SIGNS YOUR SITE NEEDS A MAKEOVER (PART 1 OF 2)
All websites are not alike, nor should they be. However, all websites should be worthwhile to the end user, which means they must include useful product information, easy on-site navigation, and compelling messaging that instills credibility and trust with buyers.
As the customer experience continues to be a leading driver of B2B eCommerce success, businesses must continually adapt and improve their website to maintain interest and engage buyers. According to Forrester, while 84% of firms aspire to be a customer experience leader, only 1 out of 5 companies actually delivers a good or great customer experience.
In this two-part white paper series, we’ll tackle the problems and provide solutions for stale and poor-performing websites, focusing first on site content and then on overall functionality, look, and feel.
Many distributors and wholesalers – including yourself – may think they have a fully functional site that meets their customers’ needs when, in reality, it falls below customer expectations. To get a gauge on where your site stands, take a minute to answer the following questions:
- Do you offer comprehensive information about products in the form of technical documents, product guides, videos, and instruction manuals?
- Do you provide multiple methods for buyers to contact you with questions while they shop?
- Do you have a customer portal so buyers can see their contracted pricing, order status, and account history?
- Does it take more than five seconds for a web page to load?
- Can visitors shop on your site with their smartphone or tablet?
If you answered “no” to any of the questions above, your site – and your online business – could use a boost. Unfortunately, many B2B sites lack good content, functionality, and a user-friendly design because they don’t invest enough in improving the user experience. The user experience entails any interaction a person has with a company, its services, and its products, and it’s become an all-important factor in B2B eCommerce design. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2018 more than 50% of organizations will redirect their investments to customer experience innovations.
In this two-part article series, we’ll tackle the problems and provide solutions for stale, out-of-date, and poor- performing websites, focusing first on site content and then on overall functionality, look and feel.
94% of buyers say they would return to a company website that has valuable content.
CREATE COMPELLING, VALUABLE CONTENT
The design provides the basic skeleton of a website, but the content is the real “meat” of the site. The more meat on the bone, the more interest you’ll get from hungry buyers. Robust content that’s relatable to buyers keeps them on a site; non-specific, non-technical, or very little content makes them click off a site faster than you can say “Wait – don’t go!” There are many areas on a site where good content is not only beneficial, it’s necessary. Comprehensive product information and specs are obvious requirements for selling wholesale products online, but there are other places on a site where customers are looking for resources and support before, during, and after they make a purchase with a company. Here are some great ways to rejuvenate your online content:
- Build up your product content
Competition is fierce in the B2B marketplace, but one way businesses can gain the upper edge is by giving more comprehensive information about the products and services they sell. Provide more than just a color or size of a product; think about what the buyer may also need to know, like what material it’s made of or what applications it’s best suited for on the job. Does it stand up to extreme temperatures? Does it come with a warranty? What makes this product better than the others? In order to provide these important details, it may require going beyond the manufacturer-provided data and investing in content enrichment. Unilog’s product content services group has a team of product experts who search for and extract high-value attributes, product benefits and features, as well as supporting documentation like warranty guides, MSDS sheets, and installation manuals that are specific to your catalog of products and important to your customers. Think about it: as a buyer, would you rather have as much information as possible about a product, or take a chance and buy a product without the full details and hope it’s the right one for you?
- Wow them with visuals
In this digitally centric world, the human attention span has drastically diminished. So, to appeal to buyers, businesses are using visuals to gain people’s interest and keep them engaged. Why? Because they draw attention. In a study by Xerox, it found that visuals, especially those in color, increased people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80%. When it comes to website pages, choose images that help tell a story, convey a feeling, or highlight a point. Each page of your site should offer some kind of high-resolution imagery or graphics relevant to the page information.
On product pages, detailed product information is even more impactful when it’s combined with visuals. This includes multiple images and views of a product, line drawings, and the latest request from buyers – product videos. Research by Animoto found that four times as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it. Videos give manufacturers and distributors the opportunity to showcase a product’s features, illustrate how it works, and provide step-by-step instructions on how to install it.
Company blogs, white papers, and newsletters also benefit from the use of visuals because people retain information longer when a corresponding image is used with the content. Avoid using fuzzy or out-of-focus images – they only distract and disrupt the reader. Instead, invest in professional, high-resolution photography. For content that includes numbers or statistical information, create an infographic to help explain and retain the message.
