We all know the COVID-19 pandemic made business-as-usual very unusual. It also made a lasting impact on how your customers want to conduct business. Increasingly, B2B buyers are going online to make business purchases at an unprecedented rate and companies with a results-focused website and online marketing strategy can reap great rewards.
HubSpot, a B2B marketing automation platform, aggregates data from its customer base of more than 100,000 companies to understand how business metrics have shifted as businesses grappled with the impact of COVID-19. According to HubSpot, when COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic in March 2020, B2B website traffic took off and continues to climb month by month — currently 83% higher than pre-COVID traffic.
As B2B buyers move their purchasing online, businesses with an established online presence have a competitive advantage. Is your company ready for this surge in online business? To assess your situation and learn the key drivers of a B2B website that grows sales, consider the following questions to see if your website is “open for business.”
1. Is it Customer-focused?
All too often, B2B companies do not design their website for their customers. Rather, they take an egocentric approach, more interested in talking about themselves than showcasing the information their customers are seeking. If your website does not serve your customers, it is not serving you, either. To be successful, your B2B website must:
Provide useful and relevant information based on customer needs. Make sure your content explains how your offering solves your customers’ problems, the benefits they will receive, and why they should purchase from you.
Educate and build trust. Offer educational blog posts, guides, videos, case studies and other content that helps convince a visitor to do business with you.
Make it easy for customers to do business with you. Your customer-focused website should encourage prospects to order online or express their interest in doing business through well-displayed calls-to-action.
Offer a mobile-ready and user-friendly experience. According to Google, 61% of people are unlikely to return to a mobile site they have trouble with, so make sure your website is easy to navigate on desktop, phone and tablet.
2. Is it Sales-focused?
If you think of your website just as a marketing tool, you are leaving money on the table. To build business these days, you need to think of your website as a sales tool — better yet, think of it as your best salesperson. According to Lead Forensics, 94% of the buyer’s journey occurs online before they speak to a sales rep, so it’s important for your website to serve that vital sales role. Your website’s content needs to answer the key questions your salespeople normally answer in the sales process, including:
What are you selling? Prospects should be able to immediately know what products and services you are offering through your use of copy and images.
Why should they care about your offering? Your website needs to communicate your value proposition and why prospects should be interested in your offering and want to do business with you.
What differentiates you from the competition? Your site must tell your company’s unique story about your history, team members, values, approach to serving customers and so on.
Who else is working with you? Validate why customers should work with you by showcasing customer testimonials, case studies and endorsements from industry influencers.
In addition, your salespeople should be trained on how they can leverage the website’s content and features to enhance their own direct sales process. Your sales reps need to view your website as their most valuable resource and not a threat to their commission.
3. Is it Search-focused?
According to MarketingSherpa, in 80% of B2B transactions today, the customer finds the supplier — not the other way around. And, to perform this search, buyers are largely turning to Google, so it is extremely important your site is optimized for search engines to ensure it is a money-maker.
The good news is that making your site appealing to Google is in line with your customer focus. Google wants you to provide value to your customers. If you are doing a great job creating valuable content for customers, you just have to use the right keyword phrases and group your content into topic-based clusters to help Google understand your expertise. Other factors that Google considers include:
Customer engagement. Google looks at how visitors are interacting and engaging with your site’s content as a strong indicator of whether they should send other like-minded customers to you.
Freshness of your content. Google wants to see that you are regularly producing relevant and valuable content for your website.
Technical SEO. Google needs to be able to find and crawl your website and wants to ensure visitors are having a positive experience regardless of the device they are using.
Links and off-page SEO. Optimizing for off-site ranking factors is accomplished by getting reputable third-party websites to link or promote your website and its value.
4. Is it Conversion-focused?
As a B2B company, the overall goal of your website is to drive revenue and profits. To accomplish this, your site needs to be strategically optimized to convert anonymous visitors into leads and customers. Every page of your website should have a clear goal to move customers to the next step in their buyer’s journey with you. If you have not mapped out the conversion goal for each page, you are leaving the action up to chance.
You can ensure your website is lead and sales generating machine by taking the following actions:
Make your lead generation forms short and simple. Resist the urge to qualify prospects with your forms. Just ask for basic information a salesperson needs to make an intelligent follow-up.
Shorten your checkout process. If you sell products online, take a close look at your checkout process to simplify and shorten the steps a customer needs to take to complete the sale.
Make your phone number obvious. Don’t make customers hunt for your number. Make your phone number one of the prominent calls to action on every page.
Leverage online chat and messenger bots. These instant messaging tools allow your customers to speak directly with a salesperson the moment they are ready.
5. Is it Results-focused?
Don’t rely on subjective measures or gut feel when tracking your website’s performance. Define your success measures based on the goals you want the site to achieve. Then, identify specific, measurable performance criteria you can easily track to measure success.
The following actions will help you keep score of your success:
Implement a web analytics system. Web analytic tools, such as Google Analytics, allow you to measure how well your website and marketing are working toward achieving your business goals. This report set will show which marketing activities are generating traffic, what content they are engaging with and which ‘calls to action’ are generating the most leads and sales.
Leverage a call conversion tracking system. Call tracking tools, such as CallRail, help you see how effectively your online marketing campaigns lead to inbound phone calls from your website.
It is certainly true that the pandemic created a challenging climate for B2B companies. However, by embracing these ideas to create a website that attracts sales, your company will be in a position to succeed now, as well as in the pandemic-free future.
Bob DeStefano is a B2B digital marketing strategist, author and professional speaker.