A majority of online visitors — as many as 88%, according to one study — are less likely to return to a website after a poor experience. If you sell products or services to other businesses, the quality of your online presence is vital to your ability to create brand awareness, build customer relationships, and move prospects through your marketing funnel.
Most B2B buyers are more than halfway (57%, according to Accenture) through the buying process before they meet with a sales or business development representative. It’s safe to say that your website could be one of your company’s earliest interactions with a prospect, and positive impressions are everything.
These first touches don’t always happen at the desktop, either. Studies show that 70% of B2B buyers have increased their mobile usage over the past several years. An Ericsson Mobility Report reveals that mobile data traffic jumped 14% at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. So it’s vital that your website can reach your target audience whether they’re at their desk or on the move.
Websites that target other business customers need to fulfill a number of objectives. These include the ability to generate traffic, engage visitors, and convert them to customers. If you want to be successful with B2B marketing, you can take some cues from others with effective websites that engage and convert.
Take Dropbox, for example. The company was launched in 2007 and has since grown to serve millions of users with a value of over $10 billion. Dropbox has created different pages for its business and individual users, and it describes its services in a clear and simple way. The site gets straight to the point and provides demonstrations on how to make implementation easy.
Another great B2B website example is Zendesk. From its homepage, the website emphasizes how its solutions focus on meeting the needs of its customers. In other words, it addresses a common pain point or use case. It also has calls to action (CTAs) to view a demo, start a free trial, or contact the sales team front and center.
So how can you build your own engaging and traffic-grabbing B2B website that converts prospects into customers? Start with a buyer-centric approach and the following steps:
1. Speak to Your Customer
Your business might have a long list of goals it would like to achieve, but first among them should be fulfilling customer needs and use cases. If your B2B website only speaks to what you sell, you’re taking the wrong approach, and you might as well post a digital copy of your sales flyers instead.
It’s imperative to do extensive buyer persona research — including aggregating insights, both through primary and secondary means, from your customer-facing teams, partners, and others in your market, your competitors and your customers directly — to ensure you are telling visitors how your products or services will improve their businesses and lives.
This message should be front and center on your homepage to capture visitors’ attention and then point them to the next step with a strong CTA. And the same theme needs to carry through with the rest of your content to explain how you fulfill promises. Plink is an excellent example. The digital payment provider’s homepage tells you immediately how its service can improve cash flow.
2. Get to the Point
Most B2B customers don’t have a lot of patience, but successful B2B sellers need plenty of it. Why? Unlike B2C purchasers, B2B buyers rarely make impulse purchases. In fact, nearly three-quarters of B2B purchases take at least four months to complete. Many buyers will take more time making a decision if it impacts a company or involves larger budget constraints.
B2B purchases are calculated and rational, so you need to get to the point right away. Begin making your case for the differentiation and value associated with your product and service. You can accomplish this by defining the profile of your key decision-makers (or website users) and speaking directly to their pain points.
Have a clear and concise value proposition that begins building trust. For example, Zendesk “aims to make customer service easier and more efficient.”
If you make a promise like this, tell the customer how you intend to follow through. You can include a description of your process, as well as customer testimonials as proof that you’re trustworthy.
3. Stand Out Visually
Your website’s design is where you can really get creative and outshine your competitors. The more attractive your B2B website is to users, the higher the chances of them staying to engage with your content.
If you want to boost engagement on your website and stand out visually, use video. Video will account for 82% of online traffic by 2022. Oracle suggests that video can boost engagement on a webpage by as much as 100%. PandaDoc is an example of a company that uses video on its homepage and throughout its website to connect with consumers across different stages of the buyer’s journey.
Stand out in a crowded market with a brand and visual style that looks sharp, modern, and visually appealing. Color schemes, graphics, and typography can be chosen to elicit a favorable response.
These decisions on visual style should be based on research. Again, evaluate your competitors and peers to identify best practices and opportunities to stand out. Test your brand visuals using paid digital multivariate testing or online focus groups, and adjust based on the results.
Finally, make sure your website incorporates responsive design so that it adapts and functions smoothly on any device, and optimize for mobile wherever you can.
4. Educate Your Buyer
Converting most B2B buyers is a long game, but much of the journey now takes place online. According to Forrester, B2B buyer expectations are even higher thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing and other environmental factors have driven the demand for more self-service in an industry that is accustomed to a bit more face time before the sale.
That said, you can still leverage the knowledge that prospects want a more hands-off approach to educating buyers with your B2B website. Offer educational and engaging content that builds trust and keeps visitors coming back to learn how your solutions can help them run their business better.
Different types of content will appeal to different buyers across their journey, so it’s helpful to have a mix of quick videos, blog posts, infographics, and downloadables. According to CMO by Adobe, 90% of B2B buyers loop around the sales funnel, repeating some steps in the buyer’s journey before moving on.
Use this as an opportunity to become a thought leader in your specific niche and industry. Being recognized as an authority in your field builds brand trust and leads to additional business opportunities.
5. Validate Your Product or Service
Your B2B website is your business’s online storefront. If people don’t trust that you’re legitimate, your bounce rates will go through the roof and your conversion rates will suffer. According to one survey, 81% of consumers say that trust in a brand influences their purchasing decisions. In addition to bounce and conversion rates, you can measure brand trust based on retention rates and online reputation scores.
