Build a resilient marketing function: start with your most important marketing channel

As the pandemic rages on, challenges and opportunities continue to emerge for B2B media and events businesses.  

From Team MPG’s vantage point, it is clear that the most resilient businesses, and those that have started growing again, have certain characteristics – including: a belief in the strategic importance of marketing – shared by the whole senior leadership team; a strong understanding of what good marketing looks like and should be expected to achieve; and a commitment to invest well in marketing for sustainable growth. 

This was the focus of Helen Coetzee’s blog published on 1st January: In 2022, the most resilient organisations will have relevant and resilient marketing. In this article, Helen highlights specific areas that require focus and investment for building relevance and resilience into your marketing – and therefore into your whole organisation. 

One of these specific areas is your website, or more specifically, the website or web pages that serve the purpose of marketing your brand, value proposition and products.

The companies that have invested heavily in building high performance marketing websites, are standing out as resilient and winning organisations at this time. 

And by ‘high performance websites’, we’re not just referring to a beautifully designed ‘look and feel’ for your site – which is usually the calling card of slick creative and digital agencies very good at selling their sizzle (and making things look nice). A well designed, nice-to-look at website is an absolute must, but far too many organisations we talk to have fallen in to the trap of spending a fortune with a ‘shiny’ agency (confusing style with substance…) on a website that just looks lovely, but doesn’t actually work in terms of:

(1) Optimised customer journeys in the front end – to acquire more customers and generate more revenue, and
(2) Back-end/CMS functionality that makes the website practical and efficient (and viable!) for marketers to manage in the manner required for the website to work well within a content-led, integrated marcomms approach. 

There is a very specific, specialised set of functionality requirements that B2B media/events businesses need built into their marketing websites that can be very poorly understood by many business leaders (and often their marketers too), and by the too many agencies trusted with this kind of work.

These specific functionality requirements are focused on the extremely important role your website serves as the hub of all your marketing efforts. If you want to be a resilient  and growing business, your website needs to do all the following – really well:

  1. Positioning: host impactful messaging – in words, pictures and sometimes video and/or audio – that positions your brand and value you deliver in exactly the right way. For this you need a strong messaging strategy.
    See: Build a winning messaging strategy:a step-by-step guide
  2. Conversion rate optimisation (CRO): have well structured navigation and CTAs that draw customers through your marketing funnel – getting them to share their data, become a customer, and also share your content.
    See: 4 Things you should do for a high performance website
  3. SEO: use relevant messaging, content and good UX to organically attract relevant people from search engines – to then become exposed to your positioning and converted to engaged prospects, customers and advocates.

A well-optimised site attracts the right visitors, in required and sustainable volumes, and clearly communicates your value proposition – which is more important now than ever to cut through all the noise on digital channels. 

Remember that your website is the hub of all your marketing activity. Every time you post on social media, run a PPC campaign, or send an email campaign – you should be pushing relevant people to your website so that they become visitors, engaged audience members prospects, and customers. 

If your website is not in the best shape possible, all of your other marketing channels will be much less effective than they should be. There is almost no point deploying any other marketing channels (especially PPC!) until you have a website in place that looks great, and works exactly as it should in terms of functionality needed to deliver customers and revenue to your business.

Next week we will share a practical guide to building a high performance website. Subscribe to MPG Insights to get notified when the next article is published.

And in the meantime, if you’d like to speak to an MPG website expert about how to optimise the site you have, or build a brand new, high performance website – please get in touch. Team MPG includes website designers, developers and website project managers who have a deep understanding of B2B media/events business models and marketing. We know how your website needs to work to grow your customer base and your revenues. Read more about MPG’s website design and development services.


MPG provided excellent design and functionality recommendations for our website – helping us immediately put into action initiatives that would help us gain more customers and move forward as a business.

Alex Ayad, Founder & CEO, Outsmart Insight


 

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4 Things you should be doing for a high performance website

Considering your website is your most important marketing channel, do you give it as much attention and investment as it needs? As the host of your branding, messaging, content, lead generation and often also online sales/ecommerce, it acts as the end destination for all of your other marketing activity – so if your website is not performing at its best, the rest of your marketing channels won’t be either.

Optimising your website is critical for your bottom line, especially as we enter a year with continuing remote working and increasing digitalisation and the world’s business will be done online. The smartest companies who will be able to make the most of the post-Covid recovery will have the best websites!

Every brand, value proposition and audience is different, but the key success factors of having a well optimised website are universal. This post focuses on four of these key success factors needed to create a high performance website, whether your core offering is events, subscriptions, membership or community – or a combination of some or all of these.

1. Don’t make your users think (the 5 second rule)

Don’t make me think is well-known adage in the world of website UX. Website users have extremely short attention spans, so when constructing and populating your website, making the user journey as smooth as possible should be a core consideration in your decision making. Slow loading pages, improperly formatted mobile pages, rambling copy, confusing navigation – anything that forces the user to engage their brain to try and figure out what’s going on is an issue, and makes your website ‘hard work’ for your user. You need to make it very easy for your user to quickly get what they need from your website – whether it’s information, a newsletter subscription or a delegate ticket purchase.

