May 16, 2024

A CMO’s Guide to Global Website Management

What does it take to transform a local website into a global powerhouse? Find out from Tom Bianchi of Acquia and Hannah Grap of Sitecore, as they dissect the strategies behind successful international digital presences.

Learn how Acquia’s latest initiatives are making the digital world more accessible and how Sitecore is modernizing data to tailor customer experiences across borders. We cover the changing landscape of SEO, how to localize your site for different countries, and which website metrics matter.

Whether you’re revamping your digital strategy or just tuning in to the latest trends, this episode is your gateway to mastering the art of engaging a worldwide audience through smart, inclusive web design. Don’t miss these essential insights that could redefine your digital footprint!

What You’ll Learn

  • How to modernize your digital presence
  • How to localize your global website
  • Which metrics matter for site optimization

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 397 on YouTube

Resources Mentioned


  • [3:45] Tom Bianchi on site accessibility
  • [11:51] First-party data via Acquia TV
  • [16:34] Hannah Grap on digital modernization
  • [23:52] Intent data & mapping user journeys
  • [31:27] On CMO Huddles
  • [34:00] The changing landscape of SEO
  • [39:18] Localization for globalization
  • [46:42] Metrics for site optimization
  • [49:55] Dos and don’ts: Global website management

Highlighted Quotes

“Don’t forget about the population that your website currently isn’t designed for. Don’t forget about those people with accessibility requirements. Don’t forget about making your website as inclusive as possible.” —Tom Bianchi, SVP Product Marketing at Acquia

“Have that strategic conversation about localization for your business. If you’re doing a site redesign, it’s one of the very first decisions you’re going to have to make—how that global site is set up.” —Hannah Grap, SVP, Corporate Marketing at Sitecore

Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Tom Bianchi & Hannah Grap


Drew: Hey, it’s Drew. Welcome to another episode of Renegade Marketers Unite. This show is brought to you by CMO Huddles, the only marketing community dedicated to B2B greatness, and that donates 1% of revenue to the Global Penguin Society. Wait, what? Yeah, it’s kind of weird, isn’t it? But let me explain. It turns out that B2B CMOs and penguins have a lot in common. Both are highly curious and remarkable problem solvers. Both prevail in harsh environments by working together with peers, and both are remarkably mediagenic. And just as a group of penguins is called a Huddle, our community of over 400 B2B marketing leaders huddle together to gain confidence, colleagues, and coverage. If you’re a B2B CMO who can share, care, and dare with the best of them, do yourself a favor and dive into CMO Huddles. We even have a free starter program. Now let’s get to the episode.

Narrator: Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite, possibly the best weekly podcast for CMOs and everyone else looking for innovative ways to transform their brand, drive demand, and just plain cut through. Proving that B2B does not mean boring to business. Here’s your host and Chief Marketing Renegade, Drew Neisser.

Drew: Hello, Renegade Marketers! You’re about to listen to a recording of CMO Huddles Studio, our live show featuring the brilliant CMOs of CMO Huddles, a community that’s sharing, caring, and daring each other to greatness every day of the week. This time we’ve got a conversation on Global Website Management with Huddlers Tom Bianchi from Acquia and Hannah Grap from Sitecore. Global website management is incredibly complicated. So let’s dive in and get the insights that you need to make your website even that much more effective wherever your company does business. 

Welcome to CMO Huddles Studio, the live-streaming show dedicated to inspiring B2B greatness. I’m your host Drew Neisser. Live from my home studio in New York City. It’s hard to imagine anything more important to your company’s success than your website. Potential employees are looking for cues that yours is a company where they can thrive. Potential customers are seeking answers to their questions, perhaps with the intent of buying a solution to their problem. Potential business partners want assurance that you play nice with others and will be around for a while. Investors, media, analysts all have their own information needs. And customers come back to the website for support and assurance that they made a good purchase decision. So now overlay all that complexity with international considerations and you’ve got a level of complexity that literally boggles the mind. But fear not, there are some tricks to the trade. So stay with us as we tackle Global Website Management today with two pros. 

And with that, let’s bring on Tom Bianchi, SVP, Product Marketing at Acquia and an industry expert who has graced our stage before to delve into the topics of adapting B2B digital on a downturn. So Hello, Tom, wonderful to see you again.

Tom: Drew, how’s it going? Great to be here. Thanks for having me.

Drew: How are you? And where are you?

Tom: I’m doing really well. Thank you. I’m in the UK. So I’m based from my home office, as you can see, and I live about 25 miles to the west of London.

Drew: 25 miles to the west of London. Very cool. Alright. Well, so you recently announced Acquia that is—an acquisition of a company that helps improve website accessibility. Certainly a topic relevant to today’s conversation. Share some of the key strategies that you can talk a little bit about. One, about this acquisition, and then how folks can improve accessibility and why it’s important.

