The practice of gating content is not an all or nothing proposition, however.

There are types of content that are a “value-add,” providing additional detail, depth and career-influencing advice, and these offer great opportunities for a reasonable exchange. With a well crafted industrial website design, the prospect sees enough potential value in the gated material to be willing to provide their email address to gain access to it. Examples of this type of content are white papers, calculators, e-newsletter or email subscriptions, and webinars. The more compelling your content and offerings are, and the more you’re able to demonstrate and provide value to website visitors, the more likely you’ll convert them into subscribers and eventual customers.

Opportunities for MQL conversions are a bit more varied and nuanced than the SQL CTAs. The MQL conversion CTAs are more situational, as compared to the SQL CTAs that are ever-present in the same places throughout the website. Think of the MQLs as something like a conversational tool, to be offered when it makes sense in context, vs. the SQL CTAs that are ever-present in predictable locations.

We recommend always showing the prospect a portion of the content of whatever you’re gating, in order to gain their trust and entice them to read the rest of the resource. The mechanisms for prompting an MQL conversion can include:

  • A form that pops up a fourth or a third of the way through a lengthy white paper article, asking for an email address to continue reading.
  • A webinar overview page that outlines the topics covered and key takeaways, paired with a registration form.
  • A calculator that gives high-level results on a web page, but provides the opportunity to access a more detailed result after filling out a short form.
  • An exit intent popup form, which pops up when a visitor is about to leave your website, offering a message like, “Before you go, download this useful whitepaper or guide on XYZ topic.”
  • A short form to subscribe to insights and articles within the resource section of your website.

How to define user flows/paths toward MQLs and SQLs

Now that you’ve seen some of the patterns that work for gaining conversions, the next step for your unique marketing situation is to map out what your MQL and SQL conversion points are, and then figure out how you’ll get people there. You need to determine the right language for CTAs and put those CTAs into place, and you need to make sure you’re offering useful content. This is something you might have to build out over time as you consider the evolution of your industrial website design.

When an in-target, ready-to-talk-to-sales prospect visits your website, attract them with the right language. What words might they use if they were talking to you instead of looking at your website? Would they say, “I want to get a quote” or “I want to talk to an engineer?” Think through this, and even talk to the sales team about what your target prospects might call this stage of the buying process.

Use the most succinct and universal version of that language for your ever-present contact/get a quote button in the upper right corner of your website header, and use a more conversational version in the universal website footer.

When someone earlier in the funnel, or not even in the buying process, visits your website, this is more nuanced. A good way to map this out is by starting with valuable content or information you have now that would have a high value to your prospects, or content that could be easily generated or adapted in the future. Here are some examples:

  • If you have several high-quality articles around a specific topic, you might be able to repurpose them as the basis for a comprehensive whitepaper.
  • If you’re emailing your marketing list regularly, it’s a no-brainer to give people the ability to sign up for news and resources on your website.
  • If you have a very useful existing PDF such as a materials guide, or another tool that helps in the specifying process, it could be a candidate for a page that shares some of the information, but asks the prospect to fill out a form to gain access to the full resource.
  • If you have a marketing automation tool like HubSpot in place, it’s very easy to set up an exit-intent form on your website to give visitors one last chance to take action before they leave the site.

The key with MQLs is to make creating these conversion points a priority, and to continue adding them throughout your website as you generate content, in places where it seems natural and where you’re genuinely offering added value to the prospect.

Planning your website around marketing strategy and ROI

By incorporating named, planned CTAs for both SQL and MQL conversions into your website strategy, you’ll see improved traction over time as you measure your lead conversion in terms of quality and quantity.

Start measuring now, including implementing a deal quality report to measure the quality and source of all of the conversions on your website. Initially it might seem disappointing to see conversions that are “just” MQLs. Building that list, however, allows you to multiply the results of your email and content marketing efforts as the list is nurtured over time. As MQLs begin to convert to sales prospects, they’ll already be pre-sold to a greater degree than those that just found out about you.

