The concept of removing your website from the grips of your IT team might be foreign at your company. After all, the IT guys manage your network, your printers, your phone system, your email and your computers. And they know how to code websites! So why wouldn’t they also create and manage the company website by default?
My answer to that question is simple: A B2B website is a marketing and business development tool. It exists to attract a targeted audience, educate those visitors and convert them into leads for your sales team. So doesn’t it make sense that such an important piece of your business development infrastructure – the online face of your company – should be conceptualized, developed and managed by marketing and business development professionals?
This article is by no means meant to knock the IT folks at your company. They’re as important to the success of the business as anyone. But just as you wouldn’t task them with attending trade shows to develop business, conduct cold calls or write/design print ads, you should avoid tasking them with your online business development initiatives as well.
The Pitfalls of an IT Department-led Website
1) Difficult to update
Of course I’m generalizing here, but more often than not, a website that’s developed by an IT department is designed to be updated by that same team. In today’s marketing world, a static website is a big time no-no. Your site needs to grow and react quickly to customer problems and needs. When it takes three people three weeks to update a page or create a new one, you fall three weeks behind your competitors.
2) Poor communication
IT professionals are trained in technical skill sets. And those skill sets vary dramatically from those of a marketer. Marketers specialize in targeting and communicating with audiences. Marketers understand your audience’s needs and can dictate the necessary content and keywords that will attract your ideal customers and help educate them during their buying processes. Why not put your website in the hands of communications professionals whose jobs already involve solving prospective customers' problems and qualifying your business as a solution?
3) A focus on technology rather than business goals
Your website must be driven by business goals. Period. That means things like:
- Increasing awareness among a specific audience by driving more website visits
- Filling your sales pipeline by converting a higher percentage of visitors into leads
- Gathering intelligence about leads to set up better sales calls
- Generating more return visits from prospects by serving as an expert resource
When the IT department leads the website build and manages its evolution over time, these goals take a back seat to technical decisions. This is not to say that technical decisions don’t matter! Instead, they should be made to support business development goals that help the company grow and prosper.
So that leaves us with this one big question…
How do you make the transition from a website controlled by your IT department to one controlled by your business development team? Here’s how to get started.
Steps to Transition to a Business Development-led Website
1) Establish clear, ROI-driven objectives for your website
I listed four examples under point number three above. Write down what your website must accomplish in order to achieve success within your business development infrastructure. Be specific. Focus on the additional revenue your website can drive if built and managed effectively.
2) Get marketing and sales in the same room
Collaboration is so important. Gather the keys players who have a stake in business development at your company. This means those in marketing as well as those in sales. Confirm the website’s goals and make sure everyone is in sync.
3) Determine the investment: both time and dollars involved
Pinpoint where expertise lies within your company and which individuals must be involved in developing and managing your website. Figure out the time investment needed from each. And consider any monetary costs involved in rebuilding and managing the site. This may involve working with a marketing firm, which isn’t always cheap. But again, focus on the objectives and expected return on investment.
4) Present your case to the decision maker
Share your goals and proposed website overhaul plan with the ultimate decision maker who has the power to move the responsibility of the company website into the right hands.
The Bottom Line
This shift can be difficult to initiate, particularly at traditional companies that hesitate with change. But when the light bulb goes on and the website is no longer viewed as a merely a digital brochure, great things start happening. And you’ll be the genius behind the initiative!
For more on planning a website that drives business, check out our B2B Website Planning Handbook.