The ideal website for your IT company
They exist, the ideal website for IT companies! Most companies in the IT industry just lack the right approach for their own web presence – interestingly, no matter how large the company is. Alexander Roth, Head of the Business IT Unit at Evernine, shows with an emotional opinion contribution where there is still some catching up to do and what managers should pay particular attention to.
A comment by Alexander Roth
CEO of Evernine GmbH and Head of the Business IT Unit
It is exciting to see how well most IT companies have adapted to the digital transformation in recent times. At least, as far as the repositioning of their own offer is concerned. They know how to transform their own, formerly project-oriented offer into a service-oriented business (mostly on the basis of cloud solutions). This was often a real masterstroke: it was not entirely without trimming the technical department for the cloud and faster development cycles – not to mention the customers, who now have to rely on services from the cloud, or also to move sales staff away from the “project thinking” towards long-term sales.
Sales &Marketing must work together in the long term
So far, so good: I have awarded the “good” seal of approval to the German medium-sized IT sector for digital transformation. I should know, because I have accompanied a large number of IT companies from small to large, from traditional to modern, in their transformation for a very long time – formerly as an editor of well-known IT publications, today in an advisory capacity as managing director of a full-service agency specializing in communication in the IT sector.
However, how the same companies set up their communication is dramatic, threatening and deficient, and this also applies to sales. A restructuring of communication then usually ends with the website, but actually already begins in a completely different place: In her basic understanding of the subject of communication. And I mean nobody else but the managers.
It doesn’t matter whether it is a 10-man company or a company with 1,000 employees. With a few exceptions, the industry is all in the red. And this is dangerous for many houses in the long term.
Let’s go back to the 2000s. The same picture in all IT companies: Sales made sales, usually by telephone (or via management via the personal network). Marketing was there to take care of the website, brochures, trade fairs and in the better case a little bit of the social media channels. Sometimes, search engine optimization and AdWords were taken care of through agencies, and if you wanted brand awareness, you also afforded a PR agency that delivers commissioned texts to IT publishers – in the hope of achieving results. And someone, perhaps from business development or product management, sometimes took care of burning co-marketing money from the “partnering” US manufacturers in uncoordinated individual actions, to put it directly.
The website must work for the new customer
Let’s jump back to 2018: How much has happened – NO! Mostly a small marketing team is employed now, which may worry about “new and hip” topics such as appearances in social media or a more modern web page (naturally responsive!). In addition, there are, for example, webinars that need support and contacts in the areas of Google AdWords, PR and web design that need to be supported. The widespread opinion: Marketing must be, is annoying, we are not dependent on it – because let’s be honest, most new contacts are still made via telesales. So, who makes the new corporate website? Let’s find an agency that implements them exactly according to our ideas.
And here I come. Stop it, I’ll shout! Think again, dear IT companies. This refers to the colleagues in the management.
The reason for this is simple: the communication model of the 2000s, which I described above, no longer works in these years, and yet it still exists. But first and foremost it burns a lot of money, the budgets are competing, things are running unabated and you probably lose digital prospects in your company almost every day. Because: existing customers as well as targeted new customers no longer tick as before. If you want to remain competitive in the long term, you have to be prepared for this.
What is this about? Let’s stick with the interests of our sales colleagues for a moment: Potential new customers who, for example, in the event of success, are heated up to their own solution via telesales, no longer “function” as linearly and one-sidedly after the telephone call as they used to. After the initial contact, a potential interested party first conducts digital research before contacting your house again. Numerous studies by sales cyles such as Forbes or accenture prove this. That’s understandable, because it only takes two clicks to check if what Telesales has reported to me is true – and what the competitor actually offers.
Good, that alone could be intercepted by a good website, one might think. But: Even if I assume that the new customer only visits my website after the first contact via sales (which he demonstrably does not ONLY, but does more about it later), it is not enough to offer him a good website with content that has been agreed with the sales team. The problem: As the industry is currently positioning itself in communication, the website is usually designed by the managing directors or, more often, by product managers of the IT company, while marketing collected, structured and implemented the content.
Go by topics, not solutions!
