In part one of this series, Why so Many B2B Websites Suffer, we discussed the myriad reasons B2B websites can turn out...less than ideal. In this follow up, we’ll get into a few of the best practices you can adopt to start seeing results and achieving business goals with your site.
As a quick recap, we talked about how crucial it is for your website to give users the experience they want. If you’re not keeping up with trends, you won’t see the conversion rates you’re banking on. You can avoid having an outdated site or unhelpful content in the following ways.
1. Make your site easy to navigate
As a general rule, you should design your website to help users do what they’re there to do (easier said than done, of course). You can achieve this in a few ways.
Simplify your content. Your website should be intuitive, meaning it shouldn’t be confusing for the average user. Make your site as easy to navigate as possible—the user is there for a reason, they should be able to find that answer, and quickly (remember your mobile users!).
If you’re not sure how to help multiple audiences find what they’re looking for, start by choosing your primary audience and optimize for them. Pay close attention to changes you make and how they affect your traffic, conversion, sales, and any other KPIs you’ve established.
Include search functionality. Sure, users can perform a general search for you on the internet, but can they search your website? If they’re unable to navigate toward the answer they want, or they don’t feel like manually finding it, they’re probably going to expect a search bar.
Once upon a time there was a Google Site Search integration anyone could use. It was easy to implement and gave you the power of Google’s search engine right on your site, but it’s since been retired. But, no worries! They now offer the Google Custom Search to use on your site to “create custom search engines that search across a specified collection of sites or pages”—and there are four options to choose from.
You could alternatively implement a site search using another third-party provider, as many CMS providers (like WordPress) offer pre-built solutions that will probably meet your needs. You could build a custom site search on your own, but the effort usually outweighs the payoff.
2. Include more social proof
“One-to-one peer recommendations, original research, and product reviews are the most influential content in affecting purchase decisions.” —Content Marketing Institute and SmartBrief
In Part I of this series, we discussed the research portion of the B2B buyer decision, and how it occurs both online and through peers. Social proof has never been more important. Consider incorporating ratings, reviews, testimonials, and any other content submitted by current and past customers.
In addition to curated testimonials that might be a little longer and more “crafted,” create a space for users to submit reviews in a public forum. And while we all want our ratings to be 100% positive, don’t let the thought of the occasional negative review deter you from making this happen.
“72% of B2B buyers say negative reviews give depth and insight into a product.” —G2 Crowd and Heinz Marketing
Use negative reviews as a way to exhibit your customer service skills. People like when companies address negative feedback in a positive way, so don’t be combative. Thank the customer for the feedback, and politely ask him or her to send your company a direct message (including an email or direct phone number is always helpful) so you can help resolve the issue. And don’t forget, timing is everything—don’t let negative feedback stew, address it immediately!
3. Develop meaningful relationships
You’re probably familiar with the B2B buyer journey, and we all know it’s much more involved than the B2C buyer journey. Not only can the cycle take much longer, but also it can involve more than one person, and users typically require more education and detailed content to feel comfortable making a purchase.
Instead of designing your website with a primary goal of getting the sale, focus on providing educational content that helps answer your users’ most common questions. Build relationships first, and you’ll end up with a more educated database of leads—which should theoretically increase your sales, too.
By providing your primary audience with answers to their burning questions, you’ll start the sales qualification process immediately. Your website can help your sales team immensely if it properly weeds out users who won’t be a good fit for your offering(s).
Finally, don’t forget to be creative! Your website might answer every question your audience could think of, but if it’s not cutting edge, engaging, and easy to use, you’ll miss out on potential leads—and sales—every day.