To ensure that this list remains engaged, and you’re actively reaching them (without driving them away by trying to jump into sales mode before they’re ready), work in multiple touchpoints and avenues, including remarketing ads, ongoing email campaigns based around educational content, webinar offerings. Internally, monitor engagement using lead scoring, which is a process that can be automated to let you know exactly how engaged the prospect is with your content, and can alert sales when a prospect might be ready for a conversation.

No wonder B2B and industrial website strategy is complex. These websites are much more than attractive postcards. They’re hard-working multitaskers.

Principle #5: Prioritize features

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. In this article, we’ll go over the tools and steps to help you:

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.

Principle #6: Plan critical content

Content is one of the most important elements of creating a successful industrial B2B marketing website. Content strategy is defined as the ongoing process of translating business objectives and goals into a plan that uses content as a primary means of achieving those goals.

Within the context of shoring up or redesigning a B2B marketing website that’s aimed at a technical audience, content strategy means planning out the most important content that will attract, engage and convert your niche audience(s).

Given its importance, it’s pretty remarkable that content is also the number-one reason that we see projects stalling out or being delayed as the launch date draws near. This is particularly true when—as is usually the case—the content is being written internally by the marketing team and/or other website project stakeholders (vs. an outside copywriter).

If you don’t have a clear plan and priorities that you can execute with discipline, content is a bottleneck. To give you a leg up on planning and prioritization so you avoid getting caught in that bottleneck, let’s go over some of the critical aspects of B2B website content strategy:

Key elements of website content strategy

A simple way to look at content strategy is to ask yourself: “Do we provide the right information and user experience to convince our ideal prospects that we can solve their problem, and that it’s worth their while to talk to our sales department?”

Before working on a website content strategy, think through your positioning & SEO, personas, user paths and necessary features for your website. During this process, start a list of what content is needed to guide prospects and visitors through their journey, as they learn who you are and what you do, become convinced that you can solve their problem, and feel ready to talk to sales.

Prioritizing your list of needed content types

When we talk about content, we mean both the content visible on each web page and content that requires an additional step to uncover, whether it’s a simple download from a resource library or content that is gated and available only by providing contact information.

Here’s a general starting list of critical content for most B2B, technical and industrial marketing websites:

  • Overview of what you do (homepage)
  • An overview and detailed information page for each product or service
  • Case studies
  • Market, industry, vertical or application pages
  • Information about the company and its history (About Us)
  • An easy way to make contact (CTAs and contact page for SQLs)
  • A reason to exchange contact information before a need to buy is imminent (gated content, gated tools or resources, etc., for MQLs)
  • Resource library/articles/videos or other instructional materials

Think through the path of your key audiences, particularly the path of the technically focused buyer/researcher or engineer who is often the one spending the most time on your website. What information do they need to answer the question on their minds: “Can this company help me solve my problem?” There may be additional types of content that are critical for your unique niche audience.

If you don’t have a content calendar of topics, start one. This means developing an ongoing cadence of creating relevant content that fits with the needs and questions of your audience and personas, your positioning as a company, and the SEO terms that are most important to you.

Time-saving tip: With articles in particular, aim to write them in a way that is “evergreen,” meaning that they will continue to be relevant a year or more into the future, to save yourself the sometimes arduous task of cleaning up outdated information.

Creating a plan and accountabilities to jump-start content development

Now you have a list of content that’s needed, and you’re looking at it, and it’s long and daunting, and you feel like doing anything else but this! Luckily, you’re probably not starting from scratch. If you already have a live website, you have some content already, albeit potentially outdated. Think through what you already have:

  • What content is already in existence online and just needs to be updated?
  • Is there better, more relevant content in sales materials or brochures that you can use as a start for a webpage?
  • What content is already online and ready to go?
  • What content will need to be created from scratch?
  • What could you create quickly and easily, working primarily from what is already partially formed?
  • What content pieces could others on your team create, at least in first-draft form?

