The Modern Purpose of a Website

The evolution of the web, an introduction of web3.0, and a guide to planning a B2B website upgrade

Website technology has come a long way

Originally, a website was like a sign on the building and a yellow-page ad combined.  It provided credibility and contact information and put a stake in the ground to explain the purpose of your business.

Over time, technology improved, and websites became interactive but with a delay between each interaction.  – with form, comments, and ratings, but generally not real-time interaction.  Bandwidth and server capacity improved, allowing for more multimedia content, especially videos.  Improvements in search engines have necessitated SEO, and we leverage metadata to allow search engines to show relevant extracts from the website right in the search engine search results.

We are on the cusp of Web 3.0 which is expected to deliver a real-time interactive web experience with integrated transactions experienced in virtual reality.  Some of the technologies making this possible are intelligent chatbots, virtual and augmented reality, blockchain, and enhanced security.  Going forward, your website will likely recognize each visitor and their needs.  Artificial Intelligence will help tailor the experience to the visitor, their industry, and their role.  Your chatbot will be able to leverage your internal processes to have natural language conversations with your website visitors to help them find exactly what they need when they need it and even conduct basic transactions without any support.  You will be able to experience the web in a virtual reality environment, and your “website” should be able to take over some sales and support functions autonomously.  We are beginning to see these technologies in action, and expect them to become more available over the next few years.

  Web 1.0 Web 2.0 Web 3.0
Primary Purpose Billboard / Office Sign / Basic Contact Lead Capture Self-Fulfillment of sales and support
Multimedia Basic text and graphics Videos / Animations Virtual Reality
SEO

Directory Listing

Basic content search

Meta-data-driven structured data to standardize search results

Natural language Search

Voice Searchable

Image Searchable

Video Searchable

Chat N/A

Flow-based Chatbot

Staffed Chat

Autonomous Chat Bots
Interaction N/A Asynchronous Synchronous

Today for most B2B businesses, we recommend targeting an advanced web2.0 website with a clear customer journey and strong calls to action to move the visitor from one stage to the next.  We also recommend coaching businesses to start looking to leverage artificial intelligence to help offload some sales and support efforts.

Today’s Business Owner

As a business owner today, you should expect your website to be searchable.  Prospects should be able to find your website based on their explicit needs at the time, and interact with your company through the detailed view of your content from their perspective –  this is a critical point – your website should help guide a prospective customer through the purchase journey, meeting them where they are, focusing on their story, their industry, their pain points, and the benefits they should expect from your solution.

Today, the primary purpose of a website for most B2B companies is lead generation, delivering competitive credibility, and reducing some of the efforts of the sales and support teams.  From a sales perspective, modern B2B marketing research demonstrates it can take up to 30 (sometimes even more) touches to close a sale.  A good goal for a B2B website is to help guide the customer through the customer journey, meet them where they are, and reflect their pain points in their own language.

Decision by Committee

One critical challenge that has been evolving over the past several years is a shift from a key decision maker to a decision committee.  One result of this from a website design perspective is as additional committee members begin to become involved in the decision process, each role has its own criteria for determining the credibility of a prospective provider.  It is important that for each role that is likely to be involved in a decision committee that the website hits those critical points within 2 “clicks” – meaning from the home page, clicking on no more than 2 links should reveal the answers.

Role Typical Criteria
Member(s) with budgetary authority
  • Will it solve the pain points?
  • Will it save money?
  • Will it increase revenue?
  • References
Executive
  • Executive Team
  • Capabilities
Finance
  • Stability (Financial / Time)
  • Impact on the bottom line
Technology
  • Certifications / Partnerships
  • Infrastructure / Security / Redundancy
Operations
  • Documented Processes
  • Support Structure
General
  • Industry Match
  • Other Customers / Testimonials

 

Building the Background

In order to build a successful website, we believe it is critical to understand the target market and served market.  More established organizations will have much of this information already prepared, but with newer clients, we may have to build a more fundamental view.  We try to understand typical pain points that affect the target market, how the solution addresses those pain points, and what benefits the solution offers.  If they are different for different vertical markets, then it often makes sense to build a matrix of pain points, solutions, and benefits by vertical market.  We might build our understanding by interviewing key stakeholders in the organization, existing customers, and lost opportunities.

One well-known way of starting this process is by building out a competitive positioning analysis or a SWOT (strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats) analysis. You move step by step through your solution to identify the key differentiators. What are competitive strengths, and weaknesses? Where are there opportunities, and threats?  Once you have gone through the full analysis, you can use those different strengths and opportunities to connect your targets to real-world data.

Look at Google Trends, and Google Webmasters to identify typical keywords that are likely to drive valuable website traffic. Based on your target market, you are going to ask yourself what questions your solution answers, and what someone would search on the internet to find that solution. Every piece of content and page you have on your website should be able to fit the role of being the answer to someone’s question.  There are a variety of tools to use when beginning to build a plan for increasing relevant website traffic including Semrush, SerpStat, and SpyFu. Using these to look at the “questions” or search terms that are bringing viewers to your competitors content can help you to frame your content to come up under similar searches.

