TAKE DOWN YOUR

WEBSITE IMMEDIATELY

By Joel Freimuth, President & CEO

Blue Pearl Consulting

TAKE DOWN YOUR

WEBSITE IMMEDIATELY

By Joel Freimuth, President & CEO

Blue Pearl Consulting

Everyone from your tech savvy salesperson to your latest Millennial hire is telling you that your small or mid-sized manufacturing company needs a website, but, take it from me, they’re wrong. Those people mean well, they just don’t know the whole situation.  Your website is taking money away from your business. Building a website is easy. There are templates and plenty of people with a Website Design for Dummies book that are willing to take a couple hundred or thousand bucks out of your pocket and give you a web presence. But in addition to the money you spent on the website, your website may be actively destroying your business.

 

According to expand2web.com, nearly 1/3 of visitors to your site think you lack essential features and functionality. Over 25% of your customers labelled your site “unimpressive.” Over 1/3 of your potential customers have decided not to do business with you after visiting your website and nearly 1 in 10 of your customers are buying less than planned because of their experience on your website.  And, chances are your website contains typos, broken links, errors, or is even down almost 30% of the time.

 

The typical potential customer will spend less than 5 minutes on your site if it doesn’t grab them immediately. Users of manufacturing sites that meet or exceed expectations will spend as much as 15 minutes on your site. Amazon ran a test in which it slowed down its page loading speed by 100 microseconds. Sales decreased by 1%. A microsecond is one one-millionth of a second. Google ran a test in which it decreased a 10 result loading page by 0.4 seconds. Traffic decreased by 20%. Recent research from Zona essentially concludes that all users will abandon a website that takes longer than 6 seconds to load any page. 57% of users will abandon a page that doesn’t load in 3 seconds. It took you longer than 6 seconds to read that sentence.

 

This applies most importantly to YOU: the one who just spent thousands of dollars re-designing your website. TAKE. IT. DOWN. You can listen to a Millenial, or you can take it down and stop hemorrhaging the business.  Of course, however, there is a third option. You could build a website correctly. To build a website correctly, though, is time consuming and expensive.

 

To determine if a website is worth it, let’s look at some key statistics.  Development of a manufacturing website will range from $2,000 to over $100,000. Our research shows that most industrial websites cost between $15,000 and $35,000, depending on the functionality.  We always recommend budgeting towards the higher side. It can take anywhere from 3 weeks to a year to build a complete, functional website. Small to mid-sized manufacturers generally take 3-6 months to start at ground zero and get to a well-designed site that increases revenue.  Both price and time increase if extensive direct purchasing capabilities are desired. If we were to assume building your particular website would have an estimated budget of $25,000 and an estimated deadline of 4 ½ months, we can now begin to determine if the investment is worthwhile. We will do this in two steps. First, we will illustrate some of the benefits of a good website. Second, we will touch on the various steps of the process of constructing a good web site.

 

According to Thomasnet, 90% of industrial buyers research and evaluate purchases online. Customers look to a potential vendor’s website to accomplish four goals: 1) gather information; 2) determine if the potential vendor is credible; 3) evaluate the effectiveness of the website; and, 4) place orders or manage the sales process. The web, according to RSH Web Services, is the most convenient method to research a potential purchase or vendor. Interestingly, regardless of comfort or expertise with web search tools, users of all levels tend to seek the same information. Keep in mind, if you don’t talk about your business on the web, someone else will.

Everyone from your tech savvy salesperson to your latest Millennial hire is telling you that your small or mid-sized manufacturing company needs a website, but, take it from me, they’re wrong. Those people mean well, they just don’t know the whole situation.  Your website is taking money away from your business. Building a website is easy. There are templates and plenty of people with a Website Design for Dummies book that are willing to take a couple hundred or thousand bucks out of your pocket and give you a web presence. But in addition to the money you spent on the website, your website may be actively destroying your business.

 

According to expand2web.com, nearly 1/3 of visitors to your site think you lack essential features and functionality. Over 25% of your customers labelled your site “unimpressive.” Over 1/3 of your potential customers have decided not to do business with you after visiting your website and nearly 1 in 10 of your customers are buying less than planned because of their experience on your website.  And, chances are your website contains typos, broken links, errors, or is even down almost 30% of the time.

