Are you expecting too much of your B2B website? The complaints about websites are endless. A lot of them center on what the website is doing wrong or what it could be doing better. In my experience, a lot of the angst directed towards our online HQs is misdirected. Let me explain.
Your B2B website is an opportunity to leverage your search engine rankings and content marketing initiatives into long-term relationships with your customers. Too often sales teams and business owners expect their website to be doing everything from generating leads to closing business. What you really want is to get readers off your website and dealing with you directly.
Email subscription forms
The obvious place to start is with a subscription feature on your website and with opt-in pop-up boxes. Once you have an email address, you have permission to market to these people directly using email newsletters. Since one of the top goals for content marketing is to build an audience of loyal subscribers, improving conversion rates is a worthwhile pursuit.
Without doubt, the less information you ask your visitors to give you, the more likely they are to sign up to your list. When you’re trying to build your email database for marketing, the only required field should be the email address. You can try for a first and last name but the fewer boxes on the form, the better for conversion.
The same wisdom holds true for contact forms – the shorter the better. Your Contact page might be a great place to collect leads but you don’t want to rely totally on a form. Make sure you have your phone number and an email address for those people opposed to filling out a form or not wanting to wait for a reply. If they’re ready to make a decision – especially a purchasing decision – the last thing you want to do is slow them down for the sake of metrics.
One size does not fit all
If your goal is to generate leads for your sales team, you’ll need a different form. This can be on your Contact page or a separate landing page for a specific product or service. There are a few things to keep in mind.
Ensure you’re only collecting the information you need. Your sales staff may expect you to provide fully qualified leads but that’s not the job of the website – that’s a job for people. Name, email address or phone number should be enough to go on. Ask for any more information, and your website visitor has to decide how much privacy they want to give away for an online inquiry. Add an optional comments box if you need help sifting through volume.
Quality content leads to quality leads
If your sales team is insisting on higher-quality leads, you’re going to have to enter into a trade with your readers. They’re much more likely to divulge more information about themselves if they’re getting something in return. Put a white paper, original research or a toolkit behind an online gate for a better chance of high-quality leads. This is the work of a landing page, not a generic form on your home page.
I’m all for Frequently Asked Questions, but you can tear your hair out trying to anticipate every question a potential customer might have. An FAQ page is not meant to be the definitive guidebook for your company. It’s a place where you can address questions that are asked over and over again. If your company insists on using the website as a barrier between your staff and potential clients, a live chat feature might be a better idea.
Don’t expect your website to sell for you
A B2B website is not a Swiss Army Knife, especially if it doesn’t have an ecommerce component. It can be a first point of contact for your customers – a place for you to collect leads and build your marketing database. Don’t expect it to do everything for you. It’s there as an assistant, not as a replacement for a switchboard, customer support, sales and marketing.
I’d love to hear about the challenges you’re having with your website. Are you being realistic about what it can achieve? Get in touch or tweet us up at @lush_digital. Like what you’ve read? Sign up to the Lush newsletter for fortnightly advice to help you market your business better, tips from our video production gurus, and a podcast or two from our favourite podcasting team, Brand Newsroom. In the meantime, you might enjoy these:
Michele Linn on the 2017 CMI B2B Trends Report [podcast with show notes]