Log In

Search

What Every B2B Website Gets Wrong

Posted March 14, 2024
What Every B2B Website Gets Wrong

Jordan Koene, Co-Founder and CEO of Previsible, joins our host, Camela Thompson, Go-To-Market Thought Leader and B2B Insights Expert, in this episode of the Revenue Marketing Report. Jordan shares his view on why so many companies have their priorities backwards when it comes to marketing and their digital presence.

 

Jordan, I am interested in your perspective of what B2B websites get wrong.

“The interesting thing about B2B is that there’s an amazing ability and I’m going to start off with the good. Usually, I don’t do that. There’s an amazing ability for B2B marketers to genuinely understand and empathize with the products and solutions that they have to offer. Marketers genuinely understand what it is they are selling, why they are selling it, and what value it creates. I think that that is where you do have to start, with an appreciation for the product and its capabilities that you’re going to market.

“If you don’t start there, then everything you do is likely going to be not as genuine and lack some sort of empathy to the core user and consumer of your software, you have to understand what that is. But, as we layer into what the websites of these companies often lack, it’s a combination of faulty errors. I am going to begin with the most common one, one that all of us experience because we’re also consumers as much as we are B2B marketers. We overly rely on our internal knowledge and nomenclature to describe the features and solutions of our product. That is the most important part of our website since it’s the transition of a potential prospect or potential website user into an advocate, consumer, or customer of our product.”

“It’s those pages that truly transform a user’s mindset from being someone who says I’m going to explore this website to wow! This is actually what I need and I want to buy or I want to use it or I want to try it or I’m going to sign up for this demo or whatever the next steps are. Those are typically the pages that speak to that decision of choosing to engage with the product.”

Amen! That’s it. I’m thinking of some stats I have seen recently. Jordan mentioned the content consumption, but 57% of website homepage visitors don’t scroll beneath the fold. You get 0.05 milliseconds to make a first impression. Too many website headlines, and I have fallen into this trap, are so big that your user is never going to figure out how that ties to what you do. It is like the backyard BBQ test or the cocktail party test. If you can provide them with that one-liner on the headline, what are the odds they could guess what it is your company does?

That is right.That is a big part of it and the crazy thing is it isn’t just our homepages. That is a huge part of it, of course, since it’s the first impression. It is also those solutions and features pages that we create on our sites. We often overly expect that the person on the other side has to know how this enormous, convoluted piece of software, that we have been developing for the better part of 18 years, is going to be conveyed on this one page and that is so wrong. It is such a misnomer and it’s also one of the places that we invest the least in.

“We set up this automation page that our software has this functional automation that helps everybody save time, but does it mention that they save time? Does it ever mention how that works? Does it ever detail how the benefit of customers X, Y, and Z, that gain that credibility out of it? Oftentimes, we forget to go back, revise, improve, and expand on that narrative that truly connects with that consumer who will think that’s exactly what I’m looking for! That is what I need! That is what my business needs to be more efficient.”

I am having flashbacks because I once had a CEO push to save time, money, and something else. He saw that headline on a completely different product website. It is not enough to say you save people time. You’ve got to do it in a way that is relevant to their job and how they operate. Therefore, it isn’t enough anymore to say get more time back with your family. Well, how are you going to let them do that? That is a big promise, but how are you going to deliver? And is it believable? I think there’s much skepticism since so many of us have made claims that aren’t supportable.

“Absolutely right. This is where it gets super-complicated for us as marketers and web developers. The conversation has expanded from let’s build a page that’s about a solution or feature to let’s build a page that addresses a user’s experience online, that is about a solution or a feature. Not every user that ends up on that page is coming in with the same intentionality. That is super important and some companies and websites do a phenomenal job of addressing this. Let us take a B2B product that was both an SMB solution and an enterprise solution.

“So now you can sell into two types of customer bases, two different types of business bases. However, the reality is that all of your solution pages are one-dimensional. They just speak about what the product is when in reality, if I’m a small business owner, I want to quickly determine if I can afford to use this solution for my business based on say, the number of seats I’m going to have or the type of usage I am going to use the platform. Therefore, if you can quickly dispel the small business owner’s fear, you will be able to talk to them about that solution. That ability is so powerful. And you’re talking about one solution page. That’s the thing that we miss as marketers, that it is an experience that then transfers into the actual narrative or outcome that you have from a solution or feature.” 

I want to be pretty clear on what we mean here since for me, I’m never going to recommend a rotating hero to solve this problem. I think we need to talk about personalization a little bit. There are low-tech and high-tech ways. What have you seen work?

“That is absolutely right. The rotating banner is a solid guessing game. That is a good luck moment. But there are great ways to entice your users with questions. Are you a small business owner? Ask a question on those pages and then create content that supports that user’s needs. That is the first thing. The other components here are, and in some cases, this works really well. It is about not being as narrow-minded about your navigation. We often are either trying to consolidate or over expand our navigation. But our navigation is likely the best gateway to help that small business owner or enterprise to fall into the right set of content. So how we organize our websites almost matters as much as what we say on the pages. We often forget about that. How many B2B websites have you seen update their navigation frequently? Not many. It’s a pretty rare occurrence.”