It’s never too early to start working on content, and really, right now—before any website redesign initiative is even started—is the best time to create a prioritized list of needed content types so you can jump-start content development.

Even if your website launch goal is months away and it seems like you have a lot of time, don’t wait to get started. Set milestone deadlines. Have someone else hold you (and others who are writing drafts) accountable to meeting weekly deadlines, so that progress gets made on time.

Create a content plan document in a spreadsheet format, and assign an owner who’s in charge of holding all contributors accountable. Every individual piece of content should also have an owner who’s accountable for it, as well as deadlines for initial draft, review/edits and publishing (or being ready to publish).

Be realistic about timelines—given all your responsibilities, an article that you think will take about eight hours to write isn’t actually likely to get done in a day or two. It might take eight hours—but that will most likely be spread out over a week or two, or longer.

Work in batches as much as possible, and set weekly milestones that are discussed in regular meetings to keep everything on track. Any progress, even slow progress on achievable deadlines, is better than no progress on a seemingly overwhelming task. By turning content creation into a habit, this process also gives you the opportunity to transition seamlessly into writing ongoing article content for your email marketing list or other purposes once your most important website priorities are taken care of.

The overlooked secret of content

Here’s the secret that everyone overlooks when it comes to content — it’s the easiest thing to change later.

Sure, marketers want their website to launch with the best possible content — and they should. Quality content is one of the most important pieces of the site, as it pertains to messaging, positioning, engagement, SEO and the information itself that you’re getting out into the world. However, it’s also important to realize that you have some amount of content, live, on your website right now, and (assuming your website has any traffic at all) people are reading it. Your customers, your prospects, all of your most important audiences, are reading the content that is currently live, and that content is probably not up to par with what you’d like it to be.

Sounds terrible, right? But there’s tremendous freedom in accepting this — if your website launches with content that is improved on even one or two key pages, you’re better off than you are today.

Don’t get bogged down in trying to make every single page perfect before launching a new site. Just launch the site, and keep yourself to a steady habit of improving the content little by little over time — before, during, and after a website project.

The bottom line: don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good. Content can be a big undertaking, and it’s daunting to many marketers, but don’t let it delay progress on updating a new website (if you’re in the process of a website redesign project), and make a commitment to review, update and improve content continuously.

Including SEO keywords in your content and pages

Last but not least: don’t overlook the value of SEO as you map out your website content strategy.

It’s generally advised to create the overarching UX and sitemap for users first, and then, based on your keyword research, begin to map out a keyword focus for each page on the site. Write for users first, Google second. Setting up your primary and secondary keywords for each page ahead of starting the writing process can help an author be aware of that aspect of the page, but the content has to be readable by human beings.

Write the page’s initial draft for your key personas, based on what they need to know and what you need them to know about your company, products, services, capabilities, etc. Then, go back through the draft and see where you can organically, without it feeling forced, weave in instances of your keywords. Before your pages go live, you’ll want to have a fully developed mapping of keywords appearing in page titles, meta descriptions and headings, in addition to the body copy. Careful attention to SEO will help ensure that actual visitors see the content that you’ve worked so hard on, but users can be turned off when keywords seem artificially forced into place.

A couple of other quick tips:

  • Write all content so that it can be both easily scanned and read carefully. Most users want to scan first, and will dig into the details later if they’re interested.
  • Likewise, use a “skim and dive” approach to how content is spread across multiple pages. Provide a meaningful overview of any set of products, services, articles, case studies, etc., on an overview page, allowing easy links to navigate to a detail page for greater depth.

Remember, content is the easiest thing on your website to change. Progress is more important than perfection. And with just a small amount of work toward planning, preparation, scheduling and making a commitment to keep to your milestones, any website content strategy and plan is achievable.

