HubSpot recently released a blog on “90 Questions to Ask Before Starting a Website Redesign”. There, they laid out pretty much every question you would want to ask your marketing, sales, and design teams, before deciding to redesign your website. With so many web design and development questions to consider, we thought our San Diego web design team (recognized as a top Website Development Company on DesignRush) could answer a few important ones that HubSpot presented to us.
What is your business’s unique value proposition?
Your value proposition lays out what your customers will attain from purchasing your product or service. In the Harvard Business Review article “Value Propositions that Work,” Anthony K Tjan asserts: “there are only 4 types of consumer benefits that matter and by extension only four categories of value propositions that work”:
- Best quality
- Best bang for the buck
- Luxury and aspiration
What is the purpose of the site?
If you can’t answer that question, you’re setting up your hardest working asset (your website) for failure. Your website is on-call 24 hours a day, make sure it is equipped with the necessary tools to facilitate sales, generate leads, establish credentials, or fulfill your brand objectives.
Do you have SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals for your website that will help you know that the site is a profitable and successful marketing investment?
Nothing should ever be implemented before you establish what you plan to achieve. Without SMART objectives, it’s not possible to prove whether or not you’ve been successful. Even if you increase sales by 15%, the response becomes “so what?” if you weren’t clear that an increase in sales was the objective from the beginning. You need a business objective, marketing objective, and brand objective to ensure all stakeholders are on the same page.
Who are your top three competitors?
To effectively and successfully execute your website redesign you need to first understand the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges for your business. In assessing this overall picture, it’s vital that you examine not only your own situation but also the marketing landscape as it relates to your competition. Review the current industry landscape and contemporary marketing trends to determine how competitors position and promote their brands and product lines across various points of customer interaction. Map competitors across a variety of end benefits to understanding where they’re positioned in customers’ minds and hearts. These positioning maps will then help you identify the benefit gaps in the marketplace.
How to plan to market the site once it is launched?
Designing a beautiful website is one thing, getting people to come to check it out is another. With a massive arsenal of inbound marketing tactics at our disposal, we have never been so armed with the necessary tools to create and drive demand to our websites and products or services. Here are a few key ways to kick start your website into overdrive:
- SEO: Far from the days of keyword stuffing, SEO these days is all about creating and optimizing your content around targeted long-tail keywords. SEO allows you to continually improve and adjust your website so that you are attracting not just more visitors, but visitors of higher quality. Amplify your reach by promoting your content on various channels around the web, with the end goal of earning links from other sites to your content. The more link backs to your site or blog post, the higher the domain value and higher domain value equals higher positions in page rankings.
- Content: When referring to content, we are speaking to the message that you’re trying to convey to your customers. Whether you are trying to position yourself as an industry thought leader or inform someone about your superior product, using content should be at the hub of all your marketing efforts. Content has the ability to help guide your prospects down the sales funnel. When you have narrowed in on your ideal personas and what problems they might have, you have the ability to attract and speak directly to your customers’ pain points.
- Pay per click (PPC): Targeted advertising can yield fantastic results if you are catering to your ideal customers. Whether you are looking into Google AdWords, LinkedIn ads, Facebook ads, or any other of the PPC platforms, make sure that you are crafting compelling ads, that speak to your personas’ pain points.
- Retargeting Ads: These types of ads track each anonymous visitors, current lead, or customers to your site and accompany him or her along to their next digital hangout. There, they will start to see your ads or targeted content and hopefully keep you top of mind when they are ready to make some sort of purchase in the future.
- Email Marketing: Although many poor marketing tactics have certainly tarnished the idea of email marketing, according to com, there are now nearly 4.3 billion email accounts, which happen to send 196 billion emails every day. To date, no other marketing channel has been adopted so universally. Considering that 91% of those accounts check their email daily, it’s safe to assume email marketing is still a valid form of attracting customers.
- Social Media: With over 2 billion active users around the world engaging on multiple social media platforms daily, it has never been more crucial for your brand to indulge in the ever-growing world of social media. On top of that, social media strategy can be used throughout every stage of the sales funnel, from attracting customers, nurturing them, and even delighting them once they have become customers. Social media also has the ability to influence your domain authority and boost your SEO.
Do you know the level of hosting you need?
