B2B Company Websites

Posted by on May 23, 2011 in Blog | 2 comments

B2B Company Websites

Advice from Marketing Peers

Every Thursday night Jeremy Victor and a group of B2B marketers hold a B2B Twitter Chat session. These sessions are a tremendous source of ideas, insights and data. More importantly these chat sessions can create a body of knowledge on best practices and you can make new connections and build relationships with peers.

Mining For Gold in the Chatstream

Peers are the primary source of advice, recommendations and referrals for virtually any professional role (especially IT professionals for those of you in hitech marketing and business development. Learn more here). Therefore, opportunities like these #B2Bchat sessions are valuable.

The problem with real time chat streams though is sorting through the tweets for answers during and after the session. The Q&A stream can get cluttered and key nuggets can be missed. Transcripts are a partial answer to this problem and the folks at #B2Bchat are smart in offering it at the end of the sessions.

For some that’s good enough. But, it can be hard sorting through the tweets to find that shiny gold nugget of information. So, we mined the transcript and have shared with you what we think were the most valuable answers and insights from the chat session.
In a later posts we will share with you our own experiences using Twitter for marketing Mi6 and some of our clients (successes AND failures).

B2B Company Websites

This chat sessions took place April 28, 2011. Special thanks to B2Bento, Andrew Spoeth, Ksenia Coffman for being moderators.

Q1: What are the first things a visitor looks for on B2B websites?

  • I’m always curious about where a company is located geographically, and if they offer social media links on the homepage
  • Aesthetics, usability, clear messaging – in a snapshot you can get an idea what the company does
  • Understand what this B2B company is about in a SIMPLE understandable language
  • A freakin phone number is nice!
  • I go for the “about us” if it’s an organization I am not familiar with.
  • If 1st time I look for location, then management team
  • First thing I look for on a site is 1) what the company actually *does*. Often very vague amongst B2B’s
  • I also like to see if they have any recognizable clients
  • Seriously what does the company do, why do I need them and how do I contact them?
  • Yes, I’ve been in tech for a long time, and if I cannot understand what they do, I move on
  • Ditto that. Harder and harder to find an actual phone number
  • We have a “click-here to call” on our site
  • “We provide Innovative solution to boost the productivity of your empowered employees with paradigm shifting…” doesn’t work
  • Talking to me in a language I can understand
  • I hate stock pictures on B2B home pages
  • For a site, I usually look for what they do and how to contact them. If it’s not clear, I click out
  • “Amazon for business software”. Simple & powerful. Here’s an example of this done well: SAP EcoHub on their FB page
  • Observation: we all look for different things. The challenge is serving diverse contact and information needs
  • But don’t dumb it down either. Customers want to know you are serious about what you do. Be Obama-like, not Palin-ish.
  • Many answers here to Q1 incl. phone number, location, management team, ‘what they do’
  • I’d want to see who are the customers are and what they do
  • click-to-call works if people available
  • what works best is an click-to-chat (+30% sales and productive contacts)
  • I find a great place to see what they do is in their tagline. Simple and to the point. What’s their message to visitors?
  • I think my landing page says too much more of an about page. The landing page should be short and sweet you think?
  • Two good examples of non boring – hubspot and Kinaxis
  • I do like click to chat – but mostly see on b2c sites. How common is it on b2b sites?
  • Just for fun, here’s an image search for ‘business person’
  • increase of click to chat in B2B, very effective as it leads to qualified exchanges and helps to manage support
  • If a site looks too serious and tells me everything on the homepage, they don’t do a good job to get me to click into the site
  • But I think if you really know your stuff you can and should communicate it more naturally and not hide behind jargon
  • So landing page should be I’m Good Looking, Fun and Crazy with Buy Now button? LOL

Q2. Are B2B websites too serious? If so, why?

  • 9 out of 10 websites are too serious. Let your “freak flag fly
  • Yes, take themselves so seriously, like a boring professor. ugh
  • They’re too serious ‘cos they are afraid to be genuine
  • If by serious, you mean they take themselves too seriously then yes. If the topic is serious, then no
  • Or lack the confidence in their ability to do what they claim they can
  • B2B websites tend to convey an image of exclusivity, experts talk to experts, and thus exclude clients
  • B2Bs work so hard on their stuff that they’re OBSESSED with TELLING EVERYTHING about their stuff
  • Not always wise Jeff-vary by purpose/topic ReTweet: Q2 9 out of 10 websites are too serious. Let your “freak flag fly”
  • ’cause they believe when you can’t convince people – just confuse them with heavy language…
  • Q2 I don’t think of it as a lack of confidence – more nerdy over confidence – SO SO Boring.
  • The question I would have is what would happened if they tried TOO HARD not to take themselves TOO SERIOUSLY?
  • My site’s HubSpot WebGrader said it’s written for Graduate degree level and above. I guess that means it’s too serious/boring
  • B2B websites tend to convey an image of exclusivity, experts talk to experts, and thus exclude clients
  • I like sites to feature people!
  • B2B buying is about avoiding risk, not making a mistake for your company. That’s reflected in B2B website design.
  • B2B Mktrs want to be as thorough as possible in addressing their products/services features/benefits that they are wordy.
  • I think if you really know your stuff you can and should communicate it more naturally and not hide behind jargon
  • IF you know your stuff you don’t communicate about it. You communicate about the painful pain your targets feel. First/Foremost
  • OK for work seriously, be reliable, pay attention to your product and your clients but don’t take yourself too seriously
  • Too many B2B websites designed by committee. Get a camel rather than a horse.
  • Agree with you “communicate it more naturally and not hide behind jargon”, and that’s not easy

Q3. How can a B2B site be professional, yet have character? Any examples?

