A web presence is a non-negotiable part of doing business, but not all business websites are created the same. B2B websites reach a different audience than B2C sites, so they need a different design approach. Your B2B website design is speaking to a savvy audience who is looking for a trusted partner rather than a hard sell, and your site’s design will determine if you establish that trust or drive potential partners to your competitors. Understand our B2B web design success factors.
The fact is that your B2B website design is simply too important to get wrong. Here is what you need to know about making valuable connections via your B2B site presence.
B2B Web Design: Why It Matters
If you’re not convinced of the significance of your B2B website, consider a study conducted of 300 B2B companies. At 1.57%, their B2B sites were the second most powerful lead-to-close channel for their businesses, second only to referrals from employees and current customers. Approximately 94% of your potential B2B clients will research you online before they close a deal with you, even if they are already familiar with your company. They’re looking for testimonials, case studies, and other information of value that will establish your role as a thought leader in your industry.
Because B2B clients are looking for this kind of value, your B2B web design should focus on a consultative sales model. Visitors to your B2B site are looking for credibility and problem-solving. There is a longer sales cycle with B2B clients, and a consultative sales model embraces the reality that you may spend a year or longer building relationships with clients before closing a sale. Selling your credibility will lead to selling your services.
What you’re doing with a B2B website design that is built on a consultative model is making an investment in your long-term competitive advantage. Taking this approach allows you to build organic search engine ranking and establish your voice in your industry. You’ll be in the right position when it’s time to close deals—and climbing up the mountain of rankings when competitors in your industry have beaten you there is much more difficult than staking a claim to your standing as early as possible.
Taking this approach works, and the results can be dramatic. With over a decade of experience, we’ve seen B2B businesses experience 71% YoY growth using this strategy.
5 Best Practices for B2B Website Design
When you envision your B2B website, each element of your design should be built around the central idea of having a consultative model that adds value for your site visitors. These five best practices will get you there.
1. Develop a Professional Tone and Appearance
First impressions matter on a B2B website. Research indicates that 48% of users see your website as your number one source of credibility, and 88% of people won’t come back to your site if they don’t find the information they need or don’t find your site to be credible on the first visit.
For these reasons, putting a professional tone and appearance forward is a paramount concern. Remember, your B2B website is designed to enhance your credibility and establish your position as a knowledge leader in your field. There are several ways to do this, including publishing cases studies, testimonials, white papers, and by constantly increasing a database of information that solves problems for your potential partners.
Another important strategy that will help you develop your professional appearance is including bios of your team members on your site. Having bios and pictures of at least the key players in your business has been shown to be an effective way to build trust and connections. People like to do business with people—show who you are, and visitors to your site are more likely to respond.
2. Use Simple Navigation and a Simple User Interface
What matters most to people who visit your B2B website? Ease of navigation is the top concern for 76% of web users. If you make it difficult to find the information that visitors need, they won’t keep searching—instead, they’ll look to one of your competitors to do the job.
For B2B web design, the Pareto principle is a good starting point. This principle, also called the 80/20 rule, says that 20% of causes are responsible for 80% of events. From a web design standpoint, the 80/20 rule means that 80% of your visitors are looking for 20% of your content. That 20% of content should be easily and readily available through easy navigation. Your other content should branch off from that crucial 20%. Carefully tracking the behavior of your site’s visitors is the best way to identify this 20% of content—more on tracking and understanding your audience later.
Easy navigation is supported by clear calls to action. Calls to action—CTAs—tell your visitors what to do next. You may want to direct people to join a mailing list, contact your team, or follow you on social media. Spell it out, so your visitors know exactly how to keep accessing the content you have that matters to them.
3. Make Sure Your Content Attracts the Right Visitors
A B2B website is created for a very specific audience. Your content should attract potential business partners, not consumers, and this requires taking a very different approach than you would when creating content to drive consumer sales.
One significant difference between B2B content and consumer content is that technical jargon is OK on your B2B website. In fact, in the right format, it is encouraged. You should speak in the language of your industry when you are trying to connect with B2B partners, because it helps to further increase your credibility and demonstrate your knowledge. Getting technical also helps to ensure that the right visitors are attracted to your site.