Tom: Yeah, sure. Thank you for that. So first of all, here at Acquia, we set on a mission at the beginning of this year to create our strategy and vision through to 2026. And as part of that, we identified three key things that we believe to be the tenets of the best-in-class digital experience, you know, going forward into the future. And those are, firstly, that it’s an open digital experience. And that means quite simply that you can connect whatever pieces of technology you need into your digital experience to make it make sense for your customer. Right so that it can be integrated easily so that it can operate easily. And of course, we also happen for those of you who know to be based on an open-source content management system, which of course is Drupal. The second is to make sure that every digital experience is as safe and secure as it possibly can be, we all know how important privacy is today. And of course, for certain industries being, you know, regulated with compliance frameworks and so on is also really important. So we believe that that’s going to continue and become more important as things like privacy regulations come in. And the third, I’m saving the best for last is that every digital experience should be inclusive and accessible. If you’re a brand, creating a digital experience today, think of your total audience and what proportion of that audience might have an accessibility need, or, you know, come from a, you know, a community that should be included by default, as opposed to being an afterthought. So that said, you asked the question about why is that important. Well, I’ve got some stats for you, Drew. And let me know if you think these are higher or lower than you thought they would be, there was a piece of research done by a company called Pew that responded to that. So 23% of disabled respondents to that survey said they never go online because they can’t use a website. And then think about the fact that in the European Union, there’s around 80 million disabled people, and in the US, there’s about 57 million disabled people, at least according to the American Disability Association. So then think about how many millions of people, you know, we marketers create websites that are just not accessible to these websites? Are we missing out on and even though this isn’t the first priority that everybody should have? We should do this because it’s the right thing to do. But just from a commercial perspective, think of the opportunity that you’re missing by not catering to this audience. So that’s why we think it’s important, is that higher or lower than you thought it was going to be?

Drew: It’s definitely higher. The question I think I would have, again, this is me being a little bit ignorant, which is good sometimes in a show like this. When you enhance accessibility or make decisions to enhance accessibility, do you change the experience at all for, quote, everybody else? So is there any compromise that happens as a result of of making a site more accessible?

Tom: Potentially, but you know, there are seven key things that I would throw out that you should think about when you’re trying to make your site accessible. I’ll go through those, and then maybe we can talk about whether that compromises other parts of your site. So firstly, use simple and cohesive colors, right, so that things stand out if somebody has a visual impairment, and, you know, you could argue from a brand perspective that that’s a good tenet to follow anyway, so that information is clear and easy to digest. Write in plain and simple language, right? Again, you would argue that if your copywriting is really strong, it’s short and quick, and to the point. So I don’t see that as a compromise. Format text into digestible and scannable chunks. Again, I don’t think that’s something that hinders people. Use practical graphics and imagery to support text, particularly, you’ve got visual learners, and you know, people like to engage in that way. And make sure your call-to-action buttons are descriptive, and you know, have alt text and things like that plugged into images as well, they don’t really impact kind of able-bodied view of the website. Produce content in additional formats. So, here’s a great example, if you had an ebook or a downloadable PDF on your website, and you could have an audio description of that document. And, that would just be, you know, a second link on the same page. And then, of course, you should be looking at the ADA and WCAG guidelines published by those authorities for making sure that your website is accessible.

Drew: All of those things as you went through them, I went, okay, you know, particularly like simple language. 

Tom: Yeah. 

Drew: Right and I mean, if you think about B2B and technology, sales, and so forth, is you get a lot of product managers who are former engineers who love to get into the details of the specs, who are not necessarily great communicators. 

Tom: Right.

Drew:  So, this is a forcing function that could actually be a good thing. Well, wait, I’m sorry. I’m afraid that’s not accessible. So we’re gonna have to make that simple and clear.

Tom: Yeah, exactly.

Drew: So that’s a good thing. You could get an art director to say, “But I want some more colors!” And you know, you can have that issue. But I also suspect when it comes to the design, that this is a testable proposition too. You could look at and see what is going to happen depending on what you are optimizing for, right? You could look at it and say, “Are we making trade-offs here or not?”

Tom: Yeah, absolutely. And actually, so with Monsido, it gives you the ability to go through and look at all of the things that you might want to update to make your site more accessible, but it can help you optimize for that as well. And here at Acquia, we also have our personalization engine, which can help you with A/B testing and multivariate testing. So with any website, you should experiment to see what works and now we’re just adding a layer of accessibility to your experimentation agenda.

Drew: Again, I’m thinking about things like audio descriptions and so forth. I’m thinking that that appeals potentially a lot broader than just people that say, are visually impaired. I mean, I don’t know about you, but you know, I’m listening to audio all the time, and it’s becoming a major part and you get used to it, and maybe you could listen at 1.25 speed. And, you know, sometimes it’s really a great way of consuming information. So that makes sense to me. Descriptors, alt tags, again, that’s part of your SEO practice anyway. So I feel like, based on what you just described, that this is just smart, it’s just the right thing to do anyway, even if there weren’t now—and just to wrap up on accessibility, or, for the most part, I know, guidelines have been issued, but are there like, certain countries or something where these are mandates?

Tom: There are. And there are also certain industry sectors as well, I think, you know, particularly if you’re in, you know, certain countries where there are local government website properties and things like that, or in the healthcare industry, there are regulations around who should be able to access your site. And again, also it comes to who’s your audience, right, if you think about a local government website, you don’t even have to think about somebody that would classify themselves as being disabled to have an accessibility requirement, you could think of an older generation that might struggle with the size of text, because of just the fact that they’re older and their eyes don’t work as well as they used to or, they’re, you know, becoming hard of hearing because they’re getting older, or because they are, you know, starting to get things like dementia and stuff like that. So we’ve got to think about all of the different use cases. And when you think about our digital experience that works for the entire population, I think it’s when you start to see the benefits.

