The Digital Era is in full swing. 89% of B2B buyers research online before making a purchase.[i] Imagine what could happen if a stronger website presence led to even 5% more conversions into website inquiries, or better yet, phone calls? And what if even one of those leads generated tens of thousands of dollars in sales? The financial outcome of a stronger website presence can be enormous, and it is never negligible.
A majority of customers today view a company’s website as a virtual storefront through which they can browse products and make purchases. Consider these statistics:
- A 2013 study by RTi Research (formerly Rothstein-Tauber) found that 81% of consumers research products online before going to a store and that the percentage is still rising.[ii]
- A 2014 Marketo research report found that up to 95% of qualified prospects go to company websites to research and are not yet ready to talk with a sales rep but that as many as 70% of them will eventually buy a product from you—or your competitors.[iii]
- A 2014 Forrester study found that consumers have higher expectations about what they will find on a company website: 71% expect to view in-store inventory online, and 50% expect to be able to buy online and pick up in-store.[iv]
Your website is your key owned media marketing asset
The concepts of “content is king,” owned media, and inbound marketing from tips #6 through #9 come together in the form of your website. As your company’s first introduction to most prospective customers, its website is the best way to communicate what it does. Investing in a credible, attractive, and easy-to-navigate website is imperative.
There are four basic tenets to developing a powerhouse website. Every organization should follow these. First, the site must have great content that communicates the benefits of the business’s product or service. Second, the site must be user-friendly: digestible, device-friendly, and fast-loading. Third, the site must be easy to find—no easy task given that global Internet traffic has increased 500% over the past 5 years and is expected to increase another 300% over the next 5 years. And finally, the site must have analytics installed in order to track the behavior of visitors.
Best of all, following these four tenets will improve your website at little cost. Many marketing companies may not want to tell you that, because they would rather sell you a bigger website instead!
Develop better content and design to increase conversion
Recent research from KISSmetrics indicated that 96% of website visitors are not ready to buy.[v] That means that your website is more than a vehicle for e-commerce. It is a continuous opportunity to convert more visitors into customers.
The first step in converting prospects who visit your website is to keep them engaged. Because they are visiting your website to solve a problem, your website must immediately explain that your company has the answer. Your company’s website can do this by engaging the prospect in a dialogue that tackles pain points and needs.
Make sure that all of the pages of your company’s website are clear, focused, and geared toward the visitors’ needs. The content must be engaging yet concise, with clearly delineated headlines and meaningful information that addresses prospects’ pain points. A list of your company’s accomplishments and awards may make you feel important, but it will not speak to your audience in the same way that content centered on the visitor will.
Images, videos, and infographics can help to heighten the effectiveness of your website. According to Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research, one minute of video has as much marketing influence as do 1.8 million words.[vi] Would you rather write 3,600 typical web pages or produce one minute of engaging video? Most marketers would say the latter, and your customers would certainly prefer to watch an engaging one-minute video than read almost two million words.
Make your website user-friendly
One way to increase website engagement is to build your pages from short, active content. This type of content should comprise the majority of your website and your social media posts. Longer content can be divided into sections with clear headlines and subheads that enable viewers to glean the main points without having to read the entire text.
Even better than expressing your content in readable chunks with clear calls to action, however, is ensuring that your company’s website has responsive web design so that it can be enjoyed on all devices. In early 2014, Internet usage on mobile devices surpassed Internet usage on PCs, irreversibly transforming the marketing landscape.[vii] Your content must be easily read and digested on any device. In fact, Google has recently begun to factor mobile optimization into its search rankings.
With more than 50% of searches now originating on mobile devices and 77% of executives using smartphones to research products and services for their businesses, having a mobile-friendly website is imperative.[viii] A responsive website design enables your website to adjust its dimensions to fit the size of the device on which it is displayed. As a result, you avoid losing new-business opportunities generated by searches conducted on mobile devices.
According to a Google report, 40% of mobile consumers turn to a competitor’s site after a bad mobile website experience, and 57% wouldn’t recommend a business that had a bad mobile site.[ix] A mobile-friendly interface will keep you from frustrating and losing prospects.
Because many conventional conversion points, such as a downloadable white paper or an email newsletter signup, are better suited to a PC, make sure that your website includes mobile-friendly conversion points, such as drop-down menus and simple forms with auto-populated fields.
Explore your website on various devices (e.g., Android smartphone, iPhone, iPad). Chances are that, if you don’t already have responsive design, you will see the need for it. If you do have responsive design, look for any elements of each page of the site that still don’t quite work, such as buttons that are too large or too small, and work with your website developer to make sure they get fixed. Mimic your customers’ actions on a mobile device, including making a test purchase and submitting a form. We guarantee that you can find something to improve about the experience, which your customers are already experiencing, such as the time your site takes to load. (Check out Media Temple at https://mediatemple.net for an inexpensive hosting provider that can help to boost your site’s speed.)
