With all the forms of communication now available to B2B marketers, are corporate websites still important? Absolutely! 71% of B2B purchases start with a generic Google search.* What’s more, now about half of those B2B researchers are millennials, doing it either for themselves or for an older generation in the C-suite. Either way, their online experience will have a huge impact on the purchasing decision. Even if the researcher is not making the final decision to buy, he or she will have tremendous influence over the person who is. So it’s important A) that your website is found B) that it reflects your brand accurately and C) that it makes accessing key information easy for the visitor. That’s true even if you’re not engaged in e-commerce. You have to make it easy for B2B purchasers to find the information they need quickly. You have to make them want to call you. And speaking of making that call, B2B purchasers will be 57% down their purchasing journey before they do it.* The point is, as the millennial generation climbs higher and higher up the corporate ladder, websites of B2B businesses will become ever more crucial. And those businesses that are ignoring or neglecting their websites are doing so at their own peril.
Millennials don’t go online. They live online. Mostly, they use their mobile devices to communicate with the world. There’s a restaurant they want to try, they use their mobile (I don’t call it a phone anymore) to scope it out and make reservations. There’s a hot band coming to town, they use their mobile to find out where they’re playing and to buy tickets. But what if they’re tasked with recommending a brand of generator powerful enough to keep a major hospital in business during an emergency? You guessed it. It’s likely they’ll again use their mobile device to learn what kind of generators will do the job, the differences between them and who makes them. B2B buyers are now using mobile devices throughout the purchasing journey.*
Most reasonable people, millennials included, will go to any lengths to avoid contact with a salesperson. The internet is the most effective device ever invented for salesperson avoidance. With it, B2B purchasers can quickly educate themselves about all sorts of topics, even those with which they may have little initial familiarity. They can know everything there is to know about your product and your company without you even being aware. But don’t be shy. Don’t worry about proprietary information getting out. If you elect to keep most of your information private, the purchaser can just move on to your competitors. You don’t want your perfect customer getting educated on your competitors’ websites.
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Better to make your website the University of (whatever you’re selling). Use inbound marketing techniques and best SEO practices to make sure your perfect customers find you. Then keep them engaged with the content you know they are seeking. Make it easy to find, easy to access, easy to read. Most marketing copy is written at 6th grade level not because readers are dumb but because readers are busy. They have no time for magniloquence. (Ha ha. Look it up if you have time.) Think of video. Buyers will watch videos all the way down your sales funnel.* In fact, some research suggests B2B buyers are abandoning short written pieces in favor of a short videos. However, long-form think pieces like white papers are still being downloaded and are a terrific way for you to capture names, email addresses and other valuable data.
Remember too that more than just clients will be visiting your website. Employees, job seekers, competitors, suppliers, financiers, the press, even regulatory agencies in some cases, will all find their way to your site. Make sure your brand speaks with equal effectiveness to all these audiences. That means, in addition to the text on the site, pay attention to the quality of the visuals and to what they say about your business. Make sure you send the right signals. Your website is where all these people will learn about your business and they’ll be making instant, snap decisions about you. No matter how objective B2B researchers are, they still all make decisions based on gut feeling. They use logic to justify their decisions, usually after the fact.
Make sure your website is interactive. It’s amazing how, in this day and age, so many B2B websites are still just electronic brochures. Here’s an attractive home page (cover). Here’s what we do. Here’s why you should buy from us. Here’s our team. Here’s how to contact us. The end. This is a total waste of bandwidth. Your website is where you give B2B researchers reason to engage with you. Entice them with calls-to-action. Give them forms to fill out. Employ a chatbot. Anything to gain, at least, a name and email address so your sales people can continue to entice them down the sales funnel.
In short, in your brand communication, you should employ an all-roads-lead-to-Rome strategy. In this metaphor, of course, Rome is your website. It is where you should be engaging with all audiences. It’s where your brand should come to life. It’s where buyers should be able to do something to educate themselves about the purchase they are about to make. It’s where people should be able to “get” you and decide in your favor. Or at least decide to call you.
* 2015 study by Google in association with Millward Brown Digital.
Best Branding Reads – Week of June 24, 2019
The brand purpose hypocrisy at Cannes Lions
This op-ed is a truly important read for all owners and managers of brand assets.
Purpose isn’t cause marketing – How to know the difference
The key takeaway in this article is the quote from Jim Stengel, about one third in. But this article still conflates brand purpose with social purpose.
Your company doesn’t need a social purpose to succeed. Here’s why.
Finally! Clear, distinguishing, definitions of brand purpose vs. social purpose!
Distinctive Brand Assets Defined
Your brand’s identity is composed of assets. Make them strong and memorable. And protect them.
New Name, Logo, Identity, and Livery for Chair
Clever name. CH is the country code for Switzerland. But it’s still weird.
New Logo and Identity for Sydney Film Festival
So clever I totally misunderstood the fantastic array of secondary logos. Had to go back and check them out more carefully.
7 Brands Killing It With Humor on Twitter
What kind of humor can you employ in your brand voice?