People say that the web changes with breakneck speed, and I’d say that’s a reasonably sound assessment. When I started our company nearly 7 short years ago, blogs were just taking hold. People were using them to share and communicate, but companies were just starting to take notice of how to use blogs to build an audience and how to use their websites to sell. Now, more than 40% of US companies use blogs for marketing purposes.
So what changed, and why does it matter?
The truth is that that your customer expects your website to educate them about the benefits of your product or service. Not just what your company does and how you do it, but how your product or service can benefit their company. They are expecting you to demonstrate it.
What has changed for your customer?
- They are more educated. They can read up on your product or service using the web, but don't have to go to your website to do it. They use the web as an educational tool by searching for relevant information.
- They are more informed. They don't have to rely on recommendations from colleagues or pitches from sales people. They have a variety of sources for information freely available online, and they can read about it, hear it, or watch it online.
- They are more mobile. Smartphones have changed the game and made the web more accessible than ever before. Your customers may start their research on their computers, then continue on their phones or tablets, or vice versa.
- They are bombarded with marketing: Outdoor, TV, radio, telemarketing, direct mail, banner ads, email, you name it.
How potential customers are using your website
The truth is that today’s B2B “shopper” looks more like a B2C shopper than ever before. If you don’t believe me, check out this recent post from B2B sales expert Frank Belzer. Today’s savvy B2B buyer starts their research online.
- They find your website using a search engine. Your website has to be optimized for search in today's business world. If it's not, you'll lose market share to your competitors.
- Search engine optimization tactics like link building and optimizing meta tags alone just don’t cut it anymore. If you want to improve your search engine visibility, you have to create great website content that people want to read and share.
Your customer is not always seeing your homepage first
- While having a well-designed homepage helps, many times customers are finding your blog post on a particular topic first. Google and other search engines value blog posts because they typically don’t contain “marketing speak,” but rather information on a topic that someone is interested in.
- When you share your blog posts and other information by social media, your customers will go straight to that information, avoiding the homepage.
It’s also not enough to simply have a blog. Once someone lands on your blog, you should provide a logical next step that’s related to the content of the blog post. Do you have related information to “hook” a prospect on your blog?
Landing pages are critical
I've said before that landing pages are the moneymakers on your website. Companies are using landing pages to advertise content for download and generate business leads.
Your customers have to see the value in supplying some of their personal information to access content they want, but are willing to do so if the value is clearly spelled out.
Don't make the assumption that prospects will go to your contact page, because you may be missing out on great business leads if you don't put landing pages on your website.
They are sharing what they find
If your customer finds a good resource on your website, they will share it on Twitter, LinkedIn, or within their company or industry. Knowing what is relevant to your customer and what information they need to make a purchase decision have become much more important.
They are watching and listening, not just reading
Video and other forms of content can help your company gain an advantage over competitors. In a video, for example, a prospect can see and hear a subject matter expert talk about your product or service, or hear about a problem solving experience. Because it takes more senses to experience video, prospects can form a stronger opinion.
Will your company adapt?
Use shifting patterns in website usage to your advantage. If your company isn't blogging, then research your customer needs and start one, then use your blog to fuel your company's social media efforts. Know that customers are searching for information and offer it to them through your blog, landing pages and website content of various types.
Don't know where to begin or don't have the time to do it in-house? We’ve helped other B2B companies generate quality sales leads from their website. Let’s talk.