From time to time on our blog, we share business development and sales tips that help with nurturing or converting B2B marketing leads. In this post, the message is simple: you should check your email junk folder at least once a day. Why? Because there could be exciting opportunities or responses lurking in there.
Let’s take a look at 3 reasons why you should check your junk mail folder at least once a day.
Website Lead Gen Forms Can End Up There
This first is one of the most important reasons to check your junk mail folder once, if not twice, a day. Ideally, a B2B marketing strategy includes lead generation forms on a company website. The form submissions are typically set up to distribute to at least 2 people within a company. Many times, the set up is a smooth process and the leads end up highly visible in the desired recipient’s email inbox, giving the recipient warning and allowing them to follow up with the lead.
However, for reasons known and unknown, they may end up in the spam or junk folder. If a form submission contains any number of “trigger” terms that an email client like Microsoft Outlook or Gmail labels as “spammy,” the form submission will bypass the inbox and go directly to spam. When it’s spam, it’s great. When it’s a genuine lead looking for pricing or wanting a demo, it’s bad. Additionally, if an email address is set up to be both the sender and receiver of a form submission (as can happen with website administrators), email clients will label these emails as spam. These are the known reasons and may or may not be fixable.
The unknown reasons why a company’s website form submission goes to spam? They are…unknown. For both reasons known and unknown, your company’s website form submission may be ending up in your junk or spam folder. It’s essential that you check your junk or spam folder at least once a day to see if any genuine B2B marketing leads landed there.
Email Nurturing Campaign Responses Might Be Hiding
There are several other great reasons to check your junk or spam email folder each day. The second reason is that responses to email newsletters or email nurturing campaigns might be hiding in there. For example, if using MailChimp for marketing newsletters or nurturing campaigns, it’s a best practice for B2B companies to have those emails come from a real email address. That way, if a user on the email list replies or responds, a live person gets the email in real time. However, if the user’s email client strips out the images or videos in the response, it may be categorized as spam and sent to junk by the recipient’s email client.
For this very reason, it’s important to check your junk folder several times after sending an email newsletter or launching an email nurturing campaign. If an individual requests to be taken off the list by responding to an email, it’s essential that is handled. You don’t want to get a bad reputation or alienate a client or prospect by continuing to email them when they have expressly asked to be removed. Conversely, if the end user enjoyed the content of the newsletter or is responding to get more information about the nurturing campaign, you must be as responsive as possible and get back to them quickly. Otherwise, it will look like automation runs your company and you aren’t real people (which will, in turn, tank your company’s credibility and trustworthiness).
Great Vendor Opportunities Trigger Spam Warnings
Last, but not least, is the potential for vendor opportunities. As email security gets tighter and tighter, more and more first-time emails will go to junk or spam folders. A great partnership or tool might be available that will enable your firm to grow, but the initial outreach email may end up in your junk folder. Since your email client doesn’t recognize the email address as a trusted email address and the email likely contains a link or two, it’s automatically considered junk. Additionally, if the vendor is using any type of email automation software, it might appear spammy since it wasn’t sent from the same server that the email address sends from.
While we all understand that not every vendor is the right match or can offer the value that you need to grow your business, there are great vendor opportunities out there that can support your B2B marketing efforts and help you do your job better. You don’t want to miss them when they come along, particularly if they reach out right when you are in the process of locating a vendor that offers the product or services you need the most.
Just Do It: Check Your Junk Mail Folder
Honestly, we understand that your day is hyper-busy and you have a tough enough time managing your inbox, let alone all the other email folders. However, a quick peek every day at your junk mail folder might just be key to closing a new lead, keeping an existing client happy, or find the right vendor at the right time.
Interested in a personalized consultation regarding your B2B marketing efforts? Contact us today to schedule a call.
For many B2B marketing professionals, your job isn’t done once a lead is generated or captured via a website form or inbound phone call. There is no ceremonial handing off of leads to sales. In the B2B space, many marketing professionals are also required to wear a sales hat and tasked with nurturing leads from a qualified prospect to a sales-ready opportunity to a closed deal. After all, a lead isn’t necessarily a closed deal.
At Bop Design, we see lead generation as only part of the revenue generating puzzle. We’ve seen a lot of success, both internally and in our clients’ organizations, for nurturing leads along to customer acquisition. As such, we are sharing our top tips for nurturing marketing leads, especially with the help of content marketing pieces.
Follow Up After First Contact
Once you have a lead in your hand (figuratively) or in your email inbox (literally), the nurturing process begins. The prospect has taken the first step to reach out to your company and has shown interest. Don’t drop the ball now. Your first step should be to follow up with the lead within 1 business day. Responding to an email within 1 day is critical to closing the deal.
Essentially, you just want to get in front of them and give them a human point of contact. While many firms are moving towards automating this first point of contact, in the B2B marketing space, it’s important to have a human make this connection. Remember this can also be a good point to disqualify a lead and save yourself and the prospect time.
Share Helpful Blogs
After the first follow-up email to the prospect, it’s time to send helpful content (once a reasonable amount of time has passed, of course). Blog posts are a great way to easily share tips with prospects, build up your credibility, and show that you understand their needs and can anticipate their questions. Be sure that any blog posts you send are educational in nature and are not merely sales brochures in blog format.
Send White papers, Guides, Case Studies
Content marketing pieces aren’t simply lead generation tools. They are also great lead nurturing tools. When it comes to designing a B2B marketing strategy, content pieces that address every stage of the sales process are essential to create a smoother sales process for prospects. For example, white papers, guides, and case studies should be created to help answer a prospect’s questions about the results your products or services provide, how best to utilize your products or services, or how your firm helps clients solve problems or streamline processes. Sending these content pieces along to a prospect builds value and lays the groundwork for a successful partnership.
Discuss a Proposal
Anyone can create a proposal and email it to a prospect. However, successful sales and marketing folks take the time to explain a proposal either in person or via a virtual presentation. If you send a proposal over email without an in-person explanation, it is almost a guarantee that your firm’s products and services will be evaluated on price alone. If you aren’t the low-price leader, you will lose out to competitors every time.
A critical step in the lead nurturing process is hand-holding. Scheduling a call or meeting to discuss a service or product proposal takes the pressure off the prospect, gives them the opportunity to see the value of your offerings, and ask any follow-up questions.
Reach Out with References
After you’ve sent your best content marketing pieces and discussed a proposal with a prospect, the lead nurturing doesn’t stop. Offer to send references. Many prospects are not familiar with the products or services your firm is offering and would like to get a chance to ask candid questions of your current clients about what it’s like to work with your company. Don’t make them ask. Understand their perspective and alleviate any uncertainty by providing contact information for trusted, happy clients (with their permission, of course).
Last Ditch Emails
Sometimes great leads seem to go cold. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Don’t automatically assume that a prospect went with your closest competitor. Instead, send what we call “last ditch effort” emails to try to get them to respond. This does not mean you should pester them or leave a bunch of messages. Rather, craft a personalized, brief email letting them know you understand they may have gone with a competitor, may have had a change in budget, or have redirected their attention to a different project or objective. Nine times out of ten, they will respond and either confirm one of these reasons or let you know where they are in the sales process. If they are a lost lead, at least you know and can remove them from your funnel and apply any feedback into your future B2B marketing efforts.
Looking to generate inbound leads for your B2B firm? Find out how content marketing can help with generating and nurturing leads for your organization today.
We’ve talked a lot best practices for converting website leads. One of the main things we see companies take for granted in the sales conversion process is responsiveness. When an inbound lead comes in or a prospect emails your team, how your B2B marketing and sales team handles that lead often determines whether your firm is able to convert that lead.
In this blog, we examine why it is imperative that your sales team responds to any and all sales inquiries within 1 business day.
Your Sales Process Sets the Tone
For a prospective client, the most accurate preview of a company’s service delivery is the sales process. If the sales process is easy and the sales team is responsive, typically that’s how the customer sales team will be too. Even though sales and customer service are two distinct departments, most of the time the overall company culture and values are consistent.
Similarly, if the sales process is confusing and clumsy, it’s likely that the service delivery will be sub-optimal also. As a B2B marketing and sales team, you want to be as responsive as possible since this is a prospect’s first impression of your company. This is why it is critical that all sales inquiries are replied to within 1 business day!
Here are other reasons why this is so important:
Head Start: If your B2B marketing and sales team replies 24 hours before the competition, your company already has a head start in closing the deal. While the competition is initially responding, your sales team is already at the proposal stage. Fair or not, prospects tend to favor the company that is quickest to the close.
Make It Easy: This may seem harsh but prospective clients are inherently lazy. A prospect does not want to put forth that much effort to get quotes and they shouldn’t have to put out much effort. They expect the companies in consideration to be the ones to “jump through hoops.” By replying quickly to sales inquiries, you are making it as easy as possible for a prospect to do business with you.
Positive Impact on Price: If your B2B marketing and sales team practices responsiveness, then that typically positions your brand as organized, efficient, and experienced. This builds credibility with the prospect, allowing you to price higher for your services. Additionally, by being the first to respond, your proposal will become the benchmark to which other proposals are compared.
Woody Allen’s famous quote “80% of life is showing up” applies to the 1-day email responsiveness rule. If your sales team shows up before the competition, there’s a great chance you will win the deal.
Looking to increase your B2B firm’s inbound lead generation? Contact us today to learn more about creating a custom content marketing strategy to generate leads.
This seems to be the age-old question when it comes to content marketing. There are various schools of thought, with some folks on the side that premium content should never be gated* while others believe that all of it should be gated. The real answer is that a strong content strategy should include a mix of gated and ungated content.
*Gated content is content on a website that resides behind a form. This means that the website visitor must complete a form that collects contact information before they can access the content offer – thus creating a lead for your sales team. In many cases, the content is emailed, so the user must provide a valid email address to get access.
So what content should be gated and what should be ready for download without any strings attached? There is no absolute answer. Rather, it depends on a couple of different factors. In this blog post, we’ll explore a few questions you must ask to determine whether a piece of content will be gated or ungated.
Don’t Go for the Ask Too Early
The best way to explain this is in terms of dating and marriage. You wouldn’t ask a person to marry you as soon as you meet them. Instead, you get to know them. You talk on the phone or over text message or via online chat. Then you go on a few dates to determine if you are the right fit. If you like them, then you continue dating them. Only once you feel they are the right fit, you ask them to marry you.
Similar rules apply for B2B content marketing. When a prospect lands on your company’s website for the first time, you don’t want to ask for all their contact details. That would scare them away immediately. They may not be ready to provide that information. They need to get to know a little bit about your company, what products or services you offer, and what value you offer them. For example, your products and services pages should be easily accessible. Any descriptions of features or product brochures should be ungated so prospects not familiar with your business can decide if your company offers what they need.
Where Is the Prospect in the Funnel?
We’ve stated before that an effective B2B content marketing strategy includes content pieces to meet the needs of prospects and clients during all stages of the sales process (including the retention and upsell process!). Before you create a piece of premium content, determine where the prospect or client is in the sales funnel.
Are they at the very top of the funnel and simply learning who offers what?
Have they narrowed down the options to 2 – 3 potential partners and are looking to compare products or services?
Have they already received a pricing list or proposal from your firm?
Are they ready to commit but need to convince the C-suite of your value?
Are they a long-term client that needs to be upgraded to more advanced services?
Are they an unhappy customer who needs extra resources to understand how to better utilize your products and services?
It’s important to understand where the prospect or client is in the sales funnel to decide whether to gate a piece of content. If your content piece is primarily to show prospects what makes your product or service unique, you likely don’t want it to be gated. However, if you have a comprehensive case study that shares the “secret sauce” of why your products or services help clients, then you may need to gate that content.
Is the Content Considered Thought Leadership or Proprietary?
Content serves a variety of purposes.
It can answer common questions
It can demonstrate how a product or service works
It can show the benefits of a method or approach
It can provide experienced thought leadership on a hot topic
It can discuss current trends
It can take a side on an industry hot button
It can provide real-life examples of how a product or service added value for a client
When determining whether a piece of content should be gated, it’s essential to consider the amount of effort it takes to put together that piece of content, how available that type of content is in the industry, and the perceived value to the prospect or client. For example, blog posts typically aren’t gated because that is not where a company posts proprietary content. Rather, it’s thought leadership content that builds up the brands credibility. As a company, you want as many prospects as possible to be able to read your blog. However, if you have patented a proprietary product or process, you definitely want to gate that content.
Give a Lot Away, But Not All
As stated before, there is no absolute for gating B2B content marketing pieces. Rather, it’s a decision that must be made on a case by case basis. The questions listed here should guide you in evaluating whether to gate a particular piece of content.
Content marketing shows up in a variety of places and in a range of media, including everything from blog posts, to articles published on third-party sites, to infographics, to mobile apps, to printed guides, and videos. Regardless of the different media channels employed in B2B content marketing, it’s critical that your website acts as the centerpiece, where content is created and traffic is directed.
In this post, we take a look at why your website must be an effective content marketing platform, along with things you can do to create a website that properly supports your B2B content strategy.
It’s a Central Hub
Your website must be the central hub for all your content marketing efforts. If you send an email newsletter, it should link to your website. Any blogs you post to social media will bring visitors back to the full posting on your website. Any printed materials you share at tradeshows or conferences will list your firm’s website URL for more information. When prospects search for your products and services on search engines, you want your website to come up at the top of the results.
You B2B website is where you want your potential clients to go to learn more about your products and services. Why? For the simple fact that you have 100% control over it. Third party review sites, online directories, video hosting sites, and social media are crucial to your inbound marketing efforts, but ideally, you want to point all visitors to those outside sources back to your website.
Make sure your website is optimized for fast loading times and all outside sources (your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Yelp, and Google+ pages) are clearly linked to your B2B website. Ensure it easy to find your website URL on all these outside sources.
It’s All About the User Experience
If you are pointing visitors from outside sources back to your website, you want to ensure their experience with your website is seamless. Unfortunately, many companies build their websites with content marketing as an afterthought. If you build out your website with future B2B content marketing efforts in mind, you can create a design that is optimized for content marketing. The blog will be easy to find. The resource library with all downloadable material will be clearly visible and only take one click to find. You’ll already have a video library to host all your new videos and will be easy to update when you create more.
When building a website, a little planning for future content marketing goes a long way. By creating the tools in advance, you can choose how you want them all to appear rather than just being stuck with what your website manager can throw together quickly. A well-designed website that is built with certain types of content in mind not only looks great but makes finding content easy for the user.
It’s a Tool for Passive Nurturing
You can’t be available to hold every prospect’s hand throughout the sales process. The good news is that your website is your 24/7 salesperson. Since it hosts the majority of your B2B content marketing pieces, it’s also a passive nurturing tool. It allows your company to share helpful information to guide the visitor down the sales funnel without needing a sales or marketing person available all the time. The flexibility allows a potential client to take their time, learn more about your products or services, see what you offer, and get what they need as they navigate the vendor selection process.
Ensure that your website can host a variety of content marketing materials, including downloads, articles, videos, how-tos, images, and links to social media or review sites. Lay all these pieces out in an intuitive manner and be sure to speak to various stages of the buying cycle. Again, make all the content on your website easy to find. Don’t bury the link to your blog deep in the navigation.
Your B2B content marketing strategy is completely co-dependent on your website. Likewise, your website is co-dependent on your content marketing strategy. If they don’t work well together and support each either, neither will be successful in generating leads and converting leads into clients.
The marketing department is typically the brand guardian for B2B firms. They are also the ones with all the cool branded materials and promotional items. However, your firm’s B2B branding doesn’t begin and end with marketing materials. Rather, your firm’s brand should be visible throughout your company to ensure a cohesive experience for both external customers and internal employees.
In this blog post, we take a look at several different, often overlooked, opportunities to expand your firm’s brand outside the marketing department and into the rest of your organization.
This is the number one place where you can create brand consistency outside of marketing—since proposals are typically managed by the sales department. Most B2B firms don’t want to compete on price. Rather, they compete on things like strong relationships, superior products or services, and comprehensive capabilities. For this very reason, it’s essential to have a proposal or cost sheet that is consistent from a design and messaging standpoint with all of your firm’s marketing materials. Don’t let sales manage this on their own, marketing needs to be involved to ensure brand guidelines are followed.
There are a variety of tools out there to help carry your B2B branding into the sales process. Tools like Proposify enable you to easily incorporate your branding elements into the client proposal and create a consistent experience for a prospective customer. The main takeaway here is that if your firm spends the resources to attract prospects with a well-designed website, whitepapers, and glossy brochures, you should also ensure that the first touch points with sales (such as a proposal) are also well-designed and consistent with your B2B brand.
Client Onboarding Materials
After clients sign on the dotted line, they may say, “What’s next?” Whether your firm is well-established or fairly new to the market, it’s essential to have branded client onboarding materials that will continue the brand experience and reassure your new client that they have made the right choice. These can include how-to guides, set-up instructions, or even welcome emails.
Take a look at what a newly signed client receives from your firm and determine whether it matches the look and feel of your B2B branding. Even simple things, like using branded stationery or your logo on onboarding documents will create a consistent look and feel for clients. A polished welcome kit with any helpful materials reinforces your company’s brand and continues to sell your client on their decision. Remember, selling never stops with the signed deal.
Reporting Materials & Use Guides
Everything your client receives from anyone in your company should be consistent with your B2B branding efforts. This includes things like monthly client reports, user guides, email exchanges, and invoices. Everything that you provide to the client should carry your firm’s brand on it, even if it is only your logo and brand colors. These things don’t need to be overly designed or have graphical elements, they simply need to have a consistent logo and color scheme.
Your brand is not only conveyed through collateral and written materials but also through any verbal communication your team has with the client. Make sure that your team is using the same terminology, conveying the same philosophy, and being an overall accurate reflection of your brand. Employee orientations and regular internal culture forums will ensure that your staff’s verbal communications internally and externally are a strong reflection of your firm’s brand.
It’s a Living Process
Ideally, every touch point with a client should be consistent with your brand, but this can be near impossible to achieve. Be sure to schedule regular reviews of all the content and materials your clients receive to ensure brand consistency at all levels. While you want to encourage your staff to innovate and refine processes and procedures, you don’t want this to come at the cost of your firm’s brand experience. Continuous evaluations enable you to bring all new touch points and materials into the brand fold to create a cohesive brand.
We at Bop Design are pleased to announce that we have again been recognized for our work in web design. Last week, Clutch, a technology research firm in Washington, DC, released a list of the top web designers in San Diego. We’re happy to say that Bop Design came out on top over a multitude of other companies. With our extensive knowledge in B2B web design and holistic marketing approach, along with our understanding of how to help serious B2B businesses grow, it is to no shock to anyone familiar with Bop Design that we lead the pack.
To further comprehend our ranking, it is important to understand Clutch and their methodology. They gather information on thousands of companies and rank them in comparison to other companies in their industry. A company is ranked based on its ability to deliver, reviews, experience, and its presence on the market. As shown in the “Leaders Matrix” below, two factors play a large part in ranking the top companies. One of these is a company’s “Focus”. Our skill in web design gives us an advantage over our competitors. The other, “Ability to Deliver”, is also a strength of ours, as we make sure to always stay on schedule and achieve what our client needs.
While a company’s focus and experience are both important factors in ranking a company, the most integral part of Clutch’s methodology is client reviews. Here are samples of some of our satisfied customers and what they had to say: TheVice President of marketing at MediKeeper praised us for the website we created for them, saying:
“ Our lead count has quadrupled since launching the new website. The abandon rate has been decreased, while time spent on the website has increased.”
Another customer, a marketing manager at Evergent Group, chose to emphasize our friendliness and transparency, saying:
“We never felt that we hired a web design company, but rather that we were having some friends do it for us. If we didn’t like something, we could tell Bop Design’s team, and they wouldn’t be offended.”
This highlights our strong expertise in this field, and we look to rise up in the ranks of these lists as we continue to grow as a company while helping more and more B2B businesses grow.
In B2B marketing, there are several simple lead generation practices that can be forgotten or ignored—maybe because they are so simple. You spend all of this time creating an engaging website, implementing an SEO and digital marketing campaign to drive traffic to your website, hoping an ideal visitor will visit. Then when an ideal visitor picks up the phone to call your firm, they hit the dreaded automated answering system. Automation is a major trend in business since it can increase process efficiencies but when it comes to answering the phone…Answer It!!!
Here are some best practices and reasons why you must answer your phone at a B2B company.
