In today’s world, clunky digital experiences can be frustrating…and costly. In fact, 88% of B2B buyers would turn to a competitor’s website if their suppliers’ digital channels couldn’t keep up. Customers are demanding a stellar B2B digital experience which means companies can’t focus on only one element of the website. All aspects have to work in concert with each other to provide a unique experience that also meets buyers’ needs.
Whether you’re just getting started on building a B2B website or you’re in the process of revamping your current one, you’ll need to take into account design, functionality, personalization, and accessibility, and make sure the entire user experience is seamless from start to finish. All of that may seem overwhelming, so here’s a simple breakdown to get you started.
Step #1: Do Your Research.
If you don’t have a pre-existing website, leverage customer data to determine key capabilities and information for your site. If you don’t have the time or resources to collect or analyze this data, start with common pain points from this year’s B2B Buyer survey:
- Lack of product information (52%)
- Difficulty comparing products and pricing (57%)
- Understanding product specifications and configurations (59%)
- Understanding how products would fit their business (43%)
Once you know what’s most important to your customers, start researching what resources you will need to create a website that is personalized to your buyers’ needs. What tools do you need to learn more about? Should you hire an external team to fill capability gaps?
If you are already using a website, take a deep dive into your analytics. Which pages have the highest bounce rate? Where can you optimize the experience? Are there any technical issues that need to be resolved? Let the analytics inform your understanding of customers’ digital experiences. If you have difficulty pulling actionable insights from your data to drive digital strategy, check out our beginner’s guide to digital intelligence here.
Make sure you look at your competitors’ sites to see what’s working in your industry. Will your website be clearly differentiated from others? What elements do you think really improve the user experience?
Step #2: Strategize.
Build out your strategy, and make sure it aligns to your goals. What will your website achieve? How can you make your voice and company purpose clear? How can you provide all the answers customers want in the way they want them? Be as clear and concise as possible while staying on-brand.
You should also have a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy baked into the bigger picture. Even the best designed websites won’t see much traffic if they aren’t search engine-friendly. This typically means including industry keywords in your website copy, having metadata and meta descriptions, and making sure there are no barriers to site crawlers on your website.
If your goal is to provide a platform for customers to make purchases, you’ll need to build and integrate a commerce strategy into your larger website strategy. It’s not as simple as having commerce abilities. You need to have elements on your website that point visitors to the commerce portal. Including commerce in content, buttons, and on the main header are just a few easy ways to draw visitors to make a purchase.
Your commerce strategy should also include how to get the most relevant and accurate product information in front of consumers to minimize friction in the buying process. This is crucial to launching a successful B2B commerce portal, since 59% of B2B buyers have difficulty understanding product specifications and configurations. Providing quality product information makes it simpler for buyers to understand how a product fits their business needs and increases purchasing confidence.
Step #3: Build an Actionable Plan.
Once you’ve ironed out your strategy, it’s time to build an effective roadmap to help with planning. Combine your research findings, strategy goals, SEO features and commerce needs to create a sitemap. Take into account user experience to decide which pages will live in which area of the site.
In the B2B space, effective site planning usually means simplifying when possible. Thin out unnecessary content while making sure there’s information for every step of the purchasing journey and a commerce page to generate revenue. The easiest way to convert website visitors to buyers is to meet them where they are, in this case on the website.
For example, buyers typically land on a homepage first, then travel to the product section to learn more about what they will buy. After that they may jump to reviews or case studies, then to the contact page or purchase page, depending on if the business is a product or service business. Do you have a destination for each of those points?
This is also where navigation comes in. How will your visitors be able to navigate from page to page? Will there be a search bar? Will there be a header navigation? Think through their experience and make it as easy as possible for them to convert.
Step #4: Keep Your Eyes on Design.
The first step in designing your website is to create wireframes with copy. These will help to visualize the customer journey and see where clarification may be needed. Wireframing saves time compared to fully designing and creating each page of the website without information and layouts being finalized.
Pay special attention to the homepage. For most visitors, the homepage will determine whether they stay on the website or bounce. Effective homepages clearly communicate your business’s competitive advantage.
For the ecommerce section of your website, make sure your product information is presented efficiently and customers can easily see where they can place an order. The products should be displayed clearly and portal navigation should be user-friendly.
Having a shiny new website is great, but great design also needs to be balanced with functionality. Even the most beautiful websites won’t get you very far if they don’t function well for the customer. Plus, low-functioning websites are deprioritized in terms of SEO.
Step #5: Optimize. Optimize. Optimize.
Making sure your website is optimized for search engines is important so people can find your website. But it’s equally important to optimize your website for conversions. This means having more than one opportunity to turn a website visitor into a lead.
You should have more than one spot for visitors to contact you. Think strategically about where those spots can be and offer something in return for their efforts. Rather than “contact us”, try “book a consultation” or “schedule a free demo.” Framing the call-to-action that way suggests there’s an incentive to give their contact information.
Website optimization isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it practice. Schedule recurring deep dives into website analytics to identify where or why customers aren’t following through with purchases. Mitigate any issues you’ve found to increase revenue.
Step #6: Launch Fast, Then Iterate Over Time.
Building a website is a massive undertaking. Rather than thinking in terms of everything that needs to be done and getting overwhelmed by how far away the launch date is, you may want to consider breaking the process up into smaller due dates to keep your momentum going. Instead of seeing a launch date six months away, why not look at step one’s due date three weeks down the line and work to achieve that? We’ve helped our clients get the results they dreamed of by adopting an agile approach.
Now that you’ve followed the steps to create a good B2B website, you need to evaluate its effectiveness. For most B2B companies, this boils down to one question: Is the website generating leads? If the answer is yes, fantastic! If not, look critically at the areas of your website that may need some attention. Use the data to understand where customer pain points are.
Remember, no launch is ever perfect. Minor issues are inevitable. Your goal should be to get a website launched quickly and go back to tweak any technical challenges that arise after the fact. Your business will see much better results that way compared to hiding a website until it’s “perfect”.
If you need help with your B2B digital strategy, our team of experts is here for you. From digital strategy and UI/UX design, to customized solutions with Salesforce and Adobe technologies, we can help your company maximize digital delivery and efficiency.