Your website needs radically more pages

During the past years, many digital projects have focused on trimming websites by making them leaner, cleaner and more effective in solving the key tasks of their customers.

Many websites suffer from so-called redundant, outdated and trivial (ROT) pages and it makes much sense to continuously address this problem from spiraling out of control.

Still if you want to take a customer-first approach, you need to add radically more pages to your site.

To understand why, let’s first take a step back.

Managing content chaos

You can easily get lost on most corporate websites and we probably all know the feeling of having to think really hard about how to find what we are looking for.

To be fair, if it is your job to create a digital presence in an organisation with multiple languages and multiple offerings, it is not exactly easy to design a website, so that it delivers a good customer experience.

Having less pages would in theory make it easier to navigate, find what you are looking for and also managing a complex website.

Many J. Boye members have indeed shared success stories at group meetings, where recent projects has dramatically reduced the amount of pages on their website. More than 80% reduction is not unusual, where some J. Boye members, has declared success by going from a chaotic web presence with say 10,000 pages to less than 2,000 pages.

Needless to say, 2,000 different pages with quality content still requires constant care and substantial resources.

To make a long story short, this is all what I would describe as the internal view. These are real problems, also with a genuine external impact, but let’s take a look at your website as seen from outside your organisation.

Get more website traffic and more leads

To understand why you probably don’t have enough pages, let’s start with a simple example from the customer perspective:

If I’m looking to buy a given product, say a good deal on a quality coffee machine for the office, I could use an almost infinite combination of search words to try to find what I’m looking for. Here’s some examples:

  • Highly rated coffee machine
  • Coffee machine latest model
  • Discount coffee machine
  • Coffee machines comparison

And then multiply this with different product lines and different languages. Chances are that you quickly come up short offering a high-quality page that leaves a good first impression and solves my task. Even if I go to your website, chances are that you don’t help me out.

Google and others offers tools which let you analyse search traffic and pick those terms with the most traffic. That’s the easy part.

The harder part is designing quality pages, which both makes it into the top organic search results for all those relevant search terms and truly helps me complete my task.

Either your pages get found on Google or someone else gets the order.

To be clear: To win you need radically more pages, ideally automatically created and maintained, which act as quality landing pages for those top keywords.

Steve Krug wrote the famous usability book “Don’t Make Me Think”, which covers mostly what I would today call website design common sense.

If you want to stop making your customers think and deliver outstanding customer experience, you have to abandon the internal mindset and truly put the customer first.

Creating many more relevant pages is crucial to success.

Learn more about digital business development and communication trends

Join one of the J. Boye peer-groups and get the latest insights as well as real hands-on solutions from your peers.

I’ve previously written about search engine optimisation in:

Thanks to J. Boye member Rasmus Jørgensen from Arla Foods for inspiring me to write this.

Working out loud to achieve your goals

File_000Being well into 2017, take a minute to ask yourself:
Which goals would you really want to achieve this year?

I recently had the pleasure of a first-hand introduction to Working Out Loud by John Stepper. As a special guest star at a recent J. Boye group meeting hosted by Deutsche Post DHL in Bonn, John took us through his approach as outlined in the book by the same name and made me realise that we need to think differently about achieving our goals.

Goals comes in all shapes and sizes. From small to big, from simple to complex. Most importantly, a goal needs to be something, you really care about, may it be personal or work related. Something that intrinsically motivates you. Have a goal that comes to mind?

The Working Out Loud approach offers the recipe to successfully pursue your goal.

The five elements of Working Out Loud

The book’s subtitle sets the ambition for improving well-being:  

“For a better life and career”

So here is how Working out Loud (WOL) works:

You work on one individual goal that intrinsically motivates you at the time over a guided simple and structured course of 12 weeks.

You are not alone, but work in small groups – or in WOL terms “circles” – of 4-5 people. Every member works on her or his individual goal and supports the other in weekly meetings over the course of 12 weeks.

The aim of it all is to change the underlying assumption of how we relate to each other and the work we do.

WOL’s has five elements, which all aim to guide and help you regain control over your personal and corporate life:

  1. relationships
  2. visible work
  3. generosity
  4. purposeful discovery
  5. growth mindset

Baby steps, new habits and new mindset

Many challenges can’t be solved alone. The starting point for working out loud is to discover and build a network with people related to the goal that may help you.

Networking is central in WOL: Learning from others by making yourself and your goal visible through social media.

File_003However, this is not a one-way street:  Through generosity, the aim is to establish purposeful relationships that matter. Giving gifts by connecting people in a meaningful way makes you a pillar of support. So instead of asking,

“How can I manipulate my network to accomplish what I want?”

ask

“Which person can help me and if the person can help me, how can I I contribute in return?”

Circles are not of permanent nature. They may and will disperse and reform to start a new cycle with new people pursuing the next goal. The overall result, according to John, is confidence. The more circles are completed and the more goals achieved, enables and motivates to achieve any goal desired.  

In summary, through working in the circles and having the five elements in mind, WOL offers a way how to making change permanent. But isn’t there is more to it?

Taking it to the next level

Sustaining new practices and habits is often is the biggest obstacle to implementing lasting change.

Another key learning for me during my trip to Bonn was that sustainable behavioural change is created by breaking down the goal into smaller parts.

John suggests to take one step at a time by working on the goal over the circle’s 12 weeks with feedback and learning to constantly improve.

Here’s one of my favourite analogies in the book that exemplifies this:

“Can’t go for a run four times a week for an hour? Try once a week. Still too much? Go for five minutes. Not working for you? Walk to the treadmill and touch it everyday.”

The philosophy should be “Don’t do too much too soon and too little too late.”

As for most things in life, balance is the key to success – create the incentive and make sure it keeps going.

