Whether you’re planning to redesign your B2B company’s current website, or you are planning to build an entirely new website for a startup or rebrand, making sure you’re using the right building blocks is absolutely critical to the effectiveness and success of your new website.
All B2B websites are not created equal. Take a quick look at your competitors’ websites and you’ll see a disparity in everything from design, messaging, content and functionality. But developing a powerful website that functions as a platform for business development requires the right strategy and components—or “building blocks.” Here is a list of the basic building blocks for a B2B website.
1. Planning and online marketing strategy
Building a powerful B2B website requires every aspect of your website to be strategically and meticulously planned and executed. Your web design partner should spend the proper time upfront gaining insight into your business, your goals, your sales process and how your website should tie into other online and offline marketing efforts. This is where working with a strategic marketing partner—whose expertise in marketing is just as strong as their expertise in web development—is absolutely critical.
2. Content strategy
A solid content strategy that defines how you will meet your target audiences’ needs and achieve your marketing goals is a critical building block of your website. Content is the magnet of your website and a content strategy will guide your plans for the what, where, when and why of content creation. This should include:
• Customer profile (persona) development
• Content mapping
• Content audit
• Action plan
• Information architecture
3. Key messaging and copywriting
One of the building blocks of a great B2B website that often receives the least amount of attention is key messaging and copywriting. Not surprisingly, many proposals don’t include this, because many web development shops don’t have the expertise in-house or companies try to save budget by taking care of it themselves. While it’s true that most agencies won’t be able to write your copy from scratch, don’t underestimate the value of having a professional help you craft powerful key messages that speak to your audience and bring “one-voice” and clarity to your copy.
4. Beautiful and functional custom design
The design of your website is unbelievably important. In fact, research has found that visitors will form an opinion about your website (and thus your company) in as little as 50 milliseconds—the blink of an eye. Your website is the face of your business online and represents who you are and what you offer, so needless to say, investing in professional and creative web design is crucial.
But great web design is about more than just attractive visuals. It also creates a positive user experience that will impact usability, navigation, engagement and ultimately conversion.
5. Responsive design
Building a website that works well on nearly every device is critical in our multi-screen world. And responsive design provides a viable solution and has become a “must have” for new websites. Effective responsive design requires careful planning, testing and adapting throughout both design and development. And while responsive design is a wise investment, it does require an increased investment in budget due to the additional planning, design, development and testing that is required to ensure a consistent and optimized user experience on every device.
6. Thought leadership blog
Blogging is a cornerstone of content marketing; it builds thought leadership, fuels SEO, propels social media marketing, drives website traffic and helps to generate and nurture leads. Having a blog that includes the proper functionality is a great way to provide content, increase traffic and generate leads, as well as earn SEO benefits from traffic and inbound links. Your blog should be integrated into your overall website design and navigation, as well as be cross promoted in various sections of your website.
7. Lead generation
Your blog will attract visitors to your website, but once they’re on your site, you need a lead generation strategy in place to drive them to take the next step. Your lead generation strategy should start with developing premium content offers such as whitepapers, eBooks, ROI calculators, blog subscription and complimentary consultations. A premium content offer in the context of online lead generation is a piece of content that has enough perceived value that a visitor is willing to give some personal information in exchange for it. Your premium content offers should be promoted throughout your website with calls-to-action that lead to landing pages optimized to effectively convert website visitors into leads. Landing pages promote the benefits of the offer, simplify the offer process and capture contact information from a visitor in exchange for an offer.
8. Custom CMS development
Building your website on a content management system (CMS) is another crucial building block of a marketing-focused website. But don’t assume that WordPress, a popular CMS, will function the same on the back-end regardless of who develops the website for you. The back-end design of the CMS interface often varies about as much as the front-end design.
It’s important to partner with an agency that will build a fully custom website (not a pre-purchased theme that they’ve “customized”). And in addition to the custom design on the front-end, the back-end interface should also be fully customized for your website, allowing you to be able to update and control virtually every word and image on your website—easily and quickly.
9. SEO best practices and content optimization
SEO has changed a lot in the last several years, with more and more emphasis on creating quality content that users are searching for, instead of technical wizardry and trying to game the system. But there are still best practices as it relates to how your website is developed that need to be addressed. In fact, failing to optimize your new website can have a negative effect on your existing search engine rankings and traffic.
It’s essential that your agency employs the latest industry best practices for SEO techniques, which covers everything from page load speed, on-page factors and clean code. You’ll also want to make sure that the copy, page titles and meta descriptions are optimized based on keyword research or search phrases that you’ve identified.
10. Marketing automation/CRM integration
Building a B2B website that functions as a business development platform focused on generating and nurturing leads will require the integration of marketing automation software and ideally a CRM system. Marketing automation will help you get the most from your website investment and give you complimentary online marketing tools such as landing pages, lead capture forms, list management and automated email campaigns. It also allows you go beyond basic web analytics to get real marketing and sales intelligence that will boost business development. Website visitor tracking can provide real-time intelligence about a lead’s interests, behaviors and sales-readiness, and allows your business development staff to have a much more targeted and relevant conversation with prospects and clients.
Marketing automation also has the ability to integrate with CRM systems, allowing for improved web-to-lead functionality and giving business development reps lead behavior and intelligence right inside their CRM console. The integration allows for easy fine tuning of both the quantity and quality of leads being pushed into the CRM and over to the business development team for increased alignment with the marketing efforts.
There are certainly other factors that are important to a website project’s success, but these 10 items provide the foundation of building a B2B website that is focused on lead generation and business development.