 

The typical potential customer will spend less than 5 minutes on your site if it doesn’t grab them immediately. Users of manufacturing sites that meet or exceed expectations will spend as much as 15 minutes on your site. Amazon ran a test in which it slowed down its page loading speed by 100 microseconds. Sales decreased by 1%. A microsecond is one one-millionth of a second. Google ran a test in which it decreased a 10 result loading page by 0.4 seconds. Traffic decreased by 20%. Recent research from Zona essentially concludes that all users will abandon a website that takes longer than 6 seconds to load any page. 57% of users will abandon a page that doesn’t load in 3 seconds. It took you longer than 6 seconds to read that sentence.

 

This applies most importantly to YOU: the one who just spent thousands of dollars re-designing your website. TAKE. IT. DOWN. You can listen to a Millenial, or you can take it down and stop hemorrhaging the business.  Of course, however, there is a third option. You could build a website correctly. To build a website correctly, though, is time consuming and expensive.

 

To determine if a website is worth it, let’s look at some key statistics.  Development of a manufacturing website will range from $2,000 to over $100,000. Our research shows that most industrial websites cost between $15,000 and $35,000, depending on the functionality.  We always recommend budgeting towards the higher side. It can take anywhere from 3 weeks to a year to build a complete, functional website. Small to mid-sized manufacturers generally take 3-6 months to start at ground zero and get to a well-designed site that increases revenue.  Both price and time increase if extensive direct purchasing capabilities are desired. If we were to assume building your particular website would have an estimated budget of $25,000 and an estimated deadline of 4 ½ months, we can now begin to determine if the investment is worthwhile. We will do this in two steps. First, we will illustrate some of the benefits of a good website. Second, we will touch on the various steps of the process of constructing a good web site.

 

According to Thomasnet, 90% of industrial buyers research and evaluate purchases online. Customers look to a potential vendor’s website to accomplish four goals: 1) gather information; 2) determine if the potential vendor is credible; 3) evaluate the effectiveness of the website; and, 4) place orders or manage the sales process. The web, according to RSH Web Services, is the most convenient method to research a potential purchase or vendor. Interestingly, regardless of comfort or expertise with web search tools, users of all levels tend to seek the same information. Keep in mind, if you don’t talk about your business on the web, someone else will.

In a recent JD Powers survey of 9,469 participants, only 23% of industrial websites met or exceeded expectations. In the automotive industry, only 21% of OEM sites have responsive design as of the beginning of 2014. For industrial suppliers under $200 million, the probability of having responsive design is only 7%.


Let’s cut to the chase: a functional, complete website will increase revenue by 7.5% (Expand2Web, October 2012). That is, if your website currently brings in about $3.5 million in annual revenue; a functional, complete website will increase your online revenue by $262,000. That doesn’t account for the other important benefits a good website provides, such as better branding, enhanced reputation, increased exposure, and higher status in web searches.


First, let’s restate some well-known truths. The process of building and updating a website is painful and time consuming. A well-designed, effective website is expensive. Any shortcuts taken in the building process will result in a website that continues to steal from you.  A website is never “done.” It must be continuously updated to reflect your growth, your customers’ demands, and industry news and trends. And, to further complicate matters, a website must attract different audiences. We recommend targeting current customers, potential customers, and potential employees. To summarize, this process will be involved, demanding, expensive, slow, and painful – and totally worth it.


The start of a good web site begins with a self-awareness exercise. Ask these questions:  Who are you? What do you do? Why do you do it? Why do your customers buy from you?  Where do you want to be in 6 months? What do you want your website to do for you? We have discovered that sessions aimed at addressing these questions have generated some real eye-opening results.


Your website is your central messaging tool.  90% of potential customers will research you online. Your website is their primary information source. What you say about yourself and how you say it will do more to influence your potential customer’s decisions than any other single factor.


