The Three Ingredients for a Successful B2B Website

Responsive Web DesignWhile there’s no “magic” way to make a Website that meets your customers’ needs and grows your sales, there is a formula that can help drive and direct your efforts to create a successful Website:  The C-O-P formula.

Content + Offers + Packaging = A Successful Website

Content — Turn Your Website into a Customer Resource

You are not only in the business of selling products and services.  You are in the business of knowledge.  If you did not have your specialized knowledge and expertise, you would not have customers.  It follows, then, that your Website should not just sell – it should also educate by offering customer-focused content.  With the right strategy, you can complement your product and service information with valuable educational content that helps your customers do their jobs better.  As a result, they will be more likely to trust and buy from you.

When identifying and creating customer-focused content for your Website, it is important to take the following concepts into account.

  • Appeal to your customers’ needs and motivations.  Your customers are not visiting your Website to kill time.  They are visiting to solve a problem, serve a need, or find a solution.  Think carefully about your customers’ motivations for visiting your Website.  Make sure you know those answers, as they will guide the customer-focused content on your Website.
  • Identify the content and features that address your customers’ needs.  Based on your target markets’ unique needs and motivations, offer content and features that provide the solutions they are seeking.  Demonstrate that you understand the challenges they face and offer help.
  • Identify content that addresses the key questions on your prospects’ minds.  When a prospect is considering a product or service for their needs, they have a number of key questions in their minds.  When creating your customer-focused content, think about what questions customers usually ask before buying, and answer those with content. 
  • Create an educational Resource Center to show value to support sales. Create a section on your Website that offers educational content and features based on the interests of your various niche audiences.  This will turn your Website into a valuable resource that customers will visit regularly because it is so helpful. 
  • Merchandise your e-Commerce content.  Product content is generally the largest part of most B2B e-commerce Websites.  Online merchandising is all about presenting your products in a customer-focused manner to encourage engagement and sales. The key to effective merchandising is to align your product content as closely as possible with the customer’s needs.
  • Update your content on a regular basis.  Improve the value of your website by creating and publishing new educational and product content frequently. 

Offers — Convert Anonymous Visitors into Leads & Sales

Lead generation consistently ranks as a top priority for B2B companies.  However, most companies handicap themselves by relying on their Website’s ‘Contact Us’ page as the sole method for allowing prospects to take action.

Effective customer-focused Websites use offers wisely to spur customers to act in a way that makes sense for them.  It gives customers a chance to act on the content presented to them when they feel so compelled.

Customers appreciate offers because they make your company accessible and easy to do business with.  Your sales-people appreciate offers because they create qualified leads.  To turn your Website into a lead generation and sales machine, put the following recommendations into action.

Only 10% of your Website visitors are ready to buy. The other 90% are “kicking tires,” performing research or just have a pre-sales question. To turn your Website into a lead generation machine, you need to have a variety of offers that appeal to prospects at different stages of the buying cycle. This will help you generate leads and sales for near-term business and build a marketing database to nurture future opportunities. 

Successful B2B offers have some or all of the following characteristics:  

  • High perceived value. Your customers and prospects place a significant monetary or emotional value on your offer and want to take advantage of it.
  • Highly desirable. The offer is so valuable, your customers and prospects want to take advantage of it RIGHT NOW!
  • Uniquely yours. Your offer is something that is unique to your company and can be found nowhere else.
  • Related to the value of your offering. Your offer is a first step that leads your customers and prospects toward the ultimate sale.
  • Easy to respond to. People do not have to jump through hoops to respond to your offer.  You provide a simple process to take the next step.
  • Minimizes risk or obligation. By taking advantage of your offer, you make customers and prospects more comfortable doing business with you.

Examples of successful B2B offers include:  

  • Add to Cart – The ultimate offer for e-commerce Websites for the 10% that are ready to buy.
  • Request a Quote/Proposal – Often used for complex product and service offerings, this offer is also tailored for the 10% of people that are ready to buy.
  • Request More Info – A basic offer for people that want more information about your product, service or company.
  • Download E-Book – E-books and guides from your content marketing arsenal can help you generate leads.  People will give up basic contact information to download these valuable resources.
  • Watch Webinar – As with e-books and guides, people will give up basic contact information to participate in or view a webinar.
  • Subscribe to Newsletter –  An email newsletter signup is a nice low-threat offer that will appeal to early-stage prospects.
  • Free Trial/Free Samples – If you can offer a free trial or sample of your product or service, you can minimize risk and make it easier for prospects to want to buy.
  • Free Consultation –  This offer works well if you offer professional services.
  • Enter Contest – While this offer works, it does not deliver the most targeted leads.  People love to win things, but just because they entered your contest doesn’t mean they want to do business with you.
  • Ask a Question – This offer works and delivers targeted prospects because it’s a nice low-threat call to action. Early-stage prospects like it because they don’t assume they are starting a sales conversation.

Packaging — Design Your Website for Online Marketing Success

With good content and offers, you are now way ahead of the majority of your competition.  Most companies have Websites that are merely passive online brochures.   Your Website now has the potential to be a rich knowledge base that will drive lead generation and sales.  However, your Website needs to be produced and packaged with proven best practices to be successful.

Notice that this is the last step in the C-O-P Formula.  It’s last for a reason.  If you work on packaging and design before you consider your content and offers, you cannot be sure that your Website will accomplish your business-building goals.  If you focus on content and offers first, then you can use design to enhance them. The design should not drive online marketing strategy; it should complement it.

Make sure you’ve got the meat of your content and offers set, and then use structure and design to tie it all together into a fantastic Website.

  • Make strategic use of your homepage.  First impressions count, and more people will see your home page than any other page on your Website.  So, make sure your home page is as welcoming and useful as possible.  You have less than five seconds to make a positive impression.  The following tips will help you appeal to prospects and draw them in.
    • Clearly communicate who you are and the audiences you serve by presenting your capabilities, including:
      • The products and services you sell
      • The most common applications for your products or services
      • The industries or businesses you serve
      • The geographies you serve
    • Offer paths through your Website for niche audiences.  
    • Feature information that can be found deeper in the site
    • Update your home page often.
  • Make Your Website Easy to Navigate.  When creating your Website, it is critical for you to make sure customers can find their way around.  Intuitive navigation is essential to make sure people can find what they want quickly and easily.  Organize content into logical buckets (e.g., Products and/or Services, Educational Resources, Customer Service, News & Events. etc.).  Also, offer a site-wide search engine – it’s often the navigation item of last resort.
  • Use Purposeful Design, Not Just Pretty Design.  Web design is one of the hardest parts of the Website development process.  That is because it is extremely subjective.  You may love a site’s design, while your colleague down the hall might hate it.  But I have good news.  None of that matters!  The only opinions that matter are your customers’ opinions.  And I have even more good news.  Your customers will care more about how they can use your Website than how it looks.

Apply the best practices of the C-O-P formula to your Website and you will boost your online marketing results.

If you are looking for more specific ideas for your company, request a free website analysis.

About the author

B2B digital marketing strategist, author, and professional speaker on a mission to help B2B and industrial companies generate more leads, sales, and profits online.

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