In a digital-first world, your website and web presence should be the cornerstone of your lead generation program. But if your website is product-centric (and basically a product brochure) versus customer-centric and focused on customer issues and language, you are going to have difficult time competing online.

Download Guide: Developing a Lead Generating Website Aligned with Sales 

If you are in an industry or running a business that has had operations effected by COVID 19 and instantaneous digital transformation, you must take a cold, hard look at your website and decide if it is working for you or against you.

Why business leaders struggle with their website strategy…

 Over the last 15 years, Marketing CoPilot has been involved in more than 100 website builds for B2B companies. During that time, we have seen a tremendous shift in the way people approach their website. The Number One reason business leaders fail to develop a useful, customer-centric website that aids prospects and customers alike through the buying process is that they fail to ask fundamental questions before they build their website:

  1. What is the primary problem we solve for customers?
  2. How will our solution make their life better?
  3. What do they need to do to buy our solution?

 These three questions, combined with a strong, documented Buyer Persona, will provide clear direction about what your website should be and how to construct it.

Here are the top 5 things that a top-performing B2B website must-have

  1.  A strong and clearly articulated value proposition on the home page.
  2. A strong call to action that is closely tied to the buyer journey.
  3. Content that aids a prospective customer in determining whether a company should make the short list.
  4. Consistent mechanisms to drive the right traffic to the CTA.
  5. Tracking and measurement tools to determine ongoing success.

 A clearly articulated value proposition

Have you ever landed on home page and thought to yourself, “I have no idea what this company does?” Maybe you were hit with the looping carousel that offered up 5 images and 5 tag lines about the company. Or maybe you we baffled by corporate-speak that used so many buzz words your head hurt after one line.

B2B companies that sell complex product and services are bad at clarity.

I am sorry to say this but after 15 years teaching value proposition workshops to B2B tech companies, I have yet to meet one that nailed it on the first try. This is because it’s hard to see the world through the eyes of your customers. You can only see the world through the eyes of your products or services.

Your value proposition should be reviewed once a year. You measure your business value based on the value your customers receive from your product or service. As you deliver over a 12-month period, the incremental value of your offering grows. Taking an annual assessment means you have new messages and themes to communicate to the marketplace based on your customer’s perception of your value.

Offer me more than “Contact Us”

If you go back to the three questions above, and answer the question for visitors, “what do I need to do to buy this?”, the answer from a website perspective can’t be “contact us.” People want to self-serve. If you accept the statistics that buyers are 60-70% of the way through the buyer journey before you hear from them, if “contact us” is the only conversion point you are offering on your website, you have missed the opportunity to engage with people during the consideration phase.

 If you go back to your buyer personas and note their decision criteria for purchasing a product or service, you can craft a strong call to action (CTA) that aids the buyer journey. Tech companies often default to “Book a Demo” but what they don’t realize with these types of offers is that you are asking your prospect for a lot. You are asking them for their time, money and resources. Time to invest in booking a demo (rarely are these videos or self-serve). Money because of the nature of what they need to give to figure out how the solution will fit into their budget and processes. Resources to properly vet the solution. This is a big ask in the consideration phase.

What else can you offer that is useful to the prospective customer while they are weighing options? A strong CTA is measured in how well it is used on your website. Ask yourself if your current CTAs are working. For every 1,000 visitors you get to your website, at least 1% should be converting on your site. If this is not the case for your company, your CTA is weak and needs an overhaul.

Is your content about you or about your customer?

 B2B buyers in a digital-first world will be even more demanding about better content on websites so they can self-select and self-educate before contacting a company. Gartner Research suggests 32% of buyers will never contact a salesperson before deciding to make a purchase decision.

 Jay Baer, author of Youtility and President of Convince and Convert says it best…

“The mission of content is to create an emotional bridge between business and customers.”

Baer goes on to note; “we don’t need more content marketing; we need people in content marketing who are willing to have a passion for making a connection with people”. Content is what bridges that gap in today’s digital-first world.

Content should bridge the emotional gap between business and customers that is focused on how you can help someone do something better. If your current content sucks, is poorly written, off task and off topic, fix that now before it’s too late.

And if you are still one of those business leaders who thinks you don’t need to pay attention to this, you are wrong. The digital-first world has forced us to be accountable for:

  • Brand
  • Content
  • Experience

Establish your content marketing strategy and help yourself answer the right questions about what your content should be. Say no to things that make no sense with respect to business outcomes or customer satisfaction. Take out product speak and instead, invest in content that speaks to customer issues.

If you build it, they don't necessarily find it

Gosh, Kevin Costner annoys me. Field of Dreams had us all believing if we just put up the website, people will find it and use it. Sadly, in today’s competitive and cluttered world, this is not the case.

You need consistent ways to drive traffic to your CTA. This is why a good content strategy is important, so you have the ability to use valuable content all over the web to create an emotional connection for prospective customers.