There is one caveat when it comes to using technical jargon in your B2B website design. Try to keep your industry-speak buried in deeper content, such as white papers, blog posts, and downloadable content that site visitors reach outside your service pages to get, and that may generate leads. On service pages that visitors typically interact with first on your site, don’t overemphasize technical jargon, as it could make your site seem inaccessible.
Ensuring your content reaches the right audience requires a thoughtful content creation process. The first step is to identify who in your company has the knowledge. Frequently, you will find that the knowledge that you want to get across in content is held in the executive suite, which is not where the actual content is being created. As such, you need a method for getting that knowledge from the people who have it into your content and out to your site visitors.
Sometimes, this process could include interviewing executives about their specific areas of knowledge to get the data you need to create content. Once you have the data from the knowledge holders, use it to create a variety of different types of content, such as blog posts, downloadable content, webinars, white pages, and more. Packaging this knowledge in these ways supports your long-term goal of establishing a competitive advantage in your industry, and it also fits nicely into the problem-solving aspect of the consultative sales model you want for your B2B website design.
Whatever method you choose to create content, make sure it is a repeatable process that will allow your site to continue to evolve as you constantly increase your online presence and stake your claim as a credible thought leader in your field.
4. Leverage Your Valuable Resources to Capture Leads
When you create a site around a consultative sales model and problem solve for your visitors, you do still need a way to turn clicks into leads. A strong content creation process leads to valuable resources, and you should leverage them to get the leads you need your site to generate.
The first step in leveraging your resources is gating your content. Companies are notoriously hesitant to gate content, but it is a viable strategy for producing real leads for your business. If you have educational content that adds value or solves a problem, like a webinar, guide, or white paper, then it is OK to ask visitors to provide a first and last name, email address, and perhaps a company name to access it. Although some people may hesitate to provide that information to access gated content, legitimate leads typically will not. Most of the people who are turned off by gated content are not true leads for your business, and gating your content will make it more efficient for you to follow-up on leads, since you will be most likely contacting legitimate potential partners.
The next step is to amplify content on social media. We see tremendous success with LinkedIn, with up to a 20% return on lead generation. Other niche social media sites can be useful as well. Find the social media pages that potential B2B partners are using, and amplify your content there. Invite interaction and convert leads on that site, rather than forcing them to click through to you and jump through more hoops to connect.
As you watch the returns on your gated content and social media pages, you will gain valuable information that will help with another tool in leveraging your resources to capture leads: predictive marketing. Look at the profiles of the people who are signing up to access your gated content or interacting with you on other online platforms. What kinds of businesses are responding to your content, and what type of content are they responding to. As you go through the funnel of that information, you can predict similar users who may also be interested in your content and market directly to them. Monitor the results of your efforts to keep this process of predictive marketing going in order to drive lead generation.
This circular process of creating valuable content, using it to generate leads, and using those leads to predict potential future leads will ultimately shorten your B2B sales cycle while helping you grow your long-term competitive advantage.
5. Understand Your Audience and Make Continuous Improvements
The beauty of the digital age is that it is possible to gather so much useful data from visitors to your website that it can help you increase your business’ profitability. Take the time to exercise these data mining activities to continually improve your website, and therefore, your business.
A visitor survey is a fast and easy way to let your site users tell you what they are looking for. Ask them directly what problems they are trying to solve and what information they want to see, and then build content around those pain points to fulfill their needs. You can learn a significant amount of information through simple surveys and leverage it to continually refine the way you’re meeting the desires of your B2B website visitors.
When you see a potential for improvement on your site, try it out with split testing. Split testing will give you concrete information about the impact of changes you make for your site, so you can make adjustments that make your website better. Start with a hypothesis about a change you think will improve your site, test it through split testing, and mine the data to see what you can learn. This lean, data-driven cyclical process allows you to constantly be engaged in improving your B2B website design, boosting that long-term competitive advantage while deepening relationships and shortening your sales cycle.
B2B Website Design Questions Answered
Nuanced Media is an experienced partner in B2B website design. Our knowledgeable team is ready to answer your questions and work side-by-side to build an effective site for your company’s specific needs. Contact us today.