  • I like this: tech provider in healthcare addressing pain. [Mi6 note: we’ll did up some examples for a future post]

Q4. How often should a B2B website be redesigned?

  • Redesign when the message is no longer relevant to targets.
  • Hmmm. I think with evolving CMS platforms like WP & its various themes, it’s definitely easier to redesign a B2B site
  • No one else is answering, but I think ongoing tweaks and a big redesign when it’s not working
  • True – or when you change your offerings?
  • I would think it varies on need. It may always be evolving given the various forces that are at play: technology, market, customer, product
  • That said, a redesign should be 12-18 months, not including microsites for new product launches etc.
  • Don’t focus on redesign. It should constantly evolve, telling your story. It isn’t static (this is 2011!).
  • depends on product mix but specials offers, new products should be updated as often as possible
  • Is anyone re-designing to address the mobile viewer?
  • Realignment (with business goals), clarity and usability is more important than complete redesign
  • redesign when company strategy changes, or if entering new markets
  • hope everyone is redesigning to address the mobile viewer
  • I would think it varies on need
  • If I had to pick a number, I’d say every 24 months (time frame for a B2B website redesign)
  • redesign in B2B newtech more frequent than B2C, front page every 6 months, and platform more often without disturbing
  • Design need not be just look and feel. Re-design your story! It should constantly evolve…
  • Yes, and when it starts to sound stale
  • General consensus to Q4: B2B sites have to constantly evolve, and it’s getting easier w. technology & social media
  • Mobile site should have dramatically less content, much higher location/time-based functionality

Q5. What is the fastest way to spice up your B2B website?

  • Spice up with customer videos
  • Messaging that takes the tension out of the shoulders of your dear readers. “Oh, these guys get it. They know me. They can help
  • Video, an easy to read blog with frequent posts, and a scrolling twitter feed of relevance to the visitor..
  • Allright, y’all get your fancy schmancy stuff. I’ll be over here alone in the great, simple, concise messaging corner
  • Invite developers with a properly designed API section or website extension
  • many recent, tagged pictures of happy customers help too
  • Don’t just focus on onsite, but make sure the messaging off-site “speaks” volumes as well
  • Linking a blog and consistently blogging is one of the fastest ways to spruce up a b2b website
  • Other online properties linked to site such as Facebook Page, Twitter ID, Plancast, other social media ties
  • don’t agree with a scrolling twitter feed – too distracting
  • Outposts are perfect places for relevant messaging off-site…social networks, videos, podcasts, curation, etc.
  • It isn’t about shiny baubles. Message first, then baubles that reinforce it
  • Do you lose interest in video on a b2b site fairly quickly?
  • I do……Do you lose interest in video on a b2b site fairly quickly?
  • Video if a talking head can come off a bit ego-centric too
  • Yes I do, thus go for a short video please -> Do you lose interest in video on a b2b site fairly quickly?
  • I am starting to click away from the video on a b2b site more and more.
  • Yes, when badly done, video really bombs. well done can = magic. Sincerity, believability counts

Q6. Are corporate websites losing out their own Facebook pages?

  • I we seemed to have established in a previous that Facebook isn’t where it’s at in B2B, Twitter and LinkedIn are better.
  • I agree : Outposts are perfect places for relevant messaging off-site
  • Probably varies by industry but B2B I wouldn’t think so. Q6. Are corporate websites losing out their own Facebook pages?
  • Q6 At point in time, a Corporate website is the “mother ship” of web assets around which other digital properties revolve
  • yes to some extend, FB pages are used as Nice to Have but no longer Must Do in B2B
  • Now, the website is the major way for gathering prospect data. But new techs are distributing data collection entry points
  • got it, agree with recent tweets (maybe) – twitter is a special medium, so tweets, @ replies may look out of context
  • Absolutely! Can’t just stick on one side of the street, when there’s fun stuff in the rest of the neighborhood
  • Agree with – Website is mother ship. Content goes out to outposts – Youtube, Facebook, Linkedin, Slideshare, etc
  • I’m thinking of @guykawasaki‘s example where he chose a FB fan page instead of website
  • Corporate websites/Customer Intranets will still be the major repository for accesing informatiā€¦ (cont
  • I’m thinkin much of Guy’s stuff is absolutely not relevant in B2B – but there may be some spots where yes. You?
  • Better to lose to FB (or LI) than to competitor. Connect with customers on their terms whenever feasible
  • Still believe homebase is home. Also, depends on off-site efforts and where visitors get driven to
  • Better their own Facebook pages than someone else’s…
  • Site is mother ship today. But long term, providing value is more important than location.
  • Eventually all digital assets will feed directly into marketing automation system or CRM. Then you’ll have a true “net-centric” marketing org.

Add to the Conversation

There are many answers but what do you think? What challenges or questions do you have about using B2B websites in helping your business to succeed? What concerns do you have? Add to the conversation below by leaving a comment.

Related Posts

B2B Chat Summary: Linkedin for B2B marketing
B2B Chat Summary: Twitter for B2B marketing

2 Responses to “B2B Company Websites”

  1. Nice straightforward questions and insightful answers from real people. For the first question, I’d add to the mix: Speaking to your target business demographics for greater relevancy is important. The more you know who they are, the more effectively you can communicate with them.

    • @Jen, thanks for the comment. I agree 100% that relevance and quality content is important and that’s something I continue to strive to do with this site and our clients site. Feedback from content consumers to content producers is so important in this area. I’m seeing content automation systems emerging as promising being able to put relevant content based on visitors browsing habits. I’d be interested in talking to someone with experience in this area. Within the Mi6 B2B marketing integration framework, we identify the principle of the “4 Rs” of B2B marketing with relevance being one of them.

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