Marketing in the B2C (Business to Consumer) space is very different than marketing in the B2B (Business to Business) space. B2B marketing is unique for a lot of reasons. In the B2B market, the sales cycle tends to be longer, multiple decision makers are typically involved, the partnerships are often long-term, and the products or services carry a higher price tag than many B2C products and services.
Approaching B2B marketing the same way one would approach B2C marketing is a huge mistake. Organizations need a website and digital strategy geared towards their unique B2B customers. Read on to learn what common mistakes that marketers make when designing websites for a B2B firms.
Going for the Close Right Away
Traditional B2B industries covers a broad range of industries including, but not limited to: medical devices, recruiting services, manufacturing products and financial services. One of the few things most B2B industries have in common is a long sales cycle. These sales cycles tend to be 6 months or longer, often spanning to nearly a year.
A major mistake that marketers make in designing a B2B website is going for the close right away. Asking a prospect for their contact information before they’ve gotten the opportunity to learn more about the product and services a firm is a huge turn off. This is particularly true in our new age of information, where a person’s name and e-mail address are coveted. And generally, B2B companies aren’t offering low value widgets that a consumer can return if they decide they don’t like it. B2B products and services ten to have price points in the tens of thousand, and products and services that require a lot more thought and consideration before a commitment is made.
Instead of going for the close right away, a B2B website should tell a story, draw the prospect in, and educate him or her on why the firm’s products and services are of value to them. Calls-to-action should be clearly placed and encourage the website visitor to take the next step, such as Read Our Blog, Download Our White Paper, Learn More, etc. A well-designed B2B website nurtures a lead through the sales funnel, often over an extended period of time.
Lack of Helpful Information
A bare bones website works for a variety of B2C companies that offer a quick experience with a service or an inexpensive product. However, in the B2B space a bare bones website lacks credibility and the information a prospect needs to make a decision.
An all-too-common mistake we see with B2B websites is a lack of actionable or educational information about a company’s service or product offerings. Services and products in the B2B space have a tendency to be detailed, customized, and/or complicated. As such, prospects need as much information as possible to make a well-informed decision. Firms that are able to provide helpful information to prospects set themselves apart from their competition and establish themselves as a true resource and authority in their field.
We often see B2B firms who have a plethora of offline marketing materials but very few materials available online. Rather than keeping all these great, educational materials in only print format, we encourage B2B companies to digitize these materials by adding them as pages on the website, creating case studies online, writing blogs about how to use their products or services, or create other content marketing materials that can be housed on their website.
Content Isn’t Accessible
Accessibility. It has a lot of definitions, but for marketers and those of us in the B2B space, accessibility translates into whether or not out content is available and easy to comprehend for our intended audience. We live in the age of information where everything we want to know ia at our fingertips. To continue to compete in this landscape, it is important to have information that is easy to find and to understand. If you’re not saying it, someone else is, and that someone is likely taking your traffic.
Content For All Decision Makers
A pervasive issue on B2B websites is that content isn’t accessible for all of the decision makers. A firm’s main prospect may be an engineer, but the engineer may have to get the approval of a CTO or a CFO before moving forward with a deal. If all the content on the website is aimed at the engineer, the firm isn’t providing tools that make it easy for the engineer to convince the CTO or CFO that the products or services are necessary.
An alternative to creating content just for one client persona is to create content for each of the decision makers in the target organization. This sounds like a lot of extra work, but with the right planning, it’s quite simple to integrate into a website. For example, a CFO may be more interested in the financial costs and benefits of a particular service, whereas the engineer is likely interested in the technical aspects. Creating accessible content for the CFO, such as case studies or cost savings comparison sheets, and for the engineer, like spec sheets or technical guides, that are both hosted on the website worthwhile. While often overlooked, it’s an easy solution to effectively communicate with multiple decision makers.
Few Credibility Elements
In most industries, there are more than a few players. Competition can often be dense. However, most B2B firms have a unique value proposition that sets them apart from their competition. A firm may not be the cheapest or fastest, but there is a lot of value in being the most thorough or the best at something specific.
This issue is that they often don’t clearly communicate their value proposition clearly. Many B2B websites lack the credibility elements that build their case for the value they offer and why prospects should trust them. Long-term partnerships are founded on trust, respect, and added value. In the B2B space, this is true for almost all partnerships. As such, a B2B website and digital presence absolutely must engender trust and build confidence in a firm’s products or services.
There are so many ways to build credibility with a website. Instead of a firm saying they are better, faster, or more compliant, they should try showing they are better, faster, or more compliant. This can be done through client testimonials, industry awards, before and after demonstrations, a portfolio of work, and case studies. How the website performs (page speed, ease of navigation, imagery, etc.) should also uphold the value proposition and credibility assertion.
There is rhetoric out in the marketing world that there is no B2B or B2C, that it’s all the same type of marketing. However, it’s simply not true. Building and designing a B2B website according to the same principles used in B2C marketing is designing for failure. Having an understanding of what makes the B2B audience different enables a firm to create messaging, content, and a digital presence that accommodates, nurtures, and compels that audience.