Make It Someone’s Job
Yes, most office calls are solicitations and that’s the reason why most offices have opted for automation. However, there can be 2 to 3 leads a day that can come via phone—we see this with most of our B2B clients. If an actual person answers the phone, a caller is more likely to feel welcome and valued rather than with automation where a caller can get frustrated. Assign the task of answering phones to a specific person in the office who can at least give a compelling summary of what your company does and can point the caller in the right direction. This will ensure that your firm creates a credible, eager first impression.
It’s a Differentiator
If a prospect calls 3 firms—2 competitors and your firm—and 1 of the 3 has a real person answering the phone, which firm is most likely to stand out? The firm that answers the phone—making it easiest to do business with them. Each touch point a lead has with your firm is a chance to differentiate and position yourself as a thought leader. An internal person who is familiar with your service delivery will help differentiate your firm from the majority of B2B companies that have de-prioritized answering their phone.
If possible, hire a person to answer the phone who can essentially act like an inside sales rep. This person may not know all of the specifics of your product or service, but can at least deliver the elevator pitch and can follow up with thought leadership content. To guarantee this person really cares about this aspect of their job, try offering an incentive with a percentage of revenue for all sales resulting from call leads (1% to 10%, depending on type of business and call volume).
It’s a Brand Promise
The most accurate indicator of how a vendor will serve you is how they treat you in the sales process. You serve like you sell. The initial communication with a prospect is the first opportunity to showcase your firm’s thoughtfulness and personalization. If you want your ideal prospect to think of your company in its best light, be around when the phone rings.
Ready to discuss lead generation for your firm? Contact our B2B marketing specialists today for a free consultation.
Regardless of the industry you operate in, when it comes to the B2B world, a professional website is the crux of a successful marketing strategy. A B2B website is the landing spot for digital ads, email campaigns, social media advertising, direct mailers, and everyday communications.
If you don’t already have a clear B2B web design strategy laid out for your firm, it’s time to set one in place. Before you determine whether it’s time for a website redesign or start bidding out website enhancements, check out at these six statistics that will help you determine what matters (and what doesn’t) in your web design strategy.
Mobile Is Key
Even as recent as five years ago, professional websites were being built that weren’t optimized for mobile users. Or mobile versions of the website were built as an afterthought to the main desktop version. This is not the case anymore. Today, all B2B web designs should be built with the mobile user in mind.
Why? Adoption Rate
Almost all Americans, 95% to be exact, own a cell phone of some kind. What’s even more interesting is that 77% of Americans own a smartphone (so they can access the internet and websites from their phone). (Pew Research Center, 2017)
This focus on the mobile user’s experience does not mean that mobile-first is the only option for a strong B2B web design. Rather, we argue that a desktop user’s experience is just as important, particularly in B2B where we see more than half of our clients’ website traffic from non-mobile devices.* However, you don’t have to take our word (or research) on it.
Recent reports state that 83% of global consumers report multiscreen behavior, using an average of 2.23 devices at the same time. (Adobe, 2015)
The design of your B2B website says a lot about your firm. Is it sending the right message? If your website is more than three years old, it’s worth asking this question. Brands evolve over time and it’s critical that the central component of your marketing strategy, your B2B website, reflects that evolution. Additionally, your target market wants your website to be well designed and nice to look at.
Studies have documented that 59% of global consumers would rather engage with web content that is beautifully designed as opposed to simply designed. (Adobe, 2015)
As the above statistic shows, it’s essential that your firm doesn’t skimp on the design of a website. If you are looking for clients with a minimum lifetime engagement of $10,000 + with your firm, it’s important to invest that much or more in the design of a professional website.
Site Performance Matters
Design matters, but site performance is the first step. If website visitors get frustrated with how long your website takes to load and leave before it loads, then the design has failed. The speed of a website has become more and more critical to the user experience, particularly for mobile users.
In fact, 53% of mobile visitors will abandon a website that takes longer than three seconds to load. (Google, 2016)
This can be broken down even further by how much the bounce rate increases as the load time increases:
The longer it takes your B2B web design to load, the more potential customers you are losing. Your web design strategy should include technical components for increasing the speed of your website and reducing load time.
SEO: Your Competition Is Doing It
Now, there are a lot of great reasons to include search engine optimization (SEO) in with your B2B website strategy: increased visibility, a better user experience, improved traffic, and targeting the right market. Another great reason to implement SEO is because it is essential for remaining competitive in most industries. Many of your competitors have implemented SEO on their websites, so it’s essential that you are also optimizing your firm’s website. You don’t want to ignore SEO just to watch all the traffic from your target market go to your competitor.
Keep in mind that SEO isn’t just about keywords either, it’s about optimizing the coding and display functionality of your website. As we have mentioned in previous blogs on SEO, Google and other search engines have stated that website optimized for mobile will perform better in searches.
A recent survey found that 62% of B2B marketers have optimized their brand’s blog for mobile in order to improve SEO. (SocialMediaExaminer, 2016)
For B2B marketers, whether in competitive spaces or nice industries, SEO is essential to getting in front of a prospect when they are looking for your products or services. SEO should be built into all successful website strategies.
Telling your brand story is more than just slapping dates together on an About Us page and throwing it up on the website with a stock image. Your brand story should be a major differentiator, something that sets you apart from your competition and compels your prospects to partner with you. It’s an opportunity to not talk about your products and services, but to talk about the real value of partnering with your firm.
When it comes to B2B branding and storytelling, there are a variety of ways to tell your brand story in a way that engages your target audience. Let’s look at 5 interesting ways to share your company’s brand story.
Reveal Your History
Your company was founded with purpose and that purpose was not simply to make money. The main purpose was to meet a need. An intriguing way to share your B2B brand story is by revealing the history behind the founding of your company. Answer questions like:
Why did we create this business?
What drove our success through the years?
How did we adapt to the market?
What needs did we focus on?
How did we expand or grow to meet the needs of more customers?
By building a story through the retelling of history, you draw your target audience in and reveal how the values of your company and your focus on the customer’s needs have driven your business. It’s a compelling method for letting your prospects know that they are the center of your business.
Showcase Your Founders
Many B2B companies are built on the drive, passion, and entrepreneurial spirit of a founder or founders. Particularly in the United States, we are obsessed with hearing the story of a successful entrepreneur who was driven by a passion, whether it’s a passion for innovation, customer service, technology, or knowledge. Telling your brand story by shining the spotlight on the founder(s) is a strategic way to craft an emotional connection with your audience. Answer questions such as:
What is their background/expertise?
What event(s) compelled them to found a company?
What was/is their vision for the company?
How do/did they interact with clients?
What are their main professional values?
Showcasing the founders of a company puts a human face behind a corporate entity and makes your brand relatable. This is particularly compelling if your company is older and the founders aren’t involved or running the brand any longer. This is essentially going back to basics and focusing on the genesis of your B2B brand.
Build a Timeline
There may be major events or accomplishments in your brand’s history that will resonate with your ideal target market. Weaving these events together is a great way to tell your brand story. A visual representation of the events arranged as a timeline is an easy to use, appealing way to convey the founding of your company, as well as major accomplishments or changes over the course of your brand’s history. Answer questions like:
What innovations did we bring to the industry?
Did we pioneer a technology or service?
What prestigious industry awards did we win?
What is our contribution to the industry?
Did we have significant periods of growth/change?
As you build your timeline (which doesn’t need to be extensive), think about the events or accomplishments that build credibility with your audience and establish you as the clear authority in the field. B2B branding should always include the audience as an active participant in the storytelling. Keep this in mind so you don’t alienate them.
Turn to Your Customers
If it wasn’t for your customers, you’d be out of business. This is a simple truth that you should always come back to in your branding and marketing. For many B2B firms, the customers are essential to building your brand. Their needs shape your service or product offerings. When it comes to the B2B industries, it’s less of a client-vendor relationship and more of a partnership. A cool way to share the story of your brand is to turn to your customers, their needs, and how your firm worked with them to provide solutions. Tell your story by telling the story of your customers. Answer questions such as:
What problems have we helped solve?
Are their specific cases where we have made a significant impact for a client(s)?
How do we help our clients be successful?
How do our values positively impact our clients?
What is our mission statement?
When has our service delivery showed exemplary results?
Where has customer service driven new processes and procedures?
Potential clients want to know what you bring to the table and what your brand is all about. A captivating brand story is told by real client partnerships and demonstrates innovative solutions.
Feature Your Employees
Your company may not have an extensive history, a ton of client case studies, or a memorable founder – but you always have your employees. Your employees are essentially your brand warriors. If they do a wonderful job of representing your brand and create loyal, dedicated clients – create your brand story around them, their attitudes, and their accomplishments. Focus on answering questions like:
How do our employees exemplify our brand?
What actions or attitudes do our clients rave about?
What positive feedback on employees have clients provided?
Why types of behaviors do our brand promote?
Who is our ideal employee and how do they represent the company?
Just like focusing on the founders, featuring your employees puts a human face on your organization. You are no longer a software company providing solutions to healthcare companies, you are a close partner who evaluates market challenges and provides customized solutions and a friendly face.
Your Brand Story
When it comes to B2B branding, your brand story is your chance to make a connection with your target audience and strengthen your relationship with your existing clients. It should not be an afterthought. It should be your answer to “Why should we work with you over company X?” Use your brand story to attract, engage, and compel. Be genuine and craft a brand story that your target market wants to read.
Need help drafting your brand story or refining your B2B branding? Schedule a personalized consultation today.
It’s always been puzzling to me that marketing and sales can be at odds in an organization. I’ve always viewed them as two departments working towards the same objectives. Think about it. At the end of the day, marketing departments strive to provide MQLs (marketing-qualified leads) to the sales department that they can build a relationship with and hopefully turn into new clients.
The Breakdown Between Sales + Marketing
The breakdown seems to occur either a: when the sales team doesn’t value the MQLs or b: when marketing thinks sales is mishandling the leads.
The first thing B2B marketing and sales departments need to do is check their egos at the door. Both departments have a vested interest in attracting prospects, nurturing them, and turning them into new clients. As such, both departments can more effectively do their jobs with the support and help of the other department. An open dialogue between the two departments is essential to fostering a positive environment where the teams or individuals can align their strategies.
Let me start by saying this is a two-way street. Sales should be providing input to marketing and marketing should be providing input to sales. This does not mean they are telling each other how to do their jobs, however, it does mean that they are providing valuable information that can help the other in being successful.
Marketing often has a pretty good idea of the company’s ideal client persona. However, the sales team works directly with these ideal clients and prospects every day. They understand their objections, challenges, and needs. We’ve found that the sales team is often a great resource for content topics and for input regarding marketing campaigns.
On the other side, marketing works hard on different initiatives to bring in qualified leads. Many of these leads are fairly warm and qualified, however, like any lead, they may need some nurturing. This a great spot for marketing to provide sales with a variety of materials, including blog posts and downloadable guides, to nurture prospects and make their job of closing the deal a little easier.
How can your fellow coworkers support your efforts if they aren’t clued into your objectives? I always encourage marketing managers to discuss their objectives with the sales team. By simply sharing what you are trying to accomplish between your departments, you can get better support. Remember, you can’t get support for your initiatives if no one outside your department knows what they are.
Have you ever been working on a project only to find another person in your organization is working on the exact same thing? Duplication of effort is a common issue affecting sales and marketing departments. Once you have shared your objectives, it’s a good idea to continually coordinate between marketing and sales. This enables you to discover any duplication, reduce wasted time, and streamline your processes and procedures.
For example, if the marketing team has a lead nurturing email campaign in place, it doesn’t make sense for the salesperson to also be calling the prospect to schedule a call. However, it might make sense to include the salesperson’s contact information within the campaign and make them aware of what the prospect is receiving and when, so they can properly handle a call or email from the prospect.
The next step to busting out of the internal silos is to compare overall strategies. This can be an eye-opening experience. If the sales strategy is to increase a certain book of business, then it’s important the marketing strategy also includes a focus on attracting that type of business. Similarly, if a particular product or service is popular, but the sales team isn’t incentivized to sell, that could impact the success of the marketing efforts for that service or product. Take a look at the B2B marketing and sales strategies for your organization. Ask if you are both working towards the same goals? Calling on the same mission statement? And using the same approach with prospects?
The last stage in aligning the sales and marketing strategies is to report back to each other. The marketing team must get clear feedback on the MQLs they are sending to sales. (This must be data-backed and not anecdotal.) Much of this data can be found in your company’s CRM, but it’s helpful to talk to sales to see what closed, the final dollar amount, and the term of the relationship. Similarly, marketing should communicate their successes to sales to let them know how effective their campaigns are and if they are changing their approach or strategy based on the results they are seeing.
Communication is often the main conduit for aligning B2B marketing and sales strategies, creating a streamlined process, and improving a company’s overall ROI. Work with your teams internally to create a culture of communication and honest feedback. Creating a focus on the customer experience with both sales and marketing will help both teams to be successful and to build long-term relationships with clients and prospects.
Get help with your B2B marketing strategy – contact the experts at Bop Design today for a personalized review of your current strategy.
A strong B2B website increases the visibility of your brand and attracts your ideal target market.
Once you have driven the right traffic to your website, it’s time to focus on converting those visitors into leads. In this blog, we are going to show you how to create great CTAs to convert website visitors into leads.
Clear & Direct
Calls-to-action (CTAs) should first and foremost be clear and direct. Don’t mince words in your CTAs and don’t overthink it. Be upfront and direct. There shouldn’t be any confusion about what your website visitor should do. When drafting CTAs, get feedback from others in your department, the sales team, or customer service. In some cases, they can help you pare down language so it’s even more direct.
Here are examples of clear, direct CTAs:
All these CTAs are short and state an action the website visitor should take. If you find yourself stuck, read the CTA options aloud to see where you can edit them down.
There is a great analogy for conversion and lead generation. Great marketing is like dating. You don’t ask someone to marry you on the first date. That would be way too forward, off-putting, and a little scary. Well-crafted marketing strategies, like a website, build a relationship with a potential client that earns their trust and affinity. This analogy is particularly true for B2B website CTAs—they must be timely and not over-eager.
For example, while it’s OK to include Contact CTAs on your homepage, you want to include other well-timed CTAs that will build trust with your website visitor and let them get to know more about you. You don’t want to put a CTA reading BUY NOW at the end of a blog, but you do want to include a CTA to learn about your services, view other articles, or even download helpful digital guides.
The right CTA at the right time can be the key to establishing a strong, lasting relationship with your prospect.
As a marketer, you want your website visitor to perform a particular action, but that’s a little selfish, isn’t it? What about the visitor and their needs? Don’t laugh, we are serious. Effective calls-to-action on B2B websites should also include needs-based directives. This requires a minor shift in mindset from “what do I want my website visitors to do?” to a new mindset of “what is in it for my visitor?”
Instead of DOWNLOAD OUR PRICING, consider something like SEE PRICING OPTIONS. Rather than READ BLOG about a blog covering 4 Tips on Marketing, try something from your B2B website visitor’s perspective, such as GET 4 TIPS. By switching the perspective from you to them, you make it a more personal experience. When website visitors feel that you understand their needs and are speaking their language, they are more likely to convert.
Is your website generating leads or duds? Learn more.
Placing a CONTACT US button on a website is a fairly standard practice. It’s clear, direct and simple. However, it’s OK to also get creative and focus on including unique CTAs in your B2B web design as well. Try out different variations on CTAs to see what your website visitors find more compelling.
For example, rather than VIEW PORTFOLIO, try out something different, like SEE THE DIFFERENCE or WATCH THE TRANSFORMATION. In a similar vein, rather than asking existing clients to UPGRADE SERVICES, try out a directive that will get their attention, such as TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL or LEVEL UP.
Remember that your website visitors are likely looking at the websites of your competitors as well, so don’t be afraid to try out new CTAs that aren’t like everyone else’s. The only warning here is not to get too cutesy or creative. Your CTAs should still be direct and easy-to-understand, not confusing or unclear.
Conclusion: Compel Action
It’s easy to stick with standard CTAs, but we suggest shaking it up a bit. Focus on creating CTAs that compel action, that entice website visitors to do something. Even if your website visitors aren’t reading every word on a page, they are likely reading your CTAs – make them count.
When it comes to B2B marketing, a professional website is a necessary investment. You want the digital face of your firm to be professional, credible, and authoritative. Many firms that we work with want to maximize the ROI of their investment in their new website, and we couldn’t agree more.
Before a website launch, it’s important to put together a post-launch strategy that includes various channel campaigns to promote the website. The main goal is to get the website in front of the target market and to get them to engage with the website (and hopefully become a lead).
Below are six different tactics for B2B marketing professionals looking to maximize the ROI of their new website.
Paid Search Campaigns
Even the most well-optimized web design will take some time to get indexed and start ranking in search engines like Google and Bing. While organic SEO is a long-term, consistent strategy, we always recommend that B2B firms launch their website along with a pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaign. Regardless of whether you have a monthly PPC budget of $500 or $5,000, it’s essential to run an AdWords or Bing PPC campaign to drive relevant traffic to your website.
Retargeting ad campaigns are designed to optimize your brand’s visibility to potential clients how have already been on your website.
Here’s how retargeting ads work:
A potential client visits your website
A tracking cookie is placed on their computer
The prospect leaves your website
As the prospect browses the internet, they are shown ads from your company
The main purpose of retargeting ads is to stay top of mind with potential clients. They have already shown interest in the products or services your company offers. In B2B marketing, retargeting ads ensure that even if your prospect isn’t ready to convert today, your firm is top of mind when they do want to convert in the future.
Social Media Marketing
Professionally designed websites typically include links to a firm’s social media so that potential and current clients can connect and engage with the firm. Social media is also a great way to get your followers to visit your firm’s website. We recommend to our clients that they promote their new website launch on their social media channels. A website launch is an exciting event that your followers will be interested in and is a great way to get clients and prospects to your website.
With all the time and resources you’ve invested in your new web design, it’s also worthwhile to pay to promote your update about your new website on social media. Even a budget of $150 – $300 on Facebook or LinkedIn allows you to choose your ideal audience to expand the reach of your post.
Unless you are a brand-new business, your B2B marketing team likely has a list of past, current, and/or potential clients and their email addresses. Another great avenue for promoting your new web design is to send out an announcement via email. The email should have a professional design and clearly match the branding on your new website. In the email, share why you’ve designed a new website and any benefits for your prospects or clients.
We’ve seen quite a few successful email campaigns announcing website launches and always recommend them to our clients. The only warning we have for our clients is to wait at least a few weeks to send the announcement. The reason for this waiting period is to ensure everything is functioning smoothly on the website and to allow time for any post-launch edits or updates to the site that may be necessary.
Press releases have long been in the domain of public relations professionals. However, they are also a great fit for a comprehensive B2B marketing strategy where the goal is to drive traffic to the website, garner exposure for an event or new product/service, and publicize recent news about a company.
Press releases are a fantastic way to announce the roll-out of a new website and any other related newsworthy events or happenings. For example, a great strategy is to announce a new website launch along with a complete rebrand. Explaining why the company went through the rebrand and how the new web design fits into this new brand make for interesting, newsworthy press releases.
Big or small events are a great avenue for creating hype around your new website launch and to get your employees, clients, vendors, partners, and prospects interested in the new web design. The promotional event doesn’t need to be a major affair. It can be as simple as brining in breakfast and having a company-wide meeting to announce the new website, explain the new design and website goals, as well as answer any questions about the new website. Or, if you’d like to make it a large affair to celebrate all the work and time spent on the new website, throw a large party where you invite clients, prospects, vendors, and employees. At Bop Design, we launched a new website in2016 and had a big party to celebrate – check out the live videos of the event.
Promote, Promote, Promote
It’s easy to lose steam about a website once it is launched due to the time and effort invested in the process. However, having a promotion strategy in place before the website launches ensures that your firm gets the maximum ROI from your new B2B website.
A strong B2B website does a lot of things: builds credibility, acts as the digital face of a brand, communicates a firm’s value propositions, educates potential clients, and engages current clients. It should also be a lead generation tool (often this is the most important role of a website). Whether your website is brand-new or has been around for a couple of years, it’s a good practice to evaluate its lead generation capabilities.
How do you determine if your website is generating leads or duds? We have seven questions you can answer to determine whether your B2B website is doing its job to produce quality leads.
What is the volume of leads?
Let’s start with the volume of leads. How many leads are you getting on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis? For many B2B firms, the average size of a client deal is upwards of $25,000 and continues on for years. Due to this higher price tag, many B2B websites are considered successful if they drive 3 – 5 leads a month. However, if the average size of each client deal for your firm is under $1,000, you will likely want closer to 30+ leads a month from the website to hand off to sales.
