When your mission is to “empower brands to create better experiences,” it helps to have a website that makes people happy, or at least helps them find what they’re looking for. Unfortunately, for a while, our own digital experience wasn’t keeping up with our own business and product growth. A website redesign was long overdue.
It’s not a coincidence that we called our re-platforming effort “Project Champagne.” Yes, we’re a French company, so it fits. But also, “Drinking your own champagne” is a saying coined by Pegasystems’ CIO that refers to a company using its own product or services to essentially practice what they preach.
As Contentsquare emerged as the leader in our industry and a major player in the SaaS space, we needed a website that would directly address four key success criteria:
- Tell the Contentsquare brand story
- Communicate Contentsquare’s industry leadership
- Engage quality leads for potential customers
- Create functionality that allowed for future scalability
In this article, I’m going to outline the approach we took, some of the key decisions that we made along the way, and some early results we’ve seen so far.
One of the first things I did coming into my role at Contentsquare was to pull together a large group of stakeholders to audit the last website and build a project plan. A surefire way to avoid future mistakes and oversights is to learn from past ones. Once we collected all of that feedback, we used it to create a highly detailed Request for Proposal (RFP) that outlined exactly what would determine success for this project.
We only sent this RFP to select agencies that both had experience building B2B websites in our industry and came with personal recommendations from our professional networks. The agency we selected to partner with was KPS3.
The first thing the KPS3 team did was get to know our product and people, understand the competitive landscape, learn about our current customers, and figure out how the current site was being used. They also asked us at length about the future vision for Contentsquare. This stage of the process broke down into three steps:
- To inform the strategy for the Contentsquare website redesign, KPS3 conducted stakeholder interviews with employees across different departments and positions, as well as interviews with customers.
- We conducted a digital audit, using data from both our product and others like Google Analytics, as well as a deep dive into our CRM data to get a better sense of our buyers.
- Competitive research was also conducted so we could audit our global competitors’ websites, messaging & positioning, as well as their marketing strategies.
With all that complete the trajectory was clear; we needed to put the voice of the customer on display and let it speak for us. We can say how great we think we are all day, but it carries a lot more impact coming from the 700+ customers who are paying to use our platform. You can see this throughout the new site, starting with the top of our homepage.
We built out the information architecture using what we had learned in discovery. This included the development of the sitemap, content requirements, and initial wireframes. We constantly went back to our top site objectives to keep the site experience focused on helping users achieve their goals while getting some experience with our brand. Taking a user behavioral data-driven approach enabled us to stay true to their needs and battle back the common tendency to keep adding to pages and navigation bars to meet every internal request.
Once we agreed on the sitemap and wireframes internally, we got into content planning. In my experience, content planning is perhaps the most overlooked part of any website development project. It’s time-consuming and sometimes tedious but saves an untold amount of time down the road when it comes time to start writing and producing content — especially given how much of this content consists of graphics, animation and video today.
From there we had a few rounds of design, which included direct input from our internal design and UX expert team. Then, our team went to write all the on-page content while the agency worked on developing the component library. What component library, you ask? A perfect segway into our next section…
Over the course of any project, there are lots of small decisions made, which, when added up, determine the trajectory of the entire website redesign exercise. In order to make sure we were successful, we needed to be certain our decisions were addressing the four key success criteria we identified at the beginning of the project. Here are some of the key decisions we made to ensure those were addressed:
- Choosing WordPress as our CMS – We needed a somewhat flexible solution that the team was familiar with. Most marketers have used some iteration of WordPress in their careers as it usually strikes the right balance between being flexible and secure. Not to mention free.
- Using a component-based approach to build the site – with WordPress selected, we decided to use a custom implementation of Elementor, a robust page builder plugin. We created the majority of our site pages using customer components our agency build-out for us.
- Localizing and translating the site for each of our key markets – This was a critical one for us. As a French founded company with a strong global presence, we knew we would need the ability to localize our digital content. We use Smartling for most of our bulk translations and a multi-site setup of WordPress so we can easily manage each language site as its own experience.
