The Ultimate Guide to High-Performance B2B Websites
Let’s say you’re searching the web, looking for a company that will meet your business needs. You land on one particular B2B website and notice that it’s well designed.
It’s sleek, modern, and feels like it was designed by someone who knew what they were doing. Clearly, it wasn’t put together by a guy in his basement who likes to tinker with websites on the weekend.
There’s just one problem. One big, thorny, dire problem.
There’s nothing on the website that demonstrates that they are able to solve your particular problems. No answers to your most critical questions. No insightful content on their blog. No social proof or glowing testimonials. No client stories. No differentiation. No compelling reason to engage further with the company.
The site design is good. The rest is just…meh.
And so you go back to Google, trying to find a business that clearly can solve your problems.
Here’s the hard truth: when it comes to B2B websites, good design isn’t enough.
Unfortunately, slick graphics, a cool layout, and a modern font won’t win you many customers. If you want to really move the needle for your business and maximize your ROI, everything about your site has to be outstanding. The design should be stunning, but so should everything else about the site!
In this post, we’re going to break down exactly what you need in order to create a truly amazing, high-performing, move-the-needle, game-changing, take-no-prisoners, lead-generating B2B website.
Grab a cup of joe, because we have a lot of success secrets to tell you. Ready? Let’s get started.
Factor #1: Define Your Website Goals
First and foremost, you need to define the goals of your website. After all, if you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish and haven’t defined a timeframe within which to hit your numbers, you won’t know if your website is successful.
What does your website need to achieve in order to impact the performance of your business? Are you trying to generate leads? Establish your executives as thought leaders in the industry? Drive engagement? Increase event registrations? Differentiate your brand in a crowded marketplace?
How will you measure the overall success of your website? What are your KPIs and how frequently will you review your success metrics? Who will be held accountable for meeting your goals?
We meet new prospects all the time, and what surprises us is the number of companies without a definition of success for their website. When we ask what the website would need to produce in the subsequent 12 months in order for the website to be declared a business success, we are often met with blank stares or vague, noncommittal responses (e.g., more traffic, more leads).
You should understand your goals and define them clearly if you’re going to build an effective B2B website. You must know what you’re trying to achieve so that you can develop specific strategies and underlying measurable process goals.
Factor #2: Make It Clear They’re In The Right Place
Imagine someone opening a restaurant but not making it clear what type of food they served. Wild, right? Unfortunately, that’s what many businesses do when it comes to their websites. It’s not clear from the outset who they serve.
When a visitor lands on your site, is it abundantly clear that your company is a perfect match for their business? Some businesses serve Fortune 500 companies, others serve midsized companies, while still others serve startups. Some specialize in specific industries, while others focus on specific geographic regions.
Does your website make it crystal clear who you serve and how you serve them? From the moment your ideal client lands on your home page, they should know that you’re the perfect match for them.
For example, on the Vi3 Global website, we wanted visitors to know immediately they were in the right place if they were a business searching for real-time data intelligence solutions for their products. The headline and subhead at the top of the home page we crafted does just that.
You can take it even further by creating audience segment-based content for your site visitors. Asana does this by having site visitors self-segment themselves and select an area of the company in which they would make use of Asana. For example, Marketing, Sales, HR, IT, Design, Product, Finance, Engineering and more.
From there, they are taken to fully customized pages of the site specifically targeting the segment, enveloping them with messaging, videos, social proof, and templates they would find to be relevant.
Factor #3: Understand The Customer Journey
In order to create an effective B2B website, you must understand how potential customers ended up on your site. In other words, you need to know the customer journey.
Psychologist Alfred Yarbus conducted a study in which participants were asked to look at paintings. Yarbus would ask the participants a question about the painting and then track the movement of their eyes.
He discovered that the participants scanned different parts of the painting based on the questions they were asked. For example, if they were asked to determine the ages of the people in the paintings, they would look at the faces. If they were asked about the wealth of those in the painting, they would look at the clothing and furniture instead.
The lesson? Our brains are wired to find solutions to the very specific questions running through our minds.
Your potential clients are coming to your website with preconceived questions that they want to have answered. Do you know what questions they’re asking? Is your site clearly answering those questions from the moment someone arrives?
If not, the odds are high that they’ll exit your site and find another one that does answer their questions.
Factor #4: Capture The Voice of The Customer
The Voice of the Customer (VoC) is the language your potential customers use to articulate their problems and struggles and pain points. If you want your B2B website to resonate with potential customers, it’s essential that you speak their language. That you directly address their pain points using the same words and phrases they use.
