How marketers can prepare for a B2B website project

Author - Joss Honey

Posted By Joss Honey Digital Project Manager

Date posted 30th Mar 2022

Category Marketing

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Most B2B marketers want to leave their mark at a company, and what better way to do that than heading up the launch of a new website?  Websites are the 21st century equivalent of a shop window. It’s the first place potential customers go and for many it’s the point of sale, especially in B2B.  

For marketers, a B2B website build can be a career defining project, something that shows your talents and competencies. But, building a new website is no mean feat. There’s a lot that can go wrong, even if you’ve chosen the perfect agency for the job.  

Lack of preparation and an over reliance on your web partner is a key mistake many people make, so I’ve listed below 5 key points that a B2B marketer may want to consider when preparing for a new website project. 

1. Define your ‘why?’

The most important thing is the ‘WHY?’.  It’s the question that every business oriented TED talk focuses on, and is often cited as the reason many businesses fail – a lack of understanding for WHY? 

The notion of ‘why?’ applies to a website project too. But, this isn’t a question of, ‘why is our company needed?’ ‘why should people care about our brand?’ or ‘why will our customer buy our product?’ Your question should be, ‘why do we need a new website?’   

This question shouldn’t just be asked and answered when you’re creating a business case for a new B2B website. It should be questioned at every milestone throughout a website lifecycle in order to measure the project and its success. 

The best way to bring the ‘why’ into the website project process is to create 5 core project objectives.  Having too many can make the objectives meaningless and unattainable, and not having enough puts far too much pressure on the success of the objectives. 

You should ensure that the objectives are smart, realistic and achievable.  If you’re unsure what’s achievable through a website project, and which objectives should make the final cut, then bring this up with the agencies you’re engaging with.  We love working toward clear objectives!  

2. Appoint a steering group 

This next one is something that a lot of companies do but it can often yield negative results if not done correctly.  

A project steering group should consist of the project sponsor (often the company owner or director) and then any other company roles who have an active interest in the outcome of the website project.  Consider your head of marketing, new business sales manager or director of client services.  The choice will be different for every company. The only thing that’s the same across any website project is the importance of defining the roles within the steering group.  

You may be lucky enough to have a lot of freedom in the selection process, in which case make sure you’re selecting motivated and supportive individuals who are open to new ideas. And make sure they are going to give you enough of their time.  There’s no point asking the head of sales to be on the steering group if they aren’t ever going to be able to join a steering group meeting. 

If you’ve been assigned with leading the project on the business side then it’s important you agree with the business sponsor about what this actually means.  Answer the following questions:  

  • Who is involved in weekly status meetings?  
  • Who gets to review, feedback and approve wireframes and designs? 

Defining each member’s role in advance is fundamental in ensuring the success of the project, and also the ongoing relationship with those key members of the business. 

Ensure you have made clear your role within the project.  A key role of a leader is to make decisions, and sometimes you have to make decisions in a short amount of time. If you’re held back by over-cautious stakeholders, then the project will be impacted severely.  Making the wrong decision on time can often be better than making the right decision too late.

3. Plan your content

Whilst objectives are the most important point in this list, preparing your content is probably the one that’s most commonly forgotten about, and can have disastrous ramifications on a project timeline and budget.  

Any B2B marketer knows that a beautiful well-designed website is pointless if your content is rubbish – it won’t do you any favours for SEO and it certainly won’t persuade potential customers to buy from you. If you need to change any content or write new content for new pages, then it’s important to factor this in during the selection process for a web partner. 

One of the big chicken-and-egg conundrums arises here.  Should content be written to fit the new website designs? Or should the website be designed for the new content?  What comes first, content or designs?  Realistically, either is fine. The most important thing is that you decide this in advance. Writing content in parallel to the creative design process is not ideal, and you don’t want to spend time writing content only to find it doesn’t fit in your lovely new website.  

Some things to consider that might help your decision: 

  • If the ‘why?’ of your new website project is to reposition your company identity or launch new products, it’s likely you’re going to need a lot of new content. I’d suggest doing this before your website project has started. 
  • If the WHY of your new website project is more focused on visuals or user experience, it’s likely you’ll only be repurposing existing content, and new pages will be limited.  In this instance it may be more appropriate to rework content after the designs have been approved. 

The final thing to consider with content is who’s going to be uploading or migrating content to the new site.  Maybe you’ve got a large supporting team who can upload the majority of pages, but if you don’t, bear in mind it can be a long and tedious process. 

Thankfully at 93digital, with the help of Gutenberg, our CMS’s (content management system) are built with users in mind so it’s quite a simple process.  Even so, if you’ve got 50+ pages to upload content for, it’s still going to take time no matter how easy it is. 

4. Set realistic dates to manage expectations.

The world can throw many things your way. I’m writing this at the end of March 2022, after two years of lockdowns and now war in Europe.  These are obviously on the more dramatic side of things, but they are clear examples of events that could cause delays with the progress of a digital project lasting several months.  

Here’s an analogy I like to use.  Let’s say you’re getting married on the 1st of June, the sun is shining, everyones travelling to be with you on the big day – you think everything is running smoothly but wait…  Your wedding dress (or tux) hasn’t arrived yet!  You thought ordering it for delivery on the 1st of June wouldn’t be a problem.  This highlights the importance of setting realistic dates and understanding that factors outside of your control can impact project timelines.

Building a new B2B website is a big task, and things are likely to change as the project unfolds. Maybe your objectives shift and the scope of work increases, maybe one of the project team falls ill and a milestone is missed or maybe (using the analogy above) content is not populated in time and the scheduled go live date is missed.  

The lesson here: ensure that other key dates for your business are not reliant on the completion of your website project. For example, if you’ve got a marketing campaign ready for launch to announce your new brand, do not schedule this for the same day the website is due to go live.  You should always ensure there is a contingency.  

Read our blog on ‘How long does a website project take?‘ for more information.

5. Know your product 

It’s all too easy for B2B marketers to focus on the brand and positioning of a company, sometimes this is to the detriment of actually understanding what your company is offering.  

Whether it’s a tangible product or SaaS solution, it’s best to ensure you have a strong understanding of all your company has to offer and how much real estate it needs on your new site.  I’d suggest a workshop with the business owner and product managers to explore the company offering. This will give you all the information you need to inform your B2B website design partner. 

6. Know your brand 

Unless it’s been specifically agreed during the initial pitching and onboarding process, branding will not be included in the scope of your project. Therefore, it’s imperative that you have a well defined visual brand for a design team to use as their holy book throughout the design process. Having ideas in your head about what the website should look like isn’t enough and is guaranteed to cause you a lot of stress. 

7. Enjoy yourself 

If you do all the above recommended steps, I think you should prepare to enjoy yourself.  We’re lucky enough to work in an exciting industry and a great company. We enjoy what we do and we want to share that joy with you. 

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but a collection of thoughts I’ve had having managed a wide variety of contrasting website projects over 6 years. I hope this goes some way in helping you prepare for your next website project! 

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