Drew: Got it. Okay, so let’s shift gears a little bit. We heard rumors of the launch of Acquia TV, talk about that.

Tom: Yeah! So well, you and I have talked about this on a Huddle actually before or the problem at least that led to us creating that. And that’s the demise of the third-party cookie, which of course, we’ve been talking about for many years. But 2024 is finally coming because Google Chrome is going to start to deprecate the third-party cookie in the new year. And so what does that mean? Just as a recap, of course, it means it’s more difficult to retarget off the back of ads and it’s sometimes more difficult to track your audience across your site too. And so we decided to take the bull by the horns and create it, you know, following our own best practice, create a true value exchange for people using our website by making great content that was educational, had thought leadership value, but instead of just putting it on a social media channel, or you know, popping it up on YouTube, and hoping people watch it, where we can’t track and we wouldn’t be able to retarget and we wouldn’t be able to necessarily get the insight from, we decided that we were going to build our own TV channel. So we partnered with a company called Brightcove. Many of you may have heard of them, top-class streaming products, and the reason that we chose them, because there are many other video platforms out there, but they have the best video analytics that can integrate with our CRM, which happens to be Salesforce. So now we can not only get the first-party data of the people who have come to our website to watch, hopefully, the great content that we’re making, and that people like, but also we can see how much of a video they watched and the topics that they like to engage with so that we can better personalize the experience for them with recommending, you know, here’s the next episode that you should watch. As well as market to them better in the future.

Drew: Well, it seems to me there’s an executive connection here between Brightcove and Sitecore too, is that just a coincidence?

Tom: It is a bit of a coincidence, because we were considering doing this anyway. And so what Drew is referring to for those of you don’t know is our Chief Market Officer, Jennifer Griffin Smith, joined us in April, actually, from Brightcove. So really, that was the catalyst to get the thing that we had already thought about going. And you know, we jumped straight in with two feet.

Drew: Well, and I also just remember having a conversation with the CMO of Brightcove prior to Jennifer, and they were talking about their own TV channel, in doing that as a marketing thing. Now, and I want to spend a little time on that because other brands have tried this, famously And the problem, of course, is if you build it, they don’t come. And so you know, it’s not a guarantee. And also a lot of what you were relying on is Google and so forth to get them there because they have to discover you. So how are you going to make sure that people actually find Acquia TV and sort of engage with and come back?Tom: Yeah. So first of all and being transparent, one of the things that we have the benefit of is that a lot of the technology that we’ve used to build this is actually our own. So the website is hosted for free on Acquia Cloud Platform. We obviously get Drupal for free because it’s open source and Acquia Personalization. So the only real thing that we pay for as a customer is Brightcove. So in terms of the cost of the business, it’s not that significant for us, which means that there’s not a do-or-die reliance on that as a core part of our strategy. But that said, what we do know is that video is the most voted-for way that people like to engage with our content. And we’ve seen that time and time again. And so, we’re just integrating it into everything that we do. We’ve got a podcast that’s just launched, where we take some of the people that have been keynote speakers at our conferences and bring them to our audiences. And so, for us, the success metrics are not necessarily around getting a million subscribers in six months to make it work. It’s about having the right people engage with the right content at the right part of their funnel. And this just becomes the central point of our whole demand generation strategy for that content to be shared.

Drew: Awesome. Alright. Well, I’ve lots more questions about that. But we’re going to move in and bring on Hannah Grap. And then we’ll come back. So let’s welcome Hannah Grap, VP of Corporate Marketing at Sitecore, who is joining the show for the first time.

Hannah: Hey, Drew. Thanks for having me.

Drew: Exciting to have you there. And so how are you? And where are you?

Hannah: I am doing great. I am joining you from San Jose, California where the sun is just starting to come up.

Drew: It’s a global show, folks. We’ve got London, we’ve got Silicon Valley, and of course, New York City. Okay. That’s very cool.

Drew: So let’s talk about—You’ve used the language digital modernization for Sitecore. Can you sort of talk about what we’re talking about here?

Hannah: Yeah, I can. And I think it’d be helpful to set a little bit of background to just set up the context of Sitecore’s transformation, digital modernization that we’re going through. Over the last few years, Sitecore itself has done a significant evolution of its own products, going from a traditional on-premise hosted web commerce solution to fully native product offering. And I share that because that’s been a really big driver in our transformation on the marketing front of helping us as a customer of Sitecore technology, go from this traditional more monolithic solution, where we have all in one to a very composable tech stack, where we can pull in solutions from Sitecore from other third parties that we need in our tech stack to build this best-in-class experience for our customers, but also for our technology so that we can be much more agile for our business. So that was that’s been a big driver of this journey that we’ve been on. But interestingly, our path, typically we think we need a new experience, we’re going to start with the website design itself. But our path, to think about how we really wanted to modernize for the future, started with rethinking our data, and our data structure, and how our data was going to flow across different systems, how we’re going to manage it, how are we going to use it to deliver more personalized experiences? How are we going to use more first-party data that we have in other parts of the business and customer success and others to create these really compelling account-based experiences as different brands come to the site and interact with Sitecore? So we started, centralizing with a customer data platform, and just pulling in all those data sources and figuring out how did we need that journey to flow through. Because if we’d started with what we want it to look like, we may end up with, you know, beautifully designed customer journeys, we actually can’t execute based on our data structure. So that’s that was part of the reason to start there. So now we’ve moved on then to optimizing our digital asset management, really creating a better single source of truth for our web content, other content, images, etc, across the business. And now we have this much stronger foundation that we’re putting in place, so that our redesign can bring all of that together. So we can create these amazing experiences for any buyer, any customer really wherever they are in the journey.

