Web Experience

Hot Plate Issues for 2021

The brand website has always been an important marketing asset but as the number of digital channels increased, the website became just another channel. Today, as more consumers are doing their own product research and more sales and marketing is happening digitally, the website has once again shifted to the forefront.  

Your Website is Still Your #1 Channel

In Ingeniux’s 2020 Digital Priorities survey it was very clear – the website is the most important channel for companies today.   

As we look back at everything that has been happening over the last several years, and especially in 2020, we see two key changes driving the website to take top billing once again. 

Consumers Expectations Toward Digital Have Grown

Consumers are researching for products and services and shopping online more than ever. These consumers expect to find all the information they need to make a purchase decision on the website. This applies to B2B consumers as much as it does B2C consumers.

In Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer, 84% of customers said the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. All customers, B2C and B2B expect better access to information and many are looking for real-time support (e.g., chat). Also critical is the experience across channels. A customer may start with the website, but they expect a consistent experience moving from the website to any other channel – key to that consistency is content.

First-Party Data is More Important Than Ever

There are two important things happening today that affect the ability for companies to attract, win, and retain customers. First, as consumers get smarter about using the Internet, their expectations for good customer experience are growing. They don’t want to be bombarded with messages, ads and content that aren’t relevant to them and they don’t want the information they share with brands used in ways that don’t make their experience better, or worse, is sold to another company.

The second thing is that the Web continues to evolve, and technology changes are making it easier for consumers to deliberately tune brands out. Ad blockers block pop ups and ads in most browsers driving brands to find other ways to advertise. Google is phasing out third-party cookies that help brands track visitors to the website, as well as other store other information on consumers.

Data privacy has become one of the most important considerations for brands today. Privacy regulations like GDPA and CCPA are just the beginning of a growing shift to how customer information is collected and used. And that shift has affected the type of customer data brands collect and use.

There are three different types of data brands collect today:

  • First party data - this is data a brand collects from its customers directly through marketing activities like form fills, social media follows, subscriptions, and visits to the website. It’s also your customer data found in the CRM, and other customer-focused activities.
  • Second party data - this is data collected by trusted partners whom you have an agreement to share customer information
  • Third party data - this is data purchased from data providers that make a living collecting and selling customer data to companies, or who offer advertising programs (such as DP)

Traditionally, brands have purchased third-party data to complement their first- and second-party data to provide them with a better understanding of customers and prospects. Data privacy laws strict a brand’s ability to leverage this data because they didn’t ask for permission from the customer to collect and use it. This means brands, more than ever, must rely on first party data to build better experiences.

Getting first-party data isn’t easy though. Customers are increasingly hesitant to give their personal data because they don’t know what the brand is going to do with it. One way to show customers the value of providing their information is through content marketing programs. And with most content marketing programs, the brand website becomes very important.

In the webinar summary, First Party Data and a Changing Market, Rand Fishkin spoke about the importance of the website:

“...make your website the first place any content appears,” he emphasized.

Naturally, Rand encourages that this content can then be distributed on other channels, such as social networks. For him, what matters is that the website should be the first to receive traffic and thus become a reference for those who want early content.”

Pandemic Has Sped Up the Shift to Digital

COVID-19 didn’t force us to a digital world, but it has certainly sped up the shift. Pre-pandemic you could have a brick-and-mortar site, attend events, or go to a customer’s office to sell your products, along with having a web presence. But the lockdowns forced many inside, and even with some restrictions lifted and a vaccine on the way, consumers are getting used to finding what they need online.

Companies have had to make the shift to digital faster than planned. Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella summed it up perfectly in a quarterly earnings report:

“We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months. From remote teamwork and learning, to sales and customer service, to critical cloud infrastructure and security—we are working alongside customers every day to help them adapt and stay open for business in a world of remote everything.”