Principle #7: Organize the homepage and navigation

A smart homepage with targeted content and a clear structure is foundational to effective B2B website strategy. The website user experience on your homepage is often the first introduction to your company, and the quality of that experience will influence what visitors think of your company as a whole. 

The purpose of the homepage is to quickly allow new users to orient themselves to who you are and what you do, and to show them a clear path to learn more and engage further with the content on your site. A good homepage helps a customer or prospect understand that they’re in the right place—that what you offer is relevant and valuable to their business needs.

While visual design, colors, fonts and images play an important part in this, the backbone of the experience comes from the structure & content of the homepage itself, and the organization of the site-wide navigation and content. 

While every company’s ideal homepage website user experience will be—and should be—unique, there are best practices that come into play across all website experiences. For B2B technical, industrial and manufacturing marketing websites, there are certain patterns that we consider particularly useful.  

By strategically defining a preliminary site architecture for your website user experience, marketers can better guide the production efforts and outcome toward a homepage experience that supports the success of the website as a marketing tool for your company. This holds true whether you work with an in-house team, freelancers or an agency.

In this article, we’ll go over and show examples of:

Best practices for B2B technical website organization

You may be tempted to include everything under the sun on the homepage or in the main navigation. To avoid overwhelm and clutter, think of the main navigation and the homepage as an outline of how you help people gain trust. It is important to provide multiple paths to different content and features so that people can guide their own experience, while you’re also guiding them toward what you want them to do most—which is to share their contact information, when they’re qualified and ready, as SQLs and MQLs.

One of my favorite quotes from Donald Miller of StoryBrand points out that your homepage is not the place to be cute or clever. You only have a few seconds of your visitor’s time, and you need that visitor to understand what you do, who it’s for and why they should care. Immediately. The homepage is your chance to make a meaningful first impression on your target audience with your website user experience. It’s where you generate trust with prospects and help them determine whether your company is the right choice.

Your homepage functions as an introduction to and an outline of your website. To really tailor the experience, start with a firm foundation in strategy:

With the answers to these questions, you can start to utilize the patterns below that we commonly implement in a successful, user-friendly B2B industrial marketing website.

Main navigation and site structure for a B2B industrial website user experience

First, the navigation must be prominent and easy to find at the top of the page. Other key components need to be prominent at the top of the page as well.

Logo, tagline and utility navigation

The top of the page is where you’ll find global elements (those that appear on every page of your website), such as your navigation, logo and a company tagline or positioning statement. This is an area of your website where you really don’t want to be unique! Stick to the patterns that people have come to expect, so that they can quickly and easily orient themselves to your site. If they’re confused, they’re likely to go elsewhere rather than dig deeper.

  • Place the logo in the upper left (because people read left to right).
  • It’s best to also have a tagline or positioning statement in the upper left; this communicates immediately what your company sells, and to whom, throughout the site. This is especially important for visitors who find you via search, who might experience a page other than your homepage as their first introduction to your company.
  • Include a phone number in the header.
  • Include necessary user login links for things like distributor portals and cart functions in the header. This area is sometimes called utility navigation.
  • Position your site’s search function in the header, as well.
Example: www.primaryflowsignal.com (desktop view)

Main navigation and how to display it

The main navigation is the most visible organizing method for your website content, and it is a constant element throughout your website. In general, you want every page to have one place (and only one place) in the navigation. It can be helpful to think of it as a table of contents for your site.

When considering which items come first, think about how to organize your most critical content by importance to your key personas. These considerations and the corresponding navigation usually look like this:

  • “How can you solve my immediate problem?” > Products/Services/Solutions
  • “Have you solved similar problems before?” > Case Studies and/or Industries/Applications
  • “How else can you help me?” > Resources
  • “Tell me if I can trust your company” > About
  • “OK I’m ready to talk > Contact/Get a Quote/Request Info

This is the basis of your main navigation. Looking again at the PFS website example, you can see this pattern in the navigation displayed across the top of the page.