Drew: This is just mind-blowing. And it makes so much sense. So alright, we’re starting with the data and getting it structured. And, you know, Tom talked about challenges of third-party data and how that’s going to be a lot harder. So what you’re really talking about here is sort of getting and managing first-party data, so that it’s somehow or other accessible so that you can then and you know, stop me when I’m stupid here, because we’re getting into a territory where it’s going to be easy for me to be that way. But because you have this first-party data, you can then recognize this person who visits the site. And then you can go to your content management and sort of on the fly, in theory, give them a personalized experience because you know who they are. And you know, what they might be interested in, in a perfect world is that what we’re talking about?

Hannah: That is what we’re talking about. So different solutions that they have at the account level, that can be used for personalization and just set them on a different path when they’re on the website, or depending on where they’re coming into our website from, we can deliver different experiences, that all starts with having the right data foundation in place. We have a lot of first-party data, it’s just not set up in a way that we could use it for personalization. So that’s part of this foundation that we’re building now.

Drew: Because in the old days, like three weeks ago, we would, you know, someone would come to your website, and you try to get their name. And then you’d capture that name. And then you just cookie them and follow them all over the web and retargeting. That was good, but it’s gonna be a lot harder to do that. So it feels like the race for first-party data. I mean, the whole ballgame is first-party data.

It’s so interesting and I haven’t heard anybody articulate the notion of start with the data and data structure first. Okay. And then the second part of this, and I just want to understand, you talked about making sure I, again, I’m imagining yet another database of content, and that’s what the next structure of this thing is, in order to be able to create these personalized experiences, you have to have the data and then you have to have the cues for the—and by data at that moment, I just mean customer first-party information about people, right, then we get to what might those people want?

Hannah: Yes, and even before that, it’s just getting all of our digital assets cleaned up, you know, we’ve gone through a pretty significant audit process to make sure that we have what we, you know, what we’re going to keep, what we’re going to update, what we’re going to archive, you know, making sure that that single source of truth, for all of those brand assets, you know, the images and videos, we are only keeping what we need going into this bigger modernization project. So that’s what we’re doing right now, updating our digital asset, keeping it as clean as possible, going into the kind of official rebuild of the site itself.

Drew: And so I’m thinking about these decisions of assets. What’s the criteria for what stays and what goes?

Hannah: Yeah, I mean, it’s tricky, isn’t it? Is it up to date? Is it still needed? But it’s a lot of conversations with stakeholders, because we don’t own all the assets that are used across the organization. So you’re working with different stakeholders that own the content? You know, do we still need this? Do you want to update this? You know, did somebody author this, is it still relevant to the business that we should just archive it? Or should we try to repurpose it so that we’re maintaining the content that still has value or updating it so it can continue to have value. But we’re keeping it clean. And always with the idea, is it helpful to our end user? Is this helpful to the person searching for this content?

Drew: Yeah, I’m imagining the conversation was sales is saying, “Hey, you’ve got to keep that because I share that link to this particular content all the time. So don’t make that go away.” 

Hannah:Analytics, any of that is really important, too. Because if it’s three years old, has been accessed three times, was probably on the to be archives list, but there are conversations that we have to have.

Drew: Right, because you just don’t know. And what’s so tricky is that there could be one thing that doesn’t get viewed that often. But it’s the closer. And it’s really hard. We had a Bonus Huddle yesterday with a couple of digital media buyers, and they were just talking about this thing, and we’ll get to that in a second. But this is a really complicated thing, because we need to answer the questions that the buyer has, like, fundamentally. And so and where marketers seem to come up short is they’re going from the perspective of “this is what we want to tell them” versus “this is what the customer needs this moment in order to continue along the journey and answer the question or solve the problem that they came to your website in the first place.” So how does that fit in? You’ve got a story that you want to tell, you’ve got prospects that have information that they need, how do you work that into your matrix?

Hannah: Yeah, when we look at our content strategy, we took really the beginning of this year, a different approach to the content that we’re creating, how we are going to approach content in general, you know, thinking about, you know, where are those categories that we have that right to win, and where did the keywords that we think somebody would search for, but then we started to layer in intent data from 6sense, looking at search data, and not approach it necessarily from a keyword standpoint. But from those questions that would appear in kind of the Google helpful content questions and approach it to not truly write Q&A content, but approach it from those questions versus keywords. So that was our first step in really trying to be much more user and audience-focused in the way that we are creating content. And then the next wave is really going to come through in the redesign that we’re undertaking, in how we plan for the content and those user journeys.

Drew: And in some ways, your redesign, you’ve got to be the best at this because you need to be your best customer. Right. And so the pressure is really on I mean not that you didn’t have enough pressure already. But talk about some of the challenges that you encounter when thinking. I mean, we’ve got now the data and we’ve got all the content sort of sorted through what’s what’s the next biggest challenge in this redesign.