The Website Redesign Results (So Far):
We are now a few months post-launch of the new site. There are always different success metrics that can be used, but we decided that an analysis of organic traffic would help us best see how the new experience was being used. So far, things are looking very promising. When looking at global organic traffic 45 days after launch, compared to 45 days before the launch, our session duration is up by +12 seconds, demo requests are up +76%, and our bounce rate has plummeted -14% so we now sit just above the 50% mark.
Secondarily, we are using Contentsquare to continually optimize our website. While the numbers suggest that everything is moving in the right direction, we have already found areas for improvement. Un-clickable areas of the site have a high click recurrence, key features on our navigation bar didn’t get the engagement we hoped for, and unintended customer journey loops need to be smoothed out. We also found exciting ways to personalize content to help visitors progress on their journey and get to know us the way they want to, based on acquisition channel or role. This will be an ongoing iterative process that our marketing team can lead and manage.
We will also continue to mature our operations, connecting our Contentsquare metrics with our Hubspot marketing and downstream Salesforce tracking for deeper analysis of leads and opportunities.
So looking back at the main objectives we started this website redesign exercise with, did we accomplish what we set out to do? Did we create an experience that is scalable and somewhat future-proof? Check. Did we position our company as an industry leader? Double check. Are we telling the brand story? You betcha. Finally, and most importantly, are we helping quality leads progress through our website? Absolutely.How To Satisfy Modern Online Shoppers’ Needs Without Losing Your Mind
Customers are demanding. Like that Queen song goes: “I want it all, and I want it now.”
Modern shoppers, especially Millennial and Gen Z, have set the stage for today’s shopping because they’re the largest demographics for most sales and are seeing gains in their income. While their needs originally were different than older consumers, their demands have become standard requests even for Boomers.
Chief among the current trends that the modern shopper wants are a social media presence, a smart web design, quality goods, quick shipping, sticking to your promises, and making the whole purchase process simpler.
These are a lot of needs to meet, but your eCommerce store can definitely do it when you take direct, deliberate steps. Let’s explore some of those steps you can start taking right now.
Social Media Activity
You’ve long heard your marketing team tell you to get on Twitter or other social media platforms. You might have heard about the surveys saying social media can generate sales and increases engagement. There are a lot of smart reasons to join social.
What we want to focus on right now is how to act on social in order to make a strong connection with your customers. At the heart of it, it all comes down to transparency. Customers want you to be open and honest, and to use social to do that.
Transparency matters more than ever. Millennials rank social as the top channel for you to be transparent and say that on social they want honesty from you more than they want it from politicians.
Here are the things they believe matter most:
- Admitting a mistake (61%)
- Answering customer questions honestly (58%)
- Accurate pricing for your products (45%)
- Manufacturing practices (49%)
- And tied for fifth were marketing practices and employee diversity (39% each)
Those are an amazing guide for your social activity and ads. Focus on customer service and responding to questions above all else. When things go wrong, follow the proven practice of admitting it and then fixing it. Ads can contain pricing as well as language on your manufacturing processes when applicable, which can also help engender trust with the customer.
Customers expect you to be more transparent, and some 58% believe it is a moral obligation for you to be honest.
Smart Web Design
Why does almost every article on modern web design focus on minimalism in some form? Because we’re all overloaded from the 20,000 different things vying for our attention. When you’re nothing but noise, people will head for the hills. Millennials are the worst at this with 41% struggling with information overload, while only 31% of Boomers say this.
So, how do you design in a way that promotes sales for your products while also not causing migraines? Start with the smartphone. Design for this real estate and you’ll naturally slim down and focus on what’s important. Mobile-first is a terrific way to ensure that you’re minimalist too.
Next, move to what we were just talking about: transparency around your brand.
For web design, transparency and honesty aren’t about showing the underwork but more about telling your story. Humans have been telling stories since time immemorial; it’s how we connect with each other.
Tell your story clearly and consistently on every page. For example, you’re not a clothing retailer; you help people find their style to feel good about themselves and express their individuality.
Once you have that theme, focus on the elements that relate to the customer and your interactions. The theme should be reflected in the photos you choose, the colors and font on your site, the extra information you provide, and the transparency you give around size charts, shipping costs, and more.