It’s important to determine a realistic number of leads you want your website to generate each month so you can assess whether adjustments should be made to reach your goal.
Do the leads fall into your target market?
The next question takes a look at who is completing the forms on your website. Are the forms being completed by companies that fall into your target market? Or are the companies too small, too big, in the wrong industry, not in the ballpark for budget? While not every lead submitted is your absolute ideal client, the majority of leads should be companies that fall into your ideal client persona.
Are there enough CTAs?
When a website isn’t generating quality leads or any leads at all, we first take a look at the calls-to-action (CTAs) on the website. Are the CTAs clearly visible? The placement of CTAs on the website should be near the top of the website and should appear regularly throughout the web pages. If the only CTA on your website is a Contact Us page that appears in the sub-navigation, your B2B website is going to need more CTAs added.
Are the CTAs compelling?
Next, it’s important to look at the messaging of the CTAs. Do they compel a visitor to complete the desired action? Do they offer the potential client something they want?
Here are examples of poor CTAs:
Please get in touch with our team.
Learn about our services.
Here are examples of compelling CTAs:
Get your custom quote today.
Talk to our solutions experts.
Download your free guide.
Live chat with our team.
Do the forms require too much information?
After evaluating the CTAs, it’s time to look at the forms themselves. What type of information are they trying to collect? It’s a good idea to review the form and evaluate what information is essential. Name and email are typically the most essential information, although phone number can be essential in certain cases. Eliminate any fields that aren’t valuable for qualifying the lead or that can be gathered later on in the sales cycle.
Also, if you are getting terrible, unqualified leads, the form can be a good place to include qualifiers. For example, if your software firm only works with firms of a certain size (based typically on budget and organization needs), you can include a form field that asks for the size of the firm or the number of people employed by the firm.
Stay away from long forms that require a lot of time to complete or need information that the decision maker may not have at their fingertips – especially if it isn’t essential to the initial lead qualification.
Have you implemented anti-spam tactics?
It’s not unusual for websites to get spam submissions. However, if you feel you are getting a lot of spam or have seen a spike in spam recently, you can roll out anti-spam tools on the form page. CAPTCHA is the best way to block computer generated spam from mixing with your real, quality leads. CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart. While it’s not flawless and you may still get some spam or sales pitches via your forms, it’s still the best way to deter spam submissions.
Do you need another CTA or form to divert non-sales leads?
Are you finding that you are getting a lot of form submissions that are legitimate but aren’t potential clients? For example, we’ve had clients who received a number of job applicants filling out forms that were intended to collect potential client leads. In this case, and in a variety of other cases, it is a good idea to create a CTA and form for job applicants to complete. Doing this is a two-fold win: first, you divert non-sales leads to another form that can be handled by someone outside of sales and marketing, and second, you can test whether the applicant follows directions.
While this isn’t an exhaustive list of how to evaluate the success of your website’s lead generation, it’s a great start. It’s critical to evaluate your B2B website’s lead generation at regular intervals to ensure you are getting the most out of your website.
It’s a new year, which is an opportunity to refresh, change your perspectives, and make a new start. If you haven’t already drafted your 2017 marketing strategy, look at How to Prepare Your Marketing for 2017. If you have put your B2B marketing strategy in place for the year, there are still several resolutions you can make about the execution of your firm’s strategy.
Look at the Data
It’s a digital age with cookie placement, visitor tracking, engagement metrics, and more. The issue many marketers face is that they are overwhelmed with data coming from every angle and every channel. It’s almost too much data. In 2017, we suggest that marketers resolve to look at the data…the data that matters. What data matters?
This question can have different answers depending on your marketing and sales objectives – but a major metric we consider highly valuable is the number of quality leads. An effective marketing strategy doesn’t just drive a ton of potential customer leads. Rather, an effective B2B strategy drives quality leads from the ideal target market.
This year, resolve not to get lost in the sea of data, but to keep an eye on the important metrics and really LOOK at what they are telling you about your marketing efforts.
Try New Things
We’ve said this before: technology is changing how clients learn about your firm’s services, engage with your firm, and evaluate your services. With the influx of new applications, software, devices, and wearables, it’s important to be open to trying new things, approaches, techniques, and channels. This doesn’t mean jumping on the bandwagon immediately for every new social network, sharing resource, or software tool. It does mean taking a careful look at new technologies and resources and evaluating their fit with your marketing and sales objectives.
Resolve to be open to new channels and technologies this year and set aside time for taking a careful look at how they do (or don’t) apply to your clients, services, and industry. A careful vetting process ensures you can maximize new technologies, while not wasting time on fads or useless tools.
Cut What Doesn’t Work
“We’ve always done that.” This statement should never be the reason that you continue to use a certain channel or specific approach. At Bop Design, we like to try new things, especially tools and channels that have proven to be effective for other marketing agencies. In 2016, we tried several new things and the truth is that only a few things worked (i.e., generated traffic and leads). As a result, we’re filtering out what didn’t work – or we are changing how we handle the implementation of those tools.
In the upcoming 12 months, resolve to cut what has proven to be ineffective. If your quarterly direct mail campaign is no longer generating the rockstar leads it used to, cut it and redirect those resources to other channels that are generating leads.
Many of us are working on complex sales and marketing strategies that have a bunch of moving parts, deadlines, and guidelines for roll-out. Because of this, it can be very easy to forget that the focus should always be the client or prospect. At the center of everything we do should be our clients and prospects. Without them, there won’t be much for us to do.
Over the course of the year, continue to actively evaluate how your B2B marketing efforts are helping your current and potential clients. Before the launch of any major campaign, ask yourself, “Does this provide value for my prospects or clients?”
Track, Measure, Repeat
Consistent tracking and evaluation are essential for gauging the effectiveness of B2B marketing efforts and wisely applying a budget. Even with a hectic schedule, it’s important to take a moment to stop, thoughtfully analyze results, and strategize how to move forward. Even when the metrics look great, you can find helpful insights for your overall marketing strategy.
Make 2017 the year that you set aside time to stop all activities, review your progress, and determine next steps forward.
If you want to drive more relevant traffic to your website, AdWords is often a quick, effective tactic. It can take years for your website to rank organically for targeted keyword phrases and AdWords allows your company website to rank immediately for search queries.
Here are some PPC best practices as you implement an AdWords campaign and maximize your budget.
Be Highly Targeted with Keyword Matches. When targeting keyword phrases on a small budget, do not use broad match but instead use exact, modified broad and phrase match.
Broad match means that your ads will show up for search queries that are not ideal—Google essentially makes the decision for you on when the ads will show up. With more targeted matches like modified broad, phrase and exact, you can make sure your ads show up for ideal searches.
Stack Your Bids. With modified broad, phrase and exact match, “stack” your bids with the highest bids on ideal keyword phrases. Typically, exact matches are ideal search queries, so bid highest for those matches with modified broad and phrase matches at a lower bid. You want to bid highest for the search queries that match exactly.
Build Out Negative Keywords. If you are targeting modified broad and phrase matching, it’s critical to build out your negative keywords list so that your ads don’t show up for the wrong search queries. Be both proactive and reactive. There are many negative keywords you don’t want that you can proactively add before starting the campaign.
Often, negative keywords like “jobs,” “careers,” etc. don’t make sense unless you are using the campaigns as a recruiting tool. Also, more research based search queries like “how to” or “what is” are typically good to add to a negative keywords list. Always target positive keywords that are buying signals and remove negative keywords that are not.
Pay Attention to Campaign Settings. Set up your campaign so that your ads are showing at optimal times and places. If you are a B2B company, typically you want your ads only showing during business hours or all day Monday through Friday. If you market a high-end, luxury product, utilize demographic targeting to show ads to locations with the top 10% household income. Adjusting the settings ensures that you are spending your ad budget efficiently.
These four PPC best practices make sure the launch of your AdWords campaigns are a success and you can start generating viable sales opportunities from paid search.
Interested in an AdWords consultation for your B2B firm? Contact us today to set up a consultation today.
Great job – you’ve written a blog and are ready to share it with the world. Now all you need to do is cut and paste it into your website’s backend – right? Not so fast! Always, always make sure to optimize your blog before hitting publish.
At Bop Design, we love content marketing. We love working with our clients to produce high-quality articles that their target market finds interesting and informative. However, we also want to make sure their target market can find the blogs, clicks on the blogs, and wants to stick around to see what other types of blogs are on the website.
This is where five simple search engine optimization steps come into the picture. The basic idea behind SEO is to get your high-quality content in front of the right audience AND get them to engage with that content. There is no trickery involved, but there is an element of finesse. Without further ado, here are five SEO tips for your next blog post.
Create an Engaging Title
We aren’t knocking the tried and true titles that start with “How to…” or “What to do…” We think these titles have their place, especially when they engage the audience. Content marketing doesn’t mean you have to be coming up with the most dramatic, creative titles. In fact, it simply means the title should be engaging. If your clients want to know how a particular service works or why they should consider product A over product B – use that in the title!
Put yourself in your prospective client’s shoes. Would you want to click on that article and read more? Or would you scan past it onto something more relevant and engaging?
Include One to Two Keywords/Phrases
Gone are the days of keyword stuffing. A better strategy is to focus on optimizing a blog post or web page for one term. Other relevant keyterms will naturally occur in the text if it is well-written, so don’t worry about including all your keyterms.
Additionally, we still recommend incorporating keyterms or phrases in your titles. However, if the title sounds too contrived with the keyterms, it’s OK to remove them – but you should consider including them in at least a few blog titles. Don’t forget that the search engines still bold keyterms from a search in the results (see the image below).
Add a High-Quality Photo
A visual element added to a blog helps to not only break up text on a page, but is also a great way of supporting the thoughts and ideas presented in the blog. Be sure to choose an image that is high-quality and related to the blog topic. Remember that while images don’t show up in search engine results, they do appear with posts on social platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Research has found that visuals increase a user’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80% (Source: HubSpot). If you want people to read your blog posts, make sure to include a photo.
Beware of taking images from the internet without permission. Copyrights do apply to images and that includes website usage. Save yourself a future headache or large monetary fine by either purchasing images from sites like iStock or sourcing copyright-free images from sites like Canva.
Link to Relevant Articles or Web Pages
If you’ve had a content marketing strategy for a few months or longer, you likely have a range of blog posts on your website. However, it’s unlikely that a user is going to search through all your blog posts to read relevant articles. Make it easy for them by linking to other relevant blog posts. We typically aim to include at least three links in each blog post, but that number can be higher or lower.
Internal linking is important to SEO for several reasons. It builds a network of similar pages on your website, increases your visitors time on site, and ups the number of pages each visitor views. All of these are positive indicators to search engines that your website is providing useful information for visitors – and increases the likelihood your website will rank in the results pages.
When linking to other articles, always ask yourself if the article is relevant and provides value. Keep in mind that you won’t be linking to articles on the exact same topic, but if someone is interested in how a particular service works, they may also be interested in pricing for that service, what the benefits of the service are, or case studies on that service. Don’t just link to random articles willy nilly, since that won’t provide much value for the reader and they will likely avoid clicking on other links if they think they are spammy.
Draft an Enticing Meta Description
Whether or not you draft a meta description for your blog post, one always appears in search results. Isn’t it better to have control over what that description says?
Earlier, I mentioned that search terms are bolded on the results page. For this very reason, we INSIST on including keyterms in blog meta descriptions. It’s not advice, it’s a best practice. If your article is well-written, it is a snap to write an enticing meta description that engages the searcher and invites them to click on the blog post. Check out the snippet preview of a meta description below.
This meta description not only includes the keyterm (web design), it’s engaging. It asks a common question that our clients have and then starts to provide an answer. It’s your two-line elevator pitch to get your target audience to click on your blog post. Stay away from sensationalism or bait-and-switch techniques since those will boost your bounce rates and reduce the time on site.
It’s already the end of the year. This is often the time of year when marketing managers are running around trying to finalize their budgets and plans for 2017 before the C-suite goes on their holiday vacations. Whether you are a seasoned B2B marketing professional or it’s your first time experiencing the excitement, we have four tips to help.
Show Me the Money
Yes, this tip harkens back to a rom-com starring Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Renee Zellweger. When it comes to preparing for next year, you need to see what has worked this year. Show me where the money came from.
If you’ve implemented Google Analytics tracking on your website and you have a lead management system that tracks where your leads came from, this is a snap. Look at where the majority of leads came from. Now, look at where the quality leads came from. These may not be the same sources.
For example, if you ran LinkedIn ads, AdWords campaigns, and Bing ads – look at the leads generated by all three sources. AdWords may have sent the most leads, but Bing ads may have sent the highest quality leads that converted. Ideally, you are looking for efficient sources of leads.
Summary: Review your metrics, see what worked, and determine what didn’t work.
It’s a Whole New World
Technology, design, sales methods, messaging, audiences, and platforms all change and evolve. Once you know what has worked in the past for your B2B marketing efforts, it’s time to see what else is out there. New social media and video sharing platforms seem to launch almost every day. Are you using the most current platforms to reach your audience?
Now, please note that we are not telling you to go and try every new platform, approach, or technology out there. Rather, it’s a good time of the year to see what is new and what you could integrate into your B2B marketing strategy.
For example, if you are buying a lot of ad space through specific publications like Forbes or Entrepreneur, is it time to consider a programmatic advertising platform? Or, if you have a specific list of target accounts your sales team is working on, does an account-based marketing campaign make sense to supplement their efforts? If your sales efforts have focused primarily on direct mail and brochures, is it time to revamp your website and incorporate a digital newsletter?
Summary: See what’s new and if it is relevant.
Stop, Collaborate & Listen.
The end-of-year rush to put together a budget and strategy for next year’s marketing efforts doesn’t sound like the best time to slow down and listen, but it is. As a marketer, you are more likely to get support from sales, customer service, and delivery if you involve them in the overall process. As such, we recommend taking a quick breather from your planning to get input from other departments in your organization.
This does not need to be a day-long retreat where everyone does trust falls. Rather, it should be a one to two-hour meeting that involves key people (not necessarily department heads) from each department to provide input on what clients like, don’t like, and would find useful. These sessions are particularly helpful for creating an editorial calendar for blogging. However, in terms of an overall B2B marketing strategy, this meeting can help you discover where there may be holes in the marketing strategy or to simply get buy-in that the strategy works. We’ve always found at least one, typically good, surprise in these types of meetings.
Summary: Get input from each department.
Put a Plan in Place
Strategic planning for marketing can seem like an overwhelming bear of a task. However, like any strategy, the trick is to break it up into larger goals and then work backward from there. Armed with all the data from the previous three steps, you can determine your main goals for your strategies. From there, break down what campaigns will be used to accomplish those goals and what channels to target within each campaign. We find it’s helpful to have a marketing strategy and budget that focuses on monthly campaigns and includes an editorial calendar for content.
Summary: Write up a strategy and identify specific goals you hope to achieve.
What do you find to be your biggest challenge for marketing in 2017?
A website is a great 24/7 sales tool. It’s a fantastic marketing means to generate leads, establish credibility, increase brand recognition, and build thought leadership – even after hours or when the salespeople are out.
To maximize the ROI of a B2B website, it’s important to consider what potential clients want to see in your website. If the website doesn’t consider the needs and wants of the target audience, it won’t accomplish the four things listed above.
How do you determine what clients want to see in your web design? The answer will be unique to your target marketing and industry, but we’ve laid out five typical things potential clients want to see to help you answer that question.
The Value of Your Services/Products
Don’t just list your services or products (although you should make it clear WHAT you offer). Think about the value of your services or products, particularly from you client’s viewpoint. Are you saving them time or money, streamlining their process, ensuring they are compliant, or filling some other need?
Once you determine the value of your products or services, be sure that you boil it down to a brief statement – about four to five words. Make sure this statement is clearly visible on your B2B website, since it will be one of the main things that will interest and attract potential clients. It’s also an essential element for differentiating your firm from all the competitors in your space.
A prospect won’t become a client unless they trust you and find your firm to be credible. Your website is the perfect place to start to build the credibility that will lead a prospect down the sales funnel.
Consider what matters to your industry.
Is it certifications from respected institutions, including degrees?
Is it government review and approval?
Is it some other type of third party validation, like publication in a well-known magazine?
Other great forms of credibility are awards for your products or services.
Carefully evaluate the types of trust elements your B2B firm has earned over the years. Determine which are the most appealing and convincing to your prospect. Keep in mind that your idea of most valuable may not be the most valuable to your target market.
Examples of Your Products/Services
Earlier, we mentioned ensuring your products or services are clearly listed on your B2B website. Part of this should include examples of the products or services you offer. There are a variety of ways you can showcase these examples. For example, Bop Design has a portfolio of our B2B web design work. If you have a service offering that doesn’t lend to a portfolio, create case studies about your service in action and the results of that service. Firms that sell products can share pictures of the product in use or even show videos of how to use the product.
Consumers today like to spend some time getting to know a product or service before they ever speak to a salesperson. Make it easy for a potential client to get to know your products or services in more detail before they reach out to you.
It’s important that your logo and name are featured on your website, but we make the case that it’s almost more important to have your contact information in a prominent place or places on your website. As an example, the Bop Design website has our phone number clearly listed at the top of the website, as well as a Contact button on the side of our web pages. Both are “sticky” which means they stay in the same spot when a user scrolls – always visible and easy to click on.
Web design can be cool and interesting and lovely, but it must be functional. Always make sure that contact information – whether it’s a phone number or an address or an email – is highly visible on your B2B website. Don’t make potential clients hunt for it.
What Makes You Special
Potential clients searching for your products or services online want to know what makes your firm special. Why should they work with you rather than your competitor? Your B2B website is the perfect platform for clearly stating what makes your firm special. This isn’t going to be one element, rather, it’s going to be reinforced by multiple elements on your website – the images you use, the videos you host, your company history, your blog and your content offers. All these elements work together to spell out what makes your firm unique and the best firm to partner with.
Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is not necessarily a new strategy, particularly in the B2B marketing world, but it has gained momentum as a strategy that is getting implemented more and more. Even in 2015, Marketing Land was debating whether ABM was hype or a new reality.
So, what is the deal with ABM and is it right for your firm right now?
Account-Based Marketing Defined
What is Account-Based Marketing (ABM)? ABM is the strategy of targeting a select list of key accounts or firms, typically with a digital ad campaign. Depending on the industry and business, the list of target firms or contacts can range from 15 to 1,500.
Is ABM Right for Your Firm?
As a B2B marketing strategist, I definitely recommend ABM to a range of clients in various industries. However, I don’t recommend it to everyone for several reasons.
First, it can be expensive and not have the ROI you need to demonstrate early on in a marketing strategy.
Second, it is not a stand-alone strategy, but should be part of a larger well-defined strategy.
Third, it may help with building brand recognition, but the prospects may only be at the very beginning of a long sales cycle.
So, who is ABM right for?
It’s ideal for B2B marketers who have a clearly defined target market and a semi-mature brand. This doesn’t mean the brand has been around forever, just that the brand is established and well-defined. ABM is not right for brands that are still “working out the kinks” and defining their value proposition.
What Makes a Successful ABM Campaign?
The Right List: A successful ABM campaign begins with a well-vetted, qualified list of ideal prospect accounts. Don’t just export your entire list of prospects from your CRM to track leads and prospects. Instead, carefully review and qualify each lead or prospect on the list to ensure they are your ideal target market. The smaller and more targeted your list, the better.
Hyper-Targeted Message: Once you have your defined list, the next step is creating a hyper-targeted message or messages for that audience. What are their pain points, what do they value, what makes them interested in your product or service? The message should be different from your general tagline and should speak directly to this audience of prospects.
Stand-Out Graphics: Along with a targeted message, you should have a creative design that will cut through the noise and grab your prospects attention. Remember, for ABM advertising campaigns, the prospects on your list aren’t actively looking for your services. However, with the right message and the right graphics, you can grab their attention and make them think about your firm and your services or products.
The Proper Partner: Lastly, a successful ABM campaign requires the right vendor or partner to execute a B2B marketing campaign. There are a variety of vendors out there, each with their own proprietary technology. When vetting possible vendors, check to make sure they have the proper scale, tools, and understanding of what metrics matter to you. Impressions seem to be high on the list for most ABM vendors, but for B2B marketing, the main metric is often conversions, warm leads, and quality traffic.
At Bop Design, we’ve run a variety of ABM campaigns for our B2B marketing clients. The only caveat is that these are often a component of a broader digital marketing strategy that also includes inbound marketing. Account-based marketing can be a very effective strategy when it’s combined with a strategy that also attracts high-intent traffic (via inbound marketing).
