Monthly Archives: June 2017

Comprehensive Guide to Creating the Perfect B2B Website in 2017

By Mark Schmukler on June 5, 2017

We don’t need to remind you how crucial a company website is in 2017. Most interactions with your company will happen online and just as in person, first impressions are everything. In fact, 38% of online users will stop engaging with a website entirely if its content or design is unattractive, according to HubSpot. B2B websites are no exception, with 40% of smartphone and tablet owners using their devices to search for B2B products. For most small to mid-size businesses, the web development world is uncharted territory. So once you’ve hired an agency or outside contractor, use this comprehensive guide as a starting point for your project planning.

Step 1: Research Your Competitors’ Websites

This stage can be executed internally or with your agency or developer. Here are a few tips on the competitive research process:

  • It’s best to examine comparable company websites as well as indirect competitors’ for inspiration
  • Compare features across all competitors: What works? What doesn’t?
  • Seek new trends to stay competitive and look outside of your industry for a unique perspective

Step 2: Choose a Website Platform

Before you can begin producing your perfect B2B website, you need to select the right host to house your new site structure. Most businesses opt for a content management system (CMS), and we typically recommend WordPress to all our website clients. WordPress is a popular, easy-to-use CMS platform and offers online forums to help its users solve issues without the expense of an on-site developer. But the real beauty of WordPress lies in its fully customizable nature. With the use of various plugins, you can easily make a website your own.

Step 3: Create a Complete Timeline

Collaboration and communication is key in building a successful website. Work closely with your agency or contractor to establish a development timeline, which will include:

  • All the stages of website development from creative concept development and copywriting to development and testing
  • Due dates for each milestone and those responsible for each next step in development
  • Target date for launch (soft and hard launch dates, if applicable)

It’s important to remember that each task is integral to the next, so skipping around in the process will backfire in the end. Stick to the timeline by delivering timely, consolidated feedback to avoid lost revisions.

Step 4: Discuss & Approve Designs

After discussing a client’s expectations and brand identity, designers will typically begin by creating homepage and sub-page concepts. Here are a few site design best practices to consider when communicating your needs to a designer:

  • Create a mobile-first site
  • Use large, high-quality and preferably custom imagery
  • Utilize a clean, semi-flat design to allow users to easily find what they’re looking for
  • Use simple icons to communicate services and solutions
  • Users can spot a templated look, so make sure your site looks unique and on-brand

Step 5: Define the Site’s Structure

Once the creative imagery is defined, finalize the layout of your website:

  • Start with the sitemap: Define the structure, hierarchy and basic requirements of your website based on your stated objectives and brand strategy.
  • Ensure adequate functionality: Some features are easier to develop during the coding process, so determine which functionalities are important to implement first. One feature that B2B clients generally desire is the ability to “gate” content, which helps generate leads via form submissions.
  • Consider SEO best practices: SEO warrants a blog of its own (here’s one: SEO Hacks Everyone Should Know in 2017), but keep broader SEO ideas in mind to ensure your site is optimized for search engines:
    • Speed is everything. Choose a reliable host and be mindful of elements with large file sizes
    • Always be aware of UX. Users rule the web and Google knows it. Make sure your site is built logically, to help visitors can’t find what they’re looking for, your search rankings will suffer.
    • Incorporate keywords. Make a list of the keywords you are ranking for, as well as the ones you wish you were ranking for. Incorporate them into your copy, title tags and meta descriptions.

Step 6: Start Wordsmithing

The goal of most B2B websites is to fuel the sales pipeline with marketing qualified leads (MQLs), rather than close deals. To help your site achieve this goal, follow these tips for B2B website content:

  • Keep copy simple and succinct: B2B products and services are often highly technical or specialized and because subject matter experts aren’t always the primary buyer persona, it’s important to use digestible language to explain your offer.
  • Include strategically placed CTAs: Provide a compelling offer such as a free demo or consultation in exchange for contact information. This establishes a need and educates visitors on offerings, helping jumpstart the sales process.
  • Maintain brand integrity at every level: It’s important that content on your site carries a steady personality and features a writing style that resonates with your buyer personas. Achieve this by aligning all content with your established brand strategy.

