Let Your Website Do the Selling in B2B

As a marketer, I have the opportunity to look at a wide variety of company websites when assessing our inbound leads. I am always surprised by the number of websites I come across that are not user friendly. Within the B2B industry, your website can mean everything to your potential customers. Prospects want information and they want to get it fast without much effort.

The article Give Them the B2B Content They Want tells you how to give your online visitors just that.

According to the article, when buyers are searching for information on your site they ask 3 questions:

  • Am I in the right place?
  • Is there something here for me?
  • Can I get to it easily?

In order to help your viewers answer these three questions with a simple yes, make sure to utilize a few simple suggestions, outlined below.

Thanks in large part to the great websites that exist, a standard for layout has been set. As a web surfer, you are used to this standard and look for items in certain locations. For example, when I go to research a lead’s company, I expect to find a brief overview of what the company is selling on the homepage. I also expect to find an About Us tab either at the top of the page or along the sidebar at the left or right hand side. Surprisingly enough, some sites I have come across make it relatively difficult to even figure out what it is they do. Not only is it important to follow the standard for organization and flow of your website, but it is also important to communicate your message clearly. By having more organizational flow to your website, you also increase SEO.

Another nuisance is not understanding the content of a website. When too much marketing fluff or too many industry words are used, it is hard for others to get the gist of the product or service. Keep the wording short and to the point. Bullet points stand out and help visitors learn more quickly. Also it is helpful to distinguish yourself from your competition. In the B2B industry, buyers will check out multiple options, so make sure to inform your audience why your product is the best.

Following the idea of clarity when promoting your product, the use of visuals also helps describe your company and product. Use key visuals to not only portray your brand, but also to quickly connect words to images. Images and videos are longer lasting memories. They also jump out and attract attention unlike paragraphs.

To wrap it up, let’s list the main points to remember when designing your number one tool to sell your product.

  • Organization is key. Make it easy for visitors to locate the information they want.
  • Clarity gets the point across. Define your product or service in a simple, straightforward way.
  • Use visuals. Attract the eye and provide lasting memories.

Change Things Up to Avoid ‘Banner Blindness’

MarketingSherpa put out a really interesting piece this week about ‘Banner Blindness,’ or the tendency for repeat readers to ignore advertisements and selected sections of your email messages (or those you sponsor) over time. When your template remains static, readers learn where ads are located and tend to skip over that section of the messaging. The full article contains some striking images from an eyetracking study, illustrating viewing patterns over time. 

For the quick takeaways, MarketingSherpa gives us the following tips: 

Change the landscape 
The most powerful way to combat banner blindness is probably to vary the page template itself. By moving landmarks, you encourage the eye to conduct a more complete scan of the page. This is easiest in the email world, where creating and scheduling similar, but not identical, templates won’t send the Web team into paroxysms. 

Change the look and feel of ads
If you can’t change the position of ads, think about changing ad sizes or the way they look. In our study, for instance, we swapped in a text list where a graphical ad had been positioned and saw a jump in attention. The eye tracks changes to a familiar landscape. 

Increase ad rotation
The easiest way to combat blindness is to change ads frequently. For publishers, that’s easy. That’s not the case with sponsored placements or in-house advertising; these can sit static for long periods.

Components of a Successful Marketing Email

The success of your email marketing campaign depends on a combination of aspects.  Subject lines, email content, formatting and timing are key factors contributing to open and conversion rates.

Subject lines:

  • Subject lines should be relevant to the recipient and match the content of the email.
  • Research shows that while shorter subjects optimize open rates, longer subject lines tend to optimize click and click-to open rates.
  • The same research shows that the more words in a subject line, the more likely the email is to appeal to the “right” people.  Increased information allows people to better decide if an email is relevant to them.

Content:

  • The first line should tell the recipient why they are receiving this email (i.e. “You are receiving this message because you have subscribed to list XYZ.”)
  • Check that the content matches the subject line and is relevant to the recipient.
  • Make sure the unsubscribe link is easy to find (this may mean shortening your message.)

Formatting:

  • Don’t rely on people being able to see your images – image blocking is common on many email services.
  • Add inline styles – again, many email services will not allow anything else to show up correctly.
  • Use structural tables to create columns.
  • Make sure that the plain text version of your email is reader-friendly.

Timing:

  • Don’t send email too frequently.  This can cause recipients to tune out and ignore your email, or worse, annoy them to the point where they mark your emails as SPAM.
  • Don’t send emails too infrequently, this can make your recipients forget you.
  • Find the delicate balance between having your users forget you and having them annoyed by you.
  • Send out your emails during regular intervals so the recipient comes to anticipate them, and is less likely to mark them as SPAM.

An Experiment in Landing Page Optimization

A web clinic conducted in June by MarketingExperiments provided an in-depth look at multivariate testing and landing page optimization in action. This summary illustrates the impact of friction vs. incentive and how to find the right balance.

Friction is defined as psychological resistance to a given element in the sales process. This resistance is created by requiring visitors to fill out a form or take a similar step to obtain an item of value. That item of value is the incentive, or an appealing element introduced to stimulate a desired action.

Since completely eliminating friction would result in no information for your sales efforts, it is important to find the right form length, call to action and incentives to provide maximum conversion and prevent drop-off. MarketingExperiments examines how the item offered, the landing page layout and the difficulty of a form can impact conversion rates.

The report is definitely worth the read for marketers who rely on landing pages to convert visitors to prospects.

Don’t Give Up Without A Fight

It takes a lot of work to get a prospect to your website. You probably put hours of effort in to crafting a compelling white paper or creating a fancy flash demo to lure visitors in to filling out your form. So once you’ve got them there, don’t let go! Urge them along by offering other items that may interest your target audience. This can be additional white papers, a special offer or a link to a free trial.

Guiding prospects to valuable items that require the visitor to complete another form allows you to use conditional fields, meaning you can collect a new round of prospect data points the second time, third or even fourth time around. This progressive profiling helps to build a more well-rounded customer profile for your sales team.

Even if you don’t have a large library of “locked-down” content to offer your prospects, providing links to other sections of your website can help you continue tracking your visitors and gain additional insight in to their level of interest. Additionally, providing links in the email you send your prospects upon form completion provides another opportunity to reengage those who have already left your site.

It all boils down to this: there is no reason to have your “thank you message” consist of nothing but a thank you. Encourage your prospects to continue the interaction by offering up additional opportunities for them to explore your company. If you are truly providing valuable content, it can only lead to a positive exchange of information for everyone involved.

Get to the Point Already

In “the one piece of advice you can’t generate leads without”, author Jill Konrath points out that her day is way too hectic as it is, and that taking calls from vendors certainly isn’t high on her list of priorities. Her solution? When you make that sales call, get to the point, and put numbers behind what your software does. It’s the best way to get a lead’s attention.

Even though this particular example applies to salespeople, there’s something here for marketers as well. B2B marketers might not be the ones making the call, but they are most definitely sending out emails, setting up landing pages and forms, and managing entire online marketing campaigns. So when you send a prospect a white paper or email, make sure that you get to the point, and explain exactly what it is that you can do for them.

Make sure that you don’t fall back into the typical marketing meandering. Your emails and white papers should be concise, provide clear value to the lead, and make it very clear what you have done for past clients and what you will be able to do for future clients. You need to take into account that most of your leads have lives at least as hectic and as busy as yours. If you’ve done your research and what you are selling is actually a good fit for your lead, don’t let a watered down message keep you from getting through.