Questions about ABM and whether it’s the right fit for your firm? Let us know in the comments below.
There is a trend in the marketing world to push out as much content as possible, based on the assumption that more content gets better results. However, this assumption is not necessarily true.
At Bop Design, rather than encouraging our clients to produce as many content marketing pieces as possible, we instead focus on producing high-quality, valuable blogs, articles, white papers, case studies, ebooks, guides, and infographics. While content creation must be consistent and on-going, it must also focus on producing high-quality pieces.
The upside to focusing on quality rather than quantity is that you’ll have more time to spend on creating content, fine-tuning it, and promoting it. One of the best ways to amplify your B2B content marketing efforts is via social media. Let me explain.
Share Content on Social Media
Once you have published a blog post, article or other content piece, it’s important to share it on social media. We typically recommend sharing the content on all your social media outlets to maximize exposure and be sure you are getting your content in front of as many of your followers (and their networks) as possible.
Make sure the caption for the content is enticing and compels readers to click to view more. Additionally, optimize the content on the website you are sharing it from so that it displays properly.
Post Multiple Times
When it comes to content marketing, posting a content piece to your social media sites multiple times is a great way to expand the audience it reaches. The posts should be spread out over a week or weeks and posted at various times. Remember that not everyone is on social media all day long. Posting content several times helps you reach as many people as possible.
Hashtags Make It Searchable
Hashtags are wildly popular on all types of social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and now LinkedIn. In addition to being a tool used to add commentary to posts, hashtags are a way to classify posts and make them part of the larger online conversation.
Did you know that hashtags make a post searchable? For example, if a financial firm includes the hashtag #TaxTips on their blog post about preparing taxes, a user who clicks on the hashtag will be able to see other posts on that social media network with the same hashtag. This is a great way to reach users who aren’t followers of your brand but are interested in the topics covered in your content marketing pieces.
We recommend checking a hashtag before using it to make sure it doesn’t have multiple meanings or refers to anything that would reflect poorly on your brand.
Pay to Promote
Organic reach for social media posts is declining at a rapid rate, mostly caused by the overwhelming amount of content being shared on social media. Because of this, even your social media followers who want to read your content may not see it in their newsfeeds. The best way to supplement organic reach on social media? Paid reach.
Paying to sponsor content marketing posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn is a guaranteed way to get your content in front of your followers and target audience. We recommend running even a small sponsorship for all blog posts and premium content pieces to amplify that content and get it in front of the right people.
Have questions about using social media to boost your content marketing efforts? Let us know in the comments below.
Not so fast. We can all agree that B2B content marketing is not rocket science, but it’s definitely not easy. Successful content marketing does require a clear, defined strategy in order to be effective.
We’ve created a simple 11-step guide to create a content strategy that rocks (and generates leads). Check out the quick-start steps below.
Define Your Goals
You don’t know how to get there if you aren’t sure where you are going. What is the purpose of your content strategy? Do you want to generate leads, build brand recognition, attract investors, sell more widgets, or entice top talent to your firm?
Before you start clacking away on the keyboard on your first blog or social media post, set clear goals for your content strategy. If you have a clearly defined general marketing strategy, pull from that to see where content will fit in. Goals will also help with evaluating your efforts and the success of your strategy down the road.
Allocate Resources and Budget
What are you working with? Do you have IBM’s budget and resources? Probably not. Have a frank discussion with your team or boss to determine what resources you will have access to and what type of yearly or monthly budget you are working with for your content marketing strategy.
Ask questions such as: Who will write these blogs? Who will post the blogs? Will I have access to a designer on a weekly basis? How many hours do I get from the designer? How much money do I have to create (hire a writer) and promote the content (via social media ads, native ads, account-based advertising)?
Once you know what resources and budget you have available, decide what you can and cannot do. Hiring a full-time writer is expensive. If you don’t have the budget for a full-time copywriter, decide if you can work with a freelance writer. If you don’t even have the budget for that, choose who will be writing content internally. Which subject matter experts do you have access to who are willing to write a blog, article, white paper, case study, etc.?
Also, based on your human resources and the size of your team, select what’s feasible to include in your strategy. If you only get five hours of a designer’s time each month, you can’t create a case study, an ebook, two blogs, and an infographic each month. Set realistic expectations for what can be achieved with your resources.
Who Is Your Ideal Client?
You may need to talk to customer support and sales to answer this question. While you may work with large and small firms, maybe medium-sized businesses are the ideal match for your firm. If you don’t already have an ideal client profile created, make one.
For example, a software firm may define their ideal client as an experienced CTO at a mid-sized communications firm who only has a staff of three and isn’t able to manage the ongoing support needed for the software. Visualize who you are creating content for and any defining characteristics about them.
What Are Your Client’s Pain Points?
Now that you know who your ideal client is and their general characteristics, define their pain points. Are they super busy? Are they under stress to find the right vendor-partner? Do they want to know how everything works? Do they need a solution that integrates easily? Are they worried about fines for non-compliance? Have they been burned by incomplete solutions in the past?
We recommend starting with two or three main pain points to focus on – anything over four starts to get convoluted. Your objective is to determine the most important and relevant pain points that your brand can address. If your solution isn’t the cheapest on the market, don’t focus on a pain point about cost concerns, because that is not your ideal client.
Write Out Your Value Proposition
What do you offer to clients that is valuable to them? That is your value proposition. It’s often what distinguishes you from your competition as well. Write this down so it is clear and can be shared with any members of your content marketing team.
Be a Thought Leader, Not a Follower
You are an expert on your product or service and your industry. Your content strategy should reflect that. It should also position you as the go-to source for your current clients and for potential clients. Your content should always be unique and should never be a regurgitation of what everyone else is saying. Always keep this in mind as you draft up your strategy.
Determine what subjects you want to be a thought leader on. Process implementation? How-tos? Research? Innovation?
Outline Your Content Strategy
You’ve put in all the foundational work, now it’s time for your content strategy to take shape. Start with a rough outline of your content strategy. It can be as simple as pulling up a Word or Excel document and listing the types of content you want to create, along with a general monthly schedule.
Begin with a high-level overview and get more granular later on. This will help you to stay focused initially and not lose sight of your goals, ideal client’s pain points, and purpose.
Create a List of Topics
After your rough strategy is created and slightly refined, write down a list of topic ideas. We suggest brainstorming with a representative from each department that has contact with your clients. This may include sales, client onboarding, account management, and fulfillment. You can either have an hour meeting with them all where you write down all the topics that come to mind or you can ask each representative to send you a list of frequently asked questions or topic ideas. Whatever works best for your firm’s culture.
Build an Editorial Calendar
Once you are armed with about 40 – 50 topics, you can start an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar can be monthly, weekly, daily, or whatever timeline makes sense for your content marketing strategy. We typically work on a monthly basis for topics for our clients.
Take the topics that you culled from your internal team and group them by themes. Arrange your calendar around those themes and decide what will work best for a short blog, a longer article, a detailed white paper, or a straightforward ebook.
Ready, steady, go! Launch your B2B content marketing strategy and start crafting that awesome content your clients love, your internal team uses, and your prospects want to download!
It happens. You look at your Google Analytics traffic and the traffic to your blog is sad. No one is downloading your white papers and ebooks. You can’t get anyone to publish your guest blog articles. Your social media posts just sit and want for engagement and likes. No one in your company has the time or bandwidth to write a meaningful blog post. You feel like this whole content marketing thing is a hoax.
Don’t give up on content marketing just yet. If you feel like your firm is failing at B2B content marketing, there are several things you can do to turn it around.
Evaluate Your Strategy
Take a good look at your marketing strategy and your content plan. Wait, you don’t have a strategy? Check out Why Bother with a Content Marketing Plan before you go any further. If you have a strategy in place, look it over again. Is it too ambitious? Does it need more structure?
You can easily revamp your strategy by asking for input internally, especially from sales and customer service. Both sales and customer service work with prospects and clients on a daily basis and will have great input regarding common questions, typical objections, and what content would help close deals or educate clients. Also, make sure that your strategy has the resources and support to be properly executed.
Look at Your Competition
Check out what your competitors are doing with content marketing. In many cases, you may get some ideas from what they are (and aren’t) doing. We do not suggest copying anything that your competition is doing, but if they have a particular blog or white paper that has a lot of comments, questions, or likes – take that as a cue that your audience is interested in that particular topic.
Looking at your competitor’s B2B content marketing tactics can also help you to articulate what makes you different and what you should include in your content. For example, if they spend a lot of time discussing pricing and budget, focus on your value proposition of real-time customer service and long-term partnerships.
Get Help & Internal Buy-In
You can’t do this alone and you shouldn’t. Effective B2B content marketing typically takes a group effort to be effective. As a marketing professional, you know your product or services, but your engineers or support team may be better able to discuss how it works and/or solves a problem. Tap into internal resources, even if it’s an interview, to get the educational information you need to write a great blog post, ebook, or case study.
Internal support is essential to prioritizing content marketing. If your internal team doesn’t really believe in the effectiveness of B2B marketing, it will be difficult to get external interest. Share these B2B marketing statistics with the key influencers in your organization to get everyone on board with your content marketing strategy.
Pay to Promote Your Content
One of the main failures of content marketing is a lack of promotion. Social media is getting to be a “pay to play” space, meaning you’ll need to allocate part of your budget to promoting your blog posts, ebooks, guides, and case studies. The good news is that on many platforms – like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter – once you pay to promote your post, the organic exposure goes up as well!
Many marketers create great content and then fail at putting that awesome content in front of their target market. Paying to promote your content marketing pieces is a surefire way to make sure your ideal prospect or client is seeing the valuable information you are sharing.
Focus on Quality, Not Quantity
We are quickly reaching a point of saturation with B2B content marketing. More and more firms are creating content and pushing it out on the internet. You don’t need to create more content to compete, you need to create better content. Make sure every piece of content you create is well written, offers new information, and has valuable insights for your target audience. Take the time to create irresistible content. Lastly, make sure it isn’t overly promotional. No one wants to read a 500-word advertisement.
Remember: content marketing is a long-term strategy, not a quick win. Invest the time, resources, and thought into creating a B2B marketing strategy that positions your firm as a thought leader and entices prospects to engage with your content.
What’s your biggest content challenge? Let us know in the comments.
Your website is typically the central hub of a marketing strategy—it’s the place where you direct all traffic and is a resource for potential clients and your sales team. If your website is managed optimally, it can also be a great source for lead generation.
If you are considering launching a brand new B2B website design, read Does Your Website Stink? first. If you have recently updated your web design and are merely looking for how to improve upon your current website, check out these 5 Tips for Improving your B2B website.
Add Fresh Content
Fresh content is essential to expanding your website content, sharing current information with visitors, and driving new traffic to your website. Google rewards websites that continually add fresh content (think SEO), so it’s important that your B2B website has a continuous stream of new, fresh content added to it.
Blogging is the best way to add fresh content to your website. It’s a great way to share current information on industry trends and helpful insight for your target audience. Another way to add fresh content is to create new website pages. This is particularly relevant if you are rolling out a new service or product.
Use High-Quality Images
High-quality images do not mean giant, expensive photos. In fact, you will need to make sure the images you use are appropriate for web and aren’t slowing down the load time of your B2B website.
Ideally, your firm will have a library of custom images that showcase your products or services. However, for service-based industries, this can be difficult. The good news is that stock photography has evolved and photographers are tailoring image composition for use in web design. Images on a page or a blog are a great way to break up the text and communicate more about the content of the page or article.
Give Away Information (But Collect Leads)
A B2B website should be a living, breathing resource center. This means it should host a good amount of information in various formats to attract, educate, and capture potential leads. Once your website is up and running, it’s important to create a library of information that is easy to download. This includes informational pieces like cases studies, white papers, ebooks, research, client testimonials, how-tos, FAQs, product guides, etc.
The best way to collect leads on your website is to trade a piece of content for an email address and name, which is referred to as “gating” content. However, not every piece of content should be gated. Typically, content geared toward potential leads at the top of the funnel should be ungated since your B2B firm is educating the lead and inviting them to get to know your firm while also establishing your authority in the field.
Content that is farther down the funnel, like case studies, should be gated as the prospect is closer to the consideration and decision phase of the sales funnel. At this point, the prospect is more willing to trade their email for the piece of content since they are ready to get the conversation started with your team.
Tell Visitors What to Do
Calls-to-action are critical elements of a web design as they help a visitor navigate the site and help to tell your brand story. A successful B2B website will have a variety of different CTAs across the website depending on the web page, the action desired, and the part of the story.
When visitors land on your B2B website’s homepage, they may not know who you are or what products/services you have to offer. Great CTAs invite them to Learn More, View Our Portfolio, or Visit Our Blog. These CTAs act as directions to guide potential leads to the next step in your brand story (and keep them engaged). Check over the CTAs on your current website and make sure they match the potential client’s journey.
Make It Easy
Ask yourself: Is our phone number on our homepage and every page? Is it at the top and the bottom of the page? Can visitors easily find how to contact us in one click? If the answer is no to any of these questions, it’s time to add more contact points to your website. You want it to be super easy to get in touch with your firm.
Time to shop around for a new website! So, where should you start?
What Is Your Website’s Goal?
Your B2B website can have a variety of different functions and serve your firm in various ways, including as a lead generation machine, a credibility piece, a resource center, an online brochure, a customer service tool, etc.
Before you start building a new website, you need to know what you expect it to do for you. Determine the main function of the website and how it can add value or support your sales and marketing goals. The only thing to keep in mind is that the more you expect from your website, the larger it will become (and often the more expensive it will be to create/manage/maintain).
Once you have established the goal(s) of your website, determine what you absolutely must have in the B2B web design, what you would like it to have, and what you do NOT want it to have/be. This doesn’t need to be a long, extensive list but it should be a clear list that takes into account all the stakeholders in your firm.
The best way to create this list is to have a quick internal meeting with all the necessary stakeholders (this does not mean everyone). Invite a knowledgeable representative from each department and let them know they are responsible for gathering information from their own team before the meeting. This pre-meeting work and a select group of attendees will make determining website requirements efficient and effective.
Figure Out a Budget Range
A web design budget may or may not be something you and your team control. If you control your budget and a new b2B web design is your priority, you can determine what type of website you can build. However, it’s more common that the budget is already set and you are simply given a maximum from finance.
It’s essential to know what your budget range is before you start reaching out to web design partners since it will determine if you can work with a freelance designer, need to do the work in-house, or can hire a professional web design agency.
Choosing a content management system (CMS) can be a big decision to make, although many firms never even make this decision. Many firms leave it up to their developer to choose the CMS for them and just deal with the outcome. Unless the developer is going to me managing the website, implementing all B2B web design changes, and keeping the website updated – the decision should be made by you and your team.
At Bop Design, we only work with WordPress as a CMS. Why? Because, as one of the most popular CMSs out there, it has the largest support community, availability of plugins, and is the most user-friendly for updating. A quick tutorial is often all that anyone needs to start updating their WordPress website.
Now that you know what you need, it’s time to see what your options are for building your B2B website. It’s always a good idea to reach out to a handful of designers and agencies to see what they have to offer. Interview a shortlist of potential web design agencies, meet them in person if possible, and listen to what they have to say. Make sure every offer is tailored to the needs of your firm and will fit with all your requirements.
Shopping for a new website should not be a grueling process, but it is important to be thorough. A little bit of work when shopping will save you and your team headaches later on in the B2B web design process.
Many people have a negative view of online reputation management and with good reason. It’s fairly common for B2B marketing firms to place online reputation management way down on the list of priorities. That is until they get a bad review and it suddenly becomes an emergency situation and they are getting angry calls from the executives.
It’s more common than not. You are going about your business managing your B2B marketing strategy when a salesperson or executive pops by your desk with a panicked look telling you your firm has a terrible review on Yelp/Google/Facebook. Yikes!
Rather than waiting for this scenario to happen to you, we’ve got a few ideas about how to proactively manage your firm’s online reputation.
Do Claim Your Yelp and Google Business
Start by actively claiming your online profiles on various review sites such as Yelp (yes, even for B2B firms), Google Business, Facebook, etc. Whether you create these pages or not, they may already exist.
After you claim your business pages on these platforms, make sure the email associated with the alerts is checked regularly. Avoid using an “info@domainname” email address. Instead, use your email address or the address of the Marketing Director. This way any new reviews can be addressed quickly, efficiently, and before it causes internal panic.
Next, optimize your business profile on these platforms. Add high-quality images, company descriptions, contact information, videos, and a link back to your website.
Don’t Ignore Social Media
Your B2B firm’s online reputation isn’t solely based on reviews. It’s also based on comments, reactions, and shares of your content on social media. For example, if your B2B marketing includes posting to social media (which it should), a comment on a post that says something negative about your company affects your reputation. The same goes with blog comments.
In a recent presentation called “Hug Your Haters,” the online customer service expert Jay Baer shared statistics about what he calls the “Hatrix” (or who complains about your firm and why). According to a study he cited about complaints, 62% are considered “Offstage Haters” and 38% are “On-Stage Haters.” Off-stage haters typically complain to/about a company directly via email or phone. They want an answer and a resolution. However, on-stage haters complain about a company on social media and forums. These haters are looking for an audience and not really interested in an answer or a solution.
Online customer service has become more of a spectator sport over the past few years, so it’s important than your B2B firm isn’t ignoring social media and allowing a spectacle to take place. It’s also important to address both types of haters and to understand what is motivating them.
Do Respond Professionally
When responding to online reviews and comments, both positive and negative, always be professional. This does not mean your response should be a canned, generic response approved by legal. It does mean that every response should be personally tailored to the client and represent your B2B brand in the best light possible.
Online reputation management for B2B firms is an extension of your customer service department or values. Every interaction online is a chance to demonstrate your firm’s commitment to providing honest, thoughtful, caring service to each individual client. Keep this in mind when responding to anything online on behalf of your firm.
Don’t Get Rattled by Bad Reviews
Don’t let bad reviews cause panic or stress. Why? Bad reviews, even erroneous ones, can be great for business for several reasons:
They tell you what clients think of your products or services
They provide input for product/process improvements
They are an opportunity to showcase your customer service
They make good reviews credible
Bad reviews are a great way to hear what your clients honestly think of your products or services. They provide candid, honest feedback and can be used to improve what you have to offer. Reviews, good and bad, are also a great way to demonstrate how awesome your customer service is to potential clients. Lastly, they add credibility to all the good reviews you have – yes, it’s true. Think about it: if a company has 400 5 star reviews and not one bad review – do you trust that they are all genuine reviews? Probably not. However, if a company has 300 5 star reviews, 50 4 star reviews, and 10 – 15 2 star reviews – potential clients can see what the bad reviews say and compare them to the good reviews (hence building trust).
If you look at all the benefits that bad review offer (provided there is a balance of good and bad reviews), it makes managing and responding to them a less stressful affair.
Do Ask for Reviews
A B2B marketing strategy should include proactive online reputation management. Your sales and marketing team should be asking satisfied clients to leave reviews online. Make it easy by sending them the links to several platforms (like your Yelp, your Google Business page, or your Facebook page) and ask them to leave a review. Many clients, particularly in the B2B space are happy to leave a positive review if they are happy with your partnership.
Each request for a review should be personalized. Don’t send out a mass email asking for reviews as this will likely cause a spike in good and bad reviews and the review platforms will mark many of them as spam or won’t trust them. It’s better to have a steady stream of reviews over time, not all at once.
Don’t Pay for Reviews
We can’t stress this enough. Don’t pay for reviews, ever. Not only is this practice disingenuous, the reviews often look spammy or fake. This isn’t the type of impression you want to make on potential clients. Ideally, your firm should be personally asking for online reviews from happy clients and allow unsatisfied clients to provide feedback directly to your team (not via an online review platform).
We get asked a lot about online reputation firms. There are a handful of good ones out there that will simply provide the tools to effectively manage your reviews and increase the number of reviews you have from legitimate clients. However, there are a ton of shady reputation management firms out there that aren’t following best practices and their efforts could hurt your firm’s reputation in the long run. It’s important to carefully vet an online reputation management firm or tool to ensure it is following best practices so it adds value rather than hurts your firm’s brand.
Have other questions about reputation management? Let us know in the comments.
Social Media Day was a national event celebrated on June 30th, 2016. The event was started in 2010 by Mashable as a way to recognize the impact of social media on marketing and communications.
At Bop Design, we celebrated by attending Social Media Day in San Diego – a one-day conference to discuss all things social media, including tips from experts, industry trends, and effective strategies for incorporating social media into a marketing plan.
We’ve whittled down all the information gathered at Social Media Day and condensed it into 3 social media tips for B2B marketing professionals.