Step 7: Develop & Launch

After design and copy approvals, the coding process begins. Depending on the size of the website, this can take anywhere from 2-6 weeks. Then, you’ll want to conduct an internal quality assurance (QA) or review process on the finished product by testing links, double checking copy and ensuring that all imagery is in place. Once this is complete, execute a soft launch by pushing a site live during a time when traffic is low, such as on the weekend. This will enable you to test the site in a live environment where you can uncover final edits prior to officially launching the website. The process of creating a new website is difficult, but let this guide serve as a reminder that your prospective customers WILL judge a book by its cover. So take a moment today to review your B2B website and decide if your cover and the story inside are the best representations of your brand.

6 Customer Profile Videos that Deserve an Oscar

By Michael Brenner on

What’s the best way to connect with your buyers? Step into their shoes.

When you can demonstrate to your target market – beyond understanding buyer personas, pain points, and customer preferences – you see them as human beings, and the customer bonds you can form can last a lifetime. Considering the fact that the average business loses about 20 percent of their customers every year because of a failure to customer relationship build, this is huge.

Customer profile videos, which successfully showcase a brand’s understanding of the human element of the market, are one of the most powerful tools for customer relationship building and forging genuine client-company bonds. Your customers are people. Of course, you know that, you’re a person. So, show them you understand.

Paul O’Connor, former Executive Creative Director for Ziba Designs and Co-founder of Actual, sums up the philosophical shift going on in marketing: “It used to be that a successful brand conveyed authority and reliability (think General Motors or IBM); now it’s all about empathy.”

Here are some of the best examples of customer profile videos. These videos evoke emotion and are capable of leaving a lasting impression, even on the most apathetic among us. You’ll also notice they feel authentic. That’s the minefield you walk into when you move into empathy-based content creation. It’s powerful stuff. But, if you don’t come across as genuine, it will blow up in your brand’s face.

When done right, however, this type of video doesn’t just exhibit an organization’s grasp of the human face of their customers, it reveals their own humanity (or at least that of the marketing team!).

Cleveland Clinic – Empathy: The Human Connection to Patient Care

The Cleveland Clinic gets straight to the point with their Empathy campaign. Why beat around the bush in an industry where people face disease, pain, and serious physical limitations as the norm?

Their Empathy video profiles your average, everyday people whom we’ve all walked by in a hospital or clinic setting at some point in our lives – the physicians, patients sitting in their rooms, family members in the waiting area, even the janitor and support staff – and tells their reality.

What also makes this such a great example is the authenticity behind the video. Empathy isn’t just a marketing campaign. Cleveland Clinic is running their 8th Annual Patience Experience Conference on Empathy + Innovation this year.

Petco – The Power of Together

If you don’t have an adorable Great Dane for a lap dog, you’re going to want one after watching this video. And, you’ll also want to make a trip to Petco to pick up a few pet supplies to show him how much you appreciate him being there for you.

Cue the emotional soundtrack and speech on the special connection between humans and their animals; this customer profile video is ultra compelling.

Always – Like a Girl

Always really strikes a chord, playing off of how society perceives genders differently and using their own research into how girls view themselves both before and after puberty. This video content doesn’t even mention the brand’s products. Focusing on the consumer is way more powerful.

As a side bonus to society, the Always #LikeAGirl campaign helps to raise awareness about gender discrimination. It highlights where it begins and offers moms and young women – the brand’s target – some genuine insight into how to address a very real problem – by simply being conscious of their own perceptions.

This isn’t just using compassion to market a product. It is an example of a company really reaching out to their consumers and benefiting them.

Dove Selfie – Redefining Beauty One Photo at a Time

Dove uses video to connect with their market in a dynamic way with their #BeautyIs campaign – selfies plus customer profiles! Could there be a better way to engage young female consumers?

It also opens up the conversation about what beauty really is, attacking conventional ideas and also showing each customer featured in the video how beautiful she really is. “I was looking through my selfies the other night, and I realized that I am beautiful,” says one participant. Great job selling skincare products and changing people’s lives Dove.

