Corporate Website

Reinventing the .COM

Written by
Mads Krogh Petersen

Digital transformation enables corporations to refine, diversify and customize their product and service offerings on an ongoing basis. At an extreme, future value propositions are completely personalized to the unique customer needs of the individual company or person which eventually renders obsolete the notion of a generic product name.

While this flexibility may be exciting, it brings with it a new challenge. With an ever complexifying product and service landscape, how do customers make sense of everything on offer? And, perhaps more importantly for most CXOs, how can a brand steer a customer toward their product or service offering versus the competitor brands’?

This is where the .COM comes (back) in. Once a mainstay of the corporate branding toolkit, it has seen a decline over the years.

Until now.

Why? Because the confusion caused by the newly complex product and service landscape is being countered by having a single, simple and cogent destination to make sense of it all — the new .COM.

And the new .COM isn’t just about being a switchboard to connect the customer to the right product. The profusion of offerings from all companies means that it’s harder and harder to differentiate on features, functions and USPs alone.

Enter the power of branding. This of course isn’t a new concept to savvy CXOs, but the new .COM is currently a vastly underappreciated asset in helping to establish a strong brand while also directing customers in practical product and service evaluation. For more details on the emergence of the new .COM, please refer to my earlier perspective: Transformation: Corporate Brand & .COM.

The revitalization and reinvention of the corporate website as a powerful corporate and commercial asset has just begun, and there are already some key learnings about how to build them right. At Vertic, we have multiple ongoing .COM projects. Our most notable .COM concept is probably GE.COM, which arguably takes user centricity to a new extreme through foregrounding intelligent Search as the dominant information retrieval principle. Other recent Vertic .COM projects include SAPAriba.com and CSL.com.

Intelligent Search on the front page of GE.COM allowing customers to use their vocabulary and semantics when retrieving content rather than conventional “organisational centric” menu structure

Key business decisions for the new .COM

Faced with the challenge of defining a new corporate website, what are the key business decisions that you need to take?

Stakeholder prioritization

First, the company needs to decide on the stakeholders who are to be addressed via the new .COM.

Many current B2B .COMs prioritize job seekers, investors and media and have separate websites for commercial stakeholders or leave the task of communicating the details of the company’s value propositions to the physical sales force. However, many new purchase decisions involve multiple stakeholders in the buying organisation. This is exemplified in the Software Industry where the CTO used to reign supreme, but now the CEO, CFO, COO and users are heavily influential and thus need to be addressed on the .COM. Taking the healthcare industry as another example, the starting point is that all stakeholders should be catered for via the new .COM, including HCPs, patients, caregivers, payers and partners, none of which are core stakeholders on most Healthcare.coms today.

Which are your stakeholders and how are they prioritized?

This expansion of the group of prioritized stakeholders is slow paced due to:

  • Issues related to the division of labor between Corporate Communication and commercial teams;
  • The need to build new competencies necessary for holistically engaging stakeholders across the customer decision journey
  • A fragmented IT infrastructure;
  • A plethora of legacy sites with vested owners; etc.
  • Regulatory challenges in some industries related to product info, claims, requirements for gating, etc;

Outside-in understanding of prioritized stakeholders

The next step is to understand the key tasks, motivations, pains, info needs and journey flows of each of the stakeholders. These are often captured in a framework called design personas. Without this understanding of real peoples’ needs, attitudes and barriers you cannot create meaningful experiences and gain a Share of Life with your stakeholders, which we at Vertic view as the key to competitiveness and at the base of successful business models of the future.

Your starting point should be the life of your stakeholders and notably the “Tasks” that the stakeholders need to complete to be successful

To inform the Design Persona, you may use a combination of direct and observational market research models.

Digital IQ is Vertic’s Market Rearch model

Which stakeholder behaviors do you want to change?

Against the backdrop of the design personas, you now need to define what the business wants to accomplish in interacting with the stakeholders. These should be made with a tight reference to the overall business objectives of your company. What are the behaviors to change you want to focus on; which of the stakeholders’ tasks should be addressed on the new .COM and what are the barriers to the behavior changes.

By having a clear view of the role that the company/brand’s new .COM must play for each stakeholder through each stage of their decision journey you can prioritize effectively with regards to content, IA and functionality.

Partial view of a HCP persona
Partial view of an Investor persona

Also, the customer journey for the different stakeholders should be visualized and described, looking at the relative, potential role of the new .COM at each stage, info needs and behaviors to change.

Simple journey example for a Technical Buyer highlighting the relative relevance of .COM across the journey stages, info needs and the Behaviors to Change
The design persona & behaviors to change allow you to create a content plan, provide essential input to the IA, KPI definition as well as your personalization & marketing automation strategy

Subsequently, you are able to connect all business decisions together in a KPI framework from the overall business objectives of the company to the ultimate detail of the raw data points that allows you to measure the contribution of the new .COM to your business objectives.

All of the above are consolidated into a business requirement specification for the new .COM, which drive IA, UX, content, design, personalization, tech specification, platform choice, integration needs, maintenance definition, etc.

For a full corporate methodology deck please contact us on mpetersen@vertic.com or +45 70209085

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Mads Krogh Petersen

President and Co-Founder

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