Don’t Redesign Your Website Until You Truly Understand Your Customer

February 20, 2017
Image by Forrester.

When people complain to me about their website, they usually blame their developer and think a redesign with a new developer will solve all their problems.  In my experience, most people haven’t solved for the customer journey or they built their existing site from an organizational perspective. If they are focused on the redesign instead of their customer’s journey, they are typically going to be wasting their time and money. 

Developers focus on code, designers focus on look and feel, but only you can focus on your customer’s satisfaction. So before you start a costly redesign, flip your thinking; don’t start with a focus on your goals - design for the customer to make their job easier in every stage of the buyers journey. 

Here’s an example: Say you’re selling a cloud-based software, and from your analytics, you know that people who have seen a demo convert like crazy. So you want to redesign your home page and force people into requesting a demo, right? Wrong. How many new visitors are going to want to talk to a salesman? None.  Doing this is equivalent to walking straight up to a stranger and asking them for a date. The purpose of a home page is to quickly show what you do, build trust and allow people to navigate to the information they need before committing to a demo. Knowing everything that is important to a customer at each stage in the buying process, and providing answers and easy navigation to that information is the key to keeping them on your site and building trust.

Lori Wizdo of Forrester wrote: “Today’s buyers control their journey through the buying cycle much more than today’s vendors control the selling cycle. In a recent survey, 74 percent of business buyers told us they conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase.”

There are lots of different motives for using your products and services, like cost, speed efficiency and complexity of operation. There are also different roles in the buying process, like influencer, owner of the deliverable, project manager and purchaser. Layer on top of that the sales funnel stages and you can see how important it is to understand how customers go through their online journey. Skip this step and your visitors will bounce and get their answers elsewhere.

According to CEB B2B, “Buyers are 57 percent through the purchase decision before engaging a supplier sales rep., and as a supplier you only have 12 percent of their mindshare across the entire B2B purchase path.”  This means, as a supplier, you only have a small chance of making a lasting impression. The most powerful way to get mindshare is to make them successful in all stages of the buying cycle, especially in a long complex one, so when they are ready to talk to a vendor, they will think of you, using your specifications, and of having a digital relationship. 

Creating targeted content based on each stage of the customer journey is also important. Aligning and targeting content by stage ensures that your content directly supports the go-to-market strategy and drives measurable business outcomes.  An obvious first place to start would be your next product launch. Unless you’re a major brand with a large budget, don’t think in terms of ads and brochures; think in terms of what your customer wants to know about, when they need it and in what format. 

The Brand Publishing Institute states, “Most organizations are starting to plan, create, and target content that address the needs of more specific customer segments. 74 percent of high performing marketer’s report they are placing more emphasis at targeting their content by person (or persona).” At the highest level, persona-based targeting involves breaking the core audience at the forefront of social media, content marketing and web marketing programs into several personas.

So to recap, don’t redesign your website until you truly understanding your customer.

It doesn’t matter if you’re planning a new redesign, or if you just finished one.  Understanding your customer’s journey, and providing content and navigation to the answers they seek, will make your site engaging, improve brand perception, allow you to rank when customers are searching Google for answers and position you on the first-round shortlist of companies to contact.

Bill Scully has over 15 years of digital coaching, speaking, and in-the-trenches business experience. His focus is driving qualified web traffic, and getting visitors to act on websites to increase valuable sales leads.  Bill has served as a Municipal Marking Manager for USFilter and Director of Digital Marketing for Siemens Water, and the Siemens International Search Engine Consultant. He is a master at uncovering and supporting customer intent, and now runs Digital Marketing Fuel, LLC a Strategic Digital Consulting Agency supporting in-house Marketers.

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