In companies up and down the land there are many experts in web design, and even more on business websites. Recently, there was a case of a new employee working in a business development capacity starting at a major technology outsourcing firm. He (Mr C) expressed some opinions on the website based on his own experience at a previous firm he worked for (a previous competitor). A reference was made to having to having so much content that no further engagement is encouraged.
Is there such thing as too much content?
There is no such thing. As business is becoming increasingly digitised and therefore the more content is available, the more beneficial it is to have content published online, especially if the content is not subject to regulatory restrictions like other industries such as financial services and insurance.
From a search point of view, more unique and value adding content builds the authority scores used by search engines to evaluate technology provider websites for search engine rankings. Since more content is deemed as authoritative and relevant, it therefore follows that a site with more content will help the site attract drive more SEO visitors to the site from highly competitive searches and show up for a wider range of searches.
From a PR point of view, having more content will help prove to journalists and potential clients that the client is worthy of editorial coverage and having evidence of capability, respectively.
The balance to be struck
The balance to be struck is not between the amount of content but how the content is managed from an information architecture point of view – i.e. how the content is logically stored within the site that makes sense to users and search engines.
Thus the priority must be made on how we guide different sets of users through the content be it:
- Users who don’t know / do know the brand
- Users at different stages of their search for the brands’ lines of business offers
- Users who have / have not already engaged with the business
Criticisms and the iterative process
It’s quite common for business websites, including ours to receive critical opinions on web design and so forth. Whilst such opinions are welcome, the web design process is not one that is static but one that is iterative. That means whilst the current love version may not be in it’s most perfect state that doesn’t mean that the marketing and IT departments are happy to leave things as they are and do nothing about it! Any change put forward must be put forward and justified on the basis of data evidence that forms part of a business case.
The “So What?!” principle
A reference was made to how a competitor is using events to “good effect”. When a competitor merely lists the events as links with no additional information as to why the events are even being listed, let alone propose an invitation to their site visitors. The basic tenet of writing web copy is the “So what?” principle i.e. the user knows why the website is listing the event information in the first instance.
Mr C should look at the Events section of the site he is criticising, which meets such a principle by showing a list the events we’re attending AND something about our participation in the event such as the roundtables, lunch and presentations we’re giving to our target audiences at those events. This is value adding and the user can see how we add value to those events unlike this competitor.
Webinars and other tactics
Whilst I agree webinars could be value adding to the brand, Mr C has failed to provide evidence as to why webinars are any better than using videos, holding our own events, eBooks, podcasts, infographics, surveys or any other type of medium. Mr C should conduct his own research as part of a business case or better consult the marketing director on the communications strategy which involves research into the core messages, the audiences and the media horizon before prescribing which PR tactics to use.
The sacred Home Page and it’s purpose
Whilst the home page is not perfect for a lot of websites, the home page (and many landing pages) need to link to service/product pages amongst other things. His suggestion of replacing the “trustmark” links with lines of business links go against two principles:
a. having sidebars – these are proven to reduce onsite conversion rates
b. talking capabilities instead of identifying needs – good marketing is about listening to prospective customers NOT telling them what lines of businesses you’re in i.e. what you can do for them.
Instead, the trustmarks should remain but the homepage should be instead redesigned to make new visitors understand:
a. The results of the brand’s capability NOT the service/product – people buy clean teeth not toothpaste
b. How the brand is different
c. How to get to the solution that meets their need
Thus we have simplified, engaging and clear homepage that converts and facilitates business development and the building of the brand’s online reputation.
The idea is bigger than the product
I think Mr C is missing the point when he talks about referencing the capability to deliver a software solution. Whilst superior technology in terms of design, engineering, and integration is a key component of the brand’s offering i.e. the software solution. Mr C needs to realise that there is a substantive people element involved and that managing change is means engaging people in the client’s firm to use that technology so that it gets used in the right way.
People aren’t buying software they’re buying more than that – they’re buying the fact that the brand has highly skilled and driven consultants made of analysts and engineers that go the extra mile to make the technology projects a resounding success for business transformation. I should also mention that technology is the enabler not the software solution. Technology encompasses both people and software.
This technology capability is demonstrated by the testimonials and customers the brand have already delivered. Perhaps the technology section should reference the words software solution but reading the copy shows that there is a far wider picture and the brand’s awareness and successful experience of that.