File_002At the moment, WOL aims to create circles to achieve individual goals. John is working on an adaption of the circle guides, which would be suitable for teams working collectively towards one goal.

Detailed circle guides are freely available on the WOL website.

WOL is similar to the J. Boye network, in that it builds on collective sharing and learning of new insights, and the mechanics are constantly re-worked and improved, so that we can win together. 

How to think about business development

Ongoing business development is a prerequisite for survival in an ever changing World. So how do you go about working with new business models, introducing new offerings and winning new customers?

All too often, immature technology coupled with concerns about organisational culture have dominated the discussions in meetings within the J. Boye community. Customer behaviour is changing and it’s hard to keep up. How do you accelerate beyond the tortoise-like pace?

Inspired by Swiss entrepreneur Alain Veuve who famously said that speed is the new big, I’ve invited leading thinkers on the topic to recent group meetings to learn from their views and try to understand how you might be able to move ahead better and faster.

Business development is about storytelling

“stories are engagement machines per excellence”

This was one of the key points by Robert Minton, a US expert on business growth and change management when he visited one of our Washington DC groups. In his talk on business development, he placed content over technology.

He shared two useful reminders:

  1. telling good stories is a key way to connect
  2. business customers are still human and make buying decisions for emotional as well as rational reasons despite what they might say – stories help them decide.

More specifically – according to Robert, many start down the road of business development with one goal: Building a lead pipeline. The inherent challenge here is that many don’t do the harder, dirty, background work of understanding their true target market and opportunity. Many want to be everything to everyone.

Instead, Robert recommended a structured, targeted growth strategy. One that picks a target, segment, or industry and maxes out their potential in that segment before moving forward to the next.

He shared numerous examples of classic story structures for business storytelling and finished off by asking: What’s your story?

Key skills and different types of business development

By combining the power of asking good questions with his impressive track-record, Danish digital mastermind Hannu Vangsgaard left the members in a recent group meeting very impressed.

Digital business development was the session header and Hannu reminded us to start at the strategic level trying to answer: Why? In his view most organisations spend too much time at the tactical level tinkering with the answer to “What?”.

Most have heard of shadow IT and Hannu framed the still emerging Chief Digital Officer role as a shadow CEO, but  unfortunately too often without the mandate. Business development will not work in this context according to Hannu.

Another key discussion point was on the key competences and roles required to make business development work in a world gone digital. He shared different examples of reliance on agencies and we tried to zoom in on the key skills. According to Hannu, one of the crucial and often overlooked roles on the customer team, is the role as an architect, both from a business and technical perspective.

With credit to fellow Danish designer and innovator Troels Nørlem, another highlight in the session was this useful model which Hannu took us through:

troels-innovation-mode.jpg

The model looks at different types of offerings (new and existing), users (new and existing) and business models (new and existing).

Hannu certainly left me thinking that business development should start with existing users and existing offerings. This is the part circled by Troels as “incremental”.

Where would you place your business development initiatives on this model? And what’s the story?

Shell rethinks the content creation process

Do you have too much or too little content on your website?

Most J. Boye members would lean towards too much, but in private would confess to having way too much content. The examples I’ve heard in the past decade of J. Boye group meetings are plenty, with websites and digital communication teams drowning in content.

Training, better tools, governance, centralisation of content creation are all different approaches to trying to solve content overload, but maybe there is a better way?

I moderated a recent group meeting in London focused on digital leadership, where social media analyst & emerging platforms advisor John Atkins from Shell shared their fundamentally different approach as shown below.

content-creation-process
The new approach to content creation as illustrated by the digital team at Shell
(credit: John Atkins and Americo Campos Silva)

What’s wrong with the previous approach to content creation?

current-content-creation-processIn brief: It does not put the customer or audience first.

The route taken by most organisations and their digital communication teams is outlined with the illustration formed like a pyramid.

Starting from the top, first, you identify objectives, then you spend more time creating content that ties to these objects and finally you spend plenty of resources placing the content, typically on your websites, on social media and often via advertising.

Not only are most organisations creating too much content with the previous approach, but one of the several good points by John from Shell was also, that most organisations are far from creating the right content. Take a look at your digital reporting, and you’ll probably find many great content pieces with very low readership numbers.

At the group meeting, John shared insights into their online analytics and measurement framework, which had informed their decision to rethink the content creation process.

A better approach to content creation

new-content-creation-processWhat John called the social media approach applies to other digital channels too and as you can see on the illustration it takes another point of departure: First you research relevant content.

That’s right. You can safely assume that there’s more or less enough content out there.

As the next step, you spend a bit more time tying the content to your objectives and then you finally you invest fewer resources in placing it.

Besides putting the customer first, John listed 5 key advantages with this new approach:

  1. Engage, instead of broadcasting
  2. Short form with impact
  3. Creating for people. You. Not we
  4. More emphasis on visual storytelling
  5. Targeting relevant interests

The J. Boye take

Too much content is a real and big problem, but even more so, there’s too much bad corporate content out there.

John and the team at Shell are clearly onto something with this clever way of changing how we think about content creation. And they have the numbers to prove that it works. Well done!

With limited resources available, innovative work is still required to enforce and educate changing processes like these. This will remain a challenge for global brands and other organisations alike.

Learn more about digital communication trends

Feel free to share your feedback on the process by posting a comment below and share your learnings together with the rest of the J. Boye community.

You can also join the J. Boye group on LinkedIn. This is a carefully moderated group where you can post your questions.

Want to learn some more? Sara Walsh from Capitol One introduced conversation design to the J. Boye community. This is a main trend at the moment, also in relation to chatbots.

You might also find these posts on my personal blog relevant:

If you want to meet with your peers, then do consider joining a relevant J. Boye group.