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Making Your New Website a Better Marketing Tool Than Your Old Website

With the turning of the calendar — and, frequently, budget cycles — marketers often turn their attention to new plans for the new year. This includes updates and overhauls to websites. An important question to ask as you consider a new website is, “Will my new website be better?”

Better Than What?

The unstated part of that question is, “Better than what?” It’s easy to aim for a website that, say, has pages that load 20% faster. That’s certainly better, though it’s not necessarily better in a way that will have a significant impact on your business.

You’re far better off with improvements that are tied to business metrics. What does your website contribute to your marketing now that it could be doing better? What does your website not contribute to your marketing that it should be?

Even more important may be seeking out improvements relative to the competitive landscape. Are there things you’re doing better than the competition now? Areas where you’re lagging? Addressing those issues is critical. Your prospects are making the comparison, even if you’re not.

With that in mind, here are some broad areas to consider as you update your website.

Visual Design

Unless you’re selling to an audience that is particularly focused on visual design, you might think that visual design is a less important part of your site’s success. But consider this: a Lamborghini that looks like a Volvo isn’t going to sell as well as a Lamborghini that looks like a Lamborghini, even if it performs better.

In other words, your site has to meet your audience’s expectations. Those expectations will vary depending on your industry, but don’t use your status as a B2B marketer as an excuse to cut corners here. Remember that while your prospects may work in the B2B world, they live in the B2C world. That most certainly colors their expectations.

SEO

It’s not uncommon for a site overhaul or relaunch to negatively affect SEO performance. Changes in URL structures are the most common root cause. To be sure you overcome that inherent risk, be sure that your update includes both content changes and technical improvement.

On the content front, review the content on your site and work to amplify content and topics that work and remove material in which your audience has shown no interest.

On the technology side, make sure that your user experience is strong, both on desktop and mobile. (Here’s where that 20% bump in page speed can be a benefit.) So can improved use of H1 and related tags and other structural signals.

Lead Generation

Have you been testing and iterating based on what the data tells you is working and what is not? Do you A/B test landing page versions to find what attracts your target audience best and what moves them to action? That data should be baked into any site update you undertake, whether major or iterative.

Serving Audience Needs

Finally, all of the above really boils down to how well you are engaging and educating your target audience. Analytics can tell you a lot about this. Chatting with customers can tell you more, including social media listening.

Interviewing customer-facing staff can tell you the most. The feedback they get isn’t canned or forced. Clients are simply expressing their experiences. You’ll want to know what their overall sentiment is, even if you have to factor in the bias toward “squeaky wheels” being over-represented. There are lots of reasons to undertake an update or relaunch of your website. Just be sure as you plan your new site, you are paying attention to the areas that can help ensure that your new site is, indeed, b

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Andrew Schulkind

Since 1996, Andrew Schulkind has asked clients one simple question: what does digital marketing success look like, and how can marketing progress be measured? A veteran content marketer, web developer, and digital strategist, Andrew founded Andigo New Media to help firms find a more strategic and productive mix of tools that genuinely support online brand goals over time. With a passion for true collaboration and meaningful consensus, his work touches social media, search-engine optimization, and email marketing, among other components. He views is primary goal as encouraging engagement. Getting an audience involved in your story requires solid information architecture, a great user experience, and compelling content. A dash of common sense doesn’t hurt, either. Andrew has presented at Social Media Week NY and WordCampNYC, among other events, on content marketing and web-development topics. His technology writing appears on the Andigo blog, in a monthly column on Biznology.com, and for print and online publications like The New York Enterprise Report, Social Media Today, and GSG Worldwide’s publications LinkedIn & Business, Facebook & Business, and Tweeting & Business. Andrew graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from Bucknell University. He engages in a range of community volunteer work and is an avid fly fisherman and cyclist. He also loves collecting meaningless trivia. (Did you know the Lone Ranger made his mask from the cloth of his brother's vest after his brother was killed by "the bad guys?")

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