Skip out on the stock images and crowded ads or pop-ups. Clear away the clutter to get to a clean visual that’s visually appealing and shares your story while providing customers the details they need to make a decision.
The final piece of the puzzle is two types of recommendations: products and people. Follow Amazon’s example of showing products that are similar or ones that people who viewed product A also purchased. Second, bring in your social posts from followers and customer review to lend authenticity to the claims you make about the products.
You want to show people how these goods achieve that theme above, and then provide examples of real people who say that too.
It’s not surprising that people want quality products. No customers want to get ripped off, so every business focuses on some level of quality. Your business needs to define that quality level and then stick to it. Customers are more loyal when product quality stays consistent over time. You don’t have to be Apple, but you do need to meet the initial expectations that your customers expect.
One note here is that money is tight for many of your customers, though overall wages in the U.S. are starting to rise. So, you might be competing to get users from your competitors as people move away from their preferred brands.
Quality in the Millennial and Gen Z focus also means a product worth sharing. Make it something they enjoy using or wearing and would be willing to put on social media. Achieving that means you get great word-of-mouth marketing, a chance at influencer tactics, and plenty of quality reviews to add to your site.
Shipping is a major pain point for many etailers, since your customers demand it to happen quickly and they don’t really care about logistics variables that may be beyond your control. As of 2019, Amazon Prime has roughly 100 million subscribers. They spent more than $1,500 on Amazon each year, and the shipping is a major point of interest for them.
A recent study also notes that twice as many customers took advantage of same-day shipping options in 2018 compared to 2017. And the kicker: 99% of U.S. consumers believe “fast delivery” is important.
That means you need to provide this yourself or work with an order fulfillment company that promises these delivery speeds, and you should make these promises clear. You could easily lose a sale by having slow shipping options or overly unaffordable prices.
Also, in the shipping column is the ability to track a purchase. People are willing to pay for faster shipping, so they want to know if you’re delivering on your end. About half of online shoppers in the U.S. have canceled an online order because the delivery was too slow.
A Simple Purchase Process
Along the same lines of the shipping being high-quality, customers want the purchase experience to be that way too. They don’t want huge forms or complex options, hidden costs, or even to be forced into creating an account when they’re not interested.
If someone wants to buy as a “guest,” you might lose their dollars if you don’t allow that option.
Simple shopping includes a clean and clear cart that is transparent around product costs, added fees for shipping or taxes, and shipping times. Keep this visible at all times to build more trust.
Unfortunately, most eCommerce customers in any demographic will consider or completely abandon a shopping cart at some point this year. What you can do to fight against this is to use retargeting advertising mechanisms. Cart abandonment is also the reason for one of the 17 must-send emails for your company.
Nearly 70% of carts are abandoned but sending that email can get people to come back, especially if you offer something like free shipping.
What’s important for that retargeting is it will only be successful if the purchase process they return to is simple and effective.
One of the biggest tactics for reaching Gen Z is to publish and perform corporate responsibility.
This demographic, as well as Millennials, wants a company to be authentic and share their altruistic beliefs. You need to genuinely believe in something and promote it. Do this, and you can grow your bottom line.
Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, puts a human face on any brand. It allows customers to see that you care about a cause and are actively putting money toward it. They then get the benefit of saying the products they use also do good in the world — you’re giving them bragging rights too. Lego provides a great example of this.
Another important aspect of this is the media environment that Gen Z is immersed within has a confusing mix of real and false stories of all kinds. We’re not just talking about traditional media, but also memes that accuse brands of false harm, bullying, planetary harm, and much more.
Bring in the transparency and honesty mentioned above to your work in the local community, and you can invite a new line of customers in regularly.
Onesixtyfourth has created an interesting five-step Brand Citizenship model that discusses CSR in a broader sense, noting that today’s customers want to buy from you if you improve their lives, community, and the world while taking responsibility for what you do.
Treat Them Like People, Not Buyers
The heart of every item above is treating the customer like a person. Follow the rules of a first date when you want a second one: be honest, interesting, and highlight areas where you both care about the same thing.
You don’t have to always be selling, but you do need to always be interacting.