Every B2B marketer knows that the company website matters more than any other marketing initiative. The design matters. The experience matters. The content matters. The speed matters. The mobile experience matters. Today’s customer has higher standards and less patience — meaning your site needs to load quickly, the content should be relevant and resonate, and the design should be a scientific balance of aesthetic appeal and logical user experience.
Achieving all of the above isn’t easy, though. It can be time-consuming and expensive. And whether you work at a lean start-up selling a single life-changing app, or you’re a multi-million dollar tech company with a history of innovation, the stakes are high. Due to both the investment and the importance of a website, a website project that doesn’t show ROI can pose big problems to B2B tech companies.
So how do you build a website design that isn’t a bust? Do you hire an agency? Do you do it yourself? Do you purchase a template and hire a freelancer? Do you just hire someone full time?
The answers aren’t always clear. In this blog, we’ll dive into the different paths you can take as you create your first (or fifth) B2B tech website, and some considerations you should prioritize along the way.
How Do I Know If It Is Time for a Website Redesign?
1. Your Company’s Focus Has Shifted
In our industry, we often see that companies narrow their focus over time. The shift can cause an identity crisis that pushes a company to rebrand. If you need to rebrand or have recently done so, it is imperative to build a new website. In all cases, it is essential that the collateral you’re using across all mediums — printed materials, trade show booths, presentations, social media, and your website — have the same look and feel to increase brand awareness and brand loyalty.
As long as your website is connected to Google Analytics, you can learn a lot about how it is performing. If you’ve set some KPIs from the get-go (such as number of form submissions or total website traffic), you’ll likely have a good baseline to understand “is our website working for us?” If you haven’t, the following data points are good indicators to whether or not your website needs work:
- Overall website traffic is down: In a year-over-year comparison, determine what your traffic trends look like. If they’re on the decline, it might be time to re-think your website design.
- You have high bounce rates on key landing pages: If you’re driving individuals to landing pages from social ads and search ads, and those bounce rates are high (greater than 60-70%), you should take a second look at least at those landing pages — and maybe hire someone to help.
- Your have a high exit rate on your home page: 100% of users will exit your website at some point, so an exit rate isn't inherently bad. Its importance is dependent on the page. Customers should be exiting your website after they've found the content they were looking for and ideally after completing a CTA. A home page with a high exit rate indicates that users aren't being correctly funneled to the right place on your website and that they are leaving your website frustrated. This can tangibly lead to lost sales and conversions.
- The time spent on your site is short: Even if your website traffic looks good, how high is engagement? If individuals are getting to your site but not spending an adequate amount of time or not visiting more than one page, this is likely a key indicator that your website is not performing to your expectations.
You can learn more about tracking essential website data points in this blog.
3. It’s Been More than Three Years
In general, a good rule of thumb is to redesign your website every three to five years. That sounds frequent, but think about it. Social media platforms and Google change their algorithms hundreds of times each year. Web design trends change. New mobile screen sizes emerge. And in general, each year your buyers’ expectations get higher.
If it's been longer than three years, you probably aren't optimized for mobile. In the last four years, mobile searches have surpassed desktop searches, even in technology searches. If you aren’t convinced that we’re living in a mobile-first culture and that your marketing needs to be mobile-first, too, consider these statistics:
- By the end of 2018, American adults are expected to spend on average 3 hours and 23 minutes on non-voice mobile media every day. That’s an hour more than American adults were spending on their phones in 2013.
- Mobile drives, or influences, an average of more than 40% of revenue in leading B2B organizations.
- 50% of B2B search queries today are made on smart phones. That figure will grow to 70% by 2020.
The Numbers Say It All
As you consider building or redesigning your own B2B tech website, here are some important statistics to consider:
- 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content or layout is unattractive.
- 75% of consumers admit to making judgements about a company’s credibility based on its website design.
- Slow-loading websites cost retailers $2.6 billion in sales each year.
