From digital business card to buyer enabling and revenue generating – the story of the B2B corporate website11 min read
As buyers increasingly complete most of their research online before talking to vendors, the B2B website is more important than ever.
However, as complexity rises and information is constantly added across platforms, marketing departments are at risk of losing control of the corporate website, especially if they have not clearly defined the expected business outcomes they want to achieve through the platform. As B2B website development is continuously developing, it is also easy to get blindsided by attractive elements such as smart tech-driven features and design.
While technology and visual appearance are in fact important, effective B2B websites need to do more than just look good and appear smart. Effective design entails a clearly defined strategy, site structure and information architecture, content, conversion points, SEO, and much more.
The top 5 pitfalls of B2B websites
What we typically see is…
- Website is quicksanded in technology and feature development – offering little to no value to visitors while increasing complexity in maintenance for internal teams (or having to outsource update developments continuously)
- Lack of clearly defined goals and definition of the website’s strategic role aligned with the buying process – making the website an ultimate destination for information overload, where no team is truly satisfied with the outcomes
- Unclear prioritization of target audience – while the website is for everyone, but not everyone is or should be equally important
- Poor conversion rates from visitor to contact or lead – and often also very limited transparency and reporting of the website’s contribution to pipeline or sales
- Not enough focus on solution leadership/product side of a website – while thought leadership is crucial for many reasons, the website should always be the ultimate representation of the product/solution before an actual demo or trial takes place
How we approach the problem
Great B2B website design bridges your context (what you want to achieve), user needs (what your target audience wants), and content (what you offer and how). In fact, that’s the core philosophy behind efficient website information architecture.
You may feel that you already have these items more or less covered. People come to visit, maybe a few percentages download something, maybe they contact you directly. But it never hurts to clean out your closet. In fact, that may be the best way to clearly understand potential gaps in current performance and how this could be accelerated. Ensuring that you have a top-performing and competitive B2B website in today’s landscape, requires you to clearly define and prioritize between multiple dimensions:
- Objectives: Are you looking to convert more leads, build brand awareness, establish differentiation or attract new talent – or something else?
- Audiences: Based on our objectives, how do we prioritize between our audiences and how should they be engaged based on their core information needs, and the barriers and enablers of their decision journeys?
- Content: How do we develop and activate content that helps us accelerate both thought and solution leadership to help intrigue visitors?
- Navigation: How are our website menu and pages structured to ensure we capture users entering with different needs and at different stages in their journey?
- Conversion points and CTAs: How and where do we capture users’ information to ensure a seamless handover from website to sales?
- Layout & design: How do the layout and design support objectives and drive users to conversion?
- Technology stack: What is the needed marketing technology stack to ensure users are supported the best way possible all the way from awareness to post-sales while avoiding cost and complexity overload?
While considering these critical elements, it is crucial to remember how most visitors will probably have limited time for research and education, and will probably also receive a multitude of information from competitors or other vendors. Bombarding your visitors with information will not get you very far. Too little information? The same. Buyers often evaluate suppliers on key criteria before moving on to a decision. The sweet spot is found when balancing simplicity with an experience that caters to buyer needs
So, how should you go about defining a strategy for your B2B website – old or new – that can help support your business goals? While there may be quite a couple of dimensions to consider, the process need not be that complex:
- Start by defining the role of your website and establishing objectives
- Prioritize key target audiences and define their customer decision journeys
- Assess your available content against the journeys to identify potential gaps
- Define navigation structure and outline information architecture
- Wireframe and design key pages before implementation and launch
Taking the point of departure in defining the role and objectives related to the website ensures we can properly investigate how to engage visitors to achieve our goals. But we don’t get far if we do not properly prioritize and understand our audiences in relation to those objectives, because while we might know what we want, the secret to success lies in understanding what they want.
Mapping out decision journeys for our stakeholders informs us what they want and need at different phases of their buying journey, ensuring we can cater to both users who are ready to convert – or users who have just started their journey. With this in hand, we have a solid foundation to make informed decisions about what we need to optimize to accelerate performance.
If we go back to the beginning, a key reason for a drowning B2B website is often due to information having been added by multiple teams for a long, long time. While keeping content fresh and updated is really important, we tend to lose sight of how closely aligned it is with the needs and behavior of our target audiences. A content assessment according to the audience decision journeys will ensure that great content is repurposed – and that underperforming content is removed to simplify the overall experience.
When all your content has been assessed and mapped out, it is time to start prioritizing how we present it to visitors to guide them throughout the page.
Navigation is of course handled by the global menu, but also throughout pages when a user clicks through to know more. It is a common mistake to present content using a traditional funnel perspective; starting from the beginning (establishing the problem) and ending up with the solution (or a contact button). What if visitors had already browsed through loads of your content – or even visited your site before? Think of the role of each page according to the buying process, and start sketching out what you want visitors to know from it. And remember: dead-ends are a sin (especially on the front page and key category pages) – offer users a way forward even if they didn’t find what they were looking for on any given page.
With the first steps done, you’ve already done most of the hard work. Now it’s time to start wireframing and designing to visualize how your pages will look when everything comes together.
While it’s not too complex, this process can be quite a mouthful to take on internally, especially because it is often necessary to collect insights from around the organization – and in best cases also from visitors and customers – to inform proper decision making.
At Kvadrant Consulting, we are more than happy to help you on your journey to establish the right foundation for your B2B website – we are agnostic of platforms, channels and free of typical digital media & agency incentives and can provide truly independent consultation.
We combine digitally savvy and native insights and experience with a deep understanding of your business, industry, and the B2B buying process. Feel free to reach out to one of our experts to learn more about how we work and which types of projects we have solved within this topic.
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