Hannah: So for us, it’s, you know, we’re in this right now. So I can share some of these key decisions and how we’re going to approach this redesign project, you know, the first was not just start with the design itself, but start with the key foundation that we need to build on. But for anyone that’s done a redesign, this is the seventh or eighth one that I’ve done, it can be a catalyst for really big organizational conversations. It’s this inflection point for so many different teams and how their offerings show up on this digital storefront that we have. So one of the decisions that we made was to really over-rotate in a way on the information architecture. Our business has changed quite a bit since our last big redesign and we don’t have plans to stand still. So this site has to serve us much further than today, this moment in time. So this information architecture portion of the redesign includes, you know, things like getting the navigation right, making sure that all areas of the business are represented the way that our users or visitors would expect to see it, not the way that we see it internally. It’s the page structure, it’s getting the taxonomy rights, so that other things can kind of automatically happen behind the scenes. But starting with this type of conversation allows us to operate a lot more in the facts, and that level of detail versus starting with what it’s going to look like where there’s a lot more subjective opinions, and it’s harder to lead through feedback about design, when we’re really looking for those core structural changes. That’s one difference, just spending a lot more time on the information architecture than other companies may or than I have in other redesign projects. And then another area is we’re really proactively thinking about governance. You know, I’ve been in projects where we go in, and we’re so excited about getting the site launched, we haven’t thought through all those business rules and how we’re going to manage it going forward. How are you going to unpublish content? How are you going to make sure that it stays fresh and doesn’t just become this ever-growing repository? How do we handle these key stats that have to get updated throughout the site on a regular basis without somebody manually going in and updating these, here’s just all those questions that will make our lives easier going forward. We’re proactively addressing. And then you know, we’ve highlighted in this process as well, where we need input from key stakeholders. So you know, there’s those moments where we’re going to hit a gate, and we have to have that stakeholder feedback. But then we’re proactively socializing where those are so that, you know, other key stakeholders know where they need to come in and offer a certain type of feedback.

Drew: Well, oh my god, you just covered so many important points. I’m just going to have to put a punctuation point on a few of them. Thinking about a website redesign is an inflection point. You said that, and I think it’s so smart. It’s a recognition that the website is so much of the business and the brand, and if the org doesn’t embrace it, if they just think of it as words and pictures, they’re missing the point. This is your go-to market strategy in most ways. So, it is about information architecture and navigation. And I think a lot of folks when they go, “Oh, just show me what it’s going to look like.” No, let’s spend some time on the information architecture. By the way, shout out to Enrique Salia, who left a comment for us. Hello, Enrique. He used to work at Renegade years ago as an Information Architect and experienced designer, so I had to do a shout-out to him. But anyway, so then we get to this notion of navigation, which is really tricky because you could have a certain stakeholder in the company who said, “This is really important right now. That should be front and center, should be in the first level of the drop-down.” And that may not be right for the user experience. You talked about governance and how that’s going to be updated, use the term “automagically.” And I just want to—can we put that up on the screen. Automagically, please, because I want everything in my life to happen automagically, not just a new website, but how you refresh it. And so often, there’s so much energy in putting it out there that they don’t construct a plan. And you’re building a car that goes on the road and is going to need gas and fuel and updating tune-ups and other things like that. And if you just say, “Oh, we got the car out next. That’s it, you bought it, done.” It just doesn’t work that way. And then it’s just a reminder to think about these things as dynamic as possible, so you can update the data easily without having to go in and completely rewrite something. Alright. That’s a lot. And so, gosh, thank you for staying for a half an hour already. But we’re going to take a quick break, and we’re going to talk about CMO Huddles.

CMO Huddles was launched in 2020. It’s a close-knit community of over 300 highly effective B2B marketing leaders who share, care, and dare each other to greatness. Given the extraordinary time constraints on CMOs these days, everything about CMO Huddles is designed to help leaders save time and empower them to make faster, better decisions. So let’s bring Tom and Hannah back. Both of them were interim CMOs. And that’s sort of how we got them in our program. And it’s wonderful. I know you’re busy marketing leaders. And I’m just wondering if you could give a specific example of how CMO Huddles has helped you. And, Tom, you’ve been on the show before? I’ll let you start.

Tom: Sure. Yeah, I think specifically, if you’re in technology, and you’ve been, you know, a B2B marketing leader in that space over the past 12 months, at some point or another, there has been a conversation around budget, how to optimize your budget, how to cut your budget, and it might have even gone as far as, you know, how do you plan to reduce your team size and things like that? So as a marketing leader, when we went through some of those things at Acquia, I found it really useful to have, you know, other CMOs because I was interim at the time, to talk about, you know, how are you approaching that? What are the board asking you to do? You know, what are the things that you’re prioritizing to keep when you have to make those tough decisions? There’s been loads of other things as well. But for me, that was almost serendipitous in its timing to have the community to talk to was invaluable.

Drew: Yeah. When it gets tough, it is really nice to say, “Am I crazy here?” or “Is there a little trick here that we could do?” Okay, Hannah? Any thoughts? 