Ensure that your company’s website can be found
Although having an optimized online storefront is key, it will do little for you if it cannot be found. You have to think about how to drive traffic to your website, and this makes optimizing your search engine rankings mandatory. If your website does not effectively communicate to Google what its pages are about, you will be penalized with low search rankings that will prevent customers from discovering your site.
There are a number of tools that can help you to analyze how your site is ranked relative to other sites in your industry. One of these is offered by Alexa. Google offers a free tool that will show you why your site isn’t ranked higher: Does it contain broken links? Has the content not been updated in the past three months? Google’s tool will help you to identify and fix issues that affect your ranking. To give you a starting point for search engine optimization (SEO), you can also perform an SEO audit using simple websites like Varvy.com and Moz.
When your website is optimized to be easily found by prospects and to convert them to customers, your online storefront will be ready to bring in increased traffic and sales.
Track your website visitors
When you have created engaging content for your site, ensured that the content is displayed cleanly on all devices, and optimized the site for easy discovery by prospects, begin to leverage the tools available for tracking the behavior of visitors to your site. Even visitors who choose not to engage when they first visit can become customers later if you keep the lines of communication open.
The best way to capture visitors’ contact information is to offer something to them in return. Post longer articles, samples, or white papers that are likely to appeal to your target audience, but require visitors to provide their contact information in order to download those materials. This will enable you to respectfully continue to engage the prospect in hopes of making a sale in the future.
Even more importantly, implement Google Analytics for your website. The tool is free and requires only that a line of tracking code be added to each page of the site. It will then record various metrics about visitor behavior on your site, such as the number of visitors, the amount of time they spend on each page, and where prospects drop off as they move closer to a purchase decision. This information will enable you to further revise your website in order to maximize the visitor’s journey on your website.
In order to systematically compare metrics, choose six to eight key metrics and assemble them into a dashboard that you can review each month—or more frequently—to see who is visiting your site and what aspect of it most engages them. You generally have an idea of how many people and what type of people step into your physical store (if you have one), and Google Analytics gives you that same information (and more) for your online storefront.
A great website is no longer expensive, provided you know the four keys on which to focus. Is your company’s content compelling and geared toward your prospects and customers? Examine every page of your company’s website with a fresh eye. Is the design of your website user-friendly? Does it appear clean and modern, across all applicable devices? Is your company’s website easily found? Don’t just set your website and forget it. At TribalVision, we revisit our website constantly to ensure that we are providing the most relevant information and customer experiences based on our up-to-date knowledge, which positively affects our search rankings. And finally, track your visitors. Who visits your company’s website every day? Is it the same B2B company that you have been courting? If so, now may be the best time for you to contact them again! Make sure that you are running Google Analytics with sophisticated tracking of form submissions, video clicks, and other key actions to get the real-time information that your company needs.
[i] Kelsey Snyder and Pashmeena Hilal, “The Changing Face of B2B Marketing,” Think with Google, March 2015, https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/the-changing-face-b2b-marketing.html.
[ii] Kimberlee Morrison, “81% of Shoppers Conduct Online Research Before Buying,” AdWeek, November 28, 2014, http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/81-shoppers-conduct-online-research-making-purchase-infographic/208527/.
[iii] Marketo, Inc., The Definitive Guide to Lead Nurturing: A Marketo Workbook, (San Mateo, CA: Marketo, 2009).
[iv] Forrester Research, Inc., Consumer Desires vs. Retailer Capabilities: Minding the Omni-Channel Commerce Gap, (Cambridge, MA: Forrester, January 2014)
[v] Marketo, Inc., Website and SEO for Lead Generation, (San Mateo, CA: Marketo, 2014).
[vi] James L. McQuivey with Michelle de Lussanet and Dan Wilkos, How Video Will Take Over the World (Cambridge, MA: Forrester Research, June 17, 2008), accessed December 23, 2015, https://www.forrester.com/How+Video+Will+Take+Over+The+World/fulltext/-/E-RES44199.
[vii] Rebecca Murtagh, “Mobile Now Exceeds PC: The Biggest Shift Since the Internet Began,” Search Engine Watch, July 8, 2014, http://searchenginewatch.com/sew/opinion/2353616/mobile-now-exceeds-pc-the-biggest-shift-since-the-internet-began.
[viii] Ibid.; Google Inc., Our Mobile Planet: United States of America (Mountain View, CA: Google, May 2013), https://think.withgoogle.com/databoard/media/pdfs/US_OurMobilePlanet_Research_English_2013_2.pdf.
[ix] Jason Spero with Johanna Werther, The Mobile Playbook: The Busy Executive’s Guide to Winning with Mobile (Mountain View, CA: Google, 2012), http://www.themobileplaybook.com/uk/download/themobileplaybook.pdf.