Not all hosting servers are created equally. You must determine before you decide to launch your website which hosting solutions will be right for whatever kind of business you have. If you have a small website or blog, a shared hosting account is a cost-efficient and easy option to maintain. The downside is that shared hosting means you are sharing a server with multiple websites. If one of those websites is consuming huge amounts of resources, it can really slow things down for everyone else. E-commerce sites with high amounts of traffic will benefit from using a virtual private server or dedicated server. A dedicated server allows you to have your own private server, meaning that you cannot be affected by downtime or issues due to another website. However, this comes at a more expensive price. Cloud servers are the newest of all hosting servers and can offer the largest flexibility of all. Since it’s in the cloud, you are essentially open to endless amounts of storage space and your resources are used across multiple servers, allowing your website to scale based on demand.
Do you have or need an SSL certificate?
In an era where more and more individuals are offering up personal information to websites and apps, worries about security are continually on the rise. Google has made it apparent that this is a very serious concern for them as they have announced that by switching to HTTPS, which adds an SSL 2048-bit key certificate to your site, they will now give your website a minor ranking boost. Deciding whether you need a single, multi-domain, or wildcard certificate will be contingent on the type of website you have and what sorts of secure information you will be storing.
Do you currently use marketing automation software?
For many businesses, the focus of their website will be collecting and pushing leads through the sales funnel. Marketing automation is the optimization of the entire process – from planning and execution to analytics. Automation can be customized based on various targets, sales cycles, promotions, or whatever your strategic plan outlines. The data retrieved from those activities provide great insights and analytics. Plus, most automation software has built-in visitor ID, perfect for seeing EXACTLY who is coming to your site.
Do you use email marketing, landing page, or other tools on your site?
Landing pages are web pages designed for a specific purpose: to drive a particular behavior by getting users to complete a specific call-to-action (CTA) to either go on to a particular page or to complete a lead generation form. Once you have gotten them to complete a lead generation form, use your marketing automation software to simplify the email marketing process and segment the results.
Will you need an internal search engine for your site?
If you plan on creating an e-commerce website, adding an internal search engine can further help your conversion rates. According to eConsultancy, up to 30% of E-commerce visitors will use internal site search, with 13.8% of site search visitors accounting for their overall revenue. And it has been shown that only 15% of companies have dedicated resources to optimizing the site search experience.
Do you want people to be able to share content from your website?
BrightEdge Technologies conducted a study and it revealed that websites that included sharing buttons could see up to 7x more mentions than those that don’t. At the end of the day, we all want our websites to gain more exposure. What better way than to allow your current visitors to share your content with their peers. Keep in mind that giving access to your content could have negative effects if your content isn’t well…good. So make sure you take the time to, once again, address pain points or issues your targeted personas might be facing to ensure maximum impact of your content.
Do you use Google Analytics or another analytics provider?
When it comes to gathering and reviewing data, Google Analytics is chief among the many free analytical providers. With web analytics on your side, you can optimize and strategically plan for the future.
- Measure traffic sources – Discovering which sources are driving the most traffic to your website allows you to determine how well search engines index your site’s content. It can also let you know if social media is actually working and which email campaigns are driving traffic.
- Measure conversion rates –Once you’ve drawn visitors to your site, you’ll want to convert them into a lead or sale. Testing different landing pages and calls-to-action allows you to discover which convert best.
- Ensure clear data –Don’t ever focus solely on one metric. If you notice an increase in traffic on a certain day or week, discover what caused this spike. You want to replicate and enhance content that drives traffic.
What are your most trafficked pages?
Using your analytic tools, you can peer into your most popular pages and see where that traffic is coming from, be it social media, organic search, referrals such as your paid campaigns, or email marketing. Whether it is a blog post, a work page, or a landing page, you can assess what is making that page rank so well and continue to speak to the information that is on that page. Knowing what is working is half the battle.
What percentage of traffic is from mobile devices?
Since mobile browsing has now surpassed desktop, it’s safe to say that you’re going to want to monitor this one closely. Because serving up content for mobile requires a vastly different marketing approach than it does on the desktop, you are going to want to see what percentage of visitors are actually viewing your content via a mobile device. That way you can start tailoring content, ads, and emails to the percentage of browsers who use their phone to meander around your site.
What is the page load time of your site?
Have you established your lead scoring criteria?
