Here’s a Website Performance Checklist to Kick 2020 Off Right

Reviewing your website’s security practices, privacy policies, accessibility, and analytics can help improve performance over the course of the year. You can still pledge to get the most from your website. This website performance checklist can help.

No need to abandon all hope if your New Year’s resolutions have already fallen by the wayside. You can still pledge to get the most from your website in 2020. This website performance checklist can help.

None of these topics are particularly sexy. Nor are they likely to have the kind of top-line impact (read: massive increases in revenue) that lead to promotions and bonuses. But they can save you a ton of pain and regret throughout the year. And without a doubt, they will make those revenue-spiking initiatives that much more successful.

Security Review

Having your domain blacklisted is nobody’s idea of fun. Because there’s no “Undo” button, once you’re in trouble, it’s time-consuming to get out. So, it is well worth reviewing your site’s security to ensure that no evil lurks in the heart of your coding.

Check your traffic logs and firewall settings to make sure you’re still keeping as much malicious activity off your site as possible.

If your site is custom coded, confirm with your developers that the code base is being updated regularly to guard against malware and other attacks. (Even fully customized sites generally rely on code libraries or frameworks that can be the target of attacks.)

If you use a commercial CMS, do a similar check with the vendor. It can be helpful to also do a web search for “[my CMS name] vulnerabilities” and other phrases to find reports of attacks.

An open-source CMS requires a similar review:

  • Do you have the most recent version installed?
  • Are all of the plugins, modules, widgets, and other helper programs up to date?

In all of these cases, you should be on a regularly scheduled maintenance plan with your development team. Now is the time to make sure you have the most appropriate level of protection.

Don’t forget the basics. A quick review is all that should be required to make sure that your registrar and hosting accounts are secure and your domain name and SSL certificate are in order and not at risk of cancellation. If you host internally, review server access to eliminate the chance of former employees making mischief.

Privacy Review

If GDPR and CCPA sound like alphabet soup to you, it’s definitely time to review your site’s privacy policy and things like data retention. This is now true even for non-transactional sites. GDPR may apply only to those of us who work with E.U. residents, but CCPA applies to most firms who interact with California residents. The Shield law applies to every firm in New York State.

That’s a lot to keep track of and understanding your responsibilities can be overwhelming. Given the potential fines involved, this is not an area where you want to take all of your advice from a marketer, coder, or (ahem) digital strategist. Be sure to have a knowledgeable lawyer review your privacy policies and practices.

Accessibility Review

Making websites accessible to people with disabilities is an area that has grown in importance over the past 18 months or so because of an increase in legal actions, even though the relevant regulations aren’t new.

The good news is that building new websites to be accessible isn’t particularly difficult, nor is maintaining that accessibility as new content is added. Both require an understanding of the requirements and a shift in approach.

The story is not quite as rosy for bringing existing sites into compliance, which tends to be more labor-intensive. Adjustments may include changes to branding and in-depth review of content (image alt tags, for example), as well as less visible coding changes.

There are a number of excellent assessment tools that can help you get an understanding of the effort required to make the site compliant. But a deeper, manual scan will also be required to uncover everything.

Analytics Review

Finally, don’t forget to review your analytics. This is one area that just may uncover insights that can lead to revenue growth that and a move closer to the corner office, though more likely those improvements will be incremental.

  • Compare statistics year-over-year to see where you’ve improved and where performance has fallen off.
  • Determine whether your mobile audience is growing or holding steady. (It’s probably not shrinking.)
  • Review traffic sources to see how visitors are finding you. That can guide adjustments to your marketing efforts.

You may be doing quite a bit of this on a monthly or quarterly basis as part of your marketing efforts. Still, it’s worth it to expand beyond that scope to look at broader performance and strive for continual improvement throughout 2020 and beyond.

5 Essentials for Every B-to-B Website

“If you don’t have a website, you don’t have a business.” By now, this maxim is well understood. But what kind of functionality does your website really need? What website strategies should you pursue for business marketing? Here are five must-haves for every B-to-B website.

“If you don’t have a website, you don’t have a business.” By now, this maxim is well understood. But what kind of functionality does your website really need? What website strategies should you pursue for business marketing? Here are five must-haves for every B-to-B website.

The five elements every website needs are:

1. Thought Leadership
Establishing your company as a knowledgeable authority in your field is job one for a B-to-B website. You want to be seen as not only up to date, but trustworthy and helpful—sort of like the Boy Scout law. So make sure your site is filled with useful, non-salesy information about your category and the problems your customers are looking to solve. This is a classic content marketing play, whereby you provide libraries of case studies, research reports, presentations, archived webinars, blog posts, how-to videos and all manner of information intended to help visitors learn, and to present yourself as their trusted partner in that task.

2. Help Your Customers Buy
As discount retailer Sy Sims used to say, “An educated consumer is my best customer.” You want your customers and prospects to be as knowledgeable about solving their problems as they can. And you also want to influence them as they move through their buying journey. When they are ready to make a purchase decision, they will better understand how you can help them—and why they perhaps should select you over your competitors. In some ways a subset of thought leadership, helping your customers buy means teaching them how to be a good customer for you. Oracle, for example publishes a Software Investment Guide to help prospects’ decision-making.

3. Lead Generation
The perennial number one goal of just about every business marketer is generating sales leads. If you make the effort, your website can be a productive source of high quality, low cost leads for your sales force. So don’t squander the opportunity to turn your website into a lead generation tool. There are basically two ways to approach this objective:

  1. Add an offer, a call to action and a landing page with a data-capture form. If the offer is of sufficient interest, a small but steady percentage of visitors to your site will fill out the form and leave behind their contact information. Treat that data as an inquiry, and run it through your normal qualification and nurturing process. Add similar offers throughout your site, varying the deal to suit the surrounding content.
  2. Install IP address identification software that allows you to observe the domain name of business visitors to your site. You won’t know their actual names, but you will know the firms they represent. You can do a look-up by hand, or use automated processes from such providers as NetFactor and Demandbase Real-Time Identification. Once you have a sense of which companies are researching information on your site, you can then reach out and offer to help.

4. E-commerce
As I discussed last month, e-commerce is fast evolving into an effective tool for automating all kinds of B-to-B sales and marketing processes. Even if a classic shopping cart is not suited to your offerings, you are sure to find pieces of your go-to-market that can benefit from e-commerce, from quotes, to purchase orders, to selling low-margin replacement parts.

5. Community
Business marketers benefit from connecting their constituents in myriad ways: sharing expertise, promoting word of mouth, enabling channel partners, informing shareholders-the list goes on and on. Some terrific case examples come from the Kinaxis community for supply chain enthusiasts, and the Cognizant Community invitation-only forum for senior executives at its top clients. Communities can be as simple as setting up a LinkedIn group or Facebook page, or as complex as Ingram Micro’s 15-year old peer-to-peer VentureTech Network for its U.S. and Canadian resellers. However you go about it, the pay-off in community connections is huge.

So, that’s the line-up. And here’s the bonus: Not only will you advance your business goals with these strategies, you’ll also improve your SEO findability. A win win.

Do you have any website essentials to add to my list?

A version of this post appeared in Biznology.