- Google reported earlier this year, "The average time it takes to fully load a mobile landing page is 22 seconds, according to a new analysis. Yet 53% of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load." Technology firms average a load time of 11.3 seconds on desktop.
- 86% of website visitors want information about your products and services to be accessible from your homepage.
- 27% want to see testimonials on your homepage.
- Most B2B tech companies shy away from pricing pages now.
Mobile Experience Matters
- 85% of website visitors think that the mobile experience should be just as good, if not better, than the desktop experience.
- Mobile traffic as a share of total global online traffic in 2017 was 52.64% — accounting for more than half of all Internet traffic — and that number is on the rise in 2018.
3 Ways to Create Your B2B Website
Taking all of this into consideration, how do you actually go about creating your new website? There are three main routes: you can do it yourself (in house), use an open source template, or hire an agency.
1. Do It Yourself
You know your brand better than anyone, so it makes sense that a "DIY" website is an attractive option. It may also be attractive due to its affordability. You'll maintain control and won't risk having a loop of repairs and tweaks with someone who isn't as intimate with your products and brand identity as you are.
In the case of B2B web design, most companies experience heavy maintenance costs. That means you’ll likely need to hire a full-time employee to manage the effort—which can cost anywhere from $78,000 to $113,000 per year.
This process is also likely to take the longest, as you’ll be on your own to conduct research, dive into data, handle logistics, and optimize your site for organic search. That’s a lot for one employee to accomplish. Most will only have proficiency in one area like content or SEO and struggle in other disciplines like graphic design.
2. Use Plug-and-play Solutions
Sites like WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix are enticing because of their plethora of theme designs that can be “customized” to fit your business. They have an easy plug-and-play system, where you can essentially make any theme work for your B2B business. If multiple employees will be managing parts of the website, the intuitive interfaces of these systems reduce the learning curve a great deal.
Many users report they changed from a custom websites to a service because making updates to video, text, and images were complicated and "broke" their websites. These solutions provide easy content management.
The same theme that works for a B2B business might also work for a gourmet cupcake bakery, or a lifestyle blogger from LA. They might even work perfectly for your competitor.
Keep in mind that open source templates are templates for a reason. They’re there to make the process quick and easy, rather than to make an impact. While they look nice, plug-and-play websites tend to have big tells—the template is visible to the astute visitor—buttons, widgets, and other popular features will look strangely familiar to other websites.
Plug-and-play solutions also pose some security risks. For example, while sites like WordPress are secure, add-ons and plug-ins you want to use for your website may not be, so you’ll want to do your research before adding functionalities. The simplicity of plug-and-play website can still be a great option for many companies, but it's important that they are appropriately customized by a knowledgable developer so that they don't look the same as every other website or pose security risks to your (or your customer's) data.
3. Hire an Agency
As an agency that works with B2B tech companies across the country, we might seem biased when we say that hiring an agency is the best and safest route for getting the biggest bang for your buck.
When you work with an agency, you have the luxury of augmenting your marketing department with an entire team of experts that specializes in web design, content, SEO, and inbound marketing to ensure you get the most out of your website. In all cases, your website is just the piece of a very complex puzzle, and when you hire an agency (like Golden Spiral) you have the opportunity to bring in experts across all digital disciplines—strategy, content, SEO, PR, design, and development (programming and coding)—together for a fraction of the price it would cost you to hire all of those individuals at your B2B company. Agencies know how to make those pieces of the puzzle work together seamlessly, especially if they have experience in your specific sector, or with other companies like yours.
An agency-built website doesn't mean it will be expensive to maintain or complicated to update. A well-built website allows your team to add new blog posts, pages, products, modules, and other pieces with ease.
When choosing an agency, ask the following questions during your search process:
- What types of clients do you work with?
- What services do you offer beyond web design?
- How many years experience does your company have?
- What is the ROI of your work?
- How readily available is your talent?
- What long-term value can you provide?
- What is the cost?
Want to know what it is like to work with Golden Spiral? Start a conversation with us today to learn how we can help make your B2B website redesign—and your entire marketing strategy—a success!