However, the new customer, and this is demonstrably the case, has his own expectations of a website. And this is usually clearly different from what those responsible for the product consider. He thinks in terms of topics, not in the nomenclature of solutions. If he does not find answers to his topic within seconds, he jumps off. Anyone who does not immediately provide the information (often unconsciously) requested by the customer in the right place triggered by the sales department – if the customer finds it at all – may not complain that the customer then jumps out. Such information can be formulated pain points of the customer, so-called “trust elements” such as references, or a personal contact offer or entry offer in the right place.
But what is reality? IT companies usually design websites as they see fit, viewed through pink IT glasses, and bring their cloud offerings under the tab “Services” and once under the tab “Solutions”. How is the customer supposed to know where he belongs with his needs? And did you know that an open contact at the end of the solution page is not as effective as a product-related action at the top? Or that the expected smartphone experience is completely different from that via desktop, even in the environment of complex IT solutions?
So what to do? Already when setting up the web page one should consider the fact that the customer has own click ways. Just not let the colleagues from product development develop the pages and content! Customers’ “digital thinking” simply functions differently from a personal sales conversation, in which you can “play” with your counterpart or react to his questions. When surfing, where the prospective customer is not personally led, he ticks as he wants – and not as your product managers might wish it.
But that alone is not everything. As already mentioned, the development cycles of services have become immensely fast thanks to the cloud. Yesterday there was Office 2010, then, bang, Lync became Skype for Business, today everything is Office 365, and who knows, maybe there will be Office 366 by the end of 2018 – you know what I mean. Let’s face it, who knows?
Network your communication!
What does this mean for your company’s website? It must not only ensure the conversion of the company’s own portfolio into the customer’s language and digital channels, it must also be constantly updated. At least in faster cycles than was previously the case. In addition, the fact that streams of visitors to a modern website should be continuously analyzed and must be optimized at certain intervals. Agility is therefore required and a process that ensures this. The majority of websites of IT companies in the market shows that in most cases both are missing.
And then we come to the last point: existing customers as well as new customers (and by the way also the aspired offspring of every company) behave in many different ways today and “dance” not only on the website. Even if you don’t want or believe it: Some use Facebook to make up their minds about your home (as an employer or potential new service provider), others read digital trade magazines or blogs, the next one stays at Xing and the next but one reacts to displays and related actions. How should I stand up to this as a company? Quite simply: network your communication. Network the interests of sales, marketing (HR marketing if necessary) and corporate PR and then initiate the communication flows into the individual channels via a central, in the first step manual outsourcing. Network the budgets of marketing and sales campaigns, Adwords, content marketing and digital PR, instead of – as has often been the case up to now – competing against each other. The budgets are getting smaller and more efficient! If internal capacities or competencies are lacking, have everything carried out by a single external agency. The example of Evernine shows that this is possible.
And while we’re at it, you’ll get my personal comment on AdWords: Why still hope someone is looking for you? With the right content, such as case studies, you can approach customers earlier in a sales process through modern targeting and take advantage of the fact that almost every Internet user, including your potential customer, leaves information about his or her interests on the Web via cookies. Use your website’s blog to position opinions on your topics (and buy in your desired readers). Equip your company’s communicators with the right content so that colleagues get “food” for their society. Everything is centrally controlled, because uncoordinated individual measures cost more money, which is what you like, and often fizzle out. One solution could be to work with campaign and content creation and activity routines, perhaps based on an overarching communication plan for all channels. This can be planned and is cost-transparent.
Create a basis for multichannel marketing!
What does this mean for the ideal website of an IT company? It is the basis for multichannel marketing, can serve topics and ways of the customer and is above all agile, in order to be able to adapt contents fast and efficiently. The basis or the theme can be correspondingly simple: Simple WordPress templates, which are adapted, are often sufficient. These are not company internals that need to be protected or that are carved in stone. Dedicated, secure WordPress hosting with daily backups ensures availability. As a managing director, you better make sure that what modern communication brings with it is structurally intercepted in your company before you commission your marketing team or an agency to implement your new website. It is also not reprehensible to resort to external advice before getting bogged down.
Source cover: iStock / Scyther5