Now it’s time to expand the conversation.  While your sales group may have some fear of losing control of client relationships to the website, you can ease those fears by involving them in your self-awareness exercise. A website that your sales group doesn’t actively support and promote is weak and, more importantly, weakens the sales process. In discussions with your salespeople, you’re looking to find out what your customers want and need both from your company and from your company’s website. Will they want to reorder previous purchases on the website? Place new orders? Communicate directly instead of by phone? Gain detailed product knowledge?


Other groups should be brought in as necessary. Engineering may become involved if you are going to post a product catalog online and want more exact language describing the products. Publicity/PR may get involved to push certain initiatives or company calendar or company highlights. Finance should be involved for two purposes. First, to consult on any ecommerce functionality and, second, to be aware of the cost of the website in order to adjust prices to maximize ROI.  IT is involved to understand the technical needs, but website design is NOT an IT project.  It is marketing and sales.


After the internal discussions, you will have enough information to put together a call for proposals from website designers. Whatever budget you think you need, double it. And, whatever you do, do not make your selection of website designer based only on price. Before we continue, you CAN afford a good website. It isn’t cheap, but it is affordable. We’ve built good websites built for as little as $2,000 and we’ve built good websites for over $100,000. It depends what you want and need. But, I promise you, the company with the $2,000 website only wanted to spend $1,000. Remember our $25,000 estimated budget. Yes, double that too.


You are looking for a partner in a website designer. Your culture, approach and general tone should match the designer you choose. In addition, the web designer needs to have the ability to execute your desired functionality across different operating systems, technology, and devices, including mobile.  Your designer should be able to balance good design with solid business focus. Your designer should have the ability to edit and polish your content, and also be willing and available to maintain and update the site.

In a recent JD Powers survey of 9,469 participants, only 23% of industrial websites met or exceeded expectations. In the automotive industry, only 21% of OEM sites have responsive design as of the beginning of 2014. For industrial suppliers under $200 million, the probability of having responsive design is only 7%.


Let’s cut to the chase: a functional, complete website will increase revenue by 7.5% (Expand2Web, October 2012). That is, if your website currently brings in about $3.5 million in annual revenue; a functional, complete website will increase your online revenue by $262,000. That doesn’t account for the other important benefits a good website provides, such as better branding, enhanced reputation, increased exposure, and higher status in web searches.


First, let’s restate some well-known truths. The process of building and updating a website is painful and time consuming. A well-designed, effective website is expensive. Any shortcuts taken in the building process will result in a website that continues to steal from you.  A website is never “done.” It must be continuously updated to reflect your growth, your customers’ demands, and industry news and trends. And, to further complicate matters, a website must attract different audiences. We recommend targeting current customers, potential customers, and potential employees. To summarize, this process will be involved, demanding, expensive, slow, and painful – and totally worth it.


The start of a good web site begins with a self-awareness exercise. Ask these questions:  Who are you? What do you do? Why do you do it? Why do your customers buy from you?  Where do you want to be in 6 months? What do you want your website to do for you? We have discovered that sessions aimed at addressing these questions have generated some real eye-opening results.


Your website is your central messaging tool.  90% of potential customers will research you online. Your website is their primary information source. What you say about yourself and how you say it will do more to influence your potential customer’s decisions than any other single factor.


Now it’s time to expand the conversation.  While your sales group may have some fear of losing control of client relationships to the website, you can ease those fears by involving them in your self-awareness exercise. A website that your sales group doesn’t actively support and promote is weak and, more importantly, weakens the sales process. In discussions with your salespeople, you’re looking to find out what your customers want and need both from your company and from your company’s website. Will they want to reorder previous purchases on the website? Place new orders? Communicate directly instead of by phone? Gain detailed product knowledge?


Other groups should be brought in as necessary. Engineering may become involved if you are going to post a product catalog online and want more exact language describing the products. Publicity/PR may get involved to push certain initiatives or company calendar or company highlights. Finance should be involved for two purposes. First, to consult on any ecommerce functionality and, second, to be aware of the cost of the website in order to adjust prices to maximize ROI.  IT is involved to understand the technical needs, but website design is NOT an IT project.  It is marketing and sales.


