At this stage of the game, most B2B companies are at least considering a website facelift. They realize that their current sites are stale and sorely lacking in lead generation prowess. Now what? Hire a designer or a marketing company? What are the most important requirements for a website in order to increase brand awareness and generate qualified sales leads. Here's my list in order of priority.
B2B Website Effectiveness Checklist
- Branding and message - it must be clear at a glance who you are, what you do and why someone should stick around to learn more about you. This means you must craft an effective header (the top part of your website), which is the first impression a visitor gets. A great logo and tagline go a long way towards conveying the "who, what and why" of your brand.
- What do you want your visitor to do? Chances are, if your visitor isn't told what to do, they may glance around, perhaps even browse your site, but they will soon grow tired or frustrated and leave. You need a compelling call-to-action near the top of the site that appeals to their goals or needs and gives them immediate gratification. This could be in the form of a traditional banner or series of banners, but it should be crystal clear what the offer is, why it will help and how to get it. It should be the biggest, most obvious thing on your home page. Don't make your banners too complex, and don't make your visitors wait. The old "loading" widget is a sure-fire killer.
- What else do you want the visitor to do? Give them multiple options. You want your top priority call-to-action big and bold, and the rest scaled down in order of your priority.
- Keep your home page fresh. You need to update your calls-to-action frequently and include dynamic elements that refresh every day, such as your blog feed. Why? Because it shows that you care and that your company is on the move. You can convey success and growth and market leadership via your blog and blog feed on your home page.
- Keep your navigation simple and highly prioritized. Your menu works just like your calls-to-action. Place the most important page link first and the others follow in order of priority. Keep your link text simple and conventional. Visitors expect to see a "Products" or "Services" link, and familiarity is essential in order to prevent confusion and high bounce rates.
- Tell a bit of your story. Place a short video, or a graphic link to one, in a visible position so that your visitors can learn about you in 60 seconds or less without reading a long page of text.
- Yes, worry about SEO, but don't obsess about it. Your home page will certainly be the most visited page, so it needs to be optimized for search. You need to follow the rules for on-page optimization, but not at the expense of communicating your message and capturing leads. Loading up your pages with lots of keyword-stuffed text will likely backfire, driving visitors away rather than attracting them.
- Make it easy to contact and interact with you. If you do a lot of business by phone, put your phone number in a prominent place. Make sure your "contact us" link is easy to find - don't just bury it in the footer. Include social media icons linked to your company profiles to make it easy for visitors to follow you and engage with you via social networks.
- Create interest with your design. Sometimes the look and feel of your site is enough to capture the interest of your visitors, enough to drive them towards your calls-to-action. Your design should be consistent with your industry "style", but it doesn't have to be dull. Imagery, fonts and colors should all be familiar to professionals in your market segment but not used haphazardly. Professional designers know how to make this happen.
- Brag a bit, but be classy about it. If your clients include well-known brands, it's a good idea to show that with their logos (if they permit you to display them). This gives you instant credibility with prospective buyers. But don't overdo it. A few well-placed client logos go a long way.
Now step back for a minute and think about what you're replacing. Your old site was all about you - what's happening at XYZ Corp. You thought visitors would be intrigued by your news and events and would really love to see your office pictures and Board of Directors bios and pics. Then you found out that no one visited those pages and you got zero leads. Now your new inbound marketing website is all about your visitors and what they seek. They're looking for answers, and you are providing them in an environment that's easy to consume and effective enough to be counted as a valuable resource. But you are far from finished. Your team must constantly update your site with fresh content to make it dynamic and propel it to a position of prominence in your industry.
That's where inbound marketing comes in...
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