It used to be that simply having a website would set you apart from the competition. You could create a handful of pages, add a little background about the company, sprinkle in some images, set it, and forget it. Unfortunately, a website that works for you requires a lot more upkeep than that.
As a key driver of new business, your website is the centerpiece of your digital marketing efforts.
For manufacturing and industrial companies, establishing a digital presence is no longer merely an option; it’s critical to staying relevant in today’s increasingly connected, online-focused B2B world. Today, users expect more. They want to know that a company is actively invested in keeping their processes, technologies, and website current and up to date, reflecting shifting trends and market changes.
Like your manufacturing operations, websites shouldn’t be static entities; a focus on constant improvement requires consistent testing and analysis. Today’s technologies and software can easily track user activity, allowing companies to see how visitors interact with their sites, conduct A/B tests to determine which kinds of phrasing or designs are more appealing to visitors, and make ongoing updates based on collected data.
Worried that your website isn’t hitting the mark? Below are eight easy ways to determine if your site needs an upgrade.
1. You Haven't Added New Content In More Than A Month
Google looks for freshness when it re-crawls a site; it likes to see that a website is growing with new pages and blog posts — and prioritizes search rankings accordingly… so post regularly!
You don’t need to hit a ridiculous posting quota to be noticed — even as little as once a month will demonstrate that you are maintaining the site and updating it consistently.
This one is pretty self-explanatory: if your website content has remained static for more than eight weeks, it’s time to consider a more hands-on approach. Not only does putting out fresh content your buyers are looking for — in the form of blogs, eBooks, checklists, white papers, calculators, product specs, and so on — position you as a cutting-edge, insightful, and directly helpful thought leader, it also helps you get noticed. When Google re-crawls sites, it’s not just looking for strong backlinks and valuable content, it’s also looking for site updates. At the bare minimum, posting new content just once a month is enough to show that you’re committed to staying current.
2. You Can't Remember The Last Time You Updated Your Homepage
Your homepage is where visitors will get their first impression of your business. No matter how great the products or services you offer are, if site visitors exit right off your homepage, you might as well consider it lost business.
Having an intuitive navigation and homepage design is a must-have on your industrial website. If you don't have a clear, and organized site structure, users won't easily get to where they need to go... aka they won't be able to request a quote, or even get to your product specs. Oh, and while you're at it, make sure your footer is up-to-date as well. It puts buyers on edge when they scroll to the bottom of your web pages and see "© 2002."
Glauber Equipment Corporation does a great job guiding site visitors across their site. The first thing you’ll notice about the Glauber site design is its use of color. The smart use of white space evokes a minimalist, clean design, and allows the accented, branded red to stand out — that “Request A Quote” button just screams, “click here.”
Below the fold is a large “products” module, which is easily navigable and allows users to learn more about its offerings without even touching the navigation menu.
Lastly, while many sites employ a market or industries module on the homepage, Glauber’s execution is unique. Their module uses an “accordion tab,” and when you hover over an icon, a corresponding CTA and description appear on the left. It’s a good way to limit overloading visitors with CTA buttons while still making it easy to get to the right place.
3. You Can't View Your Website Correctly On Your Phone
Don't miss out on critical UX/UI updates. There are all sorts of new features web developers are A/B testing every day to enhance user experience but, before you try anything else, responsive design should be at the top of your list. To accommodate the growing number of users browsing the web from their phones and other devices, this feature enables a site’s layout to adjust to any size screen automatically.
This multi-device compatibility is not the next frontier; it’s an essential component to any modern website. Consider that in 2014 mobile devices officially overtook desktops for web consumption and a year later, Google began rewarding mobile-friendliness with an SEO boost. Add in the fact that 2018's ENGINEERING.com Market Research Report found half of all engineers are accessing technical information from their phones — this feature is becoming non-negotiable for lead generation.
Today, users aren’t just accessing brand and product information from their desks; they’re also using tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices to search for products, gather specs, and compare pricing. Procurement managers are increasingly choosing to self-educate online rather than call different companies, so it’s critical to offer useful content and product information that can be accessed on the go. Plus, websites that don’t automatically resize for mobile devices are actually penalized by the Google algorithm.
4. You're Seeing A "Not Secure" Notification On Your Web Browser
Your customers and prospects take their security and privacy very seriously when it comes to browsing online, and you need to ensure that you are meeting their expectations. Having "HTTPS" in your address instead of "HTTP" can help safeguard against cyberattacks and fraud, while providing your visitors with a better user experience and greater peace of mind. In addition, having a secure, encrypted site can actually help you rank higher in search results.
