How OPIS Redesigned Their Website Into a Vital Hub for Prospects

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There was so much good information in a session from SIPA Annual 2018 that I just re-listened to—titled Transforming Your Website into a New Prospect Magnet—that I don't know where to start. Fortunately, that's one problem that Ashlee Bovello, SEO and website marketing manager for OPIS by IHS Markit, addressed.

"Keywords are of the utmost importance" in your website, "but oftentimes we struggle with where to start..." she said. "Work with the people who work with customers directly if you don't have that access—sales, customer service, editorial teams. Find out what kind of terms and words people who are really entrenched in your industry are using.

"Also run a lot of manual searches—it can be tedious... but running some of your core keywords manually and putting yourself in your customers' shoes is a great thing to do and could give you a lot of ideas through Google's autofill or related searched you might not have thought of before."

OPIS director of marketing Rick Wilkes led off this information-packed session by talking about the flaws of their old website:

  • An outdated design lacking visuals with overwhelming text.
  • Little original content and few keywords.
  • It took multiple click-thrus to get to a product page.
  • Dysfunctional search and confusing product categorization.
  • Mobile un-friendly.

I'll spend the rest of today's column and tomorrow with how they fixed it and the tips they offered. The new site debuted Nov. 14, 2017—"I think I'll always remember that day," said Wilkes—and now averages 4,000 blog views a month, has added 2,000-plus names to their prospect database, and has seen 2018 site traffic already double from 2017.

The new site shows quickly "what's in it for me?" "What we tried to do on the homepage itself, for any website you have an infamous 5-second takeaway," said Wilkes. "Someone comes to a homepage—and a homepage is vitally important—they want to know almost instantly what do you do and what's in it for me? So what we tried to do here through visuals and headlines and text is to communicate that instantly."

Second that emotion. "Also I'll throw into it a little bit of emotion," Wilkes said. "I think emotion is underrated in any kind of marketing, particularly with websites. Here you see a refinery at sunset, and that's the best a refinery is ever going to look. You'd be amazed in stock photography how many fuel places are within sunsets. It's very soothing. So it's a big bold image [and the words,] 'We help you buy and sell oil and gas products with confidence'—and the confidence is the emotional hook there.  There are other price reporting agencies that will help you buy oil and gas products, but the confidence communicates that you can depend on OPIS and rest easy."

Show your personas. "We talked to our sales director and asked when one of your customers comes to our site, what are they going to want to know right away?" Wilkes said. "What commodities we cover? Are they going to want to know about our market segments? He said, 'No, they're going to look for who they are. They're going to say, I'm a retailer, I sell gas. What do you have for me?' So what we tried to do is immediately show buyer personas, and a who-we-help section. You can see all these fuel chain personas and there are a lot of them."

Create a "vibrant" homepage. Their new site highlights all the possible categories of incoming customers so they can quickly find what they're looking for after self-identifying. Sliding panels under those categories offer more information. Beautiful images of the Golden Gate Bridge—for an upcoming event in San Francisco—and Mexico City—for an English/Spanish magazine—add to the luster.

Start a blog. "We now have blog posts that are updated regularly and infuse the site with a steady stream of original content—one post a week, maybe two," said Wilkes. "We had a longtime editorial person who wanted to get into marketing so there was our content marketing director. We created a fun tone that was unique to OPIS."

Add longer content. "We're doing an increasing amount of long-form content, white papers, ebooks and reports," said Wilkes. "Those are highlighted on the homepage but also sprinkled throughout the product pages. And we're trying to use the keywords that our audience uses."

Offer something free to new visitors. The big thing in terms of the blog posts, said Wilkes, is that they can now compile a free weekly e-newsletter from those posts—and sprinkle it with original content. This allows them to capture the contact information for people who were coming to the site, poking around and leaving. "We're giving them something valuable for free that they'll sign up for."

Post more video. OPIS is starting to include more video on the site and wants to do more.

Get early CEO buy-in. One thing we tried to do is to keep the group small that was involved with the redesign," said Wilkes. "Don't open it up to the world. People like what they like, and they don't necessarily know what's best. My trick is to get our CEO involved right from the get. If he likes it, everyone else likes it."

More fixes and tips tomorrow.

Ronn Are you subscribed to the SIPAlert Daily?
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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…