Your website is your single, most important marketing tool. It should be viewed as central to all of your activities relating to acquiring new customers, selling to existing customers, improving loyalty and managing customer engagement.
Like it or not, the first thing anyone you want to communicate with or influence does when they have a question, concern or stimulus is to go online. If your website doesn’t serve their needs, they will go elsewhere.
A strong website makes everything you do easier and more powerful, while an ineffective website puts a drag on everything you do and diminishes the proposition you want to present to the market.
A common and destructive mistake made by many businesses with their website is they focus on the wrong keys and drivers of success. Too often they look to build a site they “like” or that looks really good. While we’re big fans of design at Imagine, the number one key to an effective B2B website is to solve for the user; and not the tastes of the creator.
Over the years, we’ve seen and researched some of the most common and damaging mistakes B2B companies make with their websites. Here are our top 10.
Image sliders and moving graphics might look really cool when you’re building out a website, but when it comes to effectiveness, they are probably the most damaging thing you can do. Simply put, movement makes people leave.
Jakob Nielsen, one of the preeminent usability experts, has proven this through multiple tests and studies. His research demonstrates that information placed on rotating/sliding banners is ignored; he calls this banner blindness. The bottom line is that sliders kill conversion (and take up valuable space).
2. Not optimized for search
Are your prospects able to find your website? Search Engine Optimization, or SEO is crucial. A lot has been written about keywords. In fact, some thought they were dead. The truth is, keywords are very much alive. It is important to have a keyword strategy.
Start by identifying the keywords that your personas are using. Long-tail keywords are extremely beneficial for ranking because they’re more specific and targeted, resulting in qualified visitors to your website. Short and broad keywords are very general and have lots of competition, making it difficult to attract qualified visitors.
According to Search Engine Journal, 75% of searchers don’t even go past the first page of search! Make sure your title, alt tags, copy and other key elements are fully optimized for the keywords you’ve identified.
3. Too big and slow
The visitor arrives based on search optimization- check. But now they can’t even load the content. 40% of people will abandon a web page if it takes more than three seconds to load. (Source:Econsultancy) This starts the user experience off poorly.
To avoid this, use a website grader. For example, HubSpot’s website grader tells you how fast your site loads- including performance, mobile, SEO and security. A popular trend in web design right now is to have the header of the homepage as one large image. Word of caution - make sure the image is sized correctly and loads properly so your visitors stay long enough to give your site a chance.
4. No clear value proposition statement
Within seconds of landing on your page, a visitor must be able to know who you are, what you do and why that matters. This is the main reason a prospect buys from you. Your site needs to communicate the specific results that a customer can expect, explain how the business is different and better, and it should be easy to understand. According to MarketingProfs, to write a great value proposition statement you must do the following:
- Keep it simple
- Use the language your prospects use
- Convey clearly and specifically how you will help them
- Indicate who you solve problems for
5. No clear conversion paths
A visitor will come to your website for a reason. Most likely, they are trying to solve a problem. You succeeded by attracting them to your website with a channel, like social media or by SEO best practices, as mentioned above. Now, your goal is to guide them to the sale. Without a clear conversion path, the customer may feel lost. A clear conversion path consists of:
- A content offer that the visitor is interested in downloading
- The call-to-action that the visitor clicks on
- A landing page that shares information and benefits of the offer
- A form, that lives on the landing page for the visitor to fill out in exchange for the offer
- A thank you page and corresponding email that delivers the content and leads the visitor further into engagement
A conversion can be considered as a blog subscription, downloading content, purchasing a product, or anything else that requires the visitor to take action. Conversion rates increase as long as your website is helpful, simple and personalized for the visitor.
6. Lacks context and personalization for visitors
Your content should help the buyer navigate through the buyer’s journey and be personalized to present a relevant experience, tailored to their lifecycle stage. If you’re there when they need you, you’re already heading down a great path to establishing trust between your company and the buyer.
According to the Aberdeen Group, 75% of consumers prefer when brands personalize messages and offers. Janrain & Harris Interactive found that 70% get frustrated with websites when content appears that has nothing to do with their interests.
Our homepage, imaginellc.com is personalized based on our personas. We utilize HubSpot’s smart content, which allows us to deliver content specifically tailored to where a prospect is in their buyer’ journey, or content targeted to people who are first-time visitors. HubSpot found that content that was targeted to the user performed 42% better than generic content.
7. Not mapping out the UX
UX, or user experience, is the overall interaction that your visitors have with a company, service, product and in this instance, when they come across your site. When a website is developed, it should cater to a specific audience- or buyer persona. Aim your web design, content and added elements at them. This will capture their attention and resonate with their needs.
Lead your visitors throughout your entire site with simple and easy steps. Each page should have a distinct header that aligns with the copy presented. Create a simple and easy navigation- the user should land on the page that matches with the link they clicked. Don’t confuse the reader with too much jargon and place the most visited pages in a place that is easy to find.
8. Lack of visual and messaging consistency between pages
My favorite place to eat is a restaurant called NorthStar. I try to go as often as I can to get a salad called the “Village Salad.” While the salad is the best I’ve ever had, I end up going back because of the consistency. The staff is always courteous, the dining area is incredibly clean and even small things like the music are consistently great. It’s a welcoming customer experience.
Consistency establishes trust and credibility, especially on a company website. Consider your blog post schedule; you want to make sure that your customers can count on you for fresh, relevant information. Regularly post on certain days and even specific times to achieve a schedule that will be beneficial to your readers. Aside from the style guide itself, your brand should be displayed across your entire website. Your inside pages, like landing pages and blog should match the homepage. This helps visitors - new and returning - know where they are.
9. The we do’s
Do you know someone who constantly cuts you off in order to continue talking about his or her life? It can get frustrating. Having someone (or business) constantly talking about only them makes you want to end the entire conversation. Avoid trying to sell to the visitor the second they come to your website. Saying who you are and what you do should be relevant and timely. Assist the visitor with helpful information and guide them to the next logical step.
Most companies are quick to say, “We provide great service”, “We put our customers first”, and “We are the best”. Any company can say these things, but the key is to express why your company is unique and the value that your company can provide. If you’re constantly saying what you do instead of helping or listening, a consumer isn’t going to feel appreciated, worth your time or important.
10. Static content
I’m sure you’ve visited a website that’s most recent blog post is so old that it makes you question whether they are really in business. This is a bad first impression to make. Arriving on a site and seeing outdated content causes visitors to question the validity of the site.
Additionally, websites that aren’t updated frequently begin to drive the wrong traffic because the content is no longer relevant. Not updating contact information, testimonials and client lists will prevent you from generating additional leads. As sales and marketing efforts evolve, the website will fall further out of alignment.
HubSpot’s Luke Summerfield has stated that traditional web design is broken. It’s a long, tedious process and once you are finished, you almost have to start over to keep up with the ever-changing market. Luke introduced a concept called growth driven design. Growth driven design streamlines the redesign process with marketing, allowing your website to change frequently, without putting a hold on any marketing efforts. This is an excellent way to keep your website fresh and up-to-date, making it a better experience for any visitor. And the search engines love fresh content too.
Owning and controlling a website is a continuous process. Technology is constantly evolving and if you’re not keeping up with your customer, then you’re losing in the end. Be sure that you are evolving with your customer and keeping up with the times so you can provide the best, most relevant and helpful experience.