1. Keep an Active Presence on Social Media
This may seem like a no-brainer for B2C firms speaking directly to personal consumers, but it’s often tougher to get support for creating an active social presence for firms in B2B industries. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube continue to be excellent sources for promoting B2B marketing content and connecting with followers, potential clients, and existing customers.
It’s important to not only build a professional presence on select social media channels but to keep an active presence with continuous posts, responses, and updates. For B2B marketing purposes, it’s a good idea to have a presence on LinkedIn at the very minimum. In addition to LinkedIn, choose 1 – 2 other relevant networks to maintain an active presence. Don’t immediately branch out into all social platforms since that will be tougher to maintain an active presence on.
Once you have established your presence, keep it active by sharing relevant posts from industry publications, your supplies, and content that you create.
2. Start Running Paid Ads
Organic reach for businesses on social media is starting to approach 0%. In fact, during Social Media Day, Mike Stelzner of Social Media Examiner stated that Facebook organic reach for businesses is essentially over. The solution is to supplement organic posts with paid advertisements on social media networks.
This is good news for B2B marketing as social media ads can be highly targeted (down to income level and job title on some networks) and currently are affordable, even for smaller businesses.
There are two types of advertisements for B2B firms on social media: sponsored updates and ads.
Sponsored updates, also called promoted posts, enable businesses to boost the reach of content already published on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. In the example below, to pay to boost the reach of the blog, one would simply need to click on the “Boost Post” button and enter the information for your target audience, budget, and timeframe.
Sponsored updates are a great place to start with advertising on social media.
The second option is to create an ad that you can customize the text, landing page, and imagery associated with it. Many social networks have advanced advertising platforms, including LinkedIn. Below is an example of ads that can be created on LinkedIn to target a specific audience.
When you get started with creating new ads, make sure they look professional, consistent with your B2B marketing efforts, and always A/B test. What you think will work may or may not.
3. Look Into Live Video
Live, streaming video is all the rage and it’s not going away. Live video has reached a strong level of adoption for consumers (think Snapchat, Facebook Live, Periscope, etc.). There are definitely applications for B2B marketing strategies as well. Did you know that Facebook prioritizes live video over anything else in the newsfeed? This means that even if your page followers don’t see your regular posts, they will see your Facebook Live videos in their feeds.
There are rumors that YouTube is also going to get started with YouTube live as well. Whatever platform works best for your firm, it’s time to start thinking about a video strategy.
At Bop Design, we started experimenting with live video via Facebook Live. We recently had a new website launch for our agency but weren’t able to invite everyone to our San Diego headquarters. We didn’t want anyone to miss out so we live streamed the event.
You can see from the views that people did watch the event live (a modest amount – we know!) and have watched the saved recordings as well. An exciting event like a launch party or an announcement is a great idea for getting started with video.
There you have it – 3 new social media tips for marketing your B2B business. Have questions about anything we covered? Let us know in the comments below.
Think about the brands you love. Why do you love them? What about them makes you follow them or remain loyal?
When it comes to your B2B brand, it’s important to remember that it’s not simply a mission statement written on a website or company policy book. Rather, your brand is the living, breathing essence behind your firm’s products or services.
What does it take to build a brand your clients love?
The first step is to be authentic. Be who you are, not who your competitor is. IBM never tries to be like HP. Microsoft never tries to be like Apple. Your B2B branding should reflect who you truly are and there is a good reason for this. You can’t be everything to everyone.
Anyone can build a brand, but it takes effort and perseverance to create a B2B brand that clients love. The main thing you can do to create a brand that clients love is to offer value to them. What matters most to your ideal clients? What problem are you solving with your products or services?
For many B2B firms, they simply need to complete this sentence:
Our company was founded to ________ (fill in the blank).
Relate to Your Audience
In order for your brand to be loved, your B2B marketing and branding must be relatable. Clients must feel like they connect with your brand. The best way to accomplish this is to really understand who your audience is and perform research on what they want and don’t want.
The biggest issue we see with this is that B2B firms make assumptions about their clients. Ask your audience what they like and don’t like about your products or services. What you discover may surprise you.
Get Feedback on Your Brand Promise
You know what your brand promise is, but do your clients and prospects?
We advise against relying solely on your sales team. Rather than rely on anecdotal evidence (which is often proven wrong), rely on statistics and direct feedback from clients. Perform research using survey tools like Survey Monkey.
Surveys are a great way to find what clients understand about your brand, what they like, what they don’t like, and what they might have missed. All this input is great to re-evaluate your B2B brand and craft a brand that your clients love.
What’s your secret to building a brand clients love?
When executed properly and according to a well-designed strategy, content marketing is an excellent way to expand brand awareness, build up authority in your industry, attract new website traffic, generate new leads, and convert leads into new clients.
Did you know that 93% of B2B marketers use content marketing?
Unfortunately, out of those B2B marketers, only 42% consider themselves effective –less than half! (Source: CMI)
There are some folks out there who like to skip right past all the best practices of B2B content marketing and, thus, they fail at content marketing.
Here, we take a quick look at epic failures in content marketing.
Lack of Strategy
Would you build a house without a set of plans? How would you know how to lay out the foundation and locate the stairs and windows in the walls? It’s not exactly like you can just “wing it.” The same holds true for B2B content marketing.
Of B2B marketers who are successful with content marketing, 66% have a documented strategy. On the other hand, when it comes to unsuccessful marketers, only 11% had a documented content strategy. (Source: CMI).
Rushing into content marketing without a strategy is kind of just like throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. Lack of a clear, documented strategy is a great way to set yourself up for failure before you even begin.
A strategy is great until it’s the wrong strategy. It’s no use selling widgets in the mall if all your widget clients are shopping online. A common reason content marketing fails is that the strategy is all wrong. Wrong audience, wrong channel, wrong content, wrong distribution, wrong messaging, etc.
An effective B2B content marketing strategy centers on producing the right content for the right audience at the right time. Create the right strategy by drafting up a target audience persona. Next, determine what types of information the ideal client needs or wants to know. Lastly, decide what content to create for the various level of the buying stages. It’s no use sending a prospect a case study if they don’t even know what types of services you have to offer them.
Creating a content marketing strategy is wonderful, but not allocating the right resources to the execution of the plan only sets it up for epic failure. It seems like we are all trying to do more than we can with the limited resources available. Resources include employees, budget, time, tools, etc.
Did you know that content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing or that 70% of people would rather learn about a company through articles rather than an ad? (Source: DemandMetric)
It’s time that B2B content marketing gets the right allocation of resources to execute strategies effectively. The biggest issue we see is that B2B marketers don’t set aside enough time to blog, review content, evaluate metrics, brainstorm new content ideas, create great designs, etc. Due to this lack of essential resources, content marketing efforts fall off, are inconsistent, or stop altogether.
Making content marketing a priority across the entire organization is the main solution for avoiding this type of failure.
Congratulations – you’ve written a fantastic blog! Pssst, no one is reading it. A major point in a successful content marketing strategy that marketers either forget about or aren’t willing to invest time in is the promotion portion.
Promoting a piece of content should be the final step in the creation process. Concept, create, promote! Promotion includes sharing blogs on social media, paying to promote posts on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Or, create retargeting ads that highlight a particular ebook or white paper. Email campaigns are another great way to get the word out about new content and get it in front of the right people.
Always include a distribution or promotion step in your content strategy.
While this is not an exhaustive list of failures in content marketing for B2B firms, it’s a short list of the most common and epic failures. All of these failures can be avoided through strategic planning, targeting the right audience, proper resource allocation, and serious promotion efforts.
Have an epic content marketing failure you’d like to share? We are all ears!
Alright, so the title here sounds a little harsh. Let me explain.
Your B2B website should be a living, breathing resource center for potential and current clients. The blog is at the center of this resource as a content marketing tool for continually adding fresh, educational information. In order to attract your target audience and retain your existing clients, the blog needs to provide valuable information.
What Matters to You…Doesn’t Matter to Your Clients
I get it. You and your marketing team are thrilled with a new product release or are true believers that your services are the best in the industry. You and your competitors aren’t even in the same arena when it comes to great products and services. You want to shout this from the rooftops. The only problem is that your target audience doesn’t care. It’s true.
What matters to you (how awesome your company is), doesn’t matter to your potential clients. Take a minute for that to sink in. It can take a little while to digest this, but once you do it will revolutionize how you plan out your B2B content marketing strategy. Next, you need to figure out what matters to your potential clients. The best way to do this is to create an ideal client persona, complete with pain points and objections to your products or services. By truly understanding your potential client, you can address what matters to them, not what only matters to your firm.
Clients Don’t Want to Be Sold To
First and foremost, potential clients aren’t looking to be sold to. They want to be educated. As the central component of a B2B content marketing strategy, your blog is a wonderful way to educate potential clients about the benefits of your products and services, the value they offer, and how they work or are best utilized. A standard page on your website can act as a service feature list, but your blog should discuss why your products and services matter to your target audience.
Write About How It Works
Rather than focus on the what behind your products and services, focus on the how and why behind them. Put yourself in your target audience’s shoes. Why would they want to use your products or services? How do your products or services benefit them? Address their pain points in the blog post or provide a “How-to” on using your products or services.
Always Provide Value
All of your competitors are talking about their own products and services. Differentiate your firm with a content marketing strategy that focuses on creating and providing value for your clients. Content marketing is not a task to simply be completed and marked off. It’s a process of creating blog posts that help your clients to understand the value of partnering with your firm. It’s a way to help them do their jobs better, make it easier for them to do their jobs, look good for their boss, etc. The main point is that these are all provide value for your target audience.
Start Writing Content That Resonates
Now, it’s up to you and your team to start writing content that resonates with your target audience. Contrary to what the headline of this blog states, your blogs will discuss your products and services. HOWEVER, how you talk about them and the types of information you share about them will be different than what you may have previously believed.
Questions about creating a content marketing strategy that resonates with your target audience? Let us know in the comments.
Are you confused by what is and isn’t content marketing? With all of the rhetoric out there about content marketing, it’s easy to see why there is so much confusion.
Content marketing is a strategy for creating blogs, ebooks, guides, infographics, videos, campaigns, etc. that attract, engage, and convert clients.
As a strategic approach, B2B content marketing does have a large umbrella. Let’s take a look at common misperceptions about what is and isn’t content marketing.
Social Media Updates
It’s true that social media marketing is kind of its own animal, but it still falls under the category of content marketing. Why? Because when prospective or current clients look at your firm’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Instagram account, it tells a story.
If your Facebook page only shows specials, it tells the story that your company is often running specials so potential clients should never pay full price for your products or services. If your Twitter page only shows quotes, it says that your company lacks originality and likely isn’t innovative. However, if your LinkedIn page shows articles from reputable sources, highlights the latest articles written by the experts at your firm, and includes product/service innovations or updates – it tells potential clients that your firm is a resource and the place to go for information on the products or services you sell.
What story does your social media tell?
Does your pricing sheet simply list the prices and features of your services or products? Pricing sheets are absolutely a B2B content marketing piece when they are designed to tell a compelling story.
These sheets are a great opportunity to weave in the story of how your company helps your clients. Even the naming of your different pricing categories should reflect the value intrinsic to each service or product offering.
Rather than listing your services as option Bronze, Silver, or Gold, re-label them according to your company’s story. If your main value proposition is that you save your clients time, think of time-related names for your pricing sheets, such as Timesaver, Have More Time for Yoga, and Use All Your Vacation Time This Year.
Most B2B firms have gathered a list of frequently asked questions and written clear responses to these questions. Did you know that FAQs are also considered content marketing? Here’s why: First you write up the FAQ and post it to your blog. Then you take that blog and redesign it to be a nice visual piece to display on your B2B website. Next, you take the FAQ and create an infographic that you pitch out to related industry resources. Finally, you take that FAQ, prepare it for print, print it, and give it to your sales team to hand out to prospects.
Woah. That just happened.
Yes, an FAQ is often considered part of the sales process, but, as a conversion tool, it tells potential customers WHY they want to work with you. How you answer those questions, how well you understand the right questions, and how you present that information all communicate why your firm is absolutely the right choice to partner with. Check out 17 Clever Ideas on How to Do Content Marketing.
Printed brochures are thought to be the domain of the sales team that marketing just adds some nice graphics too. Brochures are definitely to be considered content marketing as they are given to possible leads you are trying to convert into clients. The main question you need to ask is: Do these brochures tell the same story as the rest of my B2B content marketing efforts?
It’s not uncommon for companies to have a great blogging, social media, email, and overall inbound marketing strategy but have a lackluster capabilities brochure that they’ve been using for years. The brochure often doesn’t match the exciting story the rest of their B2B marketing tells.
A printed brochure should absolutely discuss the capabilities your firm has to offer, but it should also engage and excite your potential clients. If it’s simply a list of services, it will get filed under “Boring” or “Look at Later.” However, if it tells a compelling story of needs being met and exceeded, it will get looked at immediately.
Take a Second Look
Take a second look at what you consider as “not content marketing” in your organization. Sales promo items, brochures, cost sheets, FAQs, case studies, etc. can all contribute to telling your firm’s story – what makes clients want to do business with your firm.
Your website might be losing you precious client leads. It’s true. Whether you are actively managing your website or not, it’s impacting how potential clients view your company and your products or services.
Here are 10 ways your website is losing you those precious client leads and how you can change that.
An outdated website, especially if it isn’t responsive, makes your company look outdated. Even if you use the latest technology and are on the cutting-edge in your industry, if your B2B web design doesn’t reflect that, you are likely giving potential clients the wrong impression.
Fix it: It’s time for a new website. In many cases, you will have to start from scratch, but the end result will make you wonder why you waited so long. Check out our guide on how to select a B2B web design agency.
Slow Load Time
Did you know that 47% of consumers expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less? (Source: Kissmetrics) Count it out: one-one thousand, two-one thousand. That’s pretty quick. If your B2B website isn’t loading in 2 seconds or less, website visitors may simply hit the back button or go to the next listing in the search results.
Fix it: There are a variety of ways to speed up your website’s load time including, cleaning up your CSS, resizing images, enable caching, and minimizing the amount of 301 redirects.
If visitors to your B2B website can’t easily figure out who you are and why they should work with your firm, it’s likely poor branding. A strong brand is the core of any successful marketing strategy. Without a clear brand, you will be lost in the sea of your competition.
Fix it: Create a clear brand, mission statement and value proposition. This doesn’t happen in five minutes by one person in your company. Branding is a process that should be taken seriously and given the attention it deserves.
Potential clients should be able to understand the value your firm offers and how it benefits them within a few minutes of being on your firm’s B2B website. A website with unclear or disjointed messaging confuses visitors and makes them work hard to understand. This is one of the most common ways that websites lose valuable client leads.
Fix it: Review your website’s messaging. Is it saying too many things? Is it saying things that are consistent with each other? Is it not saying much of anything at all? Tighten up your messaging, typically with no more than three value propositions and revisit how the messaging is portrayed on your website.
At the very minimum, a B2B website should be an online brochure that tells potential clients about the services your provide, the benefits of your services or products, and what it’s like to work with your firm. If your website has little to no information, your prospects can’t decide if they want to work with you. In many cases, if you don’t offer them information, your competitors do.
Fix it: If your website is only a few pages or only has a few paragraphs of text, it’s time to create new copy, visuals, videos, graphs, etc. Think about what your prospects need to know about your firm’s products or services and create content that addresses those needs. Take the opportunity to educate your prospects and existing clients.
Do you get bored reading your own website? If you are bored with your own copy, then it’s likely prospects are bored too. No one wants to stick around on a site that’s boring.
Fix it: Write copy with your prospect in mind. What matters to them? What are their pain points? Interesting copy creates an emotional connection between your prospects and your products or services.
Lack of Case Studies or White Papers
A website should be a living, breathing resource center that provides all the information a prospect needs to become a client. If you aren’t sharing helpful, actionable information with potential clients, they will go elsewhere to get the tips and tools to perform their jobs better.
Fix it: Build case studies on successful client projects. Show the value of your products or services in these case studies. Create white papers that enable your prospects to do their jobs better.
Look at your website and ask yourself, “Does a prospect understand the next step they should take?” If the answer is maybe or no, it’s likely that the calls-to-action (CTAs) are weak.
Fix it: Create CTAs that are direct, clear, and definitive. Things like: Call Now, Schedule a Consultation, Request a Demo, Download Now, etc.
Poorly Placed CTAs
Do visitors have to scroll all the way to the very bottom of your website, or, even worse, have to click to a second page to even find a link to your contact page? All CTAs should be front and center in highly visible parts of your B2B website. If your CTA isn’t in a prominent place, visitors may not even see it before they leave your website.
Fix it: Put CTAs in several spots on your website. Make it easy for potential prospects to see the CTAs and complete the action.
Complicated Contact Forms
Contact forms that look like a college application will lose you potential leads. A long, complicated form with every field required can be overwhelming and off-putting. Even an interested prospect may think, “I’ll come back to this later,” only to never return.
Fix it: Simplify your forms. The easiest way to do this is to eliminate fields that aren’t essential or ask for information that can quickly be collected after the initial contact is made. Another way to simplify the form is to only make a few fields required for form submission.
A B2B website is a great tool for attracting, nurturing, and converting potential leads into new clients. Follow these 10 tips to turn your website into a lead generation tool for your firm.
Social media is a crucial component of an effective B2B marketing strategy. A firm that doesn’t have a social media presence of any kind looks outdated and out of touch.
Your prospects and current clients are looking for information and the latest trends that affect your industry. Social media marketing is a great way to drive traffic (leads) to your B2B web design, expand your reach, build your thought leadership, communicate information to prospects, and connect with clients.
Complete & Optimize Your Profile
A well-thought out social media marketing plan does not include every single social network out there. In fact, a successful marketing plan carefully selects the right social media platforms and focuses only on those few networks. Just like your B2B website design, your firm’s social media presence should be complete, consistent with your branding, and continually updated.
Don’t simply set up a Facebook page or Twitter profile for your business. Complete and optimize your profile. Below are a few easy steps you can take to optimize your profile to drive more leads.
Complete “About” section – Use this section to connect with your clients. Why should they partner with you? What makes you different from your competitors? What is your value proposition? Keep this succinct, clear and as brief (but complete) as possible. Think about what would make them want to visit your website or contact your company.
Include website link – Drive traffic to your B2B website by including a link from your social media pages. It sounds simple, but many companies overlook this simple step.
Use a call-to-action button if provided – Many social networks, including Facebook, provide you the opportunity to create an easy call-to-action button – do it! Determine what you want leads to do and make a CTA for it.
Don’t set it and forget it. It’s easy to push social media down on the priority list of your marketing plan as you manage blog updates, create email newsletters, write press releases, host webinars, take client calls, etc. Neglecting your social media sends the message to your prospects that you will neglect them too.
There are a few easy things you can do to create an active social media presence and garner new leads.
Post educational content – Share helpful articles that your audience cares about – even if you didn’t write it! It’s ok to curate content from other sources. Become THE resource for your followers by sharing educational, actionable content.
Share specials – If you have a special you are currently running, share it with your followers. The caveat here is that specials shouldn’t be the only thing you share. Believe it or not, sharing the same thing all the time will bore your audience.
Be consistent – Schedule time into your workday or workweek to work on your firm’s social media. Don’t blast out a bunch of content one day a month and nothing else. Use a tool like HootSuite or Buffer to schedule consistent content sharing on your social media.
Respond & Engage
Social media is a great one-to-many communication solution, but at its core, it’s really designed to be a two-way communication tool. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. are great places for potential clients to ask questions, current clients to voice customer service issues, and a place to get to know each other.
When people engage with your content on social media – respond! If someone leaves you a review or sends you a message – respond! When followers comment on your posts – respond! Get the message? Respond! It shows you are listening and that you care what your followers are saying. Being responsive and engaging fosters leads down the final towards a close.
Review Traffic Metrics
You track traffic to your B2B web design, so you should track your social media marketing as well. Each social network has an analytics tool built into the platform. In addition to Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, and LinkedIn Analytics, you should be reviewing traffic in Google Analytics. Doing so enables you to see how visitors from the social platforms are interacting with your site. Do Facebook visitors only look at one page and then leave your site? Do LinkedIn visitors spend 5+ minutes perusing your site? Also, Google Analytics enables you to track if these visitors from social media are converting into new leads.
Pay to Play
An active, branded social media presence is essential for a good customer experience. The downside of social media is that it is also becoming a pay to play space for brands and companies. As companies like Facebook and Twitter look to increase their revenue, they are showing less organic page posts and tweets to followers. Instead, they are prioritizing paid posts and tweets.