Example: www.primaryflowsignal.com (desktop view)

As an experienced web design company, we encourage you to do the same with the main navigation on your website. Visible navigation acts as a quick visual index of your offerings; it eliminates friction in the website user experience.

We recommend avoiding the so-called hamburger menu (see below) that you experience on your smartphone, for the desktop version of your website. This navigation is perfect, of course, in the mobile experience itself.

www.primaryflowsignal.com (mobile view)

A lot of people don’t yet recognize this “hamburger” icon as a menu, and they will become frustrated. Users who understand what it is still must click on the icon to reveal the navigation, thus adding another step to retrieving your content. 

Navigation tip: If you offer just a couple of products or services, you can use the product name or categories — Venturi Flow Meters and Flow Monitors, for instance — in the main navigation, instead of just “Products.” This gives visitors quicker orientation to what you offer.

Homepage wireframe recommendations for a B2B industrial website

Below are several wireframe guidelines we follow to maximize visitor engagement for your website’s most important page. The type of language you include in your homepage hero area and the pattern of information farther down the page make a difference in helping the page do its job.

Wireframe Example

Example: www.primaryflowsignal.com (wireframe)

The wireframe example above shows how you can use the homepage to highlight a “CliffsNotes” version of your offerings. The homepage should deliver your company’s executive summary and provide a collection of headlines and snippets that provide quick bursts of skimmable information and shortcuts into deeper content. (We call it “skim and dive.”) 

Be clear, to help your visitors quickly decide whether they’re in the right place or not. And if they are in the right place, and seeking what you offer, make it easy for them to contact you! 

If they’re not ready to talk to sales yet, creatively present content that helps them answer the question, “Will this company help me solve my problem or achieve my goal?” and gives them a path to stay engaged with your brand. Through content strategy and the website user experience, you’ll nudge them to contact sales or make a soft conversion when they are ready.

Homepage hero: your positioning statement and reassurance statement

Every website needs a strong positioning statement below the navigation and “above the fold.” Always express this message as simply as possible. For instance, you can structure your positioning statement as: “We do _____ for ______,” followed by a reassurance statement, which provides more detail and a CTA. 

Although the words should take center stage, this area of your homepage should also feature an illustration or photograph that reflects how you help your prospects and generates trust. For more help in defining your positioning statement, read Industrial Website Design Strategy — Articulate Who You Are With Positioning and SEO

As an example, here’s how we present Windmill Strategy as an industrial web design & B2B digital marketing company on our homepage hero:

  1. Tagline — “Modern Marketing for Technical Industries,”
  2. Positioning statement — “Industrial Web Design & B2B Digital Marketing”
  3. Reassurance statement — “We’re a B2B industrial web design company & digital marketing firm helping technical, industrial, life science and manufacturing companies achieve increased visibility & engagement, stronger branding, higher quality leads, and greater marketing ROI to accelerate growth.”
Example: www.windmillstrategy.com (desktop view)

 Additional homepage hero examples: 

Website User Experience
Example: www.primaryflowsignal.com (desktop view)
Website User Experience
Example: www.summitengineeredautomation.com (desktop view)

What comes after the “hero”?

Don’t oversize the hero area to take up the entire screen. Leave enough room for the viewer to see at least a hint of what’s next on the page. The next portion should contain overview information that continues to educate around how you can help, including specific products and service offerings, and what markets you serve. The specific categories will vary based on your company and your prospects’ needs. These could include groupings like:

  • Products and services
  • Product applications
  • Industries or personas (e.g., patients, physicians, hospital administrators)

You can include differentiating bullet points in this area, if you like, but keep them very brief. Focus on the most important information that helps visitors answer the question “(How)can this company help me?” in more detail. Present this information in text that is meaningful, short and skimmable, and include links to more detailed content. In B2B websites that we design, we often utilize an element called “cards” for this type of content, as shown below to help with website user experience.

