We live in a reductionist world where we often wish we could break down life into simple dos and don’ts – and marketing is no different.
Whatever the focus of your company or organisation, we often look for little nuggets of knowledge which could help us get more from our marketing resources and spend – and websites are no exception.
In our previous Better B2B Marketing blogs, we’ve gone into detail about the different ways in which consumers and businesses behave when sourcing the goods and services they need.
Website design may be an area where it’s harder to see the differences between serving businesses and serving consumers – but they’re definitely there and the best B2B (business-to-business) websites follow a few simple traits which make the best them.
So, we’ve distilled them down into three bitesize and easy-to-apply principles:
1 – Make your website about your customer, not you
Review a hundred B2B websites and you’ll likely find only one or two who put the customer first!
Look how many times a given website says ‘We’, ‘Our team’ or ‘Here at such-&-such…’ before talking at length about what they deliver and what makes them great.
Of course, this has its place but the customer who is visiting your B2B website has something a little more self-centred in mind – ‘Can this business provide me with what our company requires?’
The most successful B2B websites invite customers in by talking a little less about themselves and a little more about their visitors’ needs.
There’s more than one way to approach this but one of the easiest tactics is to start using the word ‘You’ more frequently. In describing your products, services and years of experience, start telling the visitor to your B2B website what they will receive and experience – ‘You will get..’
Explain what you do and why it’s great but don’t leave the visitor to translate it into the benefits they’ll receive – tell them!
Another way to invite the customer in is with some level of interactivity. Allow the visitor to share something about who they are and what they’re looking to do.
We often see this in B2C and product-based websites where there is an ability to search and filter products. However, it can be applied to service-based B2B websites too with a simple tick box or decision tree to help tailor the information on display to the visitor’s requirements.
You don’t need to interrogate your website visitor – or put needless barriers in their way – but just find a way in which you can show interest in them and tailor their experience.
For example, a website for products related to the construction or home improvements might ask the visitor to identify if they are a property developer, builder, landlord or home owner – before guiding them to the most relevant information.
One of the simplest ways to do this on a B2B website is to include sector or user-specific pages within the main navigation. Visitors can quickly reach the information they need and view it from their perspective – making them feel more valued and better served.
Sector specific pages are also a significant help to SEO and can make more effective landing ages for a PPC (Google Ads) campaign.
When creating content for your B2B website, think carefully about how your customers define themselves and the language they use. Use the pronouns they would choose and relatable language – without lapsing too far into jargon!
Remember, no one wants to get stuck at a party talking to someone droning on about themselves who shows no interest in others. Make sure your business’s website isn’t guilty of the same!
2 – Emphasise your customers’ outcomes
Once you’ve invited the customer in, you need to direct them towards the outcome they desire – not just the qualities or capabilities of your business that you wish to communicate!
Take time to consider and define the specific business objectives visitors to your B2B website might have and how to satisfy them.
In B2B marketing, the business buying process is typically slower, more logical and often involves more people than consumer buying behaviour. As such, visitors may be in an early research phase, looking for in-depth information to inform a decision, seeking final reassurance to support a buying decision or be fully ready to contact you and buy.
Fortunately, your B2B website doesn’t need to be reengineered for each outcome. It simply needs to be communicative and navigable in a way that helps the visitor achieve each of the outcomes in turn.
Trying to force every visitor to contact you – or make an instantaneous purchase – may be self-defeating when what the visitor craves is a little more information and reassurance before they engage with your company.
Like the previous point, you should use language which focuses on the outcome the visitor hopes to achieve. If you believe they are looking for reassurance, talk about trust. If you believe they are seeking a product to solve a challenge, talk about solutions. That way, customers don’t have to translate your B2B website themselves!
3 – Help customers complete what they are on your site to do
Ultimately, your B2B website’s purpose is to create customers.
Just as we’ve seen that it must be interested in the visitor and use language which addresses their needs – a successful website must facilitate the specific tasks the customer has come to your website to complete.
How this is resolved will depend on your product, service or sector.
If you provide a product range, its likely your visitor will eventually be looking to buy – or at least establish a supply relationship so they can begin placing orders.
How easy is it to complete this? How easy is it to find support if they have questions? When you’re dealing with tens, thousands or even hundreds of thousands of potential transactions, seemingly tiny hurdles or shortfalls can have dramatic implications.
If you provide a service – either online or in the real world – it’s likely the visitor will want to understand the options, explore their needs and either initiate the service or make contact with you. This could include a cost-calculator, downloadable content, online chat function or 24/7 helpline.
Many businesses can be frustrated by the number of potential customers who make contact with them, rather than completing a function their website provides – such as buying online or downloading an information sheet.
It could be that the website isn’t as easy or effective to navigate as you may believe! It could be that the functionality you provide isn’t actually satisfying their needs and what the visitor really wants to do is talk to you…
Get help to build a better B2B website
When it comes to building a better B2B website, it’s about showing interest in your visitors, communicating your solutions in language they understand and making it easy for them to achieve what they want to achieve.
There are naturally many more elements than those listed here – but these are the three important considerations which have the biggest impact on whether your website is a winner or a barrier…
At East Anglia’s leading B2B marketing agency, we help businesses in B2B sectors including manufacturing, technology, logistics, IT, professional services and supplies to get the best from their marketing.
As everything in modern marketing is interlinked, this frequently includes building and developing websites to optimise them for both user-experience and Google SEO.
If you need any support with your B2B website – or any element of your strategic, digital or creative marketing – contact us here.