Hannah: Yes. Mine is similar to Tom’s, it’s CMO Huddles has been so helpful for me because it’s given me access that I didn’t have before, access to the marketing executives, as a community that’s going through a lot of the similar challenges, but in different industries in different companies, that just gives a different point of view. But, you know, the ability to connect with these leaders, and it’s helped me think differently about how to approach my role, and somebody whose initiatives we have underway just offering those different perspectives that I didn’t have access to.

Drew: I love it. Well, thank you both for those comments. If you’re a senior B2B marketer and need a shortcut to B2B greatness, take a second to visit and sign up for our free starter program. That’s—did I say free? Yeah, our free starter program. Okay. Great. Thank you for that.

Drew: Let’s go back now. And we started talking about this, a couple of things were on my mind that as we had this conversation, and sort of connecting the dots for the interviews that we did yesterday, SEO feels like it’s at a cataclysmic moment. You go to the landing page of Google, and you don’t really know where you are because it’s the questions are answered. It’s not like, “Here are 10 websites where you can go to get an answer.” It’s like, “Here’s the answer.” And maybe you get two or three leading web pages for a particular subject on the landing page. So I mean, on page one, so are you rethinking, and so Hannah, you’re in the middle of a website redesign? And suddenly the whole notion of SEO is changing like at lightning speed, has that made you rethink your sort of content strategy?

Hannah: It’s definitely impacted our content strategy. I think it’s been a forcing function for thinking about our content from our audience’s point of view, which is how we all should be thinking about all of our content anyway. But it really has forced that conversation. And I mentioned earlier, we just rethought how we’re approaching keywords as we’re creating content. I know I shouldn’t say these words out loud but we survived the first Google quake, I think they’re calling it, you know, in terms of our search volumes, and what we’re getting to our website, I think, because of some of these changes that we’ve made, but you know, I think we’ve all learned you can never sit still. Because as you get comfortable, they’re going to change something else. But  that’s been the biggest driver is thinking about it from what our audience needs, not the perfect manner we can structure a keyword strategy.

Drew: And Tom, has it changed the way you think about how you’re doing content.

Tom: Yeah, definitely. So I think for us, the journey that Hannah was just describing, we kind of embarked on around kind of Q3 of 2021. That’s when we redesigned our website at that moment there. And when we went through that process, and similarly, we started to organize the website around our customer journeys and our customer expectation, so completely agree with that philosophy. Now, some of the things that we did to our organization to make sure that the team structure was set up to better deal with, you know, the changing landscape of SEO is we actually moved our content strategist, the person who was using, you know, all of the tools that we have to help with our content into the content team. So rather than that person being on the web side of the house, we moved them to the content team. And that, you know, led to the kind of whole dynamic shift of, “Why are we creating this piece of content? Where does it sit in the customer journey?” And then when you actually put pen to paper, as it were, it’s already optimized for what the customers’ needs are. And also for some of those, you know, quirky new features of SEO? Like the question-answer boxes that you get that you were just describing, Drew. And so from there, we started to track metrics, like so the words that we think our customers care about, does it appear in the answer box or not, right? And then improving our position. But that was actually a whole organizational shift, not just a process.

Drew: Yeah. So my takeaway on this is, why wouldn’t you put a lot of your content in Q&A format, because that seems to be the way Google has decided that’s the way they want to share information, because that’s what ChatGPT is doing, right? It gives you an answer. And I also think there’s a general criticism of websites, particularly B2B, where customers have about 30 questions, and it takes them 25 clicks to get all those answers. And, you know, other than if they just typed into the chatbot one at a time, right? And, you know, so I guess that it’s, I’m going to go back to this. Why not really reemphasize Q&As?

Tom: I’ve got a different question for you. Why don’t we start marketing to LLMs? Right. I mean, people are already using ChatGPT to help make purchasing decisions. So when are we going to start writing web content that’s, you know, easy to digest for an LLM? Or for the next generation of AI, in fact,

Drew: Anybody have ideas on that?

Tom: I don’t know how to do that. I’ll be honest. I mean, I’m keen to learn. 

Drew: Yeah. Okay. Alright. Well, I’ll have to do another show. We’ve got some Gen AI experts and LLM experts lined up for Huddles, we’ll just hit him with that problem. So I do think that that’s one and I want to go back to something else that this is a phenomenon that I see a lot. A new CMO comes on the job. And they look at the website, they don’t like it. And you know, there’s a brand problem, and they rush to get a website out the door in two or three months. And I think about Hannah’s checklist, we’ve got to check with all the stakeholders, we’ve got to test things, we got to reorganize it, we’ve got to do the architecture, and you can’t do that. And then we got a plan for how we’re going to update it later on. Can’t do that in three months. I mean, am I crazy? Is there such a sprint that would enable you to do all the things that you’re talking about doing to make over a website in three months?

Hannah: You’d be redoing it again, in the very near future.

Drew: So you’re really at that point in time just making surface-level decisions based on some—you don’t have a chance to test architecture, you don’t have a chance to get in the taxonomy of it, you don’t have a chance to necessarily plan to create any kind of personalized experience. Okay, so fix something else. If you want to fix something in the first three months, don’t do the website. Okay, we said it here. We’ll see how far that goes. One of the things that we haven’t talked about at all because this is supposed to be about globalization is localization. And I’m curious how that works. Because I mean, I and again, I’m thinking of Hannah and all the processes that you talked about, we haven’t put the global layer on. How do you do that?