Website User Experience
Example: www.primaryflowsignal.com (desktop view)

 

Website User Experience
Example: www.primaryflowsignal.com (desktop view)

Show social trust

Social trust, in the form of testimonials and case studies, is invaluable because of the content’s objectivity. The homepage can include short testimonial quotes from customers, logos of your key client companies and links to detailed case studies.

Example: www.primaryflowsignal.com (desktop view)
Website User Experience
Example: www.windmillstrategy.com (desktop view)

Additional homepage content

To demonstrate your company’s authority and show empathy for your customers, we recommend including an additional paragraph or two below the fold. The heading of this content can be a great place for SEO keywords. Include just a few sentences that show you understand the challenges that your best customers and prospects are facing, you speak the same language, and you’ve worked with people like them before. Here’s how this content looks on our website:

Website User Experience
Example: www.windmillstrategy.com (desktop view)

Share thought leadership and resources

Thought leadership content, in the form of resource articles, white papers or videos, can also be presented on the homepage, toward the bottom. These elements tie in to your long-term B2B content strategy.

In addition to having SEO value, good thought leadership content should be rich content that educates and informs your audience while building credibility. It shows people what you believe and what you’re an expert in, and it gives them a chance to get “inside your head” before talking to sales. When you do this well, you can gain a following among your best prospects well ahead of when they have a need for your services—and you’ll be the first they’ll call when they’re ready to buy.

Website User Experience
Example: www.primaryflowsignal.com (desktop view)

Display prominent calls to action (CTAs)

Always include prominent calls to action throughout your website’s user experience. If the page is long, consider including a compelling CTA with a form midway through the page, as well as at the bottom. (See the example below.) Many visitors won’t scroll all the way down a long page.

Website User Experience
Example: www.primaryflowsignal.com (desktop view)

The page should conclude with footer navigation, which displays the company logo/brand name, links to important areas of your website and obligatory content items like links to your privacy policy, accessibility policy and copyright information. It’s recommended that you include an MQL conversion point at the bottom of the page as well, either as a “subscribe” link in your footer or a promotion for a whitepaper download or webinar series. If you don’t include these on the content of the page itself, they can also be displayed as a pop-in “lead flow” promotion or an exit intent (a promotion that shows when a visitor is leaving the page).

From top to bottom, your homepage is an opportunity to position your company in the minds of your prospects and provide a clear, simple path to the information they seek.

Principle #8: Write the strategic plan

Whether you’re embarking on a website redesign project or seeking to make agile improvements over time to an existing industrial website, starting with a solid strategic plan at the outset is the most important step. After all, who hasn’t heard the old adage, “Failing to plan = planning to fail?”

Your plan needn’t be onerous or overly complicated, but it must be thorough enough to ensure that efforts toward a new and/or improved industrial website (whether the execution is done internally or externally) drive your business toward increased sales and marketing success. All too often, too many cooks are in the kitchen. Competing demands from different departments can allow the primary focus and objectives to be overpowered by internal politics or individual goals. The designer may have one vision, the developer another.

We find it’s best to start from a strategic roadmap that’s focused on marketing goals, and then allow all of the disciplines (design, development, copy, SEO) to weigh in and collaborate from there on how best to produce it. This often results in changes to the strategic plan, of course, but starting from that initial plan helps to keep everyone collaborating efficiently.

If you’re redesigning an industrial website, sometimes this type of plan is called a strategy brief, creative brief, creative strategy brief or RFP (although RFPs can often be much longer and sometimes restrictive). If you’re making iterative improvements to an existing site, it can simply be referred to as a sprint planning document.

Before starting any website strategic plan document, you should think through:

In this article, we’ll discuss how to:

Create a strategic website redesign plan

Your goal in this activity is to create a plan that you can send to prospective vendors and/or an internal or freelance team that creates clarity on the need and allows you to drive the strategy toward success.

