As a PR pro, I am often asked to review and comment on existing websites. In many cases, a company has just plunked down thousands of dollars on a website makeover only to find the results disappointing (at best).
No wonder. Websites are often designed and created by HTML or PHP experts, not marketing pros. The end result is a site with lots of animation, java-run menus and clickable pages. It may also have a smattering of imbedded SEO code or even an associated blog. Unfortunately however, coding experts rarely have the marketing expertise to ensure the site’s success.
With that in mind, here are some things to consider when developing a website for your B2B business.
- Home Page: Websites are like a book.
If you were looking for a book to read, would you pull one off the shelf and immediately open it to the middle and start reading? Of course not. You would first look at the cover. Then you’d perhaps glance at the back of the book or the inside jacket to see a picture of the author.
In the same way, a website’s home page must be inviting. Pictures are good – especially of people. Words are ok but white space is better. Most importantly, it must clearly tell the visitor that he has arrived at the right destination.
- Messaging: Still the real gold of any marketing effort.
Decide who you (your company) is,what value you provide and how you differ from the competition. You may have only seconds to grab a visitor’s attention so be sure your positioning and key messages are concise and clearly visible on the page. Have someone from OUTSIDE your industry proofread the copy on the page. If they don’t get it right away, chances are, there is too much industry jargon being used.
- Clarity: Bullet points and highlights
Messages get lost in long worded paragraphs. Whenever possible, make each web page easy to scan. Use bullet points. Highlight important words or concepts. Repeating keywords is not only an SEO strategy – it also helps underscore messaging.
- SEO: It’s not just inserting keywords
Marketers have always relied on PR pros to create effective copy. Now that copy must also provide SEO value. Putting these two requirements together – sharp inviting copy AND SEO rich content – is a real craft, but essential. Nailing this requirement will have a real impact on the effectiveness of the site.
- Video: An enormously effective sales tool.
There is a reason why imbedded video has become such a hot item in the world of web marketing. It works. It can add a human element to a cold site. It can also serve as the perfect vehicle for quickly explaining complex concepts. Video testimonials from current customers or product users can be invaluable. Best of all, it doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition. In fact, today’s esthetics oftentimes favor sincerity over polish.
- Conversion: Finally, a way to measure success.
Measuring marketing success has never been easy…until now. By building in to your site smart conversion strategies you not only measure how many people visited your site, but how many of these visitors turned into actual customers. A conversion page on an e-commerce site is easy – it’s the page where they order product. But on a B2B site with no shopping cart, you will have to be a bit more clever. Perhaps you track those that went from a product page to a contact page or maybe you offer a downloadable document that provides sales lead information.
The bottom line is that a successful website must have more than information. It must be inviting and provide convincing messages in an easy to scan format. It must be enjoyable to visit and easy to measure. And that takes more than proper coding.