Intel – Meet the Makers

Intel’s Meet the Makers series profiles the innovators out there using Intel products to leave their mark on the world. It showcases their personal journeys, leaving the audience inspired, curious, and with a new appreciation for this old-school tech giant.

Lulumon – Choose Feeling

This video consists of customers discussing their personal thoughts and beliefs on the importance of feeling and living in the moment. Notice how each participant – a yoga teacher, trail runner, intuitive healer, and artist – looks a lot like the individuals you’d expect to see on the Lulumon ideal buyer shortlist.

It’s likely the brand’s audience is able to feel a connection with at least one of the women in the video, which encourages a natural connection to the brand.

Not Showing or Telling, But Rather Sharing

These customer profile videos make a good argument that the strongest brand messages don’t mention the brand, nor the product or service that’s being marketed, at all. This is content marketing at its finest. It’s focused on the customer, offering real, genuine value to improve people’s lives. It’s selling without selling.

This approach isn’t just good for lead generation or engagement. This is the stuff that makes customers want to be associated with your brand. One evocative piece of video content featuring the customer perspective has the ability to grow your contact lists and social media following tremendously and boost your customer retention rates.

Maybe as marketers we don’t need as much of the expensive influencers, heavy research, or even the entertaining video content, which may be more fleeting than effective, as much as we need genuine human content. What’s working here is the emotional and even philosophical connection between buyer and brand. Now that’s evolved marketing.

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Why Quality Leads are Expensive

By Johanna Rivard on June 1, 2017

Getting more leads at a lower cost is always at the top of lead generation objectives, especially for startups and small businesses. In fact, a HubSpot survey revealed that 65% of B2B marketers claim that generating traffic and leads is their top priority.

While generating a high volume of leads is a good thing, it doesn’t necessarily translate into sales and revenue. You may be getting a lot of traffic to your site, but only a small percentage may opt-in to receive your gated content, and an even smaller percentage of your leads convert into paying customers. Much of the focus these days is on lead quality as marketers take cost-per-acquisition into consideration.

Another study revealed that 61% of B2B marketers find it extremely difficult to generate high-quality leads. Most companies aim to reduce their cost per lead (CPL), thinking that the cheaper the lead is, the lower the cost per acquisition (CPA), and the bigger the profit margin. But in reality, quality sales leads don’t come cheap.

But, Why are Quality Leads So Expensive?

 

  1. It can be hard to find accurate data and valid contact information
  2. Many leads do not fit your buyer persona and target market
  3. Some leads might not have the right budget for your services
  4. Decision-makers and company influencers can be hard to reach
  5. Most of your leads will not be sales-ready
  6. It can be hard to create content that attracts the right leads

When leads aren’t qualified, you can expect to spend significantly more (in terms of effort and resources) on converting them into customers. That’s why there’s a high premium on quality leads.

In general, the free and inexpensive lead generation strategies cost you more time and effort, while more expensive tactics will produce faster results. However, it’s not just speed you should be focusing on. You want quality leads that can be converted into actual revenue – leads with a higher propensity to purchase.

There’s a good reason you’ve created a buyer persona for your target market. This buyer persona not only fits your brand but is also the ideal client that you want to be working with. Use it to qualify your leads and focus your efforts on the low-hanging fruit (leads that are easiest to convert).

You don’t want to waste your sales team’s time trying to sell to someone who doesn’t need your product. Time wasted is money lost. In a Lead Source Analysis report, Point Clear illustrates how cheap leads can cost you way more in the long run.

Quality leads are priceless commodities. You can have a funnel overflowing with leads, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into lots of customers. It’s the warm leads that bring home the bacon.

The Bottom Line

Quality sales leads don’t come cheap. If you think you’re in the clear because you’ve successfully lowered your CPL and amassed a high volume of leads, then think again. Leads are leads, yes. But are they the quality leads that you can eventually convert into paying customers?

Investing in a lead generation strategy that brings in revenue will help your business grow. You’ll not only save yourself the trouble of spending precious resources on ineffective tactics, but you’ll also save your sales team the effort of following up on leads that may never convert.

When it comes to spending your lead generation budget effectively, the old saying holds true: “You get what you pay for.”

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