Many companies contact multiple agencies with more or less a blank-slate request of “we want a new website.” They look at how the companies each approach the problem and solution, and choose a firm based on which approach they like the best. If you do it this way, you might just choose the firm that was hungriest for the work and willing to do the most solutioning before they get paid; this might not generate the highest-quality result for you. Likewise, turning internal production teams loose with a blank slate might or might not yield the most strategic outcome. With your website acting as the hub of all of your marketing, it’s important to have a strategic stake in the outcome.

Here are our guidelines for the areas you should cover in an initial planning document that you can flesh out into a fully fledged creative brief or strategy brief in subsequent steps.

1) Needs and Goals

Current state: Consider your website as it is at this moment. What’s working? What’s not working? 

Competition: Which companies are your top three competitors? Take a look at their websites and figure out where you have the opportunity to gain market share with a more effective industrial website.

Top 3 lead generation, marketing, brand and content goals: Write them out in concrete terms. In addition, describe the desired future state.

Top 3 KPIs for the website: These are up to you to determine. Usually, they are an increase in lead quality, an increase in lead quantity and a traffic and/or engagement goal. You may have other goals, as well.

2) Audience (ICP & Key Personas)

Ideal Customer Profile: This refers to a company, not an individual. Think about your ideal customer’s company size in dollars and people, project size in dollars and annual budget in dollars. In addition, what are the types of projects, needs or applications your ideal customer comes to you for? Which industries or groups of industries constitute your ideal customer? Finally, is there a practical geographical limitation, or a desirable geography?

Primary Persona (Influencer) and Primary Persona (Buyer): For both, answer these questions: What is their age range? What is their day like? What keeps them up at night? What do they call a solution? How do they search for it? How do they benefit from your offering?

3) Positioning & SEO

Draft Positioning and Reassurance Statements: What does your company do, who do you serve and what’s unique? The positioning statement will eventually need to be very concise. The reassurance statement is where you can include additional supporting information.

Primary Keywords: Which keywords do you know are important? Are there any keywords for which your site already ranks well? 

SEO/Positioning Notes: If SEO and positioning don’t line up yet, provide your team some guidance on how to proceed. Both need to be authentic to what your company actually delivers to customers.

4) Critical Actions

Sales-qualified leads (SQLs): What is the primary CTA for SQLs and what critical content is missing to support SQLs? 

Marketing-qualified leads (MQLs): What are the action mechanisms for short-term and longer-term MQLs, and what content will support MQLs?

5) Feature Prioritization

In your initial plan for the website, write out what you know in four areas: what the project MUST include, SHOULD include, COULD include and WON’T include.

6) Content & Content Strategy

Content is the biggest stumbling block in many website projects. Begin with a rough draft content strategy and timeline. By what date will you be committed to having enough quality content to launch? There are different approaches to creating content internally and/or with external help. Select one of the following for your copywriting needs, filling in the number of key pages:

  1. We will need interviewing, writing, and editing services for approximately __ key pages.
  2. We will need writing services, working from a draft from our SMEs, for approximately __ key pages.
  3. We will need editing services, working from rough drafts generated internally, for approximately __ key pages.

7) Homepage and Navigation Rough Draft

Draft the main navigation, knowing that you can revise, rename and add to it as needed. Think of it as the table of contents for your website. Also draft the sections of your homepage, knowing you can revise and refine this as you proceed.

Prioritize a plan for agile rollout to an existing website

If you’ve gone through the above exercise, you have a good starting point for an industrial website redesign project, which will generally follow a fairly prescribed waterfall process (wireframes, design/copy/SEO, development, launch). If you’re working on improvements to an existing industrial website, you’ll have the benefit of seeing smaller, impactful changes sooner, but you’ll need to do some additional planning. 

Looking over all of the proposed items in the strategic plan, evaluate and prioritize based on:

  • Which items will yield the biggest impact?
  • Which items are the easiest to implement?

This will help you put together a project plan that allows you to tackle the quickest, and most important items first, before turning your attention to potentially longer-term improvements. 

