For many businesses, their website is a customer’s first point of contact with their brand. It’s an opportunity to build trust and create a memorable first impression.
This has become particularly relevant since the pandemic, which caused over 750,000 businesses in the UK to shut their physical locations. Before the pandemic, e-commerce sales accounted for 19.1% of total retail sales in the UK. By November 2020, this number had grown to 36% and is likely to continue growing.
Although changes in the market can be challenging to adapt to, they can also be opportunities for growth. Choosing a website platform that will evolve with your business, together with a digital partner to support this growth, sets you up for success.
Leveraging platforms and partners for digital evolution
There are many different content management systems (CMSs) that businesses can opt to house their websites on, but there’s a good reason why the vast majority opt for WordPress. Launched in 2003, it’s currently the world’s most popular CMS, powering over 40% of all websites on the Internet. Notable WordPress-powered sites include the White House, CNN’s press room, and even the official sites of Jay-Z and Katy Perry. It’s also the world’s fastest-growing CMS, with more than 500 sites each day being created using WordPress.
One of the many advantages of using WordPress is that it’s an open-source platform. It is continuously evolving as its developer community builds new plugins, platforms and functionalities to create captivating and business-critical digital experiences for a customer.
Using a digital experience platform (DXP) such as Altis brings additional functionality to your fingertips, arms you with extra insights and allows you to leverage more components and features to better tailor your messages to your target audience. All of this can be pulled together and tailored to your business needs by working with an agency partner that is set up for developing your digital platforms over the long-term, such as Atomic Smash.
We’ve talked to Piers Tincknell, co-founder and MD of Atomic Smash and Tom Willmot, co-founder and CEO of Human Made, makers of Altis, to discover why it’s so important to be continuously evolving your website’s digital experience.
Why digital experience needs evolution
Your business model has changed
Enterprise businesses will typically work closely with digital agencies and invest heavily in a website that reflects their brand and meets their customers’ needs. However, some businesses use technology that doesn’t allow them to make simple changes to their website, creating a disparity between their online presence and their actual business model.
But websites can be built in a way that empowers marketing teams. WordPress has great usability, and Altis provides additional functionality on top of WordPress to drive marketing efforts forward in an intelligent way.
Both of these platforms are key for enabling agencies such as Atomic Smash to build client sites that are flexible to use and give website owners all the tools they need to succeed.
Through the Always Evolving model, Atomic Smash enables businesses to take this a step further with dedicated monthly UX, design and development time for their clients so they can quickly introduce new features and keep websites working as hard as possible. This means their clients can adapt to changes rapidly and easily refocus their digital platforms towards their current business goals.
“What we were finding was we were launching these websites for our clients and then their business model was changing slightly or they were launching new services or products,” said Piers Tincknell, Atomic Smash’s co-founder and MD.
“Sometimes people come to us and think that they need a whole new website but in reality what they need is just a better website,” said Piers.
“The mistake that we often see is people launch their website and then they just leave it there; it doesn’t perform as well as they were hoping, or they’re not getting sales, or not getting the leads they were anticipating from the website. It’s because the website was good for when it launched but maybe six months down the line they’re trying to fit new things into the old design.”
For example, many of Atomic Smash’s clients are businesses that want to launch online stores or add them to their existing websites. During the pandemic, more than 85,000 businesses launched new online stores or joined online marketplaces.
There are many other scenarios in which a business would need its website to reflect changing business needs. A few examples are:
- You’re introducing new business models, such as subscriptions, which requires both additional business processes and site functionality
- You want to introduce a greater variety of media-rich content
- You want to revisit your current site’s look and feel to better reflect your brand
- You want to introduce a new service or product range
- You want your site to reflect changes in company culture or business priorities, such as an outline of your sustainability policies
A viable long-term approach is to use a platform that can be scaled up and added to according to your needs. Choosing platforms like WordPress and Altis allows this to happen relatively quickly and seamlessly.
Technology has changed
WordPress has been available for nearly two decades, and in this time the internet has changed drastically. Things like online shopping, video tours and interactive experiences are now standard for many websites.
“The web’s getting faster and more immersive and interactive,” said Piers.
“That’s why we really like using WordPress, because as a platform it’s evolving, always. WordPress is great because it’s got its developer community who are either always building new plugins or making the code base the best it can possibly be. We are able to leverage that and build out big enterprise websites for our clients on top of the WordPress framework.”
Human Made created the Altis platform for exactly this purpose. They noticed many of their clients were asking for similar features.
“As an agency, we were getting hired by companies to build custom functionality over and over again, to some degree building the same things over and over again and so at a really simple level that’s really what Altis is,” Tom Willmot, CEO of Human Made, makers of Altis said.
