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B2B, Web Design
- / Overview
- / Three Key Strategies
- / The Ultimate B2B Website
- / 01. Foundation (non-negotiables)
- / 02. Amplification
- / Summary
I’ve been thinking about the ultimate B2B website.
A powerful asset that supports business growth.
Whether you’re big on lead gen… demand gen… SEO… Paid ads or everything in between.
What makes a best-in-class B2B website?
Firstly, a website is only as strong as the strategic direction of the company.
If that is unclear, then so will the website.
Three key strategies
Before any work even starts on your website, key strategic decisions need to be made:
01. Business strategy…
Defining the overall goals and objectives of the company. How will you create a sustainable advantage in the long term? Mass-market appeal or honing in on a niche?
The direction of the business is important. It will feed into the brand strategy which has a big impact on your website.
02. Brand strategy…
Defining the core elements of the brand. Including its personality, tone of voice, and visual identity (fonts and colours). This needs to be in place first, not thought of during.
A design team shouldn’t have to pluck fonts and colours out of thin air when designing your website. They should be able to refer to a set of pre-agreed brand guidelines. Dictated by the brand direction.
The brand strategy feeds into the marketing strategy…
03. Marketing strategy…
Your website needs to be designed and developed with customers in mind. And a lot of key decisions about the who, what, why and how of your customers are decided in the marketing strategy.
How will you attract and engage your target audience?
What’s your message? This will dictate the copy for your website.
Next, what channels will you focus on? This will decide the functionality needed.
If you’re investing heavily in SEO, you will need a blog or resources section. Going hard on paid ads? You will need flexible landing pages.
The website should support the marketing team’s goals and priority channels.
These 03 strategies are unique to your business. But they all play a key role and feed into your website strategy.
Skip these and you’ll have a website that is detached from the overall direction of the company.
Okay… Let’s say you have a robust business, brand and marketing strategy in place. What’s next?
What does your website strategy look like?
The Ultimate B2B Website
There are two key stages for B2B websites and these are:
- The Foundation (non-negotiables)
Let’s dive into both of these…
01. The Foundation (non-negotiables)
Regardless of your company’s direction, these are the bare essentials that every B2B website needs. The non-negotiables.
a. Website research
Various bits of research will have been undertaken when creating the brand and marketing strategies. Which will have influenced the direction of the company, its identity, and its messaging.
Additional research related solely to your website should be carried out too.
I – Internal Research:
As a minimum, you need to speak internally to people at your company. Sales reps, the customer service department, the leadership team etc. to understand what they feel should be included on your website.
A lot will be dictated by your brand and marketing strategy, as mentioned above.
There’s a wealth of knowledge inside your company. But it shouldn’t be the only place you do your research…
II – Industry Research:
Next, you need to check out the competition and do some industry research. What are common features on websites in your industry?
Jakob’s Law of Internet UX states that users “Users spend most of their time on other websites…This means they prefer your site to work the same way as the other sites they already know.”
In short, what a user sees elsewhere they expect to see in yours. Don’t reinvent the wheel.
III – User Research:
Finally, the gold standard. Carry out user interviews or user surveys, review session recordings, and dive into Google Analytics. You need to uncover insights from your users that can improve your design. We covered that in a previous newsletter, which you can read here.
b. Page templates
Every single B2B company should have these page templates on their site. They’ll help you explain to future customers what you do and how you do it. As well as letting them get in touch with you.
- Thank you
- Case Studies/Results
- Text-only (T&Cs; Privacy)
You may have the following two as their own page. Or, you may include them within your service pages:
These are the bare essentials. During your research, you may find you need additional pages.
c. Flexible CMS
We’ve all been there. You have to email a developer to make a simple text change to your website. Which then takes a week to complete.
A B2B company must have a flexible CMS. Be that Webflow, WordPress, HubSpot or any other. You need to be able to update text and images yourself. To build your own pages.
d. SEO baked into the core
Something we’ve covered in detail on our blog. SEO and web design need to be done in tandem.
SEO needs to be baked into the core of your website. It influences the structure of the site. And it’ll dictate what sections and content you need on your pages.
Do this SEO work at the beginning and you’ll have a solid foundation to build on. A website that works with you and not against you.
e. UX best practices
This is a whole article in itself, but a quick overview of the bare essential UX best practices.
I – Speed + performance:
A no-brainer really. You hate them. I hate them. Every future customer hates a slow website. And, so does Google.
Check your website’s performance across a range of devices and try out different internet speeds. Not everyone will access your site on a perfect WiFi connection.
II – Responsive (mobile-first design):
Again, another no-brainer. Your website should be just as easy to use on a mobile device as it is on your second monitor at home.