It’s so unfortunate. I am glad you are passionate about information architecture since I think it feeds back to the last statement you noted earlier about our overreliance on internal terms to describe things. I see that all the time in navigation.

“100%. Navigation is more often than not a guide map to your office and all of us have probably experienced this. A spouse, a partner, or your child comes to the office. Do you think they know where they’re going? Of course not. They have never been to the office before. I mean this is a tough analogy now in the post-pandemic era where nobody goes to the office. But if anyone has gone to an office recently and they don’t go to it frequently, you know it’s not easy to get around. That is what we do with our websites. We create this internal map of how it works, but that is not how consumers look at our product.”

How would you recommend people start going about learning the language that the end users utilize?

“One of the things that as B2B marketers we have to be more comfortable doing is testing and learning. That is one of the things we don’t do enough of. We try to use lagging KPIs like the number of leads, number of sales, or these other metrics to determine how our website should be set up. That is completely false. There have to be genuine leading KPIs like customer surveys, doing questionnaires, doing panels, or even spending money to do paid tests to see what happens on those pages

“And then iterating, fast iteration to get to the best outcome of what is on your page and how you want consumers to engage with the content that you have. That is an important note there, engaging with the content we have vs. falling into our funnel. If you don’t know what the intended engagement is, you don’t know what the funnel is for that page and then you don’t know what the outcome should be for that page. These are really important things. 

“I deal with this all the time with marketers. They think they just need more top-of-funnel content. If we had more top-of-funnel content, everybody would know about our product and everything would be fine. It’s like saying, I want to go to the moon tomorrow. It’s not a simple outcome to say I want top-of-funnel. What you need to be thinking about is what kind of engagement you want on your site. Then, I can tell you what sorts of top-of-funnel content can help you get that kind of engagement on your site. However, you cannot guess at the top-of-funnel because there are so many components to that. We perhaps don’t have enough time to cover that in this podcast.”

I appreciate how you navigated that. I remember a CEO stomping over and demanding mass blast emails since that’s how you scale, another one stomped over and said digital advertising is how you scale. You really need to ask them, what are you trying to solve? What are you trying to get more of and less of? Let me understand what you’re trying to see. That’s a beautiful transition that totally changes the conversation from, okay, we will build more content.

“One of the most amazing stories that I’ve recently experienced is a mental health platform that we are working with. The CEO shared with me that for the better part of a year, they’ve been completely missing the mark in talking to their audience. The main buyers they have are parents, parents who have anxiety over their children. Maybe their child is going through a very difficult time, whether it’s depression or other mental health challenges. 

“The main focus in the way that they were having a conversation or sharing with that decision-maker, the parent, was to be very logical and medical about the situation. We can help you through therapy or these other solutions. Sign up with us and we’re going to help your child with this challenge. Nevertheless, no parent is going to give up that information and say sure give me a call because that makes plenty of sense. Not when they have fear, not when they don’t understand it. Maybe, they have never gone through those types of emotions before. If that’s the case, you have to have a totally different conversation and you have to begin with your website having a completely different conversation. 

“Where we narrowed in, and this is the craziest example, where we narrowed in was why don’t we talk about something that genuinely is relatable and understandable to everyone who is involved in this, the child, the parent, and the therapist. The combined forces behind that and why don’t we start with something as simple as does your son have a dirty bedroom?”

Or, is how your child is using the internet keeping you up at night?

“Exactly! Is Facebook ruining your relationship with your child? Every parent can empathize with that and every parent is going to say, well, yeah, I’m going to give you my email. Of course, Facebook’s ruining this for us. So, these kinds of breaking down barriers of our son’s dirty room and the internet ruining how we have conversations with our children, completely change the tone from your kid has depression and your child is having suicidal thoughts. Those things aren’t going to get a parent to decide, yes, please call me today because I would like to sign up for this. So that shift. It’s a radical shift. It’s a 180o shift from how we might think about it, if you’re a Ph.D. medical professional. Yet, when you’re trying to have that conversation online, you need to think through how that party, that other party, that customer, that partner is going to understand your message.”

I want B2B marketers to hear this since buyer journeys aren’t linear. We are dealing with a ton of people and their number one concern is that they will decide to purchase something that fails. That is a very emotional thing. Therefore, it applies to B2B as well. It’s interesting to hear B2C having the same struggle. It makes sense.

“No doubt. I don’t believe that B2B and B2C are all that far apart. My career has been on both sides of it and shockingly, it all comes down to relating with your core customer and breaking down those fears or needs in a very clear and actionable way. The reality is that there are some unique components to what occurs after the fact, once the consumer makes their decision or how quickly they make their decision. However, that doesn’t change that initial messaging and how it resonates with that decision-maker.”

For more content on B2B marketing trends, listen to the full Revenue Marketing Report episode at the top of the article or anywhere you podcast.