When I talk to business executives about web presence, I get an interesting mix of responses:
- What is a strong web presence and why do I care?
- I sell a/an (infrastructure/sophisticated technology/enterprise/ services/ international) product to businesses. How do I know my customers are on the Internet?
- We just spent $X on a website upgrade/replacement. Doesn’t that give us a strong web presence?
- We just had an SEO/SEM firm optimize our site. We now have a top ten ranking for keywords X, Y and Z.
Let’s start with the first response: “Why do I care?” Whether you’re selling to business or consumers, you care because your customers and partners are active on the Internet. In fact, it’s getting very hard to find any business professionals that don’t use the Internet to find, learn, compare, evaluate, or select the products and services they want for their organization. After all, it’s faster and cheaper to build a short list of vendor candidates with a little online research than it is to orchestrate a long parade of outside sales reps and hold innumerable vendor meetings.
If the Internet is such a great resource and productivity enhancement for your buyer, then what does that do for you, the seller?
Your Business Objectives
Whatever B2B product or service you provide, a predictable, growing revenue stream is likely a critical business objective. Just as the web increases productivity for your buyers, it’s also available to you to as a seller to improve your marketing and sales Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Here’s a short list of marketing and sales business objectives critical to almost any business.
- Create better consistency and predictability in B2B lead generation
- Build an increasing flow of qualified leads
- Decrease the cost per lead
- Shorten the sales cycle
Improving Marketing & Sales KPIs
Your website and web presence are critical to improving these KPIs. The goal is to elevate your website from an online brochure to a B2B lead generation machine. Online signage merely shows your prospects and customers that you exist and provides information about your products, solutions and company. Many times, that signage is presented with a compelling and striking visual graphic design. But is that enough?
Instead, our goal is to drive marketing and sales KPIs, improving revenue performance. A strong web presence with a lead generation machine website positively impacts these KPIs. Let’s revisit the previous four marketing and sales business objectives in the context of web presence and lead generation.
- Create better consistency and predictability in B2B lead generation – The web offers a multitude of opportunities for building effective and measurable marketing campaigns. Even with small scale campaigns, one can identify tactics and program costs required to drive predictable lead flow. Using a blend of tactics, the new question becomes: What is the required number of leads required to meet revenue targets? You’ll find a great article covering this topic in more depth at How Many Sales Leads (Do You Really Need)?
- Build an increasing flow of qualified leads – As you grow your web marketing, B2B visitor traffic and prospect inquiries will correspondingly increase. By refocusing the website on lead generation, we want to deploy tactics that convert website visitor traffic into actionable leads for your sales team. Increased website traffic and improving website conversion ratios is a key part of the recipe for more leads.
- Decrease the cost per lead – Increased website-originated leads through pull marketing tactics result in an amazing pull marketing phenomenon. Prospects find your business and choose to engage with you. And the marketing program cost to attract those prospects is lower than the cost associated with push marketing in B2B (e.g. advertising). As online pull marketing tactics take effect, your blended cost per lead drops.
- Shorten the sales cycle – One of the significant challenges facing a B2B organization is the constantly lengthening sales cycles. By adding pull marketing tactics, B2B prospects find you, often engaging at a point in their buying cycle when they’re sales-ready. Your website helps address the education, self qualification, and needs assessment portion at the top of your sales funnel. More prospects start engaging your sales teams further down the sales cycle. To learn more, here’s a recent blog post on How to Shorten the B2B Sales Cycle.
As a result, business objectives drive the need to achieve better, more cost effective lead generation. And a key pillar of better lead generation is an optimized website with strong web presence. Looking forward, we’ll delve deeper into specific characteristics of strong web presence and your website as a lead generation machine.