III – Clear navigation:
Users should be able to find what they want quickly and easily. And navigate around the website with the fewest clicks possible.
IV- Visual hierarchy:
Guide your user to the most important parts of your website with a clear visual hierarchy. Key elements such as your value proposition, USPs, and call-to-actions should stand out.
V – Call-to-actions (CTA):
Not every CTA needs to be a sales form or “book a demo”. Stop asking too much.
Low-commitment CTAs are a great way to get prospects into your ecosystem. The ones that aren’t ready to speak to sales yet
These CTAs include downloading a whitepaper or eBook, subscribing to your podcast or newsletter, or even getting the prospect to follow your CEO on LinkedIn (if they post often).
Get the prospect into your ecosystem and nurture them over time.
f. Measurement and tracking
You need robust tracking and measurement in place. This is one of the most important steps with a B2B website but one that is often neglected.
I – Google Analytics (GA):
9 times out of 10, the GA script gets added to a site and that’s it. But this isn’t enough.
You want to track form conversions. And set up event tracking so you can monitor other key metrics. Such as the number of whitepaper downloads or video play-button clicks.
The list is endless on what you can track and it will be personal to your marketing goals.
But to help support your sales and marketing efforts, you’ll want conversions to show in GA as a minimum.
II – CRM integration:
Too often, a B2B company’s website won’t feed into its CRM.
Again, you’re missing out on a lot of data, insights, and potentially lost leads if it’s not integrated.
Hook your website up to your CRM right from the beginning. Even if your website isn’t a priority in your sales and marketing strategy now, the data will be there in the future.
III – Self-reported attribution:
One of the best ways to find out how customers heard about you is to ask them directly.
On your website’s high-intent sales or demo forms, you can add an extra open text field asking “How did you hear about us?”.
This works well for hard-to-track sales and marketing initiatives such as podcasting or hiring a booth at a conference.
An extra field on a form. But won’t this impact the conversion rate?
Chris Walker and the team at Refine Labs have done a great job at debunking that myth.
But, as always, test it out yourself.
Alright, so that rounds out our non-negotiables. 6 key factors that every B2B website should have in place.
No matter what sales and marketing activity you engage in, you’ll have a website that is designed to convert.
One that will convey what you do to prospects and position you as an authority.
You now have a solid foundation to build on.
But let’s say you wanted to take your B2B website to the next level…
What does that look like?
a. Page templates (cont.)
You may have noticed some pages missing from my first list. Want to grow website traffic and conversions? There are other pages you will need to have at your disposal.
- Careers hub
These aren’t essential, to begin with. But if you want to be seen as an authority in your industry, you will need these pages. They will let you produce market-leading content and help you find the best talent.
b. Market-leading content
The best B2B companies use their website as a hub to house market-leading content.
Be that tools, whitepapers, e-books, or blog posts. You need to be producing content to position yourself as an authority in your industry.
Whether or not SEO is a priority to you, having a backlink strategy in place is a good idea.
Most B2B companies speak at events or conferences. Your employees will go on podcasts, or a website will cover your company’s new feature or product release.
If your team knows the importance of backlinks, they will know to ask for a link to your website when engaging in this activity.
Building links from other websites will help you rank higher on Google and amplify your B2B website. We have a guide on this which cover 14 B2B link-building tactics.
d. Other sales and marketing activity
I’m not gonna list out a load of tactics here but now you have a solid foundation in place you can confidently send traffic to your website.
Be that paid ads, paying for a booth at a conference, or posting on LinkedIn.
You’ll now know that when a prospect researches your company, they will come across your website which has been built to convert.
e. The Website Optimisation Loop
There’s a lot of talk about A/B testing. But the truth is, a lot of websites don’t have the traffic levels to quickly run statistically significant experiments.
So, the next best step is this framework here. The Website Optimisation Loop.
To briefly summarise this, it goes as follows…
First, you “Think” about what you want to improve.
E.g. You’re getting the wrong type of leads, or low-quality leads.
Next, you “Build” a solution to fix the issue you’ve uncovered.
E.g. You might add a pricing page to your website to deter low-quality leads.
Finally, you “Test” your solution/fix to see if it worked.
E.g. You notice a reduction in low-quality leads submitting the contact form.
You can read more about that here.
There we go! How to grow the ultimate B2B website.
A website is only as strong as the strategic direction of the company. Nail this first, then move on to building your website.
And even if you’re not ready to invest heavily in your site, you need to ensure you tick off the 6 non-negotiables. You’ll have a website built to convert users. This will help support your other sales and marketing efforts.
Then, when you’re ready, you can start building on this foundation. The amplification stage. Where you can drive traffic and revenue.
Any questions on this topic, connect with me on LinkedIn.