Use your website to build and improve your credibility with your target audience.
- Showcase customers. You can validate your product or service by showing that others trust you. Post customer logos (with permission), testimonials, and case studies.
- Introduce your team. Show potential clients the people behind your solutions, and take the opportunity to showcase your key people’s relevant experience and skills to prove they can help solve customer problems.
- Post accolades or quotes. List awards or certifications and share quotes pulled from peer review sites like G2 Crowd or Gartner Peer Insights.
6. Optimize for Search
A well-designed B2B website won’t help you unless you attract online traffic. Effective search engine optimization (SEO) is essential, and it involves creating a website that satisfies search engines and your target audience alike. SEO is a bit topic on its own, but some of the items you’ll want to address include:
- Keyword research. Are you including relevant keyword phrases that speak to the intent of your users? Depending on your audience, you might also need to optimize for local search.
- On-page SEO. In addition to adding keywords to your content, on-page SEO involves having unique title and “meta” descriptions, H1 and H2 headers, as well as “image alt” HTML tags to give context to your images.
- Page speed. Your site’s loading speed impacts both the user experience and your search rankings. Optimize your website for the best possible loading times.
- Internal linking. Provide plenty of useful internal links on your website to keep users engaged and reduce bounce rates.
- Backlinks. Work on building quality backlinks to your website through a combination of outreach and link exchange agreements.
- User experience. Focus on creating a positive user experience with a site that is easy to navigate and delivers engaging content that adds value.
- SEO-optimized landing pages. Tied to your keyword research and search engine results page (SERP) rankings, these in-depth pages are designed to rank individually to draw organic traffic to your website.
7. Make the User Journey Purposeful
The buying process has different stages, and it’s important that you create a conversion plan for each stage of that journey. Instead of leaving it up to chance, it’s your job to come up with a purposeful path rich with engaging content that your clients will consume along the way.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, the most common types of content used by B2B marketers are social media posts (95%), followed by blog posts (89%) and email newsletters (81%), all of which can drive traffic to your website.
In the awareness stage, your buyer might realize their company has a problem. They’ll be looking to see if any solutions exist. You can answer that call with content like videos, blog posts, and e-books.
As they reach the evaluation or consideration stage, the buyer is weighing their options. They might expect some more dense content such as case studies, podcasts, webinars, or comparison charts. Finally, at the decision stage, many buyers expect to be shown your product or service’s value through a live demo or free trial.
The idea is that you should logically map out the journey that informs the core paths to conversion. At each stage, you’ll have clear CTAs that are simple to spot and easy to understand. When a user lands on your website, their interaction should be intuitive and purposeful.
8. Track and Personalize
According to Gartner, B2B customers are primarily looking for information that is “helpful.” While this isn’t shocking, the researcher does point out that these audiences prefer website personalization over intrusive emails. To get this level of personalization, you need access to good data.
Set up systems on your website’s back end to collect as much data as possible while remaining compliant with data privacy and use regulations such as GDPR. Collect site analytics and set up conversion goals using Google Analytics.
Track the end-to-end leads pipeline and digital marketing campaigns using marketing automation software such as HubSpot, and connect that to your customer databases in Salesforce. Use tools like Leadfeeder to get an account-level view of your traffic, and implement tools like Hotjar or Hitsteps to look at how your pages, content, and messages are performing.
Just as you can use tools to collect data, you can do the same for personalization. Solutions like CliClap and Kenshoo use AI to learn a visitor’s interests and needs and personalize their experience with available content.
9. Make Your Content Easy to Find
If your website’s visitors can’t find what they want quickly, they’re going to get frustrated, leave, and have a poor opinion of your brand. According to a Stanford web credibility study, judgments on a brand’s credibility are 75% based on the company’s website design. The solution is to make your content easy to find and ensure that your site is intuitively designed and adheres to UX best practices.
When you outline your buyer’s journey, you should also be designing or redesigning your website’s architecture. Your architecture is a map of your website that shows how different pages align with the buyer’s decision process and your SEO strategy.
You should also create a detailed taxonomy that can be applied to all of your current and future content so it’s simple for the back end of your content management system (CMS) to filter and personalize your content for the specific user or visitor profile. This refers to things like standard categories and product information that you can connect to different stages in the buyer’s journey.
10. Take an Agile Approach
Traditional website design will deliver a finished B2B site to your organization at the final completion date, but it’s not the most efficient approach. With rapid prototyping and agile website development, you design and develop your site in short sprints set against milestones that build on themselves to create the key components of your final website.
Instead of the extended waterfall approach that launches your completed website at the end of the project, launch a homepage or other product page quickly and continue to improve and add to the design with each update. At the beginning of the project, create a roadmap so that updates and additional pages fit into your overall strategy.
The agile approach to B2B website design allows you to see what works and make changes to your strategy as your project progresses. If you follow these steps, your website will increase visitor engagement and bring in new clients like never before.
By following this roadmap, your B2B site will be more than just another online brochure site that fails to convert. Keep the customer’s needs in the forefront and pay close attention to both your visual and technical requirements, and your new website will have the elements necessary to deliver awareness, engagement, and leads.