A good rule of thumb is the ‘5 second rule’. Imagine you showed your website to an audience member for 5 seconds, before hiding it again. What would they know about your product/service? And would they have been able to at least have found on the ‘form page’ you want them on e.g. lead generation form or event booking form? They will probably need another few seconds to fill in the form – but if they can’t find the form they’re looking for in 5 seconds your website is not in the ‘high performance’ category!

 

2. Don’t try to make everything stand out – or nothing will

A common pitfall with website design is to try and make too many things stand out.

This can lead to an overwhelming and confusing experience for users, where they can’t figure out what they’re supposed to do next or what is most important about the organisation or product.

This can result from too many CTA (call to action) banners or buttons, links, text boxes and/or images. It can also occur when elements are all made an equal size or visual ‘weighting’ or positioning. Elements that are given more breathing room are generally more likely to be noticed and clicked on.

How do you know what’s important and therefore what should stand out? Consider what primary and secondary objective you have with your website.

For many, direct purchases or enquiries are the most valuable action a user can take, and ultimately the one you want to them to take at some point (even if it’s not during their first visit). This is your primary objective.

The design and structure of your site should place the most importance on content and CTAs that serve this primary objective. The button in the top right of your navigation bar (prime real estate on any website) should be reserved for your primary objective – e.g. ‘Buy now’. The main CTA in your header section should be the same. All content on your site should – in some way – further encourage users to take that final conversion.

For other sites, a primary objective may be lead generation. Filling in a data capture form may be the action you want users to take. Lead generation often works well across a range of touch points, at various levels of the funnel e.g. signing up for a free newsletter subscription, downloading a report advertised in a newsletter and then enquiring about a specific product via a link in the ‘thank you for downloading the report’ email or a link in the report itself.

Even if lead generation isn’t the primary goal, every website should include some form of lead generation as it captures valuable customer data that can be used to enrich and grow your marketing and sales database.

 

3. Build in lead generation intelligently

Lead generation is much more than just sticking a data capture form on our website and waiting for users to find it.

CTAs to your lead generation forms should be integrated as naturally as possible. Is someone viewing the ‘membership benefits’ page? If so, encourage them to download a member case study and ‘enquire about membership’. Are they viewing your event agenda summary? Then push them to download the full version. Work out what you would like your user to do next and point them to that next, desired action.

More generic lead generation opportunities (e.g. ‘Register your interest’) should be accessible from across your whole site, including CTAs and a presence on your top navigation menu. This will ensure users always have a ‘next action’ to take, regardless of where they are on your site. These kinds of more general and ‘low commitment’ lead generation options create an easy way for users to engage with your brand without committing to buying something before they’re ready, but keeps them in your marketing list so that you can further nurture them.

Also consider that visitors may land directly on your lead generation forms; whether from an email campaign, organic URL or social post. It’s important to ensure your lead generation forms/pages provide ample context and persuasive messaging as to why the visitor should surrender their data. What benefit does completing the form give them? A short descriptive paragraph, simple bullet points about the benefits of completing the form and possibly a relevant image (e.g. report cover) are simple but important ways to increase conversion rates.

 

4. Make sure Google can find your site

SEO is an ongoing process and one that is always baked into good website design. Search engines – with the most important one being Google in most regions of the world – want to serve the most relevant and valuable websites. A key factor in their ranking is user experience, which is determined by things like content, time on site, pages visited and device optimisation. Therefore, a good website generally means good SEO.

Also consider your keywords. If your website is for an event about financial technology, then you want to make sure ‘financial technology’ and ‘fintech event’ are scattered across your website content. It’s important this is done naturally within your copy. ‘Stuffing’ keywords – the practise of including the same keyword an excessive number of times on a page – will harm not only the user experience, but also your SEO.

You can also apply keywords when considering more ‘on-trend’ issues. If there’s a new piece of technology that could revolutionise fintech, consider publishing a blog or news article on it with the name included in the headline and within the main body. This will help you rank for a relevant keyword that potential attendees will be actively searching for as it is a ‘hot topic’.

A final consideration is how you can ‘win’ links to your website. Links from other websites (e.g. your homepage URL on a media partner’s site) effectively function as votes for your website in organic rankings, lending authority and trust. Producing great content is a sure-fire way to win links, as users will want to share content they find interesting/valuable on their own sites and via social channels. This should be proactively managed via an advocacy marketing programme that results in your site linking to multiple other highly relevant sites and your content being shared more widely on social media.

The four key success factors we have covered in this blog are important, but certainly not comprehensive when it comes to having a well optimised website! And each of the four factors we have covered could each have their own, very long blog (or even an e-book!).

But, the most important thing of all is to ensure your organisation is investing well in your website. Your senior leadership team must recognise that your website as your shop window – and the shop your users are wondering around in before they agree to buy anything or speak to a salesperson. How your customers and potential customers experience your website could be the difference between surviving and thriving in 2021 and beyond…or becoming a Covid (and digital revolution) casualty.


Get your website optimised

MPG’s website experts can help you optimise your website for optimal performance. Or we can design and build a brand new, high performance website for you!

Whether you’re offering events, subscriptions, memberships or a community – our team can set you up with a winning website.

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Get website optimisation skills into your team

MPG Academy’s trainers can work with your team to ensure they have a strong strategy and the right skills to optimise your website. Request more information about training and development for your team on website optimisation, as well as other key areas of marketing for communities, subscriptions, membership and events.

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