After the internal discussions, you will have enough information to put together a call for proposals from website designers. Whatever budget you think you need, double it. And, whatever you do, do not make your selection of website designer based only on price. Before we continue, you CAN afford a good website. It isn’t cheap, but it is affordable. We’ve built good websites built for as little as $2,000 and we’ve built good websites for over $100,000. It depends what you want and need. But, I promise you, the company with the $2,000 website only wanted to spend $1,000. Remember our $25,000 estimated budget. Yes, double that too.


You are looking for a partner in a website designer. Your culture, approach and general tone should match the designer you choose. In addition, the web designer needs to have the ability to execute your desired functionality across different operating systems, technology, and devices, including mobile.  Your designer should be able to balance good design with solid business focus. Your designer should have the ability to edit and polish your content, and also be willing and available to maintain and update the site.

Your website should have certain critical components.  It needs to be clean, easy to navigate, and minimize word count.  It should have Search Engine Optimization functionality, and a mechanism for gathering leads. It should start with a capabilities description - what you do and how you do it.  Your website should highlight your competitive strengths through product trumpeting, demonstration and comparison. It should contain detailed specifications, customer testimonials, have product comparison capabilities, and may also describe, or enable, the purchasing process. Finally, the website should have pertinent information everywhere. Pertinent information is that which allows a potential customer, a disgruntled customer and a potential star recruit to get in touch with the right people in your organization quickly.

 

We strongly recommend you host a focus group with some of your best customers or heavy users. One design company in Ann Arbor, Michigan, recommends beginning the design process with a study of how your best customers and how your ideal customers would like to use the site. Don’t forget to ask the all-important question: if you include the features and functionality they suggest, will that strengthen their relationship with you?

 

If you’ve followed these steps, then, at this point, you have blown your budget and deadlines out of the water. However, you also have a powerful tool that successfully brands you; strengthens your sales process; and further enhances your customers’ experience. Additionally, you have a tool that communicates effectively and powerfully using your own words, increases your exposure to potential customers, and, serves as an effective recruiting tool.  But hold on to your wallets because this is where most companies fail.

 

Let’s assume you’ve spent 7 months and $50,000 building your perfect website. Now wait.... It won’t take long. Three months, four? How do you feel about your website now? Your company’s changed and grown, and most of the website content is 13 months old. How many times have you visited your website in the last quarter? Do the graphics seem stale? Are you visiting it less? Why? And it was only 3-6 months ago when you ended this arduous process. So you wait a bit longer. If you wait a year to update your site, the message you are sending your most desired audiences is 25 months old; it is as stale as your company fridge.

 

If you inked a good agreement with your designer, certain updates are included as part of the original cost. Perhaps that includes changing graphics, updating the company calendar, or posting press releases to the website. It may even include text revisions for a couple months after your website.  Also included in your agreement would be reduced prices for major overhauls. Perhaps it is to rewrite a section. Perhaps you want to add a product catalog or the ability to transact over the website. Maybe you want to change the layout or color scheme. We recommend that your agreement essentially allow you to get two websites: the first one, and then a future one built almost exclusively through updates at a significantly reduced rate. And, as you make revisions, continue to negotiate with your designer to provide updates or maintenance at beneficial rates. The website process never ends.

 

To optimally increase your web presence, you need to maximize how and when you update your site. For minor updates such as spelling or grammar edits, updates to a company calendar, or industry trends, you should do it as often, and quickly, as possible. For bigger changes, you need to revisit the beginning of the process. You need to look at how you’ve changed and grown. You need to reconvene your internal teams and gather your external focus group again to see how their perception of you has changed. And, based on those discussions, you will be in the best position to make major revisions to your website. One executive we spoke with said that if the website isn’t updated every 6-8 weeks, he tends to believe that the company won’t pay attention to how his needs as a customer will change over time. One PR executive told us that if a website isn’t regularly updated, he tends to perceive them as a company that lacks awareness and is not on top of industry trends.

 

Let’s go back to the beginning. Online presence IS optional. You don’t have to have a website, but, if you do, it cannot continue to lack functionality, strong design and ongoing attention. There are numerous benefits from engaging in the process of building a good website. In addition to the monetary return, this process will change the way you look at yourself. The results will change the way others look at you.

