All of these efforts are admirable but won't mean much if we don't change the focus of our websites to meet the needs of our buyers. All the traffic in the world won't help us if we can't engage visitors within seconds of their arrival.
I've written about issues with B2B websites for years. I wrote about how they were ineffective in 2006, how to revamp your B2B website in 2007, and that B2B websites still suck wind in 2009. I wrote about how to audit your B2B website at the end of 2009. Unfortunately, not much has changed.
Perhaps by discussing the ways in which companies are limiting their website's effectiveness by continuing to focus on the company and its products we'll see some change.
Here are three problems with product-focused B2B websites:
- Product content is late-stage content. Content focused on the company and its products is designed to help late-stage buyers evaluate and choose solutions to their problems based on feeds and speeds. There are many stages to solving a business problem; from convincing people it's urgent to do so to helping them learn how to go about it and which best practices to adopt. By orienting your content for late-stage buyers, you're abdicating that huge opportunity to build a relationship through education to your competitors. Think about that. Do you really want your competitors forming their thought processes about solving the problem your products address?
- Your expertise is secondary. It's likely that your buyer has many options to choose from when selecting a vendor. The differentiating aspect that sways choice is the value-add of your company's expertise. By focusing your website on your products first and foremost, you're telling people that they're the most valuable things you offer. Are they really? Or is your true value realized by the ways in which your company can help your customers achieve the most success relative to their other choices? Which view is more interesting, relevant and valuable to your prospects and customers?
- It's all about you. We all have seen the effects of buyers taking back control over their purchasing process. In a B2B complex sale we're seeing that more people are involved in the purchase decision - all with their own stake in the ground about what will make the choice of solution a successful one. When your website is focused on your company and the products you sell, where do they find their specific interests addressed? I guarantee you the answer is not feature 37 on your data sheet.
With more and more of the B2B buying process spent online, can your company afford not to flip the focus of your website content to your prospects and customers?
Now, before you all panic and think there's no way you can take on revising the entire website, that's not what I'm suggesting. You still need that late-stage content. But, more importantly, you need to add content that addresses needs throughout the stages of the buying process. Begin adding educational content and make sure to create navigational paths to help your buyers build momentum as they learn what they need to know.
After all, Rome wasn't built in a day. The key is to make a plan and get started. The longer you wait to take action, the more opportunity you make available for your competitors to gain the advantage.