Is your website working hard for you…or is it constantly letting you down? Many clients come to us for help overhauling their B2B websites and, a lot of the time, they have similar complaints: “It’s ugly,” “It’s outdated,” “It’s too informational, and not interactive.” And most commonly: “I feel like it could be working harder for us.”
We like to remind clients that, when thinking about updating, refreshing or redoing their B2B site, making it look good is only part of the battle. What it does for them is just as important. So, if you’re thinking about a website redesign, keep these important factors in mind:
Identify who your customers are, and how they purchase from you.
Consider your customer’s journey when mapping out the navigation. What may be a logical order to you may not be logical to them. Also, consider who uses your site. Are they repeat customers, or mostly new orders? Frequent customers might know which product they want and how to order them, but a new customer will most likely be looking by application or service. Instead of just listing your products, consider how they are shopping – by application, by geography, etc. For example, we helped transform the Chembio navigation from a simple product listing to a menu, sorted by Human and Animal Diagnostics. It now helps new users quickly find what they are looking for.
Humanize your company.
When you give your customers a sense of the people behind your company and how they give back to the community, you give them a chance to connect with you on a personal level. Share more about your corporate philosophy and involvement in the community. Check out how Corning does it.
Consider building a mobile-optimized site.
Mobile websites are not just for consumers or teens. Expand your website offer into the mobile space. According to Google, greater than 25% of executives say they are using mobile devices to conduct research for business purchases of greater than $100,000 in value, and 41% of executives report making a business purchase of over $5,000 from mobile devices.
Deliver an experience that’s custom to your customer’s needs.
When you’re considering a mobile offer, treat it as a separate entity from your website. Not everything needs to be cloned from your website to your mobile app or mobile site. Think about how and when your customers might use your mobile site. Consider: “What is the product or service that I offer that they need right now?” And when you’re designing for mobile, there are some customization tricks you can spin for both your customers and your internal sales force. For instance, J.P. Morgan Funds gave iPad tablets to their 218 sales reps with a custom sales presentation app because “it provides you a level of lexicality, in terms of navigating versus using a browser, which makes it a much more effective presentation tool.”
Make it easy for your customers to connect with you however they choose.
Provide easy access to customer service, whether it’s through chat, phone, email, Facebook or Twitter. Your customers are busy; contacting you to buy your product should not be difficult, or else they will lose patience and go elsewhere. Draw them in with a variety of contact options. And make those options available on every page. It might not be until they are five pages deep that they choose to contact you. Make sure you have a clear call-to-action so they know exactly what you want them to do. Notice how GE keeps consistent navigation across the top of the page, and provides specific contact channels for each of their B2B categories.
Use your own, unique photography.
It might save time, but purchasing stock photography can make your website look very staged. You also run the risk of others in your category using the same photo. Everyone is using the same smiling doctor. Branch out.
Take it offline.
Now that you have a beautiful, easy-to-navigate site, consider how it works with the rest of your offer. It goes back to the basics of branding. Create consistency between collateral, print and Web for easy recognition.
If you consider these factors, your site will not only pull its weight, it will lighten your company’s workload.
Tell us what B2B websites you think are doing a good job in the comments section. Looking for further tips on B2B websites? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.