Altis caters to complex, high-traffic sites and provides peace of mind for clients who are security-conscious. Internet scams and cyber security breaches have been getting progressively more sophisticated as technology advances, particularly in light of the pandemic with people spending more time online. A government survey from March 2021 found that 39% of businesses experienced some kind of cyber-attack in the previous 12 months.
Security is particularly important for websites hosting sensitive or controversial content, so naturally this was a major consideration when Human Made worked with fact-checking website, Snopes. The website also contains an online store and an option for users to submit topics to be fact-checked; this project required a platform robust enough to withstand frequent cyber-attacks.
Another consideration is how to get the most out of data analytics. According to Invesp, 88% of marketers feel that data is their most underutilised asset. Altis integrates marketing metrics into WordPress, allowing you to build marketing strategies that translate to higher conversions.
“Technology’s changing super fast so therefore there’s always new marketing tools you want to be integrating into your website or bits of technology that are going to streamline business processes,” said Piers.
“If you’re not always thinking about that or don’t have somebody supporting you on that side of things, your website can be left behind quite quickly.”
Consumer behaviour has changed
As technology changes, so do consumers’ expectations of what a website should do. At the very least, customers expect a site that loads fast and has information and functionality that is relevant to them so they can quickly achieve their objectives and satisfy their needs, whatever they may be. User data can be utilised to give web visitors a better, more personalised experience across multiple channels.
“To be able to succeed as a business you need to be able to change and adapt to markets and customer habits and how trends are changing. Even though your website is built to be flexible there’s always going to be a need for it to do more in the future than it does now,” said Piers.
Adopting a more personalised experience can have a noticeable impact on a business’s bottom line. A recent study by Content Science Review reported that users who found content to be both relevant and useful reported that they’d accomplished their goal 91.5% of the time – more than 15 times as often as users who said the content they saw was neither useful nor relevant.
Tom said that one of his main motivations for creating Altis was that he wanted to create a platform that addressed these changing needs:
“You need to do more now than just manage your content. You need to be analysing how that content is being consumed, you need to be spotting trends and you need to be able to personalise that content. You probably need to show that content in many more places than just your website, so I think that’s the trend that we’re in right now, this shift from content management to a broader set of digital experiences.”
One recurring theme he noticed was a need for greater personalisation across multiple channels.
“Personalisation is all about giving people what they want. Customers visit your website or app in order to achieve something, whether that’s finding a piece of information, purchasing something, or taking some other action,” said Tom.
“The more you can know about what each person is trying to achieve, the more you are able to tailor the experience they have to be as relevant as possible.”
This could mean not displaying ads for products they’ve already purchased or ads that are targeted at a different demographic. It also refers to making sure customers have a seamless experience when they interact with multiple channels. For example, they may want to make a purchase online for in-store pick up, or examine a physical product knowing they can buy it online when they’re ready.
Omnichannel personalisation is becoming increasingly important for businesses in the digital age. A study by Harvard Business Review found that 73% of customers jump between channels when making purchases, and customers that use multiple channels often end up spending more, both online and in-store. However, a negative experience can have a lasting impact. According to PriceWaterhouseCoopers, 32% of consumers will walk away from a brand they love after just one bad experience.
Using a DXP like Altis simplifies this process by syncing content across all your channels at once, ensuring consistent brand messaging and saving you the effort of having to reproduce the same content multiple times.
Altis’s personalisation solution allows users to segment audiences into different categories, experiment with different content configurations for different audiences, and uses machine learning to help you optimise your content based on its performance. Altis is the only native WordPress personalisation solution on the market.
What can you do?
For businesses that don’t have a dedicated development team in charge of maintaining and optimising their site, a common solution is to approach an agency that can help you work out what needs to be done to improve your site.
In order to get the most out of your experience dealing with an agency, Piers says it’s important to be clear on certain things before you approach them.
For new sites, he recommends that businesses come to an agency with the following details:
- Business aims and objectives
- Marketing strategy
- An understanding of what they want the website to do
- A content strategy including the type of content to be hosted on the site and its purpose
- A rough idea of the budget and timeline needed
For existing sites, he suggests having an idea of the following:
- Details about the site’s current performance
- What technology the site is built on
- What you would like the site to be doing that it isn’t currently doing
- What your competitors are doing
- Any performance metrics you’re using to measure your site’s success
When a business has all of this information, they can approach an agency like Atomic Smash who can work with them to create a WordPress site that meets their needs and utilise all that Altis offers to continually drive the most engaging digital experiences.