 

This article is the first in a series of using the internet to enhance your overall operation. It may be the last if we get lazy and don’t continue the series or if we get distracted and decide to write about something else. We have a lot of millennials here, so our attention span is that of…..look, a puppy!

 

Originally published in the Spring 2014, The Illinois Manufacturer Magazine

 

Your website should have certain critical components.  It needs to be clean, easy to navigate, and minimize word count.  It should have Search Engine Optimization functionality, and a mechanism for gathering leads. It should start with a capabilities description - what you do and how you do it.  Your website should highlight your competitive strengths through product trumpeting, demonstration and comparison. It should contain detailed specifications, customer testimonials, have product comparison capabilities, and may also describe, or enable, the purchasing process. Finally, the website should have pertinent information everywhere. Pertinent information is that which allows a potential customer, a disgruntled customer and a potential star recruit to get in touch with the right people in your organization quickly.

 

We strongly recommend you host a focus group with some of your best customers or heavy users. One design company in Ann Arbor, Michigan, recommends beginning the design process with a study of how your best customers and how your ideal customers would like to use the site. Don’t forget to ask the all-important question: if you include the features and functionality they suggest, will that strengthen their relationship with you?

 

If you’ve followed these steps, then, at this point, you have blown your budget and deadlines out of the water. However, you also have a powerful tool that successfully brands you; strengthens your sales process; and further enhances your customers’ experience. Additionally, you have a tool that communicates effectively and powerfully using your own words, increases your exposure to potential customers, and, serves as an effective recruiting tool.  But hold on to your wallets because this is where most companies fail.

 

Let’s assume you’ve spent 7 months and $50,000 building your perfect website. Now wait.... It won’t take long. Three months, four? How do you feel about your website now? Your company’s changed and grown, and most of the website content is 13 months old. How many times have you visited your website in the last quarter? Do the graphics seem stale? Are you visiting it less? Why? And it was only 3-6 months ago when you ended this arduous process. So you wait a bit longer. If you wait a year to update your site, the message you are sending your most desired audiences is 25 months old; it is as stale as your company fridge.

 

If you inked a good agreement with your designer, certain updates are included as part of the original cost. Perhaps that includes changing graphics, updating the company calendar, or posting press releases to the website. It may even include text revisions for a couple months after your website.  Also included in your agreement would be reduced prices for major overhauls. Perhaps it is to rewrite a section. Perhaps you want to add a product catalog or the ability to transact over the website. Maybe you want to change the layout or color scheme. We recommend that your agreement essentially allow you to get two websites: the first one, and then a future one built almost exclusively through updates at a significantly reduced rate. And, as you make revisions, continue to negotiate with your designer to provide updates or maintenance at beneficial rates. The website process never ends.

 

To optimally increase your web presence, you need to maximize how and when you update your site. For minor updates such as spelling or grammar edits, updates to a company calendar, or industry trends, you should do it as often, and quickly, as possible. For bigger changes, you need to revisit the beginning of the process. You need to look at how you’ve changed and grown. You need to reconvene your internal teams and gather your external focus group again to see how their perception of you has changed. And, based on those discussions, you will be in the best position to make major revisions to your website. One executive we spoke with said that if the website isn’t updated every 6-8 weeks, he tends to believe that the company won’t pay attention to how his needs as a customer will change over time. One PR executive told us that if a website isn’t regularly updated, he tends to perceive them as a company that lacks awareness and is not on top of industry trends.

 

Let’s go back to the beginning. Online presence IS optional. You don’t have to have a website, but, if you do, it cannot continue to lack functionality, strong design and ongoing attention. There are numerous benefits from engaging in the process of building a good website. In addition to the monetary return, this process will change the way you look at yourself. The results will change the way others look at you.

 

This article is the first in a series of using the internet to enhance your overall operation. It may be the last if we get lazy and don’t continue the series or if we get distracted and decide to write about something else. We have a lot of millennials here, so our attention span is that of…..look, a puppy!

 

Originally published in the Spring 2014, The Illinois Manufacturer Magazine

 

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