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The central message of 2014 for digital marketers couldn't be much clearer:  give customers the information they need on whatever devices they're using.

That theme surfaced again Tuesday in a CMSWire webinar sponsored by Ektron, "Website Redesign: Strategy First, Tactics Second." Two Ektron executives, CEO Bill Rogers and CMO Lou Jordano, provided a roadmap they said will help marketers attract more business from different types of customers. You can watch the webinar here or at the end of this story.

"It's tactics that win marketing battles, but strategy that wins wars," said Jordano, who led the first part of the presentation. "You have to have your website strategy clearly in mind before kicking off any redesign or rebranding project." 

Why Do a Redesign?

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Jordano identified four major reasons that marketers start on the road to redesign: optimizing for mobile, adapting to organizational changes, updating look and feel, and putting management tools into the hands of marketers.

"These are really not binary choices here. It's not one or the other," said Jordano. "There's typically some combination for why people want to redesign or rebrand their websites."

The effort is complicated by the addition of quickly evolving communication channels. Jordano cited an Aberdeen Research report that found 58 percent of marketers use nine channels, including five that are digital: web, mobile, email, social and video.  He offered tips on the first four of those digital paths. "The operable principle here is brand and messaging consistency through all these channels and formats," he said.

Regarding the web, he noted the growing need for marketers to be able to control site content without depending on help from developers. "You really want to think about putting the true power of campaign management into the hands of the folks who are creating the content and writing the copy," he said.

For mobile, he said, the key goal is to deliver the same experiences, tailored to any tablet or phone through responsive design. "Ideally, you'd use an approach that relies on adaptive images and immediately create a lot of different sizes of that image to fit the screen real estate of different devices," Jordano said.

With email, the CMS can serve as a "single source of truth," he said. "You pull the content ideally that goes into your email subject lines, for example, and the core content can come directly from your content management system."

Social has the potential to undercut other channels because the look and feel of a particular network is likely to differ substantially from the channels developed by the company. So it's important to be able to pull content from one to another,  he said.

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5 Strategies

To help marketers juggle those factors, Jordano offered five design principles that factor in different types of users, the customer journey, personalization tools and the multichannel world of marketing today.

  • Know your audience and the user journey. This starts by responding quickly to the needs of the customers who come to the site and providing assets that answer those interests. "Your marketing person really should be able to create many of these assets, like your call to action, your landing pages, your thank-you pages," he said.
  • Develop great content for each step in the journey.  "You want to have things like infographics and blogs and ebooks and white papers and webinars like this  one," Jordano said. "And lots of  videos. As much video as you can."
  • Consider creating personalized, multichannel experiences. "The key takeaway here is we need to be able to work across lots of different types of mobile devices," he said. "The need to project your brand in a compelling fashion and consistent way across all these device types is going to be really important."
  • Make the website marketer-centric. "The marketing folks are the ones who are going to interact frequently with systems like Salesforce and your marketing automation email system," said Jordano. "So making sure they can interact with them quickly really saves time down the road in terms of launching campaigns and what not."
  • Continuously analyze outcomes. "The goal is to have analytics in context so you can quickly uncover those actionable insights," he said. "Understanding what has worked and what is working now can help you understand what is going to work."

High Energy

Rogers provided a short case study about OVO Energy that reflected Jordano's ideas. OVO was established a few years ago to challenge the "Big 6" energy providers in the UK.  "They really wanted to offer an alternative," he said.

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At first, the company found it was difficult to get customers to switch to its service, even though there were many complaints about the incumbent providers. Then the company surveyed the market to find cost savings and trust in the company were key issues for the consumers.

"When you start to look at your customers, you have to think about what kind of questions are they actually asking," Rogers said. "Ultimately, what you're doing is creating a number of groups. You start surveying people and you build personas of the type of the people who are coming into your organization."

OVO then built user journeys and mapped its content to those, using its web content management system to create personalized content for the different types of users coming to the site.

Rogers said OVO's quote-and-switch conversions rose to 0.98 percent from 0.26 percent in 2013, while its visitors rose more than 200 percent to 1.1 million.

Title image by viZZZual.com  (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.