Next, evaluate how many hours, per person, your team can devote to the project per week or per month. With the aid of realistic time estimates from the people doing the work, step out a plan over the course of weeks or months. A tool like Trello will allow you to see what activities are planned for the current “sprint” (which could be a week or month increment, in most cases) and which are planned for the next sprint. 

Invariably, additional ideas will come up in the process of actively improving a website, and you can always evaluate whether a new idea is more important or urgent than what was already planned. If it is, it can take precedence and bump the other activity to a subsequent sprint. If it’s not more important, the new idea can be added to a backlog for future evaluation. 

As you begin to make progress on your task, keep the original plan front and center, but don’t be afraid to treat it as a living document when new information is uncovered that steers the strategy one way or another. Just keep those marketing goals front and center. 

Holding regular check-ins on progress and weekly or monthly sprint meetings will help to keep everyone focused on the tasks at hand and also evaluate whether too much, or too little, work is being assigned. This will be useful information for planning future sprints that are realistic and attainable.

Plan how marketing channels interact with your industrial website

Finally, while your industrial website is the hub of your marketing, it’s not the only element. If you’ve been following the steps above and working with an SEO specialist during the process, your industrial website should be performing well from an organic search perspective. However, it’s also important to have an ongoing and continuously improving plan for other channels that can amplify your industrial website content, drive more qualified traffic to your website and get your website, with its useful tools and content, into the hands of prospects when they’re ready to engage. This plan needn’t be complicated. Write out simple bullet points for how your website can support and/or interact with prospects and visitors from:

  • Organic search
  • Paid search / PPC – Google, LinkedIn
  • LinkedIn outreach
  • ABM campaigns
  • Directories
  • Trade shows and events
  • Printed materials
  • Webinars
  • Training content
  • Sales conversations and emails 
  • Networking conversations
  • Social media
  • Email campaigns
  • Distribution partners and retailers

Especially when you take into account all of the channels and activities above, it’s clear that your industrial website is a living, breathing, crucial part of all of your sales and marketing channels. Your industrial website strategy is a rudder that keeps everything heading in the right direction. It should be fleshed out and updated over time to remain a relevant, strategic guide.

Conclusion

Approach Your B2B Industrial Website Redesign with Confidence

As a lead-generation engine and the most important element of your marketing, your website must be based on a solid plan and developed with best practices in mind. From defining your ideal customer to writing your brand positioning statement, from organizing the navigation to deciding on specific CTAs, the eight principles recommended here will help you work your way through the process strategically and efficiently. More work up front will pay off down the road.

Would you like to learn even more on the topics covered in this ebook?  Register for our on-demand course. Register Now

Looking for a strategic partner to help you align your website and digital marketing with your sales goals, and drive new growth? Let’s talk

About Windmill Strategy

This resource was prepared as a guide by Windmill Strategy, a B2B industrial marketing and website design firm helping technical, industrial, life science and manufacturing companies achieve increased visibility and engagement, stronger branding, higher quality leads, and greater marketing ROI to accelerate growth. Our clients within this niche are varied and technical, and most sell complex products and services, often with a long sales cycle, to specific niche audiences with multiple decision makers and sophisticated, technical buyers. We guide each client toward digital marketing success through modern websites, tools, and initiatives that address their unique needs.

With deep experience in websites and marketing specific to B2B industrial and technical industries, our team provides you with the expertise and tools that will support your sales efforts and referrals, drive leads, and help you close more business. Our services focus around the website as the hub of your B2B marketing engine, supported by digital marketing, inbound marketing and ABM, branding and visual design, marketing automation, sales enablement, analytics and insights, and tie-ins with CRMs, ERPs, and other third-party systems. Our team can help you transform your marketing, and make it your competitive edge.

Learn more about Windmill Strategy and how we can help at windmillstrategy.com For a customized approach to your specific business needs, contact us at windmillstrategy.com/contact or hello@windmillstrategy.com