Hannah: I don’t know if you know this Drew, but I spent 10 years in the localization industry.

Drew: I did not know that. 

Hannah: So yeah, this is near and dear to my heart, but I got to say it has not gotten any less complicated than it was your last couple of decades. So when we’re thinking about localization, it’s tricky, but we think of it as a balance between what the audience needs, what they expect, what may be mandated by a local law, or different country law, but then what your business can actually support long term, because it’s really easy to make decisions that you’re going to localize into six or seven languages, because that’s what’s best for our audience. But the business has to be able to sustain that. So it is this delicate balance. I’ve seen, you know, tiering work really well, where you know, some languages are going to be your tier one languages, and it’s going to be, you know, a fully localized experience, you know, other tiers may get key pages localized with the automated translation, filling in. I highly recommend transparency when you’re using machine or automated translation. And then there’s a really interesting use case for AI as well. But it’s really finding the balance and making sure that the conversation goes beyond just the website. Because again, that’s not an as forcing function for a localization conversation. But it’s only one part of that entire buyer experience. If your sales team isn’t ready to support all of those languages, that buyer journey that user experience with your brand is going to start to break down. So my recommendation is take it one level higher, two levels higher. This is a strategic business conversation, not just solely about the website experience.

Tom: I completely agree with that. And the thing that I always find interesting as well as when you are elevating it to the business level conversation, just as you were saying, bring data with you, right? Don’t just rely on why do you think this should happen? I’ll give you a great example, a company I worked at a couple of roles ago, now, we had this policy in place where by default, we would translate the website to the languages where we had a proactive sales team, we encountered all of those problems that Hannah was just talking about, we didn’t have enough people in market to necessarily maintain the content, and so on and so forth. And I just said, “Well, why don’t we look at the traffic information and see how many people are actually going to that version of our website.” And it was really interesting, because the most vocal sales team there were like, “No, we must have it in language” was the Italian sales team. Now I’m half Italian, so nothing against Italy as a nation. But it’s got a very unique language, it’s not in very many places outside of Italy. It’s not like Spanish, for example, which is, you know, very global in its nature. And so we found that there were 73 monthly active users of the Italian version of the website, and we were spending about $30,000 a year to translate it. So we very quickly made a decision that that was not a good use of marketing dollars. The other thing that we found as well is that of the people that were coming to our sites and digesting the content in a foreign language, a good percentage of them were just using Google Translate on the English site, and they weren’t actually using the localized version of the websites too, I would use back that up with data before you make those investment decisions. And then there are a whole host of things that you can do with loose localization technology integrated with your CMS. And all of those things would do it with the data in your hand for sure.

Drew: Yeah and I just want to sort of stretch this just a little bit further, even if you’re going to offer a really, truly fluent website in Italian, but you don’t have customer support in Italian, because you’ve set a level of expectation at that point as well. The other thing that’s interesting, because in Huddles, we talked about local events. And, you know, I remember specifically one of the CMOs talking about how they were in Amsterdam, and the first half an hour of the presentation, the local country manager, presented in Dutch and it was like really well received, it was a wonderful moment. And so localization and speaking in a local language is tremendously valuable. But you’ve got to be able to examine, again, go all the way through. Now it’s interesting, so I wonder if there’s a way to localize on a language basis. And that’s just one aspect of localization, right? There could be completely different use cases for local, which is just another level of complexity, but I’m wondering so these days because the technology is there to do pretty darn good instant translation using tools that if you do offer, say, Italian. But you say, “We’re offering Italian here, but we don’t support Italian.” You know? I mean, how do you manage expectations there? I just wonder.

Tom: Yeah, one of the things I’ve done, I think it’s about managing expectations, even as part of your digital experience, because one approach that people very often take is that they actually have a hybrid site. So they’ll have a partially localized site and a partially unlocalized site. And so I’ve seen examples of websites where, if it was the Italian language site, as an example, where you were about to click on a link to take you somewhere else in the website, or to a piece of content that actually your hover over pop up, right, we sometimes kind of forget that those exist, but as you move your mouse over, you can program it. So your website has a dialog that would say, you know, this link is in English, this destination is in English, right? And it sets expectations, even at a tactical level. I think it’s then really important that as you think about your overall business strategy, that you set those expectations completely across the business, not just about your go-to-market function about your support function. And one of the things that I’ve always ensured that, you know, my teams have had, I’ve spent a lot of time in Field Marketing, is we have a matrix of what is supported in what country to what level of degree so that internally, we know what those expectations are, and it helps people stay on the same page about how we project externally. So for example, you know, do we have local language support in this country? Do we have, you know, content available in local language, is the website translated, and so on and so forth. And then it sets the expectation across the business as to what we’re doing and what market and why we do it?

