SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Zakia Bouachraoui, Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez, Roger Strukhoff, David Linthicum

Article

B2B Websites Must Build Engagement with Every Click

Get value and relevance on every web page

Focusing on website navigation paths makes perfect sense for B2B websites with lengthening sales cycles. The added pressure for marketers to produce measurable ROMI means that each click needs to be considered a conversion that strengthens engagement, builds trust, and leads to verifiable conversations. Websites should drive buyer momentum and work toward reversing that lengthening sales cycle statistic.

When you build a B2B website, it’s imperative that you think about the site user's context. You need to plan for and strategize every click and interaction by focusing on your website visitors’ thought processes. What a user decides to do next, after a click, should be anticipated, not an afterthought. Every scenario you can map out will help your website get closer to delivering value that matches needs. Because, let’s face it, buyers will only spend so much effort trying to match their needs to your content.

Managing your website goes way beyond posting your latest article. Where you place it, and the options the user has once they get to it should be synthesized against buyer personas and consideration processes. Building navigation paths thoughtfully will help you escalate initial attention into ongoing engagement. If you’re only focused on getting buyers to read one thing, then that’s exactly what you’re going to get. And, in a B2B complex sale, it won’t be enough.

Research shows that people spend an inordinate amount of time researching purchases on the web. Self education and anonymous learning are today’s norm. Many B2B purchases are large enough to demand due diligence, but they can also be complex enough that people charged with overcoming challenges need education. They need to develop knowledge and options that show them how to think about the possibilities for solving their problem. Quite often this is daunting challenge and leaves them floundering for a way to frame the conversation.

The opportunity to engage buyers, influencers and end users by enabling them to "see" the issues, obstacles, and possibilities they wouldn't think about on their own is huge. If your website provides content in a context that not only frames, but encourages, interaction and dialogue because it's focused on them, not you, then you're on your way to building engagement with payback.

The best way to do this is to block out your buyer’s steps for problem solving. Your products may solve a variety of critical business problems. Take one at a time and map out the scenario they may choose as they gather, ingest and use information to arrive at a solution. Employ personas and profiles to help you. Interview customers and salespeople to gain further insights. Then deploy your content in a way that leads the buyer through their thinking and education process.

Buyers are begging vendors to educate them. Research shows that education can rate higher on their importance scale than even price. They don’t have the time or expertise to solve these problems on their own or your company wouldn’t be needed. Remember that even if your solution is “perfect” for them, they also need a high level of comfort with the journey they’re embarking on to deploy your solution.

It’s also important to realize that each of the people in the buying group will not learn the same way. Some may prefer to listen to a podcast or attend a webinar on a subject of interest. Some may want longer papers that explore the intricacies of a subject. Others may prefer to get their education through a series of shorter articles so they can focus on one idea at a time.

Every click you get from a buyer should be an indication that they’re becoming more engaged with your expertise, your products and your company. Not that they’re lost, frustrated and fruitlessly searching for something that answers their needs and their questions. For every click to be a conversion, you need to ensure you’ve planned for the transition from one resource to the next and that each click pulls more mindshare into your sphere of influence.

More Stories By Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee, CEO & B2B Marketing Strategist of her firm Marketing Interactions, helps companies with complex sales increase and quantify marketing effectiveness by developing and executing interactive eMarketing strategies driven by compelling content.

Her book, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, was published by McGraw-Hill.

Her articles and blog posts have been used for university ezines, published in CRM Today, Selling Power, Rain Today and Enterprise CRM News. Marketing Profs has incorporated her blog posts into a number of their "Get to The Point" newsletters.

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