Lead scoring is a methodology for ranking leads so that your marketing and sales departments can better understand where those leads are in the sales funnel. Score leads based on the pages they visit, the content they share or download, and the alignment of your services with their needs. Normally, some sort of ranking factor is applied to your leads, be it a term like “hot”, “warm”, or “cold”. The key here is that anyone in the marketing or sales department can have immediate verification as to where that lead might be in the sales cycle.
Do you currently use progressive profiling on your forms?
Though not new, maybe just underutilized, many marketing automation software’s, including HubSpot’s, offer progressive profiling. Progressive profiling on your forms allows you to gradually gather demographic data and preferences about your prospects over time. Rather than just hitting prospects repeatedly with the same questions, progressive profiling allows you to keep your forms shorter, which tends to lead to higher conversion rates while providing your sales team with more insight into your potential buyers.
Do you currently include relevant call-to-actions on content posts?
If you are producing content for your personas, you are most likely on the hunt to capture leads. To entice your visitors to take the next step into what it is your business does usually requires you to implement a call-to-action (CTA) somewhere on your website. A CTA is a link between your regular content, such as your blog posts, and a specific landing page, which is offering up more information about a certain topic. Creating enticing CTA buttons is a science all in its own. You will want to test and optimize continually, and depending on your buyer’s personas will design your CTA’s accordingly. Make sure that your CTA’s include action verbs that prompt your visitor to do something, be it “download now” or “sign-up here,” and are distinguishable amongst the rest of the content on your page. Using contrasting colors, which are aligned with your brand standard, is a way to ensure your CTA’s will pop out to your visitors.
Do you have a documented content strategy?
One of the most pivotal roles of your website launch will be publishing content. And though it can become monotonous and time-consuming, publishing regularly and consistently is a mandatory practice. But how do you make sure that you are meeting deadlines and publishing proper content? You must use an editorial calendar. Editorial calendars allow you to map out your whole content process while keeping you consistent and relevant.
Have you created buyer personas? How many do you have and will you need to set up conversion funnels for each persona?
You can’t even begin to start creating content for your website, social channels, or email marketing before you know what kind of content will resonate with your target market, what needs to be addressed, what they’re looking for, and what they value. Here are a few steps to get you started:
- Research: You need to collect both qualitative and quantitative data in order to paint a picture of your ideal customer. Depending on what your customer base looks like, it might be through online surveys, focus groups, in-depth interviews, social media, emails, etc.
- Segment: Based on your research, give each persona a detailed description with as much information as possible. It can be a name, job title, company name, and/or demographic info. Even though these are fictional representations of your real customers, it might help to come up with a photo or illustration of what they may look like.
- Identify: Tap into the qualitative part of your research and try to answer questions like: “What kind of information are they looking for?”, “What motivates them to make a purchase?”, “What are their biggest needs and challenges?”, “Where do they hang out online?” etc. The more detailed you are, the easier it will be to create customized content. Focus on what information you need in order to send the right message, to the right person, at the right time. Finding out that one person likes underwater basket weaving doesn’t really help you formulate a strategy but finding out that patients looking for pain management alternatives to narcotics actively seek out peers on forums to find out about their experiences, does.
- Share: It’s important that your entire company is aware of who your target customers are, not just marketing and sales. Create a buyer persona template where you can easily organize and present your findings. Have people from different departments give their input on if/how they interact with these personas and what their traits are.
- Create: Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and every time new content needs to be created you should stop and think, “If I was customer X – what would I want to know right now?” Your entire strategy should be rooted in your personas to ensure that every tactic you deploy is in line with overall business objectives.
Would you like to personalize content so that the content shown is targeted and relevant for different types of visitors?
Much like progressive profiling, “smart content” is content that is targeted intelligently to different customers, depending on what they have viewed or read on your website before. If you have an individual in the middle of the sales funnel, you are going to want to feed him/her much different content than someone who is in the initial stages of the buying cycle. Smart content takes hyper-personalization to another level and allows you to create “smart lists” which recognize your own brands’ lifecycle stages, and where each visitor, prospect, lead, or customer falls in that funnel.
Though there were quite a few numbers we left off, we tried to answer some of the most difficult ones, as well as the ones we see our customers having issues with whenever they are going through a website redesign. And though it might seem like a lot of work, the real battle begins once your website has been launched and you can truly see how your customers interact with it. The reality is that the work never stops when it comes to your website. If you aren’t continually optimizing, updating, and trying something new, you’re either coasting into failure or rapidly descending into demise.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.