Most B2B sites might be built as shop windows, but they sure as hell aren’t maintained like one.
Real shop windows are attended to by real staff – they feature displays that are regularly updated with new offers, products and seasonal promotions. They change to keep things fresh and entice new visitors inside.
If B2B sites are shop windows, then most of them haven’t changed since the store opened. And worse still: the staff don’t even have the key for the display case.
This is not good. Because a website should inspire admins to author content directly, to engage with and respond to the analytics it yields. So give them the keys to do it.
This is one of the core principles that underlines how we optimize sites at Velocity. Because if you’re not able to make changes to your site after building it, you don’t only shorten its lifespan (and therefore increase its cost) – you miss out on a ton of performance and analytics insights that could help you win more business.
In this blog, we’ll unpack 3 core elements of our philosophy on website optimization at Velocity and look at some of the ways that applying them to your own site can bring immediate benefits to your company.
1. Shoot for the moon (but focus on getting off the ground first).
The beauty of digital is that it’s innately iterative. So start with a small, simple version of your site and launch as soon as possible. Then course correct with every iteration that you release, so you’re constantly getting closer and closer to the business goals you want to achieve.
Just like your business, your website should evolve. The version that exists now is not the same one that existed when you started out. And that’s fine, because it’s designed to be improved upon. You’re not printing something out and flyering it to people. If you’re not happy with something you put out, then you can release a new version of it.
So don’t let perfect be the enemy of good – that’s how launch dates (and potential returns) get kicked down the road for months.
Imagine you have 3 priorities for a site optimization: improve SEO, lead conversion and recruitment. To get all three elements in line and then launch will take, say 3 months. But if you just get the SEO piece ready and then launch, it might only take 1 month. Then the SEO can start percolating and building up presence, so that by the time you release the conversion optimizations you’ve already got a body of people hitting your site.
And then by the time you get to the recruitment piece, you’re able to make better decisions about the form that might take, because you have this feedback loop in place and you’re learning from the analytics your site is generating from the visits and conversion rates.
Building this way means you get the maximum amount of value as soon as possible. So rather than waiting for perfection, prioritize whatever really drives your business – be that brand building, awareness, generating demand, converting leads, recruitment etc. – and add the rest in later phases.
2. Build to use. Not because it’s new.
New dev tech is alluring. It’s shiny, it feels fresh, it promises new features and innovations. The problem is, it often needs a dev team to maintain it.
That means that you constantly have to invest in keeping it up to date. And that cost adds up. But worse still, it means that your teams aren’t using the site themselves.
If you look at what powers the world, 40% of all websites are built on WordPress. And there’s good reason why WordPress remains the single most popular way to build a website…
Because it’s easy to use and is well supported.
So if you go that route, you’re not going to struggle to find support online: there are tons of tutorials on how to do stuff, weird specific plugins for that one thing you need. Plus, many people are already familiar with how it works, so there’s not much upskilling needed to get your people using your site.
Ultimately, it means you’re less likely to hit the dev bottleneck and more likely to use the thing to make new content. So although it might not be the sexiest solution, it’s practical. And practical trumps sexy every time when it comes to site builds that people actually want to use.
3. You should be the biggest user of your site.
The whole point of having a CMS is that devs don’t run the site after launch: marketers do. You should be able to create whatever content you need to in the backend of your site – and if you’re not doing that, then you’re missing out on one of the best reasons to build a site on WordPress.
(The next section contains a lot of front-end, backend innuendo. It was incidental at first and then I just started leaning into it. You’re welcome, I guess?)
Lots of companies only give a shit about the front end of the site – because it’s what customers see. And while marketers love delighting customers, a shiny front-end won’t stay shiny for long if it’s not easy to change. And for that you need an intuitive and accessible backend too.
That’s why making a beautiful, simple and friendly-to-use backend should be just as important as the frontend – because it directly benefits you.
So what can you do with a great backend?
- Keep your site fresher for longer by keeping it updated
Sites live and die by their ability to be updated. You could pay someone like us to update your site for you, but it costs you money and time. So if your marketing teams can use it themselves, then the site stays fresh. And not only will you get more mileage out of it as it evolves and improves beyond the first version that was released – but you’ll actually use the tools that are on the site.
- Create and own the content you want on your site
A great backend should allow you to integrate functionality that lets you package and curate content.
The bucket-load of 3rd party tools out there to support people to make the content they want on their site – but aren’t able to make using their site – shows there’s not only appetite for this functionality, but that people are willing to pay a lot of money for it.
But when you build a site with that purpose in mind from the get-go, you own the content you create in your backend – including the SEO juice and all the analytics it harvests – without any contracts, lock-ins or clunky embedding headaches. It’s just gravy. Lashings and lashings of gravy. Yum.
- Use analytics to make content that serves a specific purpose
The more analytics data you can give your marketers, the more it can influence the stuff they create.
So if you have a defined customer journey, designed to lead to an action – see Neil’s post on 9 new performance marketing metrics to measure how you’re impacting revenue – then your marketers can use the analytics from your backend to make content designed to drive prospects to the start of that journey, for example.
These analytics should be accessible to your whole business and baked into your site build as standard. Because they create a constant feedback loop that benefits everyone, from sales and marketing to dev teams.
5 final questions to ask yourself
So there it is. Just a few of the many reasons that we build sites with you as the main user in mind. Hopefully it’s helped you to judge whether or not your site is doing what it should for you. But in case it’s not abundantly clear by now, here are a few questions you can ask yourself to draw a final conclusion:
- Do your customers use your site more than your marketing and sales teams?
- Does it take weeks to update your site?
- Are you paying exorbitant amounts of money for your site to be maintained by a 3rd party?
- Are your marketers struggling to create content using your backend?
- Does the mention of analytics make you think of Freud and/or Jung?
If the answer to any of these questions is ‘yes’, then you should probably get in touch. We’re very nice people.