B2B is a broad term. For this post, we are talking about B2B in the context of professional services (legal, financial, accounting, architectural, etc.) rather than hard goods, manufacturing or transportation.
An effective B2B website:
- Generates leads
- Reinforces credibility (or, more broadly, your "brand")
- Or does both
To generate leads on your website, you need to attract visitors, then capture their information.
You can either buy visits to your website or get them through search or referral. Mostly, there are the following channels:
Direct: they know your website address and go there (your mom, responses to direct mail)
Organic search: content on your website comes up in a search, and someone clicks on it (probably not your mom, generally the result of explicit content marketing)
Referral: there is a link to your website on another site (professional organization, comment, guest post, etc.)
Paid: you buy a link to your website (PPC (pay per click)/Google Ad (formerly, "Adword"), banner ad, etc.)
Social: you post something on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn, YouTube with a link back to your website.
Once someone gets to your website, you need to capture their information. Without that, the point is moot. In broad terms, these are the mechanisms to capture lead information:
Signup (newsletter, direct service, etc.)
Gated content (offer something of value: whitepaper, report, etc. in exchange for name/email/phone)
Giveaway (think: free consultation)
There are two basic parts to building brand credibility, and they go hand-in-hand.
Your brand tells visitors what your company is and, more importantly, what it stands for. Being clear about messaging reinforces credibility because there is not a cognitive disconnect. If you're totally awesome, but your messaging is wishy-washy, guess what? To your online visitor, you're not awesome, you're wishy-washy.
Get it together. Take a stand. Put it out there. (Any cliche we missed there?)
Simply put, your brand is the promise you make to your customers, and the service you provide is the fulfillment of that promise. If your brand is clear and authentic on your website, that will come across and help to reinforce your company's credibility.
For a more in-depth look into this, please see our ten-part series, “Align your Marketing Strategy and Business Goals Series.”
The second part of credibility is look/feel—or more broadly, design and usability—more recently called customer experience.
It may sound shallow, but looks matter, especially online. If you want people to take your brand seriously, you've got to make sure the visual, experiential and narrative portions of your website properly intersect. You've got to look good with a skip in your step—like you just bought a brand new pair of shoes.
In case that's been a while (or you don't resonate with the whole shoe thing), take a look at websites that you admire and start keying into the clean and logical layout, fonts and colors that work well together, imagery that supports the message, clear and simple navigation, speed and ease of use, etc. Notice how each part works to complement the other.
Your goal is for a referral to say: "Yeah, they look great (professional, solid, experienced—whatever your buzzword is). I'm so glad John gave me their name" rather than "Wow, these guys are a mess, what was John thinking?"
Check out our post: Is Good Web Design That Important? (Hint: Yes - and the stats are fascinating.)
So, does your website generate leads and/or reinforce credibility? If not, we can help. Give us a call today for a free consultation (see what we did there? ;)
Thanks and be well,
~Your Friendly Animus Rex Team