5. You're Relying On Gut Instinct When It Comes To Design Decisions
As mentioned earlier, it's very important to test and optimize your site for improvements continuously. A/B testing is a component of Growth-Driven Design (GDD), a more analytical and data-driven approach to website design and development. Unlike traditional web design, GDD focuses on iterative testing and improvements, capturing visitor behavior, and making decisions fueled by actionable data.
WARNING: Design decisions should not be made on gut instinct.
Tests can range from changing up CTA colors to see higher click-through rates, form testing to see higher conversion rates, or anything you may want to shake up to see better business results.
(If you're unsure of what to test on your site, contact our website design team. We've run hundreds of tests across our clients sites.)
With the help of Thomas experts, Dehumidifier Corporation is a great example of an industrial business that consistently uses growth-driven design to drive continuous improvement and ensure that its site is always being optimized.
With a very high bounce rate on Dehumidifier Corp's RFQ landing page, we made updates to the page and saw an increase of 67% more leads with a multi-step form. Check out the full test here: How To Get 67% More Leads WIth Multi-Step Forms.
6. Your Images And Font Look Like Clip Art
If your site looks more ’80s than 2019, it’s time to reevaluate your image, font, and general style choices. Flashy, large fonts that are hard to read are just as bad as tiny, illegible fonts. Stick to classic, easy-to-read fonts that look modern but not showy, and take stock of your images. Do they accurately speak to your brand, or were they chosen quickly years ago without much thought? Images speak volumes about a company’s “personality” and professionalism, so it’s important to choose graphics and site designs that get across the right message. In the same vein, steer clear of music — users don’t want to be inundated with loud audio upon opening a site, and it distracts from your messaging and products.
7. Your Website Doesn't Have An Effective Online Product Catalog
If you're a manufacturer, OEM, or distributor your website must include an up-to-date, easy-to-use, online product catalog. We're not talking about a PDF download of all the products your company has to offer. With the shift to direct to consumer selling it's becoming more and more important to provide your buyers and especially engineers with digital product catalogs to see what your shop has to offer, product specs and make online purchases easier.
Trust us, you don't want to run the risk of a potential buyer navigating away from your website to your competitor because they couldn't figure out how to submit an RFQ or RFI. Let your website be your most reliable sales channel.
Online product catalog best practices and additions include:
- Ability to submit RFQs using forms to capture their information effectively
- Allow for the immediate purchase of short-sales cycle commodity products
- Compare-and-contrast feature
- Advanced search and configuration capabilities
8. You're Not Seeing Any Leads Coming From Your Website
If you do not see any leads from your website landing pages, it may have to do with your website traffic taking a plunge. Carve out some time to do a technical audit of the site. Is it taking a long time for pages to load, for example? Are there very large images? Are you using a low-quality hosting site? Are there lots of embedded media or browser plugins? All of these things can slow down page loading times and make for a frustrating user experience. People expect to move through your site quickly and intuitively, and if your site design is preventing that from happening, users will move on to a competitor’s offerings.
Things like cheap hosting services, oversized images, inefficient code, embedded media, and browser plugins can all negatively impact load time — frustrating users and earning you a penalty from Google. Other factors such as internal 404 errors or broken outbound links can have the same effect.
You could also be experiencing a bounce rate issue. In other words, visitors are coming to your site and leaving without exploring any other pages. Google interprets a high bounce rate as a poor user experience and uses Google Analytics and Chrome tools to factor this into SEO value.
Ideally, you want to have a site that’s easy to understand and invites users to stay a while and poke around. Free services like Hotjar can help you pinpoint where users are looking, clicking, and dropping off your site, as well as how you can get them to stick.
Updating Your Website Is A Continuous Effort
Taking the initial step to designing a high-quality, user-friendly website is essential. However, it’s just as important to keep your site up to date and modern to offer visitors the best possible user experience at all times. It also increases your chances of getting on the shortlist. Consistently updating your site based on tracked user activity, offering a mobile-friendly, modern design, and taking the time to perform technical assessments are just a few of the many ways to ensure you’re staying ahead of the curve.
Related content: How To Make It On The Industrial Buyer's Shortlist
Just as your middle school yearbook photo probably isn’t an accurate representation of who you are today, an outdated website isn’t likely to be a good representation of your company now. If a prospect visited your website today and then came to your facility tomorrow, would they wonder if this was the same company? If you’ve recently rebranded, added new products or services, or shifted your areas of focus, you’re definitely due for a tune-up. As your business continues to grow, the content and images on your site should reflect all of the cutting-edge tools, technologies, and services you’re able to offer.
Having trouble getting started with site design or curious to learn how you can optimize your site? Thomas Marketing Services will work closely with your to team to design an in-depth, tailored site design strategy based on your specific needs. Reach out to us today to talk with an expert. And in the meantime, check out examples of our favorite websites from industrial companies, distributors, and manufacturers here.
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