Whether you’re just starting to think about a website build or already in the thick of planning it out, the following six considerations will set you on a path to success.

Set concrete goals

Before you begin planning content, before you start searching for an agency, before you think about design or photography and before you approach your CEO with a proposed budget, set concrete goals. What motivation drives this rebuild in the first place? “Our site is really outdated and just doesn’t look professional” will not make your decision makers bite, even if that statement rings true. Bring the subjects of lead generation and customer acquisition to the table instead, and they will listen. Set real goals around these topics. By how much do you want to increase website traffic? How many leads do you want your website to produce over the next quarter and year? How many existing leads can this website move closer to a buying decision? When concrete goals come first, the strategy for your website build naturally follows.

Define your audience segments

Your website isn’t for you. It’s for your customer. Know exactly who that person is. If you’re targeting multiple audiences or verticals, know exactly what they are. Think about your audience at the company level. What size? What location? What industry? Think about them at the personal level. They’re real people after all. Who at these companies do you wish to attract? The CEO? A purchasing agent? A project manager? What problems consume them? Why should they want your product or service? Finally, think about your audience in terms of their buying cycle stage. Are they just researching? Are they actively looking to make a buying decision? Probably some of both, so be sure to appeal to both mindsets.

Define what your website visitors should do

Your website should think like a salesman, always asking your visitor to take action. Ask for white paper downloads and newsletter subscriptions from those researching. Ask for case study and buyer’s guide downloads from those evaluating. And ask for free consultations or product demo sign-ups from those closer to buying.

Examine existing website data

Before your start this process, gain an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your current website. If you haven’t yet, install Google Analytics today. It will take your IT guy or programmer five minutes to set up. At the very least, you’ll learn what pages attract the most visitors and what marketing channels (search, social, email, etc.) drive the most traffic. Go one small step further and install Google Webmaster Tools so you can learn what keywords currently expose prospects to your website in Google searches. This very basic intelligence will go a long way when planning content for your new website.

Evaluate competitor websites

Note the content and pages on your competitors’ websites that you find useful. Consider opportunities you believe their sites miss. Observe which competitors have business blogs and which particular blog posts your common audience probably finds valuable. Jot down the keywords that make up headlines in those blog posts. Search those keywords in Google and note whether or not their websites show up in the search results. If their sites don’t show up, note whose do. You probably know a lot about your competition already, so learn equally as much about their online marketing strategy. Then, go beat them.

Collect assets

Your website should burst with the knowledge that occupies the brains of your company’s best. Existing sales decks, white papers and presentations from your team will prove invaluable as you begin the rebuild process. Survey your company’s assets now and gather them in an organized manner. You’ll hit the ground running when it’s time to get started.

This article is just a short chapter in our B2B Website Planning Handbook. If you found it helpful, download our full guide below.