3 words to describe your B2B website? Your fly's unzipped!

Ed Marsh | Feb 13, 2014

Here's proof!

I know how this discussion goes.  I have variations of it frequently since I often speak about the role of digital marketing in business development with owners of B2B manufacturers, particularly in the industrial space.  I'll ask how well their website works for them.  "Just fine" I am told.

Then I'll ask how often they get leads from it.  "Every once in a while, but we don't really see it as a lead generation tool."   OK......

Finally I ask how often someone complains about the site being inadequate.  "Oh, never.  It's fine for what our customers need."

See, that's exactly the point.  They're in that awkward situation - wandering around a networking event with their zipper down, among folks focused on their own priorities.  They're not kids - so they wont snicker, but similarly they'll register at some level and move along to connect with others that are properly "put together."

Nobody is bothering to tell you that the site stinks - it's not worth their time, and it would be embarassing for you.  If they even come across it they, immediately bounce and head to another Google search result until they find a site that actually helps them with their business challenges.

The silence is deafening - but you're too constrained by your traditional B2B industrial marketing perspective to listen what the market is telling you.  Your site sucks....and it's causing you real business damage.

cool....normal.....lame (damaging!)

Most industrial manufacturers resisted the website 'land rush' of the early 2000s but finally caved and added a site in the middle of the decade.  At the time most put up standard 10 page sites which typically have:
  • history - founded in 1963 and now 2nd generation
  • capabilities - a list of the equipment in the factory and real estate size & moves
  • contact us page with phone number to voice mail system
  • products - an online catalog of the main things they make
  • and somewhere, the obligatory, really cool polaroid type picture of the outside of the building a couple decades ago and then a current shot too

When this was published it was OK.  At the time not having a site created some credibility questions - but by having one up, the credibility box was checked to allow real business to be transacted by phone.  It might have been a little cool - but was certainly adequate.  It was normal - which was what many B2B industrial companies wanted of their digital marketing.

The problem is that the yardstick the rest of the world uses to judge your site has changed.  Now that site that was adequate to cool 7 years ago is a significant liability in two ways:
  1. It costs you credibility - people arrive there and groan.  Like, seriously!  The history pages and on-line catalog do nothing to substantiate your unique authority or engage folks.  Compared to the standard they expect, your business looks out of date and, frankly, clueless.
  2. The opportunity cost is much bigger - there is huge demand that you're never even learning of, because your site, which ought to be your most amazingly effective marketing tool and lead generation engine, is achieving virtually nothing 

A B2B website is no longer an "outcome" - it's a conduit

Folks used to think of a website as a project.  You'd plan it, write it, design it, build it, publish it....and then occasionally link to it.  Maybe a couple hundred folks a month would stumble into it.  A couple times a month someone would fill out a contact us form.  And mostly folks would hear of you through a referral, or see you mentioned somewhere and visit the website to make sure you appeared legitimate.

Now a company's website is the only tool by which most of the potential customers you seek will find you (when you are looking for something, what do you do?  you Google it) - and when they stumble into you site, they had better find a vibrant, engaging company welcoming them with valuable information.

You see today a site needs to attract prospects you've never heard of; to convert them to leads by sharing good, interesting & helpful information with them (not the year you were founded!); to help close them as customers (because most B2B buyers now go 70% of the way through the buying process before they talk to you - your site needs to sell for you almost to the point of close); and then continue to delight them to engender loyalty.

Minimum standard - do you meet it?

I'm trying to casually mention to you here - "Psst.  You need to zip up."

Attract | Convert | Close | Delight is a process and your site MUST be a dynamic, evolving, solution based learning center for your target buyers.  Design should be simple (sexy is irrelevant) and easy to navigate.  A B2B manufacturer's site should:
  • be well optimized
  • offer downloadable information and insights in video, image and document formats
  • be a hub for the individual engagement you build with each prospect through email, social media and other direct communications
If your site doesn't do that you're actively damaging your brand and your business growth.  Is that sensible?  (The corollary is also true - companies that still exist as website design and publishing entities are dinosaurs - even if they try to glam on a couple ancillary services round the edges.)  Today robust inbound marketing requires an effective site....as a tool.

Check out our Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Internet Marketing.  Then call us and we'll explain how you can adapt it to ideally match your B2B marketing challenges as an industrial manufacturer.

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