Companies need to renew their focus on creating engaging web experiences. There is a massive increase in the amount of content available online that can help consumers research and learn about products. More than ever, you need to ensure your website provides everything a consumer needs to make an informed decision. To do this, changes in technology and architecture are necessary.

Your CMS technology must enable you to create and manage content for your website, but also for your other digital channels to ensure information is consistent wherever your customers engage with you. CMS technology that is cloud-based and decoupled support all your web experiences, including your website, mobile apps, business applications, and more.

Ensuring Your Website Experience is the Best

If the brand website is the most important channel to support customers as they research products and look for information, then you need to ensure it’s not only providing the right information, but also that the information is easy to find and understand.

Complete a Content Marketing Strategy

Your content marketing strategy identifies the key personas and audiences you want to visit your website and what their journey looks like. When you plan your strategy, think about personas and audiences separately. Personas represent your ideal customer, and their purchase journey. You need to understand what kind of information they are looking for at each stage in their journey and have that information available on the website in the right location.

An audience isn’t yet a customer (although your customer could be part of your audience) but it’s a group of people that you’d like to think about your company if they are ever considering a purchase or suggesting relevant brands to someone who is in purchase mode.

There is some overlap in the type of content you create, but there’s no purchase journey to think about with an audience (although there is hope that maybe someday someone in your audience may shift to being a customer). As Robert Rose said in his keynote address at Content Marketing World 2020, “you have to teach audiences how to be customers.”

Your content marketing strategy will help you define what content you need for your website and how to create a web experience that offers the right information in the right place and is engaging and easy to navigate.

Get SEO Right

Getting SEO right is important if you want customers to find your website. It requires that you know the keywords and phrases that people are searching that you want to be found for and creating content on your website that supports them.

Whether it’s a product page, a blog, or some other area on your website, you need ensure the content you create is relevant to what people want and to show it is, you include keywords and phrases that help search engines index it properly. Leverage a tool like Hrefs or Ubersuggest to research keywords and phrases and make sure the content you develop includes them in the proper way.

Your web CMS should also provide tools to help with SEO including capabilities such as:

  • Enforcing the use of metadata (for web pages and content), both system-generated and manually entered.
  • Search engine friendly URLs.
  • Defined XML Site Maps and customized index rules for specific pages.
  • Employ a broken links checker to monitor and fix broken links continually.
  • 301 redirects for when you move content around your website to ensure it continues to be findable.

SEO is not only technical and about keywords, but also about creating relevant content that your customers want to consumer (see Content Marketing Strategy). You can’t stuff your content with keywords and assume you’ll win the first page of SERPs.

Create a Blog that Supports Customer Needs

Every brand website has a blog. But every blog doesn’t cater to the needs of the customer or prospective customer. Part of your content marketing strategy includes defining the purpose of your blog and the content you need to publish.

Categorize it according to customer needs, write content is the helpful and useful, and have a way for visitors to subscribe to get regular updates.

Integrate a Chatbot

Conversational marketing is popular way to support website visitors. Help visitors to your website find the information they need quickly and easily by employing a chatbot. You can set up specific chat flows for certain web pages or sections of the website, personalizing the experience using information you may know about the visitor through website cookies.

Offer Relevant Search

It’s surprising how many websites do not offer a search capability even though it is one of the best ways for visitors to the website to quickly find information. A reliable website search requires good search technology that can properly index all your content. Features like browse-by topic navigation, faceted and guided search, and related content widgets can help visitors quickly find what they want.

Is Your Website Ready for 2021?

There is no better time to re-evaluate your website experience than right now. As more consumers continue to do the bulk of their research and buying online, it’s critical to ensure your website supports an experience that is easy to use and packed with all the information needed to make a decision.

It’s also important that the website experience is supported by a web CMS that can also support all your other digital channels, ensuring a consistency in the information you provide, and the experience needed to inform and engage.

Ask How Ingeniux Can Help

If you want to learn how Ingeniux's hybrid content management platform can help you with your 2021 web experience strategy, fill out the form below.

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