With sales reps stuck at home and the vast majority of trade shows taking place virtually—if at all—small and mid-sized manufacturers are relying more than ever on their online presence to take the place of or augment in-person contact.
We had a conversation recently with Sagan Medvec, DVIRC strategic partner and co-founder of Brand Llama, about signs your website is in need of an overhaul or refresh, just what a new or updated website can mean for your business, and what to expect from the process of building a new or increased web presence.
Sagan points to three main indications that your website isn’t performing at the level it should:
- You’re not getting any leads from your current site
“That’s the big one,” Sagan says. “If you aren’t seeing new opportunities coming in through your website, then it needs to be reviewed in some way.” If you can’t remember last time a solid lead came in via your online contact form (or your site doesn’t have a contact form), then something is off. It could be the content, the structure, the way your value proposition is communicated online, or a combination of these. This is also true if you are getting leads, but they are from prospects who aren’t a fit for your business. If your site hasn’t been updated in some time, there’s a good chance that it no longer accurately reflects your latest product or service lineup. In this case, visitors can come away with the wrong understanding of your primary strengths and services, and confusion will surely follow.
- You can’t find yourself in search engines
Far from being an exercise in vanity, it’s a good business practice to search for your company name and primary keywords every few months in search engines such as Google and Bing. If you don’t see them, you can be sure others don’t, either. A failure to appear on the first or second search engine results page for your keyword search terms doesn’t just mean that prospects won’t find you; it also means a former customer who hasn’t bought for a few years may not be able to find you—even if they try to.
Sagan says this falls into an interesting trend that has emerged in the last few years, with search engine traffic being the vast majority of site hits. “People don’t type the website URL anymore,” Sagan says. “They search for the company name and click the appropriate link.” That means that you’re relying on two things to happen for these visitors to find you: they have to remember your name, and you have to be there on top of the search results. If someone else occupies the top spot, even if they have a different name, that prospect can be easily led without realizing it, and that opportunity may not come back.
- Your website looks bad on mobile devices
If your site is hard to navigate on mobile browsers, or if it shows up as nothing more than a shrunken version of the full site, you can count on losing ground in search results. In early 2020, mobile devices officially accounted for more than half of global web traffic, and with Google prioritizing mobile page load speed as a key metric when determining a website’s search ranking, optimizing for mobile viewing is a must (Source). A clear, easy-to-navigate mobile interface is just as important. With a shift toward younger workers in manufacturing industries in particular, more and more searches and browsing takes place on mobile devices. “Most of our customers see 20% of their traffic coming from mobile devices,” Sagan adds. “Compares that to 5% just five years ago, and you see why this is a critical thing to consider.”
What can you gain from updating your website?
An investment in a new or refreshed website yields a number of benefits; most simply put, you should see a reversal of the issues listed above: prospects will find you more easily in search results, mobile optimization will drive engagement, and clear value messaging will result in more applicable hits. All of this leads to increased awareness, interest, and ultimately leads.
“Short term, you can expect an increase in visits to your website,” Sagan says. “Along with that, expect an expansion of potential business coming in through the website.”
He says it’s even possible to have the latter without the former; this can be an indication that the website was being found for the wrong reasons in the past, and now it is receiving more targeted hits.
One way to improve the quality of leads you receive from your website is through more targeted language and value descriptions. The clearer and more accurately your site copy describes who you are and what you offer your customers, the more likely you are to engage prospects who need your products or services. If completed contact forms or calls coming from your website have been “nuisance hits”—prospects and requests that are unrelated to your core business—this more tailored language should help reverse that trend.
Moreover, updating content to accurately reflect your value proposition and offerings will enable the site to act as a 24/7 salesperson—always on, and always available to accurately answer questions and provide a contact portal with your company.
How does the process work?
“The process starts with a kickoff to determine the issues you’re having so we can fix them,” Sagan says. “Then we discuss content: what information needs to be on the site, and what needs to be updated.”
He adds that if you have a site with sufficient content, one of the first steps will be confirming its accuracy and timeliness. If it’s in good shape, the team will repurpose as much of that copy as much possible.
New site design happens over a few weeks with DVIRC and the Brand Llama team presenting several different website designs and pages. Typically this includes the homepage and one or two other facets of the site, such as “about us”, “contact,” or “capabilities/services,” although the exact needs and their layout will be tailored to fit your business.
“From there we take feedback from the client, sometimes mixing and matching ideas among the options, to get them where they want to be,” says Sagan.
With every revision, he says, the team adds a few more pages to give a more comprehensive idea of the site layout, as well as its look and feel. When the design and structure are approved, the Brand Llama team will begin to code them.
Once built, with the approved pages coded, the functionality confirmed, and enhanced site elements that will give you higher search results (commonly known as Search Engine Optimization, or SEO), the site goes live on a private “staging” server, so the client can see the almost-final product before it goes live.
What do we need from you?
Sagan says the client’s main involvement revolves around providing feedback on content and design.
“That’s the biggest issue we have,” he says. “We need to make sure the content is accurate. If we’re using copy from an existing site, that doesn’t usually take long. If not, or if everything is inaccurate and needs to be rewritten, that can take a few weeks.”
As for feedback on design, this is generally a matter of making time to review the proposed options and working with the designer to determine what should change or be combined to streamline the site’s presentation.
“That usually doesn’t take more than a few hours,” Sagan says. “And the changes happen quickly.”
After the launch, your team will take part in a 1-2 hour training session to gain an understanding of how to add or update content or conduct light maintenance. The extent of this is up to the client, with their own abilities and bandwidth to determine how much they decide to take on.
“We make sure they have the tools and understanding they need to do what they feel comfortable with,” Sagan says.
It’s not as though the site is cast in stone the day it goes live, either. DVIRC and Brand Llama offer a 28-day update/revision period, in which maintenance and most changes will be handled as part of the initial project scope.
After that, it’s a matter of keeping the content updated and looking for that uptick in lead flow!
If you think your website may be underperforming as a lead generation tool, or you would like to learn more about DVIRC’s website design and development offerings, click here to contact us.