So, how do you capture the VoC? Consider using tools such as surveys, online chat, or interactive elements. You want to give potential customers many opportunities to communicate with you. Give them a chance to tell you what they’re seeking and whether they’re finding it on your site.
For example, Stratabeat has more than 10 unique surveys running on our website currently. If a post is about website design, then the survey questions are specific to website design. If the post is about SEO, then the questions focus on SEO. If the post is about behavioral intelligence, then the survey is centered on that.
In implementing so many surveys, we’re able to capture VoC on a consistent basis. By customizing each and every survey so that it’s contextually relevant to the page, we’re asking relevant questions for each site visitor respectively.
Another example of VoC capture is the Workbar website. On it, there’s a live chat function so potential customers can tell the company exactly what they’re looking for. This allows Workbar to capture the VoC on the spot, precisely when they are in decision-making mode.
Factor #5: Use Customer-Driven Messaging
You could talk all day about the history of your company, but is that really what your audience wants to hear? Probably not. As much as you like talking about your start in 1975 in a garage in Palo Alto, your audience probably doesn’t care much about that. They want answers and solutions.
Your goal is to discover the pain points of your audience and create hypertargeted messaging that gives your audience true value and killer solutions. When your B2B site can speak directly to the struggles of your audience, you stand a much better chance of converting them into leads and eventually paying customers.
For the Provenir website, Stratabeat spent more than eight hours listening to customer interviews, organizing themes of the feedback, and formulating messaging based on what the customers were saying and what they cared about most. The result was hypertargeted messaging that came directly from the mouths of actual clients.
Factor #6: Clarify Your Differentiation
The saying, “Differentiate or die,” is true when it comes to designing your website. Your audience has an abundance of choices. If they are looking for a management consultant, they can choose from thousands. If they are looking for a new accounting firm, they can have their pick from a seemingly endless list. If they are looking for new CRM software, there are more than a dozen good options. And if they want solutions your brand offers, they can choose you or your competitors.
If you’re not different (and better) in specific areas, you give them little reason to choose your brand over any other.
- Do you know what separates you from your competitors?
- Can you clearly articulate why your solution is the most effective?
- Does your brand have a special focus area, such as a specific geography or audience segment or market niche that you can point to?
When you know the answers to these questions, you can craft your website so that it highlights your differentiators and compels them to WANT to do business with you.
Take a peek at the Looker website. The company dedicates an entire page solely to walk the site visitor through the many ways its data analytics solution is different from others in the market. This type of direct comparison can be very compelling to someone at the bottom of the funnel trying to make a final purchase decision.
Head-Turning, Jaw-Dropping B2B Websites
Ready to differentiate yourself from the competition? Let’s Talk!
Factor #7: Evoke An Emotional Response
Numerous studies have shown that people must feel emotions in order to make decisions. In other words, if there is no emotion, then there is no motion. Without feeling, people simply won’t decide.
Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio has studied people with damage to the part of the brain that triggers emotion. These individuals who can’t feel emotions have an incredibly difficult time making even the simplest decisions, such as what clothes to wear on a given day.
The implication for your B2B website? It needs to evoke an emotional response in visitors if you want them to engage with you and become paying clients. Your site should delight visitors, creating unexpected emotions in them.
Check out the Virtual home page, and see how instead of writing merely about the company’s services (as some competitors do), we focused on evoking an emotional response from site visitors. The effect is powerful, and puts site visitors in a state of mind for engagement with the brand.
If your site is bland and boring, it probably won’t trigger any emotional response and potential customers will likely go elsewhere. If you instead evoke a strong, positive emotional response, you’ll tee up your website for greater success.
Factor #8: Build Trust
Trust precedes transactions, and before a person will do business with you, they must trust you. They need to know you truly can help them solve their stickiest problems and give answers to their most difficult questions. Your audience isn’t a person looking for a quick solution to a personal problem or trying to buy a new pair of shoes.
Your audience is businesses, and businesses, even more so than consumers, need proof that you’re trustworthy.
How are you building trust on your B2B website? Do you have testimonials sprinkled throughout your site? Have you been published in major news outlets? Do you have a library of successful case studies?
When designing your website, creating trust is absolutely essential.
For example, in the Stratabeat website, we immediately make it clear that our agency has won 19 web design awards in the past year. This builds trust immediately for any site visitor looking for website design services. Instead of Stratabeat trying to convince them that we’re pretty darn good at what we do, social proof does it 10X more powerfully.