Drew: Yeah, what all of this conversation comes down to is making choices for your business, because the pressure is, oh, just add another page, oh, just add another drop down, oh, you can throw that in there. And the challenge is, the bigger the website gets, the more products that you have, the more dropdowns that you have, the less likely it is to be able to one, get the information to the person quickly, right? It took me seven clicks to get there, that’s a problem. And so this is a business making strategic choices, to help their prospects, and they may not be able to help all 100 of them, 100% of them, certain people, the right people to make decisions. And this gets you down to okay, if we do have to say no to some things in order to create a good website experience, we can’t be everything to everybody. So we have to be something to somebody, what are the metrics that you all look at? And this is such a loaded question you use to optimize or how you know, I mean, now that we had the one example of pivoting because there were 70 views. But talk a little bit about what you’re optimizing your website experience for, what are those metrics, Tom?

Tom: Yeah, so for me, we grew our website into areas that are based on the customer journey, as I talked about. And so when we look at our website dashboard, we’re actually able to segment our Google Analytics data, which is our primary source by those streams of customer journey. And they loosely but not always, entirely, go to the categories of products that we have. So from CMS to the hosting solution to the digital asset management to the customer data platform, right? All of those different areas that people might be buying from us. And then we look at the total visitors to start with and we basically back down the funnel. So how is the conversion going for that site? For that part of the site? Are we seeing the top performing assets and what though their conversion rates are like, and then we also back it all the way down to the pipeline level for us as a B2B organization. So what are the opportunities being created that support that then are coming specifically from the website, and of course, we can track it through all the way to close one. But given our sales cycles, kind of the you know, average six-month mark, then we spent a lot of time optimizing the top of funnel when it talks about on the website, and we optimize the opportunity creation to close away from the website. So yeah, we effectively create a funnel by customer journey, and track it in that way.

Drew: Got it? Alright. So ultimately, we are talking about how effective is the website at capturing demand to create sort of pipeline. Hannah anything else to add on the question of metrics and optimization?

Hannah: Yeah, so we also look really closely at those high intent conversions, the demo requests, those that have come in through the demo experience, contact us because we’re trying to ungate more and more of our content. But are those journeys driving those visitors to convert on those high intent pages and high intent experiences, so just paying attention to the journeys to get them to this.

Drew: Thank you. So this is the moment where we do ask every show is what would Ben Franklin say? Well, he was a man of the world. He spent, I think 28 years in England and France. And so I don’t know I found this one, “Where Liberty dwells, there is my country.” He was a man of liberty. So yes. So wherever your customer dwells, there is your customer. How’s that? Alright, so final words of wisdom. Let’s start with Hannah, share two do’s and a don’t when it comes to Global Website Management.

Hannah: My two do’s first, make sure all stakeholders are identified upfront, and they know what their role is. And do have that strategic conversation about localization for your business, if you’re doing a site redesign, it’s one of the very first decisions you’re gonna have to make is how that global site is set up. And don’t skip the governance conversations, the taxonomy, publishing and unpublishing, and just stay, it’ll help you automate as much as you can. So don’t skip those upfront.

Drew: I mean, this is not just for day one, this is to last, at least I don’t know, what’s the, you know, the shelf life of a website? A couple of years, I would hope, if it’s done right. Okay, Tom, two do’s and a don’t for CMOs when approaching Global Website Management?

Tom: Yeah. So, first do of course, you’ve heard us both talk about this today is put the customer at the center of the digital experience as you build it, right? If you’re thinking about how do I convey this product message to the market and you start there with your website, you will definitely go off track. What is the customer hoping to find out about your brand? That’s my first do. The second do is continuously optimize and experiment. We talked about SEO today. That’s one dimension that you can of course, optimize and experiment and think about personalization. Think about, you know, every overall experience optimization as well. So how do people convert on your site, and then my don’t, which hopefully is no surprise, but don’t forget about the population that your website currently isn’t designed for? Don’t forget about those people with accessibility requirements. Don’t forget about making your website as inclusive as possible. Because ultimately, if you’re a commercial organization, you’re missing out on some of your audience. And it’s, you know, it’s a missed opportunity.

Drew: Yeah, and so thank you for those. I want to add just one notion of how important the website is, this is not just a brochure that you put on the website, this is the way people really translate your brand, how they absorb your brand. Often for folks, people, visiting the website, that’s the experience. You really need to think about this from a very strategic level, so if you are going to do a website redesign, it is a company-wide initiative that involves strategic decisions and so often, a good time to do it is when you merge, right? You’re bringing two companies together and you have new things. Don’t just do this, because you decided that you needed to change the brand and the color. That’s not what this is about. I’m hoping that if you have one takeaway is this is a strategic weapon or not in your brand. And it’s not just prospects, it’s not just about demand capture, because you’ve got employees that are going to look at it as I mentioned, at the top of the show. So take the time to get the data, right, take the time to get the architecture, right, take time to get the user experience right. Then you can put all the pretty pictures on and make them accessible as Tom suggested. Okay, so, off my high horse. Thank you, Tom and Hannah. You’re both great sports. And thank you, audience for staying with us. 

To hear more conversations like this one and submit your questions while we’re live, join us on the next CMO Huddles Studio. We stream to my LinkedIn profile—that’s Drew Neisser—every other week!

Show Credits
Renegade Marketers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser. Hey, that’s me. This show is produced by Melissa Caffrey, Laura Parkyn, and Ishar Cuevas. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and the intro VoiceOver is Linda Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests and learn more about CMO Huddles or my CMO coaching service, please visit I’m your host Drew Neisser. Until next time, keep those renegade marketing caps on and strong!