You can easily turn this into a win as many platforms offer extreme audience targeting (even down to income level and neighborhood!). If you are looking to increase the traffic to your website and your leads, even small budget social promotions can garner excellent results.
A successful marketing strategy has multiple avenues including a strong digital presence that starts with a professional B2B web design and extends to the right social media platforms. Drive more leads to your website using the social media tactics outlined here.
Got questions about how to leverage social media for your company? Let us know in the comments below.
The term branding is often an over-complicated term that leaves many a marketer or business owner feeling overwhelmed. Why? Because it encapsulates everything about your company. No stress there! No wonder people shy away from the branding process.
Yes, the process of building a brand is often an in-depth process, but it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Whether you are just launching your company, looking to change directions, or interested in tightening up your marketing message, we’ve got 7 branding tips from the B2B branding professionals at Bop Design.
1. Be Authentic
Your target market, whether they are medical professionals, IT managers, accountants, executives, business owners, or contractors are savvy. They can sniff out insincere marketing messages from a mile away. The number one branding tip we have for firms is to be authentic. Don’t try to create a B2B brand persona that isn’t true or realistic. Your company is awesome and has great services or products for the market – stick to the REAL value you have to offer.
What’s the real story behind your company?
2. Be Original
Imitation is the highest form of flattery…except when it comes to branding. Don’t try to replicate the brands for Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Cisco, or Samsung. They already exist and it’s a branding sin to copy them. Copying an existing brand tells your target audience that you don’t have anything new to offer and aren’t a leader or innovator. When it comes to B2B marketing and branding, your services and products aren’t what defines your brand – it’s often how you deliver the services or products that separates you from your competition.
What makes your company unique?
3. Solve a Problem
Your target market isn’t looking for a product or service. They are looking for a solution to a problem they have. A strong brand reflects the solution your firm has to offer. Determine what main problem your brand solves and focus on that. Your product or service may solve multiple problems, but you need to focus on the most important problem it solves.
How does your company make life easier for your clients?
4. Compel Your Audience
When creating or updating your brand, make sure it’s compelling and really SAYS something of value. It doesn’t need to be over the top or flashy, but it really needs to speak to your audience and grab their attention. The best way to be compelling is to appeal to emotion. A compelling brand is one that has a clear message and draws on the emotions of a potential client.
How does your company make clients feel?
5. Uphold Your Promise
Your brand is essentially what you promise to deliver to your clients. Your B2B brand absolutely must uphold the reality of your product or service delivery. This is where firms have the biggest struggle – the brand they want to create doesn’t match the reality of their offerings. If you focus on being authentic, your brand will always accurately portray your service offerings.
Do your brand promise and service delivery match up?
6. Don’t Be Everything
You can’t be everything to everyone. Don’t try to be. A strong B2B brand is specific and often niche. Apple doesn’t sell washing machines or cars because that’s not where they excel (not currently, anyways). Know your B2B firm’s strong points and have a defined value proposition. Don’t stray from this. Your firm can’t do everything well, but you can do certain things exceptionally well.
Where is your sweet spot or where does your firm excel at offering value?
7. Stay the Course
Consistency is key to creating a compelling brand. Write down your brand message and your firm’s value proposition. Make sure every single piece of marketing, sales, customer service, and operational piece of content you create or design is inline with this brand message. If your brand is centered around innovation – don’t use a tired, old logo or outdated design.
Always ask, does this fit with our brand?
These 7 tips are meant to be a guide as you determine and refine your brand. Before you get started on your B2B branding efforts, check out 5 major branding mistakes you should avoid. Have any branding questions before your get started? Let us know in the comments.
Let’s get one thing straight – B2B marketing is not about telling prospects about all the great things your company does.
It’s about conveying the value of your services and the benefits of being a customer. Even in our efforts at Bop Design, we can forget this sometime. It’s easy to get caught up in a new feature or a cool thing your company has done.
However, if your B2B marketing efforts don’t answer one question, then they are worthless. You should always be able to answer this question:
Why does this matter to my potential client?
Other questions you can ask are: why do prospects care about this? Does this provide value to my prospects? Is this going to make a prospect want to do business with us? Is this just a feature listing?
What’s the best way to make sure you are following this logic in your marketing strategy? Having a clear understanding of your audience, what they value and what they care about will help you to create a customer-centric B2B marketing plan.
Who Are They?
We’ve talked about creating buyer personas before, but we can’t talk about how important this really is for a successful marketing plan. It’s essential to know who you are trying to market to and what drives them. Who is your ideal client? What do you know about them?
What Do They Do?
Knowing a job title or titles for your ideal clients is not only helpful for your B2B marketing efforts, it’s essential for targeting the right audience using different ad networks, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or any Account-Based Marketing platform. In addition to knowing their title, understand what they do on an everyday basis. Are they making decisions or gathering information? Do they have to report to a Director, President, Owner, etc?
When Do They Need You?
When do your clients need your products or services? Is it an urgent need or is it something they think they need but aren’t sure about? Also, ask yourself questions about when they are going to connect with you? Do many of your prospects reach out to you at the beginning of the year, or when their budget is finalized, or at the end of the quarter?
Where Are They?
Be sure to answer several questions about location. Where are your prospects located geographically? Also, ask: Where are they online? Should you be connecting with them on LinkedIn (for B2B marketing – this is usually a yes), Facebook, Yelp, search engines, industry websites, at conferences, tradeshows, in their offices? Where they are located will impact the targeting that you do for your inbound and outbound marketing. Where they want to connect with you will also impact your marketing efforts. For example, it’s no use advertising on Facebook if all your prospects are on Twitter.
Why Do They Care About Your Services?
Again, this should be the main driver for a successful B2B marketing strategy. Why do prospects care about your services? Do they have an issue that your services solve for them? Do your products or services make it easier for them to do their jobs? Do you save them time, money, resources?
There you have it, the secret behind any successful B2B marketing strategy. A customer-centric approach to marketing your firm’s products or services will enable you to connect with prospects and provide them with a valuable partnership.
Content Marketing, Content Marketing, Content Marketing. It seems to be the only thing that marketing professionals can talk about these days. Many B2B marketers talk about content marketing without really understanding what it is and why they should care about it.
Rather than re-invent a definition of content marketing, let’s look at how experts define content marketing. The experts at the Content Marketing Institute define content marketing as:
According to this definition, B2B content marketing is a strategic approach to creating content that drives profitable client actions.
By this definition, the term “content” can cover a variety of different elements. Let’s take a look at 5 different types of marketing collateral that you didn’t know were actually content marketing.
1. Your Company Blog
I would actually argue that your blog is the center of your B2B content marketing strategy. Why do I believe this? The blog should be at the center of your content marketing strategy because it’s a way to easily produce consistent content while also providing a foundation for larger content pieces like ebooks, white papers, case studies, press releases, email newsletters, etc.
2. Client Case Studies
Client case studies or client examples are definitely content marketing. The purpose of these content pieces is to guide a potential prospect down the sales funnel and encourage them to become a client. As such, it’s content marketing. When you are designing your case studies or creating client examples, ensure you are answering questions that prospects are posing and share information that will help them to make the decision to become a client.
3. Any Client Communications
That’s right – any client communications. This includes everyday emails, project updates, newsletters, any direct mail pieces, invoices, collection notices, etc. Every touch point with a customer can be considered a chance to market to that client, to retain and to upsell them. Ensure all of your communications with clients and prospects reinforce the overall messaging of your brand and drive “profitable client actions.”
4. Sales Proposal
Yup! B2B content marketing does not end once you get a prospect to the proposal or pitch stage. The sales proposal or pitch may be one of the most important pieces of content marketing you and your team create. It’s often the final piece of content that a prospect engages with before becoming a client or going to a competitor. Make sure your proposal reinforces your brand, is consistent with your other content pieces and positions your firm as the experts.
5. Your B2B Website
Your B2B website should be a living, breathing resource center. It’s often the hub of all your content marketing efforts. All newsletters will drive traffic to your website. The blog is located on your website and should attract traffic to your website. All content pieces live on your website for easy downloads. Social media posts drive visitors to visit your website. Your website should be considered the first step in an overall B2B content marketing strategy. If your website is not current and working well, your content marketing efforts will be in vain.
The buzz in digital marketing is all around content marketing. Why? Because it works when executed properly (more on this later). While we’ve seen a lot of information out there about content marketing, there isn’t much information about the timing of a content strategy launch.
At Bop Design, we get a lot of clients asking: when is the best time to launch a B2C or B2B content marketing strategy? We thought we’d take a little time to address this question and examine what is the best time to launch a content strategy.
Ok, so you know that your B2B firm needs a content strategy, but when is the best time to launch a new strategy to get the best results? Generally, launching a content plan sooner rather than later is ideal. However, there are several points in time when it’s best to launch a B2B content strategy.
The center stone of a digital marketing and content marketing strategy is a professional website. If you are in the process of redesigning your website or are about to launch a new B2B website, now is the time to plan for your content strategy. We recommend that our web design clients launch a content marketing strategy 1-2 months after launching a new website. Why wait 1-2 months? The simple answer is to make sure everything is functioning optimally on the website and management of the website is going smoothly.
A strong content marketing strategy should be implemented post-website-launch in order to promote the B2B website, drive traffic to the website, build trust as a thought leader in the industry, and get those leads into the sales funnel. We advise our web design clients to start planning their content marketing strategy before the website ever goes live to allow enough time for careful planning, review, approval, and resource allocation.
After a Rebrand
It’s not uncommon for companies to rebrand or shift their brand focus to adapt to the market or to gain a competitive advantage. If you don’t already have a content marketing plan in place, immediately after a rebrand is the ideal time to launch a content marketing strategy. Content pieces like blogs, brochures, white papers, case studies, email newsletters, social media posts, etc. are excellent ways to communicate and control the messaging about a company rebrand.
Before launching a new brand or a rebrand, it’s essential to have a clearly defined content strategy in place to ensure the rebrand is a success. Prior to flipping the switch on a rebrand, plan and put into place an actionable B2B content marketing strategy to address the rebrand, anticipate questions, and discuss why the rebrand was necessary. Launching a rebrand with these items in place ensures clarity and easy adoption for your audience.
Product or Service Launch Support
New product or service launches can be a very exciting time, but if you don’t have a content strategy in place to support the launch, you aren’t firing on all cylinders. During a new product or service launch, it’s essential to equip your sales team with the content tools they need to explain the benefits and features of the new product or service. Having well-designed and carefully crafted content pieces ensures the sales team is able to easily and clearly communicate how and why the prospect should be interested.
During the process of a product or service launch, design a B2B content strategy that includes helpful content resources for the sales and support team. Include things like blogs, press releases, FAQs, product sheets, case studies, testimonials, etc. to make sure you have a variety of material to address questions, concerns, and any client doubt.
New Lead Generation
Last, but not least, the best time to launch a content marketing strategy is when you want to garner new leads. Inbound marketing is a proven way to drive new traffic and garner new client leads. However, before you start blogging or creating press releases, it’s imperative you create a solid content marketing strategy.
Now that you know when to launch your B2B content strategy, let’s take a quick look at 3 steps for launching a successful content strategy.
1. SMART Goals + Clear Strategy
Start with defining SMART goals for your strategy. They must be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. A smart goal for a content marketing strategy is to increase new traffic to the website by 10% in three months. Setting SMART goals ensures you are able to track and measure your efforts.
Set a clear strategy. The strategy should include a general plan of blogging, social media publication, client newsletter distribution, etc. Additionally, the plan should have specific details, such as how many blogs per month, when the newsletters will be sent, how often to publish on social media, etc.
2. Stakeholder Buy-in
The most effective content strategies are executed by multiple individuals across several departments. It’s important to get buy-in from not only the individuals who will be directly contributing to executing the strategy but to get buy-in from the management team and all others who can benefit from the strategy.
If the sales team doesn’t understand or support the content strategy, they won’t use the content tools effectively and the tools will be wasted. If management doesn’t understand the importance of the strategy and support it, they won’t prioritize content-related tasks for themselves or members of their team. It’s best to head off any of these issues by presenting the B2B content strategy and getting internal approval and support.
3. Just do it!
The most successful content marketing strategies are properly and consistently executed. Continually blogging, sending newsletters, and sharing on social media are key to an effective strategy. The biggest failure of a content marketing strategy is when a content strategy falls behind or blogging drops off or gets pushed back. Content marketing is like staying in shape, you’ve got to exercise consistently and often to get results.
Do you have questions about launching B2B content marketing strategy? Let us know in the comments below.
Recently, Bop Design partnered with Lorman to host a webinar on SEO and Design for B2B Websites. During the SEO webinar, presenter Jeremy Durant discussed:
The Purpose of SEO
Why Is SEO Important?
SEO & Website Design
2016 B2B Website Trends & How SEO Is Impacted
The end user case for SEO
Watch the webinar recording below or read the transcription of the SEO webinar to learn the basics of SEO & design for B2B websites.
James: Welcome to today’s live webinar titled SEO and Design for B2B websites. Today’s program is sponsored and presented to you by Bop Design. At this time, I’d like to turn the call over to your presenter Jeremy Durant. Mr. Durant, please go ahead.
Jeremy: Thank you, James and thank you, Lorman for hosting this and thank you, everyone for your time today. Today we’re going to discuss how search engine optimization and website design work together for your business development efforts. My name is Jeremy Durant, I’m the co-founder of Bop Design. We’re a marketing agency solely focused on B2B firms. We work with clients across North America. We’re based in southern California but we rely primarily on inbound marketing for all of our lead generation.
Companies from all over north America do find us and the reason we do focus on B2B firms is the B2B client acquisition process is much different than B2C. Typically, B2B is less transactional, longer sales cycle, multiple decision makers, and a higher price product per service. The website plays a much different role. Because it’s a longer sales cycle, relying on inbound marketing and the website to nurture that lead from a general inquiry when you’re first generating that lead to a committed long-term relationship.
In the lead generation and lead nurturing process, the website is constantly being referred to nurture a lead along. Today, we’re going to discuss how SEO is involved in the B2B branding website design and content marketing process. Here’s the agenda. I planned for about 35 to 45 minutes here with the agenda, start to finish and I’ve allocated 15 to 20 minutes for Q&A and let’s get right into it here with chapter one, the purpose of SEO.
The Purpose of SEO
What is the goal of search engine optimization? According to Search Engine Land, SEO is defined as the process of getting traffic from the free, organic, editorial or natural results on search engines. I want to warn you guys though, and many of you guys may already know this, SEO is far from free and in many ways it requires more time, money, resources than paid search advertising. However, the resources allocated to SEO are typically well-spent since 90% of the time, a searchable click on the organic result in the search listings versus a paid ad.
Creating a Keyword Strategy
Really when you’re starting with SEO, you want your website to be optimized, it needs to start with a keyword strategy. You need to really come up with a wishlist of keyword phrases that you think your ideal client is searching for. What are your clients using? What terms are they using to find your product or service? Once you have an idea of that keyword wishlist and those keywords you want to go after, then you need to then utilize a tool like Moz or Google Keyword Planner that maybe some of you guys are already using to determine how many times a particular keyword is searched for and what’s the competition for that keyword.
The last thing you want to be doing when you have clients that absolutely think, “Oh, this is the keyword that our clients are searching for.” All of a sudden we look in the keyword report and there’s no search traffic for that keyword. The last thing you want to be doing is targeting keywords that no one is searching for. With the keyword strategy, you’re looking for keyword searches, keywords that may not be searched for that often but your ideal client is searching for them.
You may find a keyword that is only searched for 30 times a month but it’s such a niche keyword or it’s such a specific keyword that it’s really only your ideal client could possibly be searching for it. Niche industry specific, geo-targeted keywords are typically a good start since they’ll be less competitive and you’ll rise in the rankings quicker because the competition is not that high. It’s a good idea when you’re thinking of keywords to not come up with 30 or 50 of them but for a keyword wishlist start with ten or less keywords.
This way you’re not spreading yourself too thin with what keywords you are going after and when you focus on less keyword phrases and spread those out through your website, five to ten keywords, there’s a better likelihood of you ranking in a shorter time.
4 Top Priorities for SEO on a Website
With your website itself, there are really four key components for SEO. You want to integrate your keyword phrases into the first thing, the website copy. Number two, the page title. Number three, the h1 tag and number four, the URL structure. Those are the four top priorities with SEO on a website.
Keep in mind that just because you do this keyword strategy and you launch your website, you have let’s say a 40-page website and you’ve integrated the keywords into those four areas, that’s not all that needs to be done. Keep in mind that SEO is like staying in shape physically. You can’t just, “Hey, I’m in shape.” And then quit. You really need to keep at it and you can’t just integrate the keywords into your website and that’s it.
Really at the end of the day, you need to be constantly adding content keyword rich content to your website. The way you’re going to do that, and really the centerpiece of your SEO strategy going forward, is typically going to be your blog of resources or news page.
SEO, Your Blog & Editorial Calendar
The blog section is a place where you can really add all the time, add new keyword-rich content that’s relevant and helpful to your target market. For instance, if you set up a plan and you plan on blogging four times a month, that’s 48 pages of keyword rich content a year that Google can crawl and index for. It’s really important to remember with a company blog, it’s important to have an editorial calendar. The editorial calendar is really your plan. It will include blog topics that you plan on blogging about centered around the targeted keyword phrases. This is going to be your ongoing SEO content marketing plan.
On-Page VS Off-Page SEO
What I want to talk about now is on-page versus off-page SEO. These are really the two parts of any SEO strategy.
On-page SEO is ensuring the right keywords are integrated correctly on your website. The focus should be on the four components that I’ve talked about. Number one, the website copy, number two the page title, number three the h1 tag and number four the URL structure. On-page is focused just on the website itself. It always should be the foundation and the top priority. Before you even jump to off-page SEO, you need to make sure your on-page SEO strategy is finalized because if that’s not finalized, you’d be doing all of these off-page SEO tactics in vain.
Off-page SEO, on the other hand is about your website being linked to authoritative websites. Google’s algorithm measures your website and its authority when it’s linked to by other authoritative websites. What you want with off-page SEO is you want your company’s content being posted on websites with a high domain authority. You can find what a high domain or low domain authority is using the tool like Moz.
As you’re approaching these websites with high domain authority, this all comes back to continuously creating keyword rich content and that editorial calendar. You’re going to have these blog topics centered around these keywords and then what you want to do is you have this plan, you already know these blogs that you’re going to create and then you want to approach these appropriate high domain authority websites about publishing this content.
This is where guest blogging comes in. You may have heard that guest blogging is dead and that’s been a very trendy topic as of late but guest blogging is not dead, no matter how much you hear about it. It’s very much alive and the reason you’ve heard this is because people were really cheating the system and paying for guest blogging links and guest blogging on very spammy sites. Google has really cracked down on that so this really needs to be honest guest blogging that you’re actually approaching websites that do fit your target audience, have complimentary services, they feature industry things like that.
Google is really just trying to keep you honest. The number one priority of off-page SEO is having your company’s content being published on that high domain authority website and then what you want is a back link pointing to your website. In that back link, you typically want to have a target keyword that you’re going after but keep in mind that you don’t want every one of those back links to have an embedded keyword.
Sometimes you want to actually have your brand name or company name. It’s very important to diversify the back links coming to your site just so it doesn’t look spammy. Now, back to the editorial calendar because you already now have a plan on the content you’ll be creating. With off-page SEO, the goal is to pitch that content to the high domain authority website. What you want to do is when you’re creating this content and these high domain authority websites that you want to go after, you want to create a list, as I said, of industry related complimentary services.
Places where your target audience is going to be but they also have a high domain authority. The pitch should always be focused when you’re pitching a high domain authority website, the pitch should always focus on that website’s readership and that your thought leadership content will be helpful to that website’s visitors. This isn’t about just getting a back link, it’s very much about pitching and selling to that website that this would be of interest to their leadership.
When a guest blog gets accepted, it’s a win-win. Not only you’re getting the content in front of your ideal prospects because they are reading things on that website, you’re also getting that valuable back link for off-page SEO. It’s important, you’ve got to remember this, if your guest blog does get accepted, it’s important that you don’t also put that blog on your website. That is not good for SEO. It’s basically duplicate content. If a guest blog gets accepted, just have it on that high domain authority website and don’t republish it on your website. You’re creating all this content and you’re getting a lot of on-page or off-page SEO benefits from it but I also want to remind you that there’s all these other channels that you can share this content from and you can get some off-page SEO benefit.
