August 8th, 2018

What Do B2B Companies Need from Their Websites?

Author: Laura Lynch
Laura Lynch
Director of Marketing

An effective B2B website doesn’t just generate leads; it reinforces your brand.

One of the most basic distinctions in businesses is between those organizations that market to the end consumer (B2C), and those that market to other businesses (B2B). We’re all familiar with B2C marketing campaigns, because they’re usually directed at us. But for businesses trying to reach other businesses, the marketing and sales process is usually a bit more complicated.

The good news is that a purpose-built B2B website can be the best wingman a business could ask for. Not only can a B2B website draw in leads, it also reinforces messaging from sales meetings and networking events. And as a resource your visitors can access at any hour of any day from any part of the world, it can do more to represent your brand than any other sales or marketing strategy.

This is especially crucial for B2B businesses, because they usually operate on a longer sales cycle than their B2C counterparts, and the deals they land are of much higher value. Visitors who are considering a multi-year contract worth millions of dollars are going to take a long longer to reach a decision, and they will need a lot more information along the way.

B2B service organizations and technical companies that specialize in manufacturing or engineering have an additional reason to invest in a sales-oriented website: much of their competition is behind the curve. As such, B2B companies that make the move now to improve the brand messaging on their website and implement a digital marketing strategy can gain an edge over their competition.

The effectiveness and efficiency of a purpose-built B2B website is too powerful to be overlooked for much longer. If you want to position your business ahead of the competition while the opportunity is still open, here’s how to start.

Who are you visitors, and what do they need from your website?

Begin with your audience. Without a customer in mind, it’s easy for a website to become generic—a glorified business card with little more than contact information and some bland marketing copy. However, if you start thinking about what the customers coming to your website might want to find, suddenly your website has a purpose.

For instance, let’s say your business sells a product that helps businesses with their supply chain management. You can start by establishing some basic information about your business and your services. But, to truly convince your visitors, you’ll need to go deeper. How do you help businesses with their supply chain management? What makes your solution more effective than others on the market? What are common problems that businesses have in this area, and how do you help them address these issues, improve customer relations, and save money?

Most businesses know these questions and answers by heart. After all, they’ve spent years crafting the perfect sales pitch to prospects, speaking at conferences, and studying the ins and outs of their industry to better improve their products and services. And yet, these insights often don’t make it onto their websites, or when they do, it’s only in an abbreviated form.

This is a tremendous missed opportunity.

When B2B companies use their websites effectively, they accomplish two important sales goals: they generate new leads from visitors who come to the website cold, and they bolster their brand message to prospects who have already heard of their business. Deep content and consistent messaging is essential to both these goals.

Lead Generation: How your website turns visitors into sales.

First, let’s look at the lead generation aspect of a website. Even if someone has never heard of your company, they can still discover your website through online search, in response to an advertisement, or by following a referral link. If this is their first encounter with your business, they are “cold” leads, meaning they know virtually nothing about your business and it is your website’s job to educate them.

Lead generation is one of the primary sales benefits of a B2B website. To generate sales through your website, you need to grow more traffic, and you need to do more with the traffic already on your site.

The first you can handle through various advertising and marketing tactics. However, while this will grow the traffic to your site (which will probably result in more sales), if you aren’t giving those visitors a reason to stay on your site, you’re missing half the equation. A few hundred words of copy spread out over several pages won’t be enough to retain visitor interest.

On the other hand, if you’ve developed enough deep content on your site to keep a new visitor reading, by the time they contact your company for a sales meeting they’ll be further down the sales pipeline and closer to making a purchase.

Brand Reinforcement: How to back up your sales strategy with consistent messaging.

As we said, the other main purpose of a B2B website is for brand reinforcement. Many B2B businesses primarily sales through personal connections, networking, and word of mouth. They go to events and conferences, pass out business cards, and follow-up with potential leads. What they may not consider is that those sales prospects don’t just use business cards to find contact information—they also look up the company’s website to see how their online messaging lines up with their in-person experience.

This is where a poor website can let a B2B company down. Your in-person presentation may be polished, but if your website looks dated and unprofessional, it could leave prospects questioning whether your business is as solid as it seems.

More importantly, visitors who have come to your website from a referral or an in-person meeting are well-qualified prospects. They’re looking for more than basic top-level information. Instead, they want deep content that responds to their hesitations and assures them that they’re on the right track.

In short, a B2B website full of rich content establishes that business as an industry leader. It provides visitors with a reason to return, all while demonstrating your expertise.

Your visitors want to be convinced. Let your website do it for you.

Motivate your visitors to spend more time on your site, and your content will sell your business for you. Someone who has engaged with your site content for half an hour, reading your articles and downloading your materials, is looking for reasons to do business with you. They’re not dodging your sales call or politely pocketing your business card only to forget about it later. Instead, they’re learning more about you, considering your content, and indulging their interest.

When your website becomes the definitive information source on your industry and your company, it cements your brand and reputation. For B2B businesses, especially those in technical fields such as engineering or manufacturing, that hold on expertise creates an invaluable market advantage.

So, if you’ve traditionally over-relied on networking and word-of-mouth referrals for your sales leads, maybe it’s time to add a new sales strategy to the mix. The Internet is a huge audience. Why not let your website do the talking.

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