How effective is your website and digital ecosystem?
In some corners of the corporate world, the thinking persists that the company website is a need-to-have, but the real stuff happens when you go out and meet people. But we’ve come a long way from the days when the website was just an online version of the company brochure.
Now the site is more like the HQ in the wider digital ecosystem, and a hugely important interface for its clients, prospects, employees, future talent, investors, government, NGOs, suppliers and prospective suppliers.
All these audiences make decisions on whether to start conversations with your company based on the experience they have on your site and social channels. And with physical touchpoints reduced by Covid-19, people are seeking more from their online interactions and will continue to do so, even once the pressures of a global pandemic become a thing of the past.
We’ve put together a brief list of basic questions to check how effectively your organisation is using digital and its huge potential for stakeholder engagement.
1) Are you using your website as a business tool?
A seemingly obvious question but often when asked "what role does you website need to play in your business communications?" it prompts a long pause and a period of contemplation. When a corporate website is thought of as a business tool rather than an online marketing 'brochure', it can create welcome efficiencies.
In addition to providing clarity around areas such as investment case or value propositions, we’ve worked with firms who have seen a rapid ROI from substantive reductions in their recruitment costs by using their site and wider digital ecosystem as a vehicle to find and hire good talent in a competitive arena. It’s possible to communicate what it’s like to work in an organisation, what’s expected of employees and eliminate the time wasters who may not be a good fit and cost the company dear.
In this way, the website and social channels are not just the corporate face of the business, but are having a tangible effect on it. It’s about working out the effective business purpose behind your site, identifying that at the outset, setting clear performance objectives and then measuring against these to inform ongoing strategy.
2) Does your site reflect the reality of the business?
Before you get to the technical side, it’s really important to put in the work to clarify the core value proposition. The most successful sites are an honest and real reflection of the business offer. Corporate purpose has been around for a long time, but it’s something that is only growing in importance. Companies need to be really clear about their reason for being in business. And once you have this, it acts as a map for all communications, bringing clarity on all the messaging for your various audiences. Done well, it feeds and steers storytelling that feels authentic, coherent and engaging.
3) Do you truly know your audiences?
Inevitably a one-size-fits-all approach is never going to be effective, and messaging strategy needs to account for the complexity behind the needs of different user personas. With planning and insight, the website and wider ecosystem can work hard to tell the right stories at the right time to multiple audiences. Research brings clarity on the particular needs of different territories and groups. And putting the work in to personas and user journeys allows you to chart a strategic path.
4) Are you investing in content?
Strong content strategy is absolutely key to a corporate website’s success. Investing in storytelling with clear messaging and standout visual assets elevates the brand. The B2B world is taking tips from consumer-facing companies in their approach to content strategy, with assets that have immediacy and visual appeal, rather than dry copy that demands too much of the audience. Animation and well-crafted video can have strong impact on your site and social channels, from both a brand / storytelling perspective as well as improving SEO. Forward-facing firms also have an eye on voice search and AI, which are just around the corner.
Any business is a living system that changes over time. A firm’s website and digital ecosystem can and should reflect that, and will need to be maintained with fresh content informed by timely insights.
5) Is your platform technically robust?
High technical competency is of course crucial for corporate firms. From a risk management perspective, you want to control conversations. You want to be first in searches if it's about your content or your name. The site needs to be built well and have the correct domain strategies. You need to look at loading speeds and W3C Accessibility Standards compliance. SEO issues may vary by global territory. With responsive support and a robust platform, you don’t need to worry about lost leads and revenues through avoidable technical issues.
6) Are you using web analytics properly?
It’s important to set up analytics properly to make sure you’re working on accurate insights. For instance, failing to eliminate a company’s own IPs from traffic skews the results. Setting proper goals and objectives at the outset enables you to track views, events and goals more effectively. For example, if you want to be really perceived as a knowledge leader in a certain sector, you need to track who's downloading your thought pieces, who's watching your videos and how far they watch them. Do they see them to the end? Do they share them? Then you can get some proper business insights. It all comes back to taking time to invest in planning, and defining what you want to achieve.
7) Is it time for an audit?
An audit is a good place to start when assessing what work is needed to improve your website. We offer a free WebAudit to score your site across ten criteria including security, design, content, accessibility and performance. It can be undertaken without input from you or your technical partners, and the results used to spark internal discussions on the direction of improvements.
The potential for online engagement is limitless, but it needn’t be overwhelming. The biggest projects don’t need to happen overnight. If your platform is built well and your strategy comes from a sound basis, you can ramp it up and make it work harder over time. With long-term thinking and the right support, your website and wider digital ecosystem can grow and develop, flexing to meet your evolving business needs.