- Become a library of information
B2B customer needs have evolved. Buyers who were once entirely dependent on a sales or service representative to make a purchase are now becoming increasingly independent shoppers who want to research and buy products themselves, and when it’s convenient for them. That’s why buyers want an eCommerce site to be more than just a place to transact. They’re looking for one place to learn about a product, make product comparisons, read the latest industry and product news, and then make a purchase. When businesses invest in website content development, they have the opportunity to build a solid repository of information that people can refer to any time, and at any stage of the buying cycle. The more content provided on a site, the more opportunities to attract the attention of search engines and buyers looking for helpful information. Developing and sharing content is a demanding task that requires time and commitment, but the rewards far outweigh the investment: a content-rich site becomes a valuable buyer resource and the company behind the site establishes more credibility and trust.
Create a variety of content such as blog posts (more conversational, opinion-driven pieces), articles or white papers (longer, more fact- and statistical-based pieces), press releases, client success stories/ testimonials, and industry research reports. Be sure to build out a calendar with topics so that fresh, original content is provided on a regular basis for site visitors.
- Use lead-generating forms that create action, not frustration
Once you begin attracting people to your site with worthwhile product content, industry news, and insights, you can then use their interest to generate potential leads and follow-up conversations. But before you start requiring people to fill out forms to access your content, consider the findings KoMarketing uncovered in a 2015 study of B2B online buyers. When it came to lead-generating forms, nearly 70% of respondents said excessive form field requirements would keep them from completing a general inquiry form on a site. For specific requests for content or services – such as case studies, brochures, trial offers, or webinars – respondents were more discerning about the types of information for which they would be willing to fill out a form. Over 60% said they would complete a form to receive a trial offer, followed by 48% who would provide their information for a product demo. Conversely, those same people were less willing to fill out a form for company-created content like a webinar, case study or newsletter. Some also noted negative experiences from filling out forms, such as never receiving the content they requested, receiving too slow of a response, or not receiving a response at all.
Taking all this feedback into consideration, a business must keep lead-generating forms short and simple. For access to articles, case studies and the like, consider requiring only a name and e-mail address. For free demos and trials, additional information like a company name and role are acceptable. Track your lead success using reporting tools like Google Analytics to determine how many site visitors interested in content and pages are actually filling out your forms.
- Make your messaging clear, concise and trustworthy
A business needs to sell more than just its products to buyers; it needs to sell itself. Meaningful company information helps build trust and validity with people, and is a great differentiator for creating a competitive advantage. For greater impact, follow these company messaging suggestions:
– Let buyers know your story, values, and mission
– Be clear in your messaging and stand behind your words
– Promote your staff and include photos to put faces with names
– Provide contact information on every page
It may come as a surprise, but having complete contact information is one of the most important elements B2B buyers want to see on a retailer’s website, according to respondents in KoMarketing’s survey. They felt that contact information and a company profile are two key pieces of content that build vendor integrity and buyer trust. Consequently, 44% of those surveyed said they would leave a vendor site if they couldn’t easily locate contact information such as a phone number.
IMPROVE YOUR CONTENT, IMPROVE YOUR BRAND
While there are many factors to creating a prevalent and profitable site, content lands near the top of the list. The proof is in the numbers: Clutch and Brave UX found that while 93% of buyers would return to a company website because of its ease of use, 94% would do so because the website’s content is valuable. When you improve your content, you not only create a valuable resource for buyers, you also build your brand and solidify your foothold in the B2B online marketplace.
If your digital commerce site needs a content facelift, enlist the help of Unilog. A leader in eCommerce solutions and services for the B2B online marketplace, Unilog’s product content services team builds robust product catalogs that feature marketing-driven content, impactful images, videos, and supporting documents. They specialize in optimizing existing product catalogs, sourcing and onboarding new products, as well as designing taxonomy frameworks that make it simple for buyers to find your products. Unilog can also make your business stand apart from the competition with CIMM2, its comprehensive eCommerce software platform built specifically for the B2B marketplace. CIMM2 is a web-based application designed with content-driven web pages, powerful site search, and a user-friendly interface so buyers can find the content they want easily. Contact Unilog today for a free site makeover consultation.
Unilog is a global technology company that delivers powerful, affordable eCommerce solutions for the B2B marketplace. Our cloud-based eCommerce platform and product data enrichment services help distributors, manufacturers, and wholesalers increase online sales, reduce cost to serve, and enhance their digital channel. Unilog is an ISO 9001:2008- and ISO 8000-certified company with North American headquarters outside of Philadelphia, PA and international headquarters in Bangalore, India. For more information, visit www.unilogcorp.com.