One of the first ones you really want to think about is social media channels where your ideal clients could be. Social media helps with off-page SEO and really getting your content in front of more prospects. You really want to amplify this content on all channels where your target market will be. For on-page and off-page SEO, the editorial calendar is the structure with the blog being the foundation for all the content. Just like physical exercise, you need to be disciplined and set aside time to create this content.
I strongly urge everyone with their calendar to set side half hour to an hour each week in their calendar to be creating content because if you don’t set aside the time just like exercise, it’s not going to get done. At larger organizations, any company that’s above ten plus employees especially if you’re 50+, 100+, 200+, there needs to be an internal content curator that’s really managing all the content marketing that’s going on and all the blogs that are created for consistent voice, for quality control, making sure that they’re compliant with the brand. Just to really make sure you’re controlling the content that’s going out and is really in charge of that ongoing keyword SEO strategy.
As a reminder, for any inbound marketing strategy, constant output of content is critical for not only driving organic traffic to the website but keeping visitors on the site. It’s not just about getting organic traffic but the more helpful relevant content you have on the website, the longer a visitor is going to stay and the longer they stay on the website, the more likely they are to convert.
Why Is SEO important?
Why is SEO important? According to Media Post, organic search drives 51% of all visitors to B2B and B2C websites. Actually with Bop Design clients, this is much higher. We typically see 60 to 75% of website traffic coming from organic search and organic search is the traffic … Again the traffic coming to the website that’s prompting the most conversions is much more than referral traffic and much more than paid search traffic. Organic searches are where we’re getting the highest quality leads for ourselves and our clients.
According to Freely, 81% of B2B buying cycle starts with an online search and 90% of buyers say when they are ready, they’ll find you. This is why inbound content marketing is so popular for B2B firms. It’s much easier, you’re already better positioned when a company finds you versus you finding a company. There’s this psychological thing where you’re playing a little bit harder to get when they find you, they consume your content and are ready to discuss with you.
Quantity and quality of website content helps your website be found. It also keeps those visitors on the website once again where they’re more likely to convert. According to CEB, B2B buyers are 57 to 70% through their buying research before ever making first contact with the vendor. This is why web design and content are so critical. Your website is essentially your 24/7 sales team. It’s really selling your firm when your sales team is not around.
You don’t even know when it’s selling. You’re not even sure when an ideal client is actually on your site and your website is making that first impression about your brand or your organization. When a B2B firm presents a poor website experience, it’s very tough to identify the opportunity cause of a poor website. How many prospects did not contact you because your website or content was so poor? You’ve got to remember that.
Time is now, you want to make sure that you’re putting the best face forward to your target market. Because a website should focus on buyers, it’s important with the SEO strategy to focus on buying terms with your content that you’re creating. These are key words that indicate a website searcher is ready to buy. For example I’ll use Bop Design as an example. We want to focus on a keyword phrase like B2B web design or San Diego web design or Los Angeles web design because that indicates someone is probably looking to hire a website design firm that’s located in San Diego or located in Los Angeles or focused on B2B. On the other hand, a keyword phrase like what is responsive web design indicates that search is nearly performing a general search just about responsive design that can be for academic purposes. It’s probably not looking to buy.
SEO & Website Design
Chapter three, SEO and website design. Now we’re going to discuss the importance of website designers and SEO experts working together working in tandem so that a website is an effective lead generation tool. As we said, SEO specialists and web designers must collaborate on website builds.
With any web design project, it’s advisable that the website design and SEO strategy are done by the same agency, you really don’t want to piecemeal SEO copyrighting, website design, development with separate consultants. There really needs to be a cohesive strategy where everyone is working together with those standard operating procedures. The problem is when you piecemeal it, you’re trying to project manage it and there’s really not that cohesiveness. The right hand really doesn’t know what the left hand is doing as much. You don’t want the client project-managing it because they may have a marketing director and the client may have gone through two to three websites in their career but in the agency, an agency like Bop Design for instance, has done 200+ websites in the history of Bop Design.
We know best practices and we know standard operating procedures to create a website from start to finish. This is typically why the agency model makes sense. Take this with a grain of salt because of course I’m owner and co-founder of a website design agency, but this is, in my humble opinion, why the agency model makes sense.
Responsive Web Design
Responsive web design. You want your website to be a lead generation tool, driving organic traffic, your website better be responsive. If it is not now, it better be soon. Google has essentially said that responsive websites have search engine priority. Really when you think of Google, they want to serve the best website experience to its searchers and because responsive websites display optimally on all devices so they display optimally on a laptop, a desktop, a smartphone, a tablet. By definition, that is the best user experience.
Google wants to serve up those best user experiences to people searching for a product or service. Keep in mind, before responsive, companies typically had two websites. You may be at a company right now that still has two websites or just one website that’s a desktop version but there are a lot of companies that have two websites. One that was a desktop website and one that was a condensed mobile version of a website.
The problem with that from an SEO standpoint is there would be duplicate content on the mobile version, which is not good as we’ve discussed for SEO. Because responsive design enhances the user experiences, this typically means your website bounce rate is going to go down and because the website is displaying better on mobile devices like a tablet or a smartphone, visitors typically aren’t going to bounce.
They’ll not just visit one page and bounce off because it’s not loading right or they have to zoom in, zoom out. They’re going to stay on longer and it’s a better user experience. This is really where Google is coming from and this is why responsive has priority on search engines. Google wants to rank those websites most relevant to search and bounce rate can be an indicator if it’s not relevant.
If bounce rate is high, Google will interpret this as the website not being relevant and drop it in the rankings. Please keep in mind that Google has denied using bounce rate as part of that their algorithm but there’s increasing evidence and increasing consensus among SEO’s that bounce rate is becoming a factor.
We are going to go to metadata. Metadata are snippets of text that describe a page’s content. They’re in the website code, not in the website copy. For SEO, the most important component of metadata is the page title tag that’s found at the to of the browser. That’s the number one thing with metadata for SEO. That’s the top priority. You want to embed the target keyword phrase that you’re going after in each page title. Basically it’s telling Google what that particular page is about.
The other thing you really want to think about and it’s not directly related to SEO but it’s the meta description and given when a meta description is the preview that you see, the two to three sentence in the search engine results, they really preview what your page is about. It has no impact on search engine optimization, however, it has major impact on click through rate. Keep in mind with SEO, the number one goal here is lead generation.
This is what we’re trying to do, develop a business here, identify sales leads. You could be ranking for particular keyword but if that meta description is not engaging, they’re not going to click on that particular result so you’re not even driving them to your website hoping that they convert.
Site structure. A website needs to be very easy for Google to crawl and index for keywords. This is why site structure is so critical for SEO. Site structure ensures that search engines know what your website focuses on and index it for those keywords. It cannot be from a site hierarchy standpoint, it can’t be hard or difficult for Google to crawl and index because you’re never going to rank for anything. Also, keep in mind, from the user experience standpoint, the website has to have that intuitive site structure because that’s going to help in terms of a visitor finding what they need to look for, helping with conversion back to lead generation.
The better the user experience, the longer the visitor is going to remain on your website and the longer they remain on your website, the more likely they are to convert. Back to bounce rate again, Google notices when people are staying on the site longer, the lower bounce rate and higher pages per visit so that’s going to help in terms of SEO.
When you guys are thinking about site structure with a new website and you want to implement a search engine friendly site structure, we recommend using an application like SlickPlan, S-L-I-C-K plan that we actually use here at Bop Design. It helps our clients plan their website’s sitemap structure and user flow. It’s helping not only with probability but then convertibility once somebody is on the site. Make sure that the pages you create for each section of your website are using those page titles for the target keywords. I still see plenty of websites that have all their services on one page. Keep in mind then that the page title for that page is going to be services.
It’s telling you the search engine, the keyword that’s going to be embedded there is services. It’s not telling a search engine anything. You want to make sure that your services pages are fairly granular and implement a content hierarchy where the most products or services are lifted at the top of the sitemap. For instance, if you’re an accounting firm, you want to have your services section up at the top and you’d have services, let’s say like tax planning, bookkeeping, financial accounting, services that people are actually looking for.
Typically what you want to do again is you make those industry related or geo-targeted because that’s going to help you rank quicker. Boston accounting firm, Boston tax planning or let’s say you specialize in manufacturing. Tax planning for manufacturing companies, bookkeeping for manufacturing, and things like that. Those longer tailed keyword phrases are really going to help you score some quick wins from an SEO standpoint.
Usability and SEO
Next is usability with SEO. If your website displays an intuitive user interface, that’s going to keep the bounce rate down. Once again we’re back to bounce rate. People want to explore your website and remain on it. No matter how big your website is, you want your web visitors to find what they’re looking for within two clicks and this is applicable for a 20-page website to a 2,000 page website. Two clicks.
If they come to the home page, they should be able to find what they’re looking for within two clicks. If they can’t find what they’re looking for, they’re going to bounce off and go somewhere else. It needs to be very usable and that’s going to prompt conversion the more usable the website is. Also, make sure to use Google Webmaster Tools to look for any dead links on your website. These could be somebody you made a search for something and there’s an old webpage that’s in a Google search result and they click on it and says, “page not found.” It’s a 404 error.
You need to make sure that all old pages that were crawled by Google are redirecting to new pages because there’s something that definitely stifles convertibility, its dead links on a website. Keep in mind, the overall objective of SEO is lead generation so website usability is all about that visitor taking that desire to action. You want to make sure you think of all your different ideal customer profiles, ideal customer personas, the very people that you’re selling to and really channel them to the appropriate area of the website and prompt conversion, you want them to contact you and start a conversation.
Bounce Rate and Navigation
Bounce rate and navigation. As stated, Google has denied using bounce rate to rank websites but there is growing evidence that bounce rate may be a factor in Google’s closely guarded algorithm. They’re not going to tell you if bounce rate is a factor partly because then that there’s an opportunity there for SEOs, web designers to cheat the system. No matter what Google’s algorithm is, it’s a really a little point.
It doesn’t really matter because when it comes to lead generation, which is the main focus of SEO, decreasing bounce rate is key. The lower the bounce rate is, typically the higher your conversions are and that’s the whole point of SEO. User-friendly website navigation will help lower that bounce rate and navigation not only helps users navigate the website easily but also helps search engines crawl website and index for the keywords.
With navigation and SEO, internal linking is one of the easiest ways for visitors to navigate to another page. Definitely if you’re not using internal linking right now, that’s a great way to more on-page SEO opportunities. Internal links should include the anchor text that you’re targeting. I’m sorry, the anchor text with the keyword phrase that you’re targeting and basically that’s going to help in terms of rising the rankings for that keyword.
The other thing on an on-page SEO standpoint with navigation bread crumbs will help with the visitor journey. With bread crumbs, navigation really tracks that visitor journey from start to finish. If you don’t have that, this is another good on-page SEO opportunity that basically they can track … first off, it’s great from the usability standpoint because they can track their journey but at the same time it helps from an internal linking standpoint, helping with on-page SEO.
B2B Website Trends and SEO
Chapter four, we’re going to talk about B2B website trends that we are predicting here in 2016 and beyond and how SEO is impacted. One of the first trends you’re going to start seeing with B2B websites is minimalist website design. The SEO impact here is the SEO strategy must be well-defined before the design is created. In the age of information overload where people are bombarded all over the place with messages and information, it’s time really to get back to basics.
That’s the minimalistic website design. B2B firms are actually starting to say more with less. A lot of the ones that are really the trendsetters, because really they’re saying more with less, are keeping your attention and not overloading them with information. B2B websites are actually moving away from the complex intricate designs to more minimalistic designs that highlight a few elements. These are a fewer number of pages and the design visuals information architecture are all constructed to only have the essentials.
The entire web design is now really focused on the sales funnel and only provides the type of navigation needed to get more potential clients into that funnel. Once again, back to lead generation, lead nurturing and utilizing your website to just really guide that prospect through the sales funnel process.
Also, the other thing with minimalist website design you’ll start seeing is a lot more of flat web design as the new trend. Flat website design instead of using any 3D imagery, it utilizes 2D images because basically on 2D devices, like phones, it’s more compatible for responsive design and this also comes down to website speed. Keep in mind now with SEO, you want a fast website that loads very quickly and Google is looking at that from an SEO factor, from a ranking factor so when you’re using a flat web design, your website is going to load much quicker and it’s going to help from an SEO standpoint and the usability standpoint.
People don’t want to go to a website to take five to ten seconds to load. They want it to look very quickly and go to pages very seamlessly because if it does not load quickly, they’re going to bounce off and go somewhere else. Another big trend is streamlined navigation. The impact of this is the SEO strategy must be consistent with the user experience and informed by the user’s needs. The visitors will … I’m sorry, the big thing here is in 2016, it will be the year of streamline navigation menus.
Only the absolute necessities are featured on the top page of the navigation so this is where a keyword strategy or you may have three core services areas right at the top of the navigation, only calling attention to those two to three service or product lines. A website won’t include anything about the company itself in the main navigation. Once again, this is about trying to get keyword traffic to the website and prompting conversion.
The focus is the main product or service and getting people into the sales processes quickly and efficiently as possible. Any additional information about the company or the other products will actually be listed on the footer or the bottom of the website. It’s very much now what can you do for me. They don’t want to hear about how special your company is. It’s very much lead with products and services because that’s going to drive the organic traffic and then really make sure that the about us, the team bios things like that are very much in the background.
Another big trend is interactive content. This has been trending for a long time now but you’re going to see it more and more in the future here with B2B websites. The SEO benefit is if you have more interactive content, visitors are going to stay on the website longer and find the website more interesting and engaging – that’s all great for SEO.
A website design in 2016 must allow for various types of content to be hosted on the website. We’re talking about whitepapers, guides, eBooks, webinars, infographics, things that are really not only opportunities to interact with but opportunities to generate leads. You’re really generating conversions from this interactive content. You want some to be gated and some not to be gated. I never want to go to a website where everything is gated. I typically like to have, at least from a balanced standpoint with interactive content, with gated versus un-gated typically about 60% un-gated with your most premium content, the other 40%, being gated.
People get really annoyed with everything being gated and keep in mind that busy people, if you’re targeting business decision makers as a B2B firm, they know the drill and they’re very scared off if they fill out a form. They’re going to be pounded for the next two to three weeks by a sales person. You don’t want people to jump through too many hoops to access your best content, but your most premium content, it’s typically a good practice to still have that gated.
If it’s proprietary content, have some sort of qualifying process before you provide that content to someone. The other thing in terms of interactive content is you’re going to start seeing things like maps on websites that change when somebody clicks over them or mouses over them, timelines where there’s popup information if the user moves from dates, along dates and history. These unique visuals are going to once again keep users on the website longer, allows them to interact, helps them learn about your company, and guides them through that sales funnel quicker.
It’s a great thing, it may not be as much a lead generation tool or conversion tool but a lead nurturing tool that your sales team can point to that interactive content as they’re nurturing your lead along from that general inquiry to that qualified lead.
Once again, it’s really back to lead generation and sales. This here you’re going to see with all websites and in B2B websites in particular here is less code to achieve better functionality. The benefit of this is the less code really enhances the experience on non-desktop devices. Minimalism is impacting the back end development, as well as the front end as we’ve discussed, and app and web developers are making an effort to use less code to achieve that better functionality and with more and more users accessing websites through mobile devices – specifically if you have a smartphone or a tablet, website speed again is a major issue.
The more minimal the code is on the back end, the quicker that website is going to load. If it doesn’t load quickly, they’re going to go somewhere else. I definitely encourage everyone if they have not already, if they’re concerned about their website speed, you can just type in to Google “website speed tool” and find various tools out there to measure your website speed and how that compares to other websites – basically other websites and see what percentile you’re in.
The End User Case
Now we’re going to go to chapter four here, the end user case, this really would wrap everything up here with I want to remind everybody that at the end of the day, the whole focus should be on the end user. Everything we’re talking about here is about making the user’s buying journey as easy and seamless as possible. Keep in mind, Google is creating these rules not to be difficult, but really to guide website designers and digital marketers to serve up the best content and design for searchers.
Really if you’re consistently focused on the end user by creating that relevant content and that engaging design, that’s going to position your company as a thought leader, an innovative brand, an innovator in the industry, and you’ll be much better in terms of generating leads for your website.
Actually, one last one here is the mobile first design in terms of other trend. These slides are a little bit out of order but basically just one trend here to discuss is one other trend that seem to be missing but somehow it’s here again is the mobile design first. The benefit of that is keep in mind, there’s a philosophy here now that you design for mobile users first and desktop secondary. There used to be where it’s still with a lot of responsive design – you’re designing for desktop version and responsive design, the mobile and the smartphone and the tablet are just an afterthought. Now you really want to look at it. If you get more than 50% of your visitors through mobile, you want to make sure that you’re looking at mobile first design because you need to cater to the majority of your users. That’s once again going to help with that website speed. This is a little out of order here with the trends but that was one other trend to illustrate.
We really do practice what we preach in terms of implementing on-page and off-page SEO strategies for ourselves and providing various gated and ungated conversion tools on our website.
SEO Q&A Sessions
Now I’d like to open it up to any question. Yes, in terms of interactive content, there are, we actually have, if you go to our website in terms of example interactive content, there is actually a blog that is very consistent with what I presented today in terms of web design trends and we actually do citations in there of websites that have interactive content.
Somebody asked here what’s considered a higher problematic bounce rate. That very much depends on the industry and, keep in mind, bounce rate is not always just considered a bad thing just by definition. Keep in mind, if you can find, if you go to one website page and find the information you’re looking for and get it very quickly, that’s going to be considered a bounce if you don’t go to any other pages but that’s a successful website visit. It’s very hard to say with the industry, different industries and different B2B industries, what is a good bounce rate. We get a very high bounce rate with people that go to our blog because they read that one blog entry and then they bounce off from there. They’re not going to other pages on the site. That’s not necessarily bad. We’ll see in terms of numbers, once you start approaching let’s say just B2B firms as a high watermark, I would say 75% in terms of a bounce rate is something you definitely want to keep under but I would not be alarmed typically the more traffic you have coming towards a website. Typically your bounce rate is going to be higher but keep in mind, it’s all dependent on the type of business you’re in but I think 75% that’s where you should really be alarmed but as you’re getting more and more traffic, you start seeing your bounce rate go from 40% to 60%. I wouldn’t be that alarmed because you’re typically getting more traffic to your site.
Let’s look here at some other questions in terms of … there was somebody here about the average time length for website redesign implementation from start to finish. We do about 35 websites a year. On average, a website is a 14 to 16 week process and if you email me I’m more than happy to provide you with a sample project schedule that has all the different steps and falls in the number of business days allocated for each step. Keep in mind with a website design process, it’s very much dependent on timely client feedback. This isn’t like we can just take an order for a website and just design and be done, to hit that 14 to 16 week process, we need to be getting feedback from the client in terms of the design, the content and really the first 75% of a website project is all subjective, it’s all the design in content. Once we go into development, it’s very objective and that’s typically a three week process but really, we’ve had websites that have gone up in ten weeks. We’ve had websites that have taken ten months. It’s all dependent on that time with client feedback and with number of revision rounds. With all the subjective stuff from the content to the design, if you have excessive revision rounds, that’s going to push out that time length, but in general, doing this now seven years and 200+ websites, 14 to 16 week process is typically the average.
Somebody asked here about identifying again the key places for on-page SEO. Really to keep it very simple, the website copy needs to have the keywords integrated into it. You need to have the keywords that match the page title. The h1 tag which is the first heading on every page. You have your page in that first heading. It needs to have those keywords integrated in and they all need to be consistent and then the URL structure. The actual website address or URL structure with that keyword integrated in. Those are the four. Sometimes I feel like SEOs, there’s a lot of other things that you could do from an on-page SEO standpoint but in general, to keep it very simple, those are the four top priorities and I do feel like sometimes SEO people can make it a little too complicated but to just keep it simple here, those are the four.
There’s a good question here about simplistic websites. This is a tough thing with the balance. Keep in mind if you have a simplistic website, you don’t want to choose simplistic because, keep in mind, that can mean less content. Really what we are looking for is leads from a design standpoint. You really have your three core offerings as the centerpiece on the homepage itself and how the strong content hierarchy, where those three core products or services, are up at the top of the hierarchy. All that other content that’s really helping with the on-page SEO and the traffic, the organic traffic are really on the background just is more from a user experience standpoint that that’s what we’re talking about that simplistic design where you really don’t … it really dilutes your brand when you’re like everything to everyone. Think to yourself – what are those three core products or services that are typically your initial engagement with the client and focus that with your content hierarchy and your design particularly with the home page design that that’s the sole focus there then have all those ancillary products or services in the background a little bit. That’s what we’re really talking about from the simplistic design standpoint – that it’s just very clear how a client initially engages with you and what they hire you for that initial product or service.
