3 bad reasons & 1 good reason to re-design a B2B website

The key to get the highest possible R.O.I from your B2B website is to start the project for the right reason.

Picture of Ian Guiver Ian Guiver

Published: 23 Jul 2012

5 minutes read

3 bad reasons & 1 good reason to re-design a B2B website

Recently I was very pleased when we were invited to tender for a contract to develop a new website for a major B2B company in our region in the North West of England. However, when I also learned that the arrival of a new CEO as one of the main reasons behind the decision to re-develop the company’s website I started to worry.

Bad reasons to re-develop a B2B website

Why? Because this is just one of a number of very bad – but very common reasons to undertake a website re-design that I often come across. Others that I hear frequently include: 

  • “The previous website was just looking dated”
  • “We needed to improve our branding”
  • “The competitor just got a new site”

You might say: Who is he to criticise the customer and what’s wrong with any of these anyway? He doesn’t deserve to win the business.

Well I understand why you would say that but if I define a bad reason as one that is unlikely to lead to a return on investment I hope you’ll bear with me. In my experience working with a variety of B2B companies over the last ten years, if a website re-design project is started for the wrong reason then the website that results is almost always judged a failure by the company’s senior management sooner rather than later. 

My personal experience is born out by recent research carried out for Inbound Marketing pioneer Hubspot. When talking to agencies and their clients Hubspot found that after twelve months only one in four companies were still very happy with their last website re-design. That’s not a great statistic when you also consider that the same research indicated that companies spent an average over £40,000 on the re-design of their websites.

In this light it is not so surprising that instead of being the route to promotion, many of the marketers that I have met regard project management of the new company website as the kiss of death for their careers.

This is so common that it at least in part explains why so many high-tech B2B companies have such truly dreadful websites. Nobody wants to be associated with a corporate website re-design.

So, what is a good reason to re-develop a B2B website?

A short answer: One that is likely to result in a measurable return on investment. 

And one amazing fact: Only 29% of B2B websites* are re-designed to optimise the creation of sales leads.

You can’t have one without doing the other in the context of complex B2B sales. 

These three reasons for designing a new site ALL provide a good basis for delivering a measurable return on investment:

1. “We want to change the perception of our Brand”

Whilst a change of logo or even corporate identity in itself is often not a good reason to re-develop a corporate website, a change of corporate identity that reflects a re-positioning of the company, it’s competitive differential or a re-defined value proposition is a very good reason. This implies a change of messaging, emphasis and perhaps Brand personality that may well not be accommodated adequately through your existing site design.

2. “We want to get found by more potential customers”

If you start by asking who your website is targeting and how you can help those potential customers then you are more likely to be able to design and build a site that will attract potential customers in the first place. 

3. “We have lots of visitors but we need to convert more of them to leads and customers” 

Many B2B companies, particularly those with long buying cycles or complex customer decision-making units often have quite high levels of visitor traffic but convert very few if any of these into prospects and therefore even fewer into customers. It is true that people don’t put a £250,000 ERP system or an enterprise security solution in an online basket, but you can, with the appropriate approach create qualified sales-ready opportunities and with them a measurable return on your investment.

Too many B2B marketers have been persuaded – or persuaded themselves, that it is not possible to get a measurable R.O.I. from a B2B website. A typical journey to this conclusion starts with a re-design, travels through the promise of an SEO company, rising page rankings and visitor numbers followed by the crash of a deafening silence when someone eventually and inevitably asks: “But what have we actually sold that can be attributed to all this investment?’ 

Even if you can’t sell directly off the page that doesn’t mean that you can’t drive qualified sales opportunities from a website in high value markets with complex sales models. 

The key is to turn anonymous website visitors into prospects. This can be done by offering content sufficiently valued by the visitor that he or she is prepared swop his contact information for access to that content. Your website design will need to include the features like landing pages and calls to action to facilitate this process. You’ll also need to understand what content your customers will value enough to want to give you their contact details and I’ll be writing about both those subjects in future blogs.

In the meantime, last week I was lucky enough to attend an event for CEOs and MDs in the North West. They were all very successful in their own fields. Several were serial entrepreneurs. We discussed the main challenges that we were facing. Interestingly, whilst no-one talked about the need for a new website as such, several of the attendees including those with a B2B marketing focus, stated a desire to put in place wider digital strategy to take advantage of the web to drive new business. 

If you're planning a re-design of your B2B website, make sure you seek expert help to ensure it delivers R.O.I. and forms part of your lead generation strategy. Download our free eBook, 6 steps to designing a B2B website for lead generation.

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