Starting the Process

A good place to start the process is with a frame of reference.  Many keyword research tools will identify likely competitors which will provide rich examples to work from.  Some key metrics to look at to identify the current position of your website compared to likely competitors are Domain Authority score; the number of organic keywords and monthly SEO clicks; and the number of paid keywords with monthly estimated budget and estimated monthly ad clicks. A quick analysis should give you a frame of reference for how much work needs to be done to establish a credible competitive position.  Of course, this is just a starting point and requires additional refinement, as sometimes a significant amount of traffic to a website may be completely irrelevant.  Unfortunately, there are inexperienced or even unethical marketing teams that prioritize getting any traffic to the website, and not relevant traffic.

 

Social Media Structure Questions

  • Does my social media presence reinforce and strengthen our position in the market?
  • Does our social media profile show the benefits of our solution for our target market, or is it just a “product brochure”?
  • Does our social media give opportunities to engage with prospects, establish leadership, and answer typical questions?
  • Does my team purposefully interact with our social media profile to build credibility?
  • Do we have a standard process to ask our customers to interact with our social media profiles, and give us reviews and testimonials?

Building B2B Website Traffic

Building your B2B website into a lead generation engine takes time.  One way to reduce the time is to begin Search Engine Marketing while you ramp up the content of your website for Search Engine Optimization.

As soon as you start to drive traffic to your website, we always recommend adding remarketing ads.  With remarketing, you put a cookie on a website visitor which can be identified through an advertising network.  Using that cookie, you can continue to deliver targeted display advertising to guests who visited your website and follow the visitor around the internet for several weeks or even months after their last visit.  This can be invaluable in helping to bring visitors back to your website to consume honeypot content, encouraging them to share their contact information.

Key Terms

Search Engine Marketing – Paying Search Engines for ads that display when keywords are searched.  Typically for keyword marketing, payments are only made for clicks to the website

Search Engine Optimization –Producing content that is optimized based on keywords used in searches in search engines like google, along with strategic backlinks can help your website appear on top keyword searches for your industry.

Bounce Rate – the percentage of visitors to the website that browse no more than one page of the website, and take no action.

Building Web Traffic - An Example

The Attention Span of a Goldfish

One thing you will realize relatively quickly is it is easy to increase traffic, but much harder to find traffic that is relevant and valuable.  You can target keywords, and find you are getting traffic from completely unrelated visitors.  They will realize it too, and bounce immediately off your website.  When you’re paying for those visitors, it can be very painful.  We spend a large portion of our time when building campaigns finding the negative keywords that will help us to reduce the number of irrelevant visitors, and really focus on the “non-bounce” visitors that have the potential to convert to leads. One of the keys to demonstrating that your business can answer the customer’s pain points is to strive to reflect the actual keywords the visitor searched for to find your website immediately and prominently on the page they land on.   It’s even more important with paid ads to have landing pages that directly relate to the paid keywords and ad content to dramatically reduce the initial bounce rate for visitors.

Fun Fact:

We often joke (with a grain of truth) that the average website visitor has the attention span of a goldfish.  You have about 8 seconds to demonstrate that you can meet their needs before they leave.

30 Touches

Once a visitor is on your website, the goal is to identify that visitor, so you can push towards the 30 touches to convert them to a sale.  How do we do this?  By meeting the customer where they are, speaking their language, and giving them a clear path of engagement to move forward on their journey.

We try to include “Honeypot” content that will be valuable enough for the visitor to share their contact information in return for the content.  When choosing one, it’s important to ask yourself if you would give out your contact information in exchange for the same piece of content. Some typical Honeypot content we have success with are ebooks, white papers, on-demand webinars, and quizzes.

The Honeypot content and where it’s presented (the landing page) can help to infer the persona of the website visitor.  It might show us what level the visitor is, what industry they are coming from, what platforms they are using, and some of the pain points they may be experiencing.  The more personalized the content and the follow-up, the better chance for success in breaking through all of the noise to get the visitor’s attention.  It is often helpful to leverage a marketing automation platform to help capture the visitor information and history and to help guide the nurture process to be targeted and relevant to the visitor.

Fun Fact:

It takes up to 30 touches for a B2B customer to make a purchase decision.  A touch includes experiences such as website visits, seeing ads, receiving emails, phone calls, voicemails, or text messages.

Honeypot flow

After the Initial Contact

Once the visitor has come to the website and shared their contact information, we want to do three things.  1) Immediately follow up to see if there is an urgent need or pain point, we can help with. 2) See if they are interested in a more personalized, guided journey by inviting them to a meeting, a webinar, or other events.  3) Begin a nurture track to continue to educate the prospect and help both you and the prospect to see if there is a business fit. Stay tuned for future blog posts to learn more about your next steps after your website is up and running. If you’d like help getting your own website up to date, just reach out to our team at [email protected]