 If I think about the online content I consume daily, people need to have a very good relationship with me in order for me to invest my time in their content. And it better be useful. Spray and pray email campaigns are rarely opened today. Open and click through rates are declining. So your job as a marketing team is to identify the best ways to engage and connect with people. Only then will you drive meaningful and engaged traffic to your website.

How long is a piece of string?

 I used to ask CEOs this question in response to their questions about how many leads they could expect to get if they fixed their website. I know it’s a cheeky a response but often these same CEOs were not doing any measuring or tracking on their current website so what would be the right answer?

The rich depth of information provided by Google in their free analytics tool is truly astounding. You can see who came to our site, where they came from and what they did while they were there. No more guessing about whether a tactic worked. Now we know for sure. If you have not added Google Analytics to your website you are flying blind.

Ready to tackle the must-haves?

 Here are three ways you can tackle these issues now…

  1. Take the Masterclass Workshop, Nailing your Why so People Choose You, and workshop your value proposition. You’ll get access to the Value Proposition Workbook and you can make a valiant start at evolving your message.
  2. Take the Masterclass Workshop, Developing Your Buyer Personas. You will come away with a good first cut of how to structure the right content for your ideal buyer.

  3. Take the Masterclass Workshop, Work Your Website, and receive important instruction about how to fix your website and build a better customer journey for your ideal buyer.

Content Bonus Alert: 5 Bad Business Habits to Break

If you are business leader reading this post and you are struggling to get your website and content right, here are 5 bad habits we have seen in the marketing place. If any of these sounds like you, its time to take stock if you want to achieve success with your web presence and deliver sales results to your business.

Stop playing the blame game

When you engage people to help you with your website and web presence, it needs to be a collaborative effort based on flexibility and experimentation. If you tell them to build something based on your opinion and they fail to deliver something that converts, whose fault is it?

Any in-house or outsourced team helping you execute your strategy needs to start with:

Data analysis. What are people currently doing on your website, who are they, what works today and what doesn’t?

A customer-centric methodology. A new home page design or email campaign that is not centered on customer needs and the buying process will continuously fail. There needs to be structure in place to evolve customer problems and mine out data associated with their process for understanding a problem and how they go about researching and solving it.

A roadmap to follow. If you don’t build out a wireframe based on a clear user and conversion path for your customer, you will constantly have people inserting opinion and hijacking the process.

 If you don’t have these three things, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Change your opinion of failure

Most business leaders hate the word “fail” and will not accept that implementing a website or campaign may lead to poor results. Many equate failure with “costing money”. But transient advantage dictates that you must fail in order to learn and move on to optimization success. What worked last year, may not work this year and you need to create a culture of testing and data analysis for programs in this digital-first world to succeed. The harsh reality is that new options come out every day for your customer. Their needs and perceptions are constantly changing. Accept that and drive on.

Adopt a culture of testing

Very few business leaders I have spoken to are prepared to create a culture of testing in their marketing department. They have the bad habit of looking purely at leads generated in a program and don’t realize that sometimes you need to test different concepts to get potential customers to the goal. This is a bit of a hangover from the recent past when many companies used tactics such as cold calling, trade shows and networking to get potential customers in the door. This works great when you can look someone in the eye and take the time to explain your product or service. This does not work in the digital-first world where prospects want access to the right information at the right time without speaking to a sales rep.

Testing helps you determine what moves the customer up the value proposition ladder as opposed to down the sales funnel. To understand the right tactics to move someone through the prospect identification process, be prepared to test, test, test. (And of course, fail when necessary.)

 Stop guessing

Business leaders that create a framework and business processes to find every possible way to track customer engagement, means they have stopped guessing and are starting to use the data available to them to create better content, customer dialogue and ultimately customer satisfaction.

Large, successful enterprises like Amazon, don’t guess or provide opinion about what they think makes good web copy. They run the data and carefully analyze their sites to create a lens into what their customers are doing and respond to. Even the smallest of companies need to stop thinking they know what their customers want with respect to web copy and start analyzing data and test programs to see what is working.

Don't be afraid to blow it up and start over

If you think you can launch a website today and not touch it for the next 12 months, you might as well take it down. For a website and web presence to work, you need to assess it at least every 30 days and trash what is not working. This means every 30, 60 or 90 days, you may have to move away from something you thought was good and opt for something that works.

Here are three ways you can tackle these issues now...

  1. Take the Masterclass Workshop, Nailing your Why so People Choose You, and workshop your value proposition. You’ll get access to the Value Proposition Workbook and you can make a valiant start at evolving your message.
  2. Take the Masterclass Workshop, Developing Your Buyer Personas. You will come away with a good first cut of how to structure the right content for your ideal buyer.
  3. Take the Masterclass Workshop, Work Your Website, and receive important instruction about how to fix your website and build a better customer journey for your ideal buyer.

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