In another example, we helped Provenir build trust with site visitors by showing customers they’ve worked with, featuring client testimonials and building a custom “Customers” page that is full of stories, testimonials, and more. This demonstrates that Provenir has a proven track record of success and can be trusted at every step of the journey.
Within the new Customers page, we included not just a few client logos, but 12 of them:
Factor #9: Create Quality Content
One particularly powerful way you can build trust and establish your expertise is by regularly providing high-quality content on your website. Blogs, infographics, whitepapers, videos, webinars, tutorials – all of these (when done well) provide real value to your audience. And if your audience loves your content and finds it helpful, they’re much more likely to believe that your product or service will do the same.
Additionally, high-quality content fuels your SEO engine. The more optimized content you publish, the more likely it is that you’ll show up in search engines and attract organic traffic. The more organic traffic you generate, the more leads you’ll generate. Content marketing is a tool that you can use to expand your audience and drive new visitors to your website.
Moz’s Whiteboard Fridays is a fantastic example of content marketing that drives lead generation. By providing high value to their audience, Moz is able to demonstrate both their own expertise and the value of their product.
Factor #10: Deploy Quality Website Design
If you landed on a website that had the exact service or product you wanted but their website was a horrific trainwreck, would you trust that brand? Probably not. But a well-designed B2B website that also has the exact service your business needs? You’d sign up faster than a Kardashian for a shopping trip.
Website design is the first thing that people notice when they land on your site, so it better be good. No, not just good. It better be AWESOME! If your site looks like it was designed in 1995 on a MySpace template, you’ll send potential customers running.
Your site also needs to be extremely user friendly. In other words, it should be easily accessible and navigable.
You may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but people will certainly judge your website based on the design. If you want a highly effective B2B website and leads growth, great design is absolutely essential.
See the following examples of B2B websites, where you land on the home page and cannot help but take notice of the stunning design.
Factor #11: Ensure Everything Is SEO Optimized
You may have the most beautiful website ever designed and the greatest content ever created, but it doesn’t matter if your site never shows up in searches.
Many businesses take the Field of Dreams approach to building their websites. They assume that if they build it, people will come. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. If you want to attract organic search traffic, you must optimize your overall website, individual pages, and the content you create.
The reality is that SEO is one of the most cost-effective ways to get a massive ROI from your B2B website. The more your site is optimized, the more you automatically attract organic traffic. And because this traffic often has buying intent behind it, it’s much easier to convert this traffic into leads (and eventually customers).
Stratabeat increased organic search traffic to the Virtual website by 107% within six months, to the Appfolio website by 123% within a year, and to the Provenir website by 86% within four months. Organic traffic matters! Make sure you apply the same seriousness to your SEO efforts as you do to your website design.
Factor #12: Build For Mobile
Have you ever pulled up a website on your mobile phone, only to discover that the font is tiny and unreadable? It’s a frustrating experience and almost always guarantees that you’ll never visit that site again.
More and more, web browsing and searching is happening on mobile phones as opposed to desktops/laptops. In fact, in 2018, 58% of searches (over half!) happen on mobile devices.
Additionally, Google now evaluates whether a site is mobile optimized when showing search results. Sites that aren’t optimized show up much lower (if at all) in the rankings.
If your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you’re missing out on a percentage of your audience.
Factor #13: Create A Lightning-Fast B2B Website
Your website needs to load fast. Really, really fast.
Why? Several reasons.
First, faster load times make for a much better user experience. The longer it takes your site to load, the more likely it is that visitors will become frustrated and bounce to another site. In fact, if your site takes longer than three seconds to load, you could lose up to half your visitors!
Second, conversion rates and page load time are directly correlated. The faster your site loads, the more likely it is that you’ll convert visitors to leads and leads to customers.
Finally, Google uses page speed as a ranking factor (it even has a patent for it), meaning that, all things equal, faster sites will rank higher in the search rankings.
The moral of the story? Your B2B website needs to load quickly if you want to keep and convert visitors.
Factor #14: Have Clear Conversion Funnels and Calls-To-Action (CTAs)
None of the above matters if you’re not clearly leading businesses through your funnel. After all, your goal is to convert visitors into customers. If your website isn’t designed to funnel visitors toward high-priority conversion events, then you’ve missed the boat altogether.
Clear CTAs are essential for making sure that visitors buy, sign up, register, download, submit, etc. Even something like your blog should have a clear role in your funnel. Your blog should be a lead generation engine.
