January 20, 2010
How To

Unifying Global Divisions for a Website Redesign: 6 Tactics to Manage the Process

SUMMARY: A strong corporate website is an invaluable tool for collecting leads and promoting your brand. But getting to this point is difficult when trying to unify far-reaching global divisions with existing websites of varying quality.

See six key tactics a team used to consolidate several divisional websites into a new, unified corporate platform. Their approach to managing people, technology and content helped them finish the job on schedule, and create a site that’s seen Web leads grow 200% since launch.
Blake Barr, Group Web Manager, joined testing and certification company Intertek in July 2008 with one goal: Completely restructure the company’s global Web presence to provide a unified brand message and lead-generation platform.

It was a tremendous job. Over the years, the company had grown by acquiring several independent testing labs and certification providers. Seven divisions spanned multiple continents, each maintaining their own websites with varying levels of quality and capabilities. There was no coherent brand message or lead-generation strategy.

"Each division operated like silos, with no shared content, their own domain names and their own AdWords strategies -- if any," says Barr. "Really for all intents and purposes they were their own organizations."

But Barr and his colleague, Jasmine Martirossian, Global Web Content Manager, completed the task in just one year. In July 2009, they launched a new Intertek.com, and the site has already delivered impressive results:
o Web leads have increased 200% since launch
o Organic search visits are growing more than 50% per month
o The site ranks in top three organic listings for several critical search phrases

More importantly, they designed the new site to be able to grow with the company, and be flexible to support evolving online lead-generation efforts. We spoke with Barr and Martirossian to learn how they designed a corporate website to handle marketing goals, and how they balanced the needs of multiple divisions.

Here are six key tactics they used to manage people, technology and content:

Tactic #1. Conduct in-depth review to develop a redesign proposal

Immediately after being hired, Barr began developing a website redesign proposal. The process involved in-depth research with each division to determine:
o The current state of their Web operations
o Their most crucial needs
o Their long-term goals

From that review, Barr and his team created a 30-page redesign proposal to jump start the process. This document was a valuable tool for obtaining buy-in across the company for the project. Contents included:
o An overview of current website situation
o A proposal for a single-site solution
o A list of all current team members, stakeholders and systems that would be involved in the process
o Estimates of cost savings from streamlining operations and processes
o Marketing goals, such as improved SEO and corporate branding

Tactic #2. Involve stakeholder team throughout the process

While developing the design proposal, Barr and his team identified personnel to serve as the website redesign committee. The team involved members of the tactical staff, such as IT and marketing, as well as representatives from each of the corporate divisions.

The committee was required to review and approve key milestones in the process, such as:
o Final proposal
o Final design
o Final processes
o Implementation stage
o Communication for rollout

Involving the stakeholders in each major step of the process is essential to limiting arguments that cause delays or compromise the goals of a project, says Barr.

"Because that committee had signed off at each step they couldn’t come back and say, 'I didn’t agree with that,'" he says. "It was all in writing -- plus they were part of the process."

Tactic #3. Choose platform supported by in-house development expertise

The team needed a new Web platform that could support a number of goals, including hosting multi-language sites, integrating with email marketing, and allowing for fast and effective SEO.

But it was just as important, says Barr, to select a platform that matched the in-house IT team’s capabilities and experience. Platform-specific development experience is critical for minimizing delays, development glitches, and support challenges after launch. And the new Web platform must integrate with existing database or CMS technologies.

Existing systems and in-house experience led the team to focus on Microsoft-based solutions for their new website.

Tactic #4. Develop information architecture to support marketing goals

One of the primary goals for the new website was to demonstrate the range of services the company offered. The team decided to do this by focusing the content and establishing navigation options around the company's major target industries.

"We wanted to position ourselves as doing more than just testing. Testing can be commoditized, so what’s the advantage?" says Barr. "From a marketing perspective, the way to demonstrate value is by addressing the needs within a particular industry."

However, defining these industry categories proved to be challenging:

- First, the team inventoried the top two to three tiers of information available on each divisional website. They looked for how the divisions classified their own services.

- They also worked with their redesign committee to help define the most appropriate industries or groupings for the company’s services.

- From that list, they looked for common industry targets across all divisions.

That process helped the team identify 14 industry categories around which they organized content and calls-to-action.

They created a navigation column on the left side of the homepage that featured their 14 industry targets. Clicking on an industry name took visitors to an specific webpage that contained an overview of the company’s work within the industry and several related links, including:
o Details of specific services, such as testing, certification, auditing and inspection
o Links to recent news articles related to the company’s work in that industry
o Links to upcoming events focusing on that industry
o Links to brochures, whitepapers and other collateral
o Contact information

Tactic #5. Provide guidance for content migration/creation

When the team looked at the content on divisional websites, they realized it would take significant work to fill gaps and create a unified brand voice for the new website.

"There were no standards across divisions about how information was presented," says Martirossian. "We wanted the user to have uniformity of experience and consistency of message."

Martirossian helped divisions tackle the content migration and creation process in the following ways:

- Visiting each division to explain the vision for the new site and make the case for the new content approach.

- Creating style guides and templates for specific types of content, and outlining SEO keyword strategy.

- Rewriting content or creating new pieces in conjunction with the divisional teams, to show them exactly what was expected.

After this step, it was up to the divisional marketers to produce the necessary content. They were the experts in their services, and understood how to position them according to the new industry focus developed for the website.

Martirossian acted as the coordinator, enforcing deadlines, helping answer specific questions as they arose, and making sure there was content in place for the company’s top 200 keywords prior to launch.

Tactic #6. Retain legacy landing pages for ongoing marketing efforts

The team added lead-generation capabilities to the new website, primarily through whitepaper offers and event registration forms. They built a rules engine that integrated with the company’s CRM system to route leads to the appropriate division.

However, some divisions had been doing considerably more email marketing and lead generation than others. These groups had several campaigns running that drove prospects back to divisional landing pages and registration forms.

To avoid hurting those efforts, the team made sure to leave landing pages active when they closed the divisional homepages.

Today, they continue to enhance the new site’s lead capture and routing capabilities, learning from the experience of both the advanced divisions and the divisions just getting started by using the corporate website.

"The site has served as an impetus for improvement across the board," says Martirossian. "We've seen increased interdivisional learning that’s raising the level of certain marketing operations."

Useful links related to this article

Homepage Redesign Puts Target Sectors Front and Center: 5 Steps to 100% Lift in Key Metrics

How Texas Instruments Centralized Its Global Email Marketing Into One Database


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