We all know that a large percentage of consumers shop online or at least do internet research before making purchases. However, according to a report by Forrester, 68% of B2B customers also prefer to research independently online. Additionally, 60% of B2B customers would rather not speak to a sales rep as their primary information source. More importantly, about half of B2B buyers have already made up their mind on what to purchase before they talk to a sales rep. If your target customer cannot find your company online, cannot find detailed product information, or has a poor experience on your website, you may have lost that customer before you even knew they were on the hook. If you're planning a website refresh for 2020, ensure that you have these 5 critical areas covered:
1. Appear at the Top of Google Searches for Industry-Specific Terms
It should be no surprise that most research on a product starts with Google. According to Google, 71% begin with a generic query, which means they are looking for possible solutions to their problem first, not your product name or company name. Where do you show up in that process? Appearing in organic search results is one of the most cost-effective ways to generate traffic and leads on a long-term basis. A website with properly implemented SEO will help elevate your business to the top of Google’s search results for your target key phrases. The phrase "Content is King" is still very much in play in 2020. What is one of the best ways to generate content on a continual basis? See my next point.
2. Create a Company Blog that is Actually Updated
Blogging is still an extremely effective way to drive traffic to your site and consistently appear in searches. New blog posts are automatically boosted higher in Google search results and they instantly tell users that your company is active in your industry. A company blog should be a mix of informative, entertaining, and product focused articles. Too much product promotion and you'll lose your readership.
Creating blog posts doesn't have to be a daunting task. If you only have 10 minutes to create a post for the week, find an interesting YouTube video to embed in your post, and provide a short commentary on how it relates to your industry. There are so many benefits of having a company blog that I can't possibly list them all. I'd say that most importantly, building a more personal online relationship with your users will give them a reason to come back to your site, and builds trust and credibility for your company.
Plus, here's a great bonus of maintaining a blog: do you ever wonder what to post next on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn? Blog posts make excellent fuel for your social media engine.
3. Ensure Your Website is Fast, Secure & Reliable
Hosting is a hugely important component of any good website, but unfortunately, it’s commonly an afterthought. We’ve seen many companies opt for cheap shared hosting solutions thinking that will be “good enough” – until they experience slow load times, downtime, or even get hacked. A good digital marketing company will have a dedicated private server solution that greatly increases security, speed and uptime reliability, and will ensure the whole site is SSL encrypted. One of the worst things you can do is ask them to fill out an unsecured form that triggers browser alerts warning that the site is not SSL protected and could be intercepted by a 3rd party. Hiring a company who is aware of server best practices means your customers will have a smooth experience while interacting with your site.
4. Make Sure your Website Looks Great No Matter How it's Viewed
It’s essential to develop a website that offers up a great visual experience on every device screen size that your audience may use. Having a responsive site means more than just scaling the website down to fit on a smartphone screen. It’s about making strategic decisions on what content is most important to display, and ensuring there’s a clear navigation path and call to action, no matter how it’s being viewed. Your website should be aesthetically pleasing and highly functional on mobile, tablet, laptop, and desktop screens. For your potential customer, viewing a website on their device of choice should never be a chore.
5. A Well-Designed Website is a Lead Generation Machine
In almost every type of business, a company’s website has the potential to generate more sales leads than every other form of contact. Your prospective customers demand a website with clear calls to action without requiring more than a few clicks to access the information they’re looking for. Maximize your sales leads by ensuring your next site design incorporates the following:
- Calls to action on every page. Think about what you would like your customer to do (e.g. requesting a quote) and make it easy for your users to take that action.
- Every single website should have a contact form instead of a published email address. A contact form allows you to ask for specific information from your web leads, allowing you to streamline your sales process. In addition, publishing your company email addresses is a sure-fire way to be spammed by countless advertising bots.
- Integrate your site with existing systems as much as possible, and use marketing automation software such as SharpSpring to automatically respond to your web leads with pertinent information, depending on how they fill out your contact form.
- Collect email addresses whenever possible. Email marketing is still one of the most effective forms of engagement, and asking for an email address allows you to stay in touch even if your prospective customer is not ready to buy today. Asking for an email address before a user can download a white paper, sell sheet, or presentation is a great way to build an email marketing database.