22 October 2012 by Rory Carlton
Your company’s website is its face to the world – the whole world – not just customers and prospects, but also journalists, partners, employees, investors, friends and family. It’s the first place anyone, and most everyone, goes to understand who you are and what you do.
Arketi clients often ask us what features and functionality they should incorporate into their BtoB websites. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, we have pulled from our web development experience – plus some other sites that are “getting it right” – to create our top 10 must-haves for a buyer-centric BtoB site.
1. User-focused Marketing guru Seth Godin encourages marketers to ask themselves, “Why do you have a website? What’s your goal? In other words, when it’s working great, what specific outcomes will occur?” People come to your site to accomplish something, so it should be built such that they can complete that task quickly and easily. An informal survey of site visitors, and some brainstorming, can generate a good list of possible user objectives.
2. Great content = good SEO In the BtoB space especially, strong, fresh, relevant content is key to keeping prospects engaged and moving through the sales cycle. On the one hand, great website content boosts your search performance, which helps bring in new prospects. On the other, regularly renewed content gives those same visitors a reason to keep coming back.
3. Useful, sharable information Offer valuable information and encourage visitors to spread the word by making it easy for them to do so. And we’re not just talking white papers – in fact, there’s evidence of “white paper fatigue” in some BtoB markets – so consider adding other content types to the mix: videos, demos, ROI calculators, surveys, product trials, and interesting blog posts.
4. Content management system A CMS empowers the marketing team to make updates without having to involve IT or an outside web firm. If making changes is too difficult, time-consuming or expensive, the website won’t be kept as fresh and relevant as it should be.
5. Analytics We know you have Google Analytics installed, but that only has value if you look at the analytics and make adjustments accordingly. Part of the problem is, you can slice the data so many different ways, it’s hard to know what to look for. Our suggestion: pick five metrics that matter and focus only on those. (See our webinar Does Your Marketing Measurement Map To What Matters?)
6. Marketing automation system In BtoB, where sales cycles can be long and multiple players contribute to the buying decision, keeping track of prospects – who’s visiting and what they’re looking at – is valuable information. Integrating a marketing automation system with your website gives you this visibility and more, helping you nurture prospects’ interest in your product and close more business.
7. Responsive web design A hot topic these days, responsive design means, at its simplest, a site that looks good and adapts to the visitor’s device, be it a laptop, tablet or phone. At a more complex level, responsive design means a site that remembers who you are, learns what you like, and serves up content accordingly. That may sound ambitious today, but it’s a trend worth watching for the future.
8. Home page as landing page Speaking of trends: notice how some home pages these days have big images, big headlines, and short copy in a big font? The theory is, everyone’s skimming, so you should grab attention with a single, easy-to-grasp call-to-action that engages the visitor immediately – take a trial, watch this video. A related trend is the long home page that scrolls on and on… and on… Scrolling is easier and faster than waiting for a new page to load, especially on a mobile device.
9. Infographics These sophisticated diagrams are a great way to present complex information in a simple and visually appealing way. Plus, infographics are highly sharable – which ties back to our third must-have.
10. Blog On many sites we know, blog posts get read more than most static content pages, which stands to reason since regular posting keeps the content timely and relevant. By involving multiple authors from across your company – not just the marketing team – you can showcase the breadth and depth of your expertise.
Our last thought is this: if your website isn’t converting visitors to leads, then what exactly is it for? Incorporating some, or all, of our must-haves for a buyer-centric BtoB site, will engage more prospects, encourage them to identify themselves, and enable you to foster relationships – which will ultimately lead to more sales.