An example of a B2B website with solid conversion funnels and CTAs is Decibel. You can easily schedule a demo at any time on the site. No matter which page you’re on, there are clear paths to engagement or conversion. Of course the home page has multiple options to drive you to the specific type of content you’re seeking, whether exploring the platform’s features and benefits, watching a client testimonial video leading to the full customer story, or booking a demo.
Then, on each respective page – Platform, Company, Resources, or Customer Success page, etc., – Decibel guides you to sign up for a demo. Or, depending on the page, you can also download special reports.
Even in the blog, you’re encouraged to enter your contact info to download the company’s ultimate guide to digital experience transformation, along with another opportunity to sign up for the company’s mailing list. Keep scrolling, and yes, you’ll have an opportunity to book a demo, as well.
Want more conversions? Be like Decibel.
Factor #15: Deploy Enterprise-Level Security
Now, more than ever, security matters for your B2B website. The last thing you can afford is to have some script-happy hackers deface your website or steal customer information.
Your infrastructure must be absolutely rock-solid, including secure hosting, firewalls, network intrusion testing, SSAE-18 examinations, disk-write limitations, malware monitoring, strong passwords, uptime monitoring, and much more.
Factor #16: Use IP Detection
IP detection allows you to determine which businesses visit your website, even if they never fill out a form.
Without IP detection, your site visitors are anonymous unless they fill out a contact form. With IP detection, you can determine which businesses are visiting your site and then reach out when the time is appropriate.
For example, let’s say that a particular business visits your site multiple times because they really like the content you’re creating. However, for whatever reason, they never fill out any sort of contact form. Using IP detection, you can see exactly what content they’ve consumed and then reach out with a carefully crafted pitch, tailored to their exact areas of interest and pain points.
Making use of IP detection is hands-down one of the most cost-effective ways to generate a significant return from your website.
Factor #17: Utilize Dynamic Content Personalization
According to Evergage, dynamic personalized content increases site visitor engagement by 55%, conversion rates by 51% and leads by 46%. Instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach to your website, look to segment the audience and then deliver personalized content accordingly. Use IP detection to recognize specific companies and individuals (where possible), and serve customized content to enhance and differentiate each visitor’s experience on your site. Take personalization further through behavior-based personalization, providing your site visitors with relevant next steps based on the actions they take on your site.
Factor #18: Conduct A/B Testing
Some elements of your B2B website will work better than others when it comes to capturing the attention of your visitors and converting them into leads.
Using A/B testing software, you can test different elements against each other to determine which ones generate the greatest results.
For example, you could test one lead magnet against another to see which one generates the most leads. Or you could test one headline against another and see which one keeps people most engaged. You can test different images, colors, CTAs – whatever you’d find valuable.
Once you’ve determined which elements work most effectively, you can optimize your website for greater conversions.
Factor #19: Deploy Behavioral Intelligence
Behavioral intelligence tools allow you to see the “digital body language” of your site visitors through heatmaps, scroll maps and click maps, and then respond appropriately. In other words, they enable you to see exactly how people are using your website and then adjust your website for maximum effectiveness.
For example, Mouseflow allows you to see exactly how people are progressing through your funnel across pages, or how they are behaving within a single page. You can also use the software to see how your site visitors are interacting with your site forms, and the causes of form abandonment.
Once you’ve seen how people are progressing through your funnel or using your website or interacting with your forms, you can then optimize the site to achieve a better user experience.
If you’re relying on only Google Analytics, you’ll have a hard time determining the user experience. Behavioral intelligence tools allow you to take things a step further and dig much deeper.
Decide Whether Your B2B Website is Going to Be a Game-Changer for Your Business or Not
Yes, it requires work to create a powerful, effective, interesting, emotion-provoking, lead generating B2B website. But the effort is well worth it.
You’ll attract significantly more visitors because every part of your site has been optimized for organic search.
You’ll wow them with your design and messaging.
You’ll convert a much higher percentage of those visitors because you’ve clearly defined your site goals, know what must be done in order to achieve them and continually improve the site based on A/B testing and behavioral intelligence insights.
And you’ll delight your existing customers and new visitors by constantly putting out a stream of highly valuable content that speaks directly to their pain points and struggles.
Your website has the potential to be one of your business’s greatest assets. It has the potential to be a game changer for your brand. Make a clear decision whether it’s going to be a strategic advantage for your business, and if so, decisively put a serious investment into it like you mean it.
The result? More traffic, more conversions, more leads, more clients, more revenue – what any B2B business aspires to!
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