B2B website click bait title
Not because I've promised salacious celebrity photos and now deliver something completely different...rather because after promising an answer now I'm going to confront you with reality.
If you, or anyone in your company (from CEO, through VP of Marketing, right down to the website admin - please tell me that's not still in your IT department!) thinks of your website as a "project" with a beginning and an end, you're destined to fail.
That may sound outrageous, and the failure won't be catastrophic or immediate. But failure is the inevitable result. Here's a radar look into the future.
Sales people now augment your website
It used to be that your website was a tool for credibility. Later, for those who embraced early SEO it became a leadgen engine. Salespeople still commanded the revenue growth process.
Today, however, your digital footprint is the fundamental element of your B2B revenue growth function. (Sure, there are exceptions. But they are far rarer than you imagine and quibbling over them will only distract you from the reality your company faces.)
Today your B2B sales team augments your website. They only manage the final approximate 10% of the buying journey. Worse, they often destroy great leads because the 50-90% stage of the buying journey is a far more nuanced phase than most B2B sales people understand.
Great marketing automation (really thoughtful execution that drives insightful and empathetic interaction) can help bridge the gap - almost like an AI sales team. But a website doesn't begin and end at the pages on the web - it's a core part of the buyers experience with your company.
Google expects more than you understand
And quite frankly, Google expects more than you can probably deliver. If that feels overwhelming, let me make it worse. While that was a "probably", your prospects "certainly" expect more than you can reasonably deliver.
Think of what's expected:
- deep, insightful, original, informative thought leadership content
- lots of video
- multiple blog articles/week
- new offers on a consistent basis
- social media conversations and interaction
- content curation from the universe of your industry
- commentary on issues that impact your buyers - even when they're only tangentially related to your product
- continuous flow of new webpages
- continuous improvement of UX (user experience) including frequent design and layout updates to accommodate habits and technology
- consistent changes to address data driven insights from visitor behaviors
- robust variable content for buyer segmentation (by industry for example)
- frequent adjustment to address changes in SEO (algorithms, competitors, buyer interests)
- reviews, case studies and other buyer content
- user generated content (increasingly photo, video and more)
- artful use of consistent segmented email to help your buyers keep up with changes - not to brag on your incremental product updates
GE is really stepping up it's game in the B2B space creating a wonderful content marketing experience. That's an unrealistic yardstick - you probably don't have the marketing budget of GE.
There's no way you can do it all - but that's OK. If you do some really well and consistently stretch and improve, you'll be well on your way. Undertake a bit of what Ann Handley calls slow marketing.
HOWEVER, if your mindset is that you continuously improve operations; that R&D is an ongoing effort; but that your website is a project that you start and finish....you'll fail.
The role of an experienced B2B digital marketing consultant
So while there is no cute list of 5 steps to make sure your B2B website is complete, there's certainly a list of top 5 priorities to immediately improve your digital footprint.
Unfortunately they're often not apparent to your internal team that isn't familiar with best practices. Further, the 5 priorities will shift not only as you improve areas and others bubble up, but changes in search and buyer behaviors will dynamically change yours as well.
That's where an experienced industrial marketing consultant can help. Knowledge of evolving best practices, a sound 30,000' management perspective and capable tactical execution are all critical elements (and really rare in a single package) of a B2B digital marketing advisor for industrial companies.
Have you tried to find that sort of resource for your business?
Beyond your website...your entire business
Even that package is somewhat "yesterday." It's focused on the B2B marketing function. Not only must CEOs take ownership of the revenue growth function, but entire business technologies and revenue models are changing as quickly as appropriate expectations for your B2B website.
That makes the B2B website discussion a proxy for the business in a bigger context - and the mindset of which functions are set vs. which are evolving.
This set of challenges will be particularly grave for boomer owned companies that are trying to hang on for a couple more years of lifestyle income with an expectation of a high multiple sale thereafter. Will what's left to sell be relevant?
On the flip side SMBs that think strategically will have some amazing acquisition opportunities over the next few years - at favorable and distressed pricing. There won't be much revenue growth expertise to acquire, but some technologies, customers and brands will be available.
In the meantime, if you think your digital marketing is reasonably savvy, then take a look at stepping up your use of marketing automation with the tips in this guide.