How do you balance separate services pages for a very large website, without making it too big and within budget. Keep in mind, if you have a large website, just think about your initial engagements. If some of these are more follow-on services and you have a limited budget, it would be ideal if you have all of these in the background on your website from the design standpoint and built in to the sitemap . But let’s say it first you don’t, you have a very limited budget and you really need to manage scope and basically you want to make sure the number of pages is to a minimum. I would have those lead, those lead services, those initial engagement services at the forefront and just focus on those. Keep in mind if you have a content management system like WordPress. For instance, Bop Design here is a WordPress shop, we want our website to be easily managed by a non-technical person, a marketing or sales person. Keep in mind, you can always add those later but make sure you build that and make sure whatever design agency you hire, build that into the site structure to the site map even if they’re not focusing that on that at the beginning but that it’s going to … that website is going to be easily scalable that you guys can have that content later overtime versus paying for the agency to do that. That’s going to help in terms of budget.
I see somebody here with an unknown about a company made up of many subsidiaries, we work with a lot of B2B firms that have a lot of different business units. With gathering ten keywords per subsidiary or ten keywords for the entire company, I would go with the strategy here of your primary keyword phrases and your secondary keyword phrases. The primary keyword phrases are going to be those general keyword phrases that really summarize the entire organization and what you’re going to do with those is those are really going to be on the home page and on the about page things like that, the more general pages of the website and then what I would do is keep that per subsidiary. Do the ten keywords or the primary keyword phrases per subsidiary. Do two to three max per subsidiary for those secondary keyword phrases. Those are going to go on the subsidiary pages. Basically you want that balanced there. If you have more content so keep this in mind, if I’m using that ten keyword max rule primarily for let’s say a website of 100 pages but this can exponentially grow. If you have a thousand page website with these ten subsidiaries, then you can definitely do with a thousand page website have 100 keywords you’re targeting. We just find a lot of clients want to have, if they have a 100-page website, they want to go after a hundred keyword phrases and then the problem is there that your keyword strategy is just too spread out and you’re not going to make headway and get to page one for any of those keyword phrases.
Some other questions are coming in here. One was starting with SEO and what should my main priority be. Main priority is always going to be the on-page SEO. Off-page SEO comes secondary. On-page SEO is typically not going to get you into the top three search results for almost any keyword phrase except some branded keyword phrases but on-page SEO needs to be done before any off-page. Off-page is going to help with getting you from page three to page one but on-page, where we have a priority, it comes back to the keyword strategy itself. Getting that keyword wishlist and make sure you’re implementing those keywords in the page title of the copy, URL structure, and in the h1 tag. Sometimes we have clients that do have some difficulty with the h1 tag. The h1 tag is going to be that first heading on a particular page. Sometimes clients have issues with it because it doesn’t seem to flow naturally with the content right below. You really want to balance that too. You want to make sure that this is the challenge with the websites. You have to balance the brand messaging with the SEO objectives. If you just focus particularly on brand messaging, some of they keywords may come through but you’re going to luck out if you rank for some of them and if you focus just on SEO strategy, typically the website is not going to read that well. If it’s not reading well, people aren’t going to stay on the website long. They’re typically going to go, “Oh, this is just for driving the best organic traffic there but you’re not going to be prompting conversion because it’s not a strong credibility piece.”
In terms of what you should include, somebody just asked here, “What should I include in the meta description?” Keep in mind you want to look at your meta description. If you guys have ever done any Google AdWords, you obviously have the title of your ad and then typically what you have is the ad copy. You want to really look at your meta description the same way. A lot of times what you can do is to test various meta descriptions with AdWords copy. You may AB test, ABC test various meta descriptions and look through click through rates if you’re doing some AdWords. Utilize the various messaging that you think could be promising from a meta description standpoint in your AdWords copy. That’s a thing that’s going to help in terms of really helping with click through rate and making sure your meta descriptions are effective.
Another one that just came in here is what’s the minimum number of blogs we need to add to the website every month? Once again, it all depends on your bandwidth and internal resources or external resources. I would advise the minimum you should do is one per month so that’s 12 pages a year for Google to crawl an index. If you do not have the bandwidth, if your team doesn’t have the bandwidth to do one per month, then I would not actually have a blog. It’s actually better to not have a blog because there’s nothing worse than seeing a stale blog that the last time it was updated was six months ago. It just doesn’t position you as that thought leader, as somebody that’s really in tune with what’s going on with the industry. That’s the same idea with social media platforms. We say the same thing. If you don’t have somebody in charge of social media platforms to push out content and create content for them, if your LinkedIn profile has nothing on it and no one is connected and you’re not utilizing LinkedIn polls to push out your blog entries, that’s just not, it’s just better not to have that.
Really with marketing, it’s all about building that case of credibility to your prospect so that they have the peace of mind to commit to you over your competition. Everything we’re doing here in terms of SEO is really the objective, but all of the practices we’re implementing here to achieve SEO are ways to attract and generate ideal client needs.
Have a question about SEO and web design for B2B websites that we didn’t address here? Let us know in the comments below.
An essential part of a B2B content marketing strategy is an eNewsletter, whether it is sent weekly, daily, monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly. It’s a great way to stay top-of-mind with current clients, nurture potential clients along the sales funnel, and increase quality traffic to your website.
So what happens when you hit “Send” and no one hits “Open”?
Is it possible that your audience doesn’t like your newsletter? Is it possible that they hate it and delete it the moment they see it in their inbox?
Don’t worry, if you think your clients aren’t fans of your B2B email marketing, we can help you turn it around. Let’s take a look at 5 reasons why clients hate your eNewsletters:
1. It’s Too Promotional or Self-Promotional
Sale! Sale! Sale!
We are the Best! Look at how awesome we are!
Look what we are up to right now!
Do any of these subject lines or topics sound familiar? While promotional emails have their time and place, especially for ecommerce or product-driven businesses, they aren’t effective for lead nurturing, client retention, or driving traffic to your B2B website. In fact, promotional or self-promotional emails can actually turn your audience away.
Ask yourself how you can offer value to your email audience. What will help them do their jobs better? Streamline processes? Save time? Save money? Allow flexibility? Provide efficiency? Perform a test by sending out an educational email that features a recent blog or ebook that you’ve put together.
2. It’s Spam (Not the Canned Kind)
It’s possible that your email is tripping spam filters and is ending up in the Junk folder. Did you purchase a list of email addresses and start sending them emails without their consent? SPAM! Do you make it hard to unsubscribe from your enewsletter? SPAM! Do you automatically sign up all your clients for your B2B email marketing campaigns? SPAM!
It’s almost easier to accidentally send spam emails than it is to avoid. One of the main reasons your email may be considered spam is your email marketing tool. If it’s not following email marketing best practices, that could cause your emails to be considered spam. Using a reputable, spam-conscious email marketing platform, like MailChimp or Marketo, ensures you can do everything possible to avoid ending up labeled as junk or spam.
Make sure the only people receiving your email newsletter have opted in using a consent form. You never want to be a burden or annoyance to current or potential clients – make it easy to unsubscribe from your emails. MailChimp has a great guide on How to Avoid Spam Filters that includes other tips for avoiding spam filters and best practices for email marketing.
3. You Send It Too Often
Hi, it’s me.
It’s me again.
Just saying hi.
Sending emails to your audience too often can be flat-out annoying. According to a recent article in CIO, emailing prospects and clients too often is a top reason why they will unsubscribe from your email marketing campaigns.
What is the right frequency for email sends? It varies by the individual. We typically advise our clients to send eNewsletters on a monthly or bi-monthly basis as a start.
Ask your audience how often they’d like to hear from you. It’s easy to set up a frequency option on your opt-in form or to send a survey that asks how often they’d like to receive emails and what they would like to see in the newsletters.
4. It’s Not Responsive
Did you know that 64% of decision-makers read their emails on mobile devices (SalesForce Blog)?
If your emails don’t display properly on mobile devices, you could be providing a poor user experience for a large chunk of your audience. Your clients and prospects don’t have the time to try to navigate an email that isn’t responsive. (Don’t believe us? Check out All the Responsive Web Design Statistics You Need)
Any worthwhile email marketing platform has an option to build a responsive email template. Try to open one of your company’s emails on a mobile device to check if it’s responsive. If it doesn’t automatically resize to fit your device, look into creating an email template that is responsive.
5. It’s Too Long
It goes on…
And on…without an end in sight.
Many of the best email marketing campaigns are emails that are brief and to the point. Never send an entire blog post in an email. Anyone who opens that email will be overwhelmed and likely won’t have the time to read that entire email.
Get to the point, quickly. Share a small snippet of your blog or a brief overview of the content piece you are sharing with your audience, then include a link to where they can read more or download the content piece. This has a two-fold benefit: first, your audience gets the info quickly; second, it drives quality traffic to your website.
There you have it! The mystery of why your email isn’t getting opens or click-throughs is solved. Have you recently revamped your B2B email marketing campaigns? What triggered the revamping efforts?
There is a wildly popular show produced in the UK called The Great British Bake Off (or GBBO for short). The show has also been aired in the US under the name The Great British Baking Show. The premise of the show is, over the course of several challenges judged by professionals, the best amateur baker of the group is chosen. The show is judged by two experienced professionals: cookbook writer Mary Berry and professional baker Paul Hollywood.
So, what’s the draw of the show and what does this have to do with B2B web design?
First, one of the main draws of the show appears to be the general atmosphere of mutual respect and goodwill among the contestants and the judges. Now, how does that relate to web design? Well, the positive, respectful relationship between the amateur bakers and the judges is a great model for all types of business relationships (particularly between client and vendor). The judges are conscientiously working with the bakers to provide feedback that will help them to be better bakers and produce better creations. They aren’t yelling, “Donkey!” or telling them they are terrible humans.
We thought that the show was a great analogy for our most successful B2B web design projects. Our most successful, seamless projects always include great feedback from clients and from our team of professional designers, developers, and marketers.
Let’s take a look at how the British judges on GBBO give feedback and how that can be applied to a website design project.
Whether in positively or negatively, the British are stereotyped as always being polite, regardless of the situation. The GBBO show is a great example of providing feedback in a professional, polite, respectful manner.
We’ve all been there: had a bad day, tired, irritated, hate a design, or feel a design is not on track. However, it’s easier to communicate and get a meaningful response when the feedback is delivered in a polite manner. Don’t avoid giving feedback because you don’t like something; simply approach it politely and give the benefit of the doubt.
Rude: “This design sucks and your team didn’t listen. Get to work on a new one ASAP!”
Polite: “We’ve reviewed the designs and would like to discuss our feedback. We don’t think the designs are matching up with our goals for this web design project and we would like to review our objectives with your team.”
Share Thoughtful Insights
In our experience, many people struggle with giving feedback. This isn’t an indication of their intelligence or business acumen. In many cases, it’s not something people need to do often so they haven’t honed that feedback skill. Rather than simply stating something doesn’t work or you don’t like it, it’s more effective to share the why behind the statement.
On the GBBO show, the judges are always specific and thoughtful in their feedback. If a pastry is soggy on the edges, the judges will comment on it and will explain why that happened. They will also share insights into the impact the soggy edges have on the overall appearance and taste of the pastry.
Vague: “That color doesn’t work for me. Please find a different color.”
Thoughtful: “The red color in the logo is a little overpowering. We’d like the logo to communicate power, but not appear forceful or so bright. Our mantra is stealth power.”
This seems like a common sense statement, but it can be a struggle to get honest feedback regarding a web design. There is a range of reasons why clients and designers won’t provide honest feedback. The reasons vary from not wanting to hurt a person’s feelings, to being unsure how to communicate, to not feeling comfortable sharing honest feedback. The biggest issue of not providing honest feedback throughout the process is that the end result won’t be a winner.
If there is one thing to learn from the British judges, it’s that honest feedback is the best way to help a person succeed and get a great finished product. On the show, the judges aren’t afraid to commend a baker when they excel at a challenge and they aren’t shy about providing honest feedback. Being honest about both positive and negative feedback ensures you and your web design agency are on the same page. Withholding information only sets the project up for failure.
Dishonest: “Yeah, so the homepage design looks fine.”
Honest: “The homepage design needs to be modified to be more simplistic and clean. Our potential clients are only interested in learning what we can do for them, they don’t care about our awards or past projects.”
Direct & Clear
Never beat around the bush when it comes to feedback. If your feedback doesn’t require setup, it’s ok to get right to the point. In many cases, both you and the web design agency you work with are very busy, so direct and clear feedback is always appreciated.
When watching the Baking Show, we see the judges get right to the point about what is working or not working about the baker’s product. The judges aren’t there to make friends and make the bakers feel good; they are there to provide direct feedback. The feedback the judges provide is always clear and actionable. It’s not sugarcoated with extra flattery.
Evasive: “Well, we think overall the design is starting to come together and the colors seem to be a good fit. Your designers have done a super job with creating a nice-looking website. The website layout is ok but we want something different.”
Direct: “The website layout needs to be changed. Remove the image at the top, add a section for testimonials, and take that pale blue out of the color palette.”
Touch on Positives & Negatives
A website design project is really a partnership. In order to create an effective end product, your web design agency needs to know what isn’t working AND what is working! By letting your designer know what you do like and what you don’t like, you are helping them to understand what your vision is for the final B2B website design.
Have you noticed that many American shows that focus on contestants being judged for skills or talents thrive on a lot of negative feedback? There is always the one negative judge who shares harsh criticisms. The GBBO doesn’t follow this type of format, which is likely what makes the show so popular. The judges share negative feedback, but they also share feedback on what is working. Bakers (and digital bakers) need to know what they have done right and what needs to be improved. Never hesitate to share both to contribute to a positive partnership.
All Negative: “The navigation is too big, the blog layout is too cluttered, the images look too flowery, and the CTAs are weak.”
Negative & Positive: “We like the topics covered in the navigation, but we need to pare it down so we don’t overwhelm our users. The blog layout looks cluttered, so we need to add more negative space. We really like the images that are similar to our brand colors and think those flow well on the website.”
The bakers on the show are amateurs, but they have demonstrated ability in the baking field. Hopefully, you’ve selected a web design company because you like its past projects, approach, and experience. It’s important to set and adhere to reasonable expectations based on your project goals.
The professional baking judges on GBBO have reasonable expectations for the contestants on the show. They don’t expect every challenge to be completed as if the amateur was a professional baker. They do, however, expect to see continual improvement, particularly in regards to the feedback they provide. Contestants are dismissed from the show each week when they don’t meet the minimum expectations of the judges or don’t show any form of improvement.
We are an experienced B2B web design agency, but we don’t expect every one of our designs to hit the mark first time around. We understand that part of the design process includes feedback and revisions. The main thing that a firm undergoing a website redesign needs to understand is that it is reasonable to expect revisions and feedback. As long as the designs are quality and professional, you can work with the design agency to create a website that fits your company’s objectives.
Everyone has their own style of giving feedback, but some methods of providing feedback are more effective. We aren’t telling you to go out and start drinking scones and tea but we do think these are valuable insights on how to provide quality feedback that contributes to the success of a web design project.
What other advice do you have for providing feedback on B2B web design projects?
The first step in promoting your website and creating buzz is notifying your internal staff. A well-informed staff is an integral part of a cohesive B2B brand strategy.
Ideally, your staff and coworkers are already aware a new company website is coming, but don’t count on it. As a San Diego web design agency, we’ve noticed that it’s easy for departments to operate within silos regardless of the size of a company.
Prior to launch, notify everyone in the company (including receptionists, operations teams, sales, customer service, etc.) via email or at a company-wide meeting about the upcoming launch. Provide the launch date and educate them about what is new and exciting about the website. A pre-launch sneak peek is a great way to motivate employees and create a buzz around the website.
If it’s too late for that and your website is live, don’t panic. There is still time to send the announcement via email or to make an announcement at company-wide or individual department meetings. Have a plan, show them the new B2B website, and highlight the main features of the website. Allow time for everyone to ask questions about the website.
2. Submit Your Sitemap to Search Engines
Once the website is live, you want search engines to crawl it and index. Why? Because if search engines don’t know your site exists, then your site won’t show up in search results.
Social media is hands-down an awesome way to quickly communicate a message to many people. Sharing news about your new B2B website launch on social media is simple and will help to drive new traffic to your website.
We recommend sharing the news of your new website and a link to your website on all your company pages. You don’t need to include a long description, but it’s a good idea to make sure it sounds exciting and engages followers to go check out the new website. This is a great way to get people talking about your company and your new website online.
4. Email Your Current and Potential Clients
Prior to a website launch, you should build an email list of current clients, potential clients, vendors, and partners. Post-launch, create a dedicated email to announce the launch of your new B2B website. Again, keep it short, sweet, and talk about the new features – especially anything that makes it easier for current or potential clients to do business with you.
We advise our clients to send the email announcement to all existing clients since it helps to maintain a positive relationship with them. Sending to prospects ensures that you are staying top of mind without “selling” too much to them. Including vendors and partners who you have an established relationship with keeps them in loop with what’s happening at your company and is a good way to drive a little extra traffic to your website.
Lastly, we also recommend including family and friends on the list (just this once). Family and friends are your biggest proponents and will give you honest feedback on the website. They typically will also let you know that the new B2B website looks awesome!
5. Publish a Press Release
Website launches are a big deal. Whether you are launching a brand B2B new website or are launching a redesigned website – it’s news. Work with a skilled writer (internally or externally) to craft a compelling press release that details why this website launch is a big deal. A skilled writer helps you walk the fine line between highlighting the website’s new features and straying into “selling” language.
Once the press release is polished and approved, publish it using your go-to wire service (PRNewswire and PRWEb are great options). It’s a good idea to include press contacts that cover your industry and are familiar with your company. Doing so increases the likelihood that they will read your release and create a follow-up piece or reach out to you for an interview.
After your press release is published online, get some extra exposure by sharing the press release on your social media channels. Twitter is a great platform for gaining extra reach and driving more traffic to your website.
There you have it. Five things you absolutely must do right after launching a new B2B website. Think there is anything else that must be done post-launch? Let us know in the comments.
As we strike out on a new year of business with all the possibilities, it’s time to check our foundation. It’s a good time to ask before we execute a master marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, do we have the basics down?
In this blog, we take you through the key things to consider in your sales, marketing, and SEO strategy. We are getting back to the basics of B2B marketing and how SEO factors into it. We’ll take a look at the three main channels of media: owned, earned, and paid and how to integrate all three into your SEO and marketing strategy.
Three Types of Media: Owned, Earned & Paid
While there is always an influx of new terms in digital marketing (like programmatic advertising, marketing automation, influencer marketing, etc.), it’s best to start with the three major channels of digital marketing and SEO.
Although Forrester presented the marketing mix of media types back in 2009 and Search Engine Watch had a great article on Integrating Owned, Earned & Paid for Better SEO in 2013, the mix of three types of media is still very relevant when looking at the fundamentals of your marketing and SEO plan today.
You Own It: Owned
Owned media is the digital media you have control over and can direct the messaging and branding on that channel. Owned media includes things like your website, your mobile website, your Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter/Google+ company pages. You can log in to all these media channels to update things like your logo, descriptions, images, etc.
These channels can also be optimized according to your SEO strategy, should be integrated into your marketing strategy and must be consistent with your branding.
Something Borrowed: Earned
Earned media is typically the result of outbound efforts and outreach. This type of media includes things like word of mouth (think Yelp), referrals, testimonials (Google+ and Facebook reviews), and shares/mentions/reposts. Content that is earned is not always positive and can harm your company if not handled properly. Great customer service and sharing excellent content on social media can earn your company excellent exposure; however, poor customer service and sub-par content shared on social media will earn your company negative attention.
A major mistake a company can make with their B2B marketing and SEO plan is to ignore or undervalue earned media. Earned media can be one of the most credible and far-reaching types of media in terms of digital marketing. Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away; it exists without your support or interaction.
For example, did you know that a disgruntled or happy customer can create a profile for your company on Yelp without your permission? Your firm’s reputation is often communicated through earned media, so it’s important to pay attention and allocate resources to managing earned media.
It’s Gonna Cost You: Paid
The paid media channel is often the most straightforward of the three categories. Paid media includes Google AdWords, Bing ads, retargeting ads, banner ads, sponsorships, all paid directory listings, and advertising. This is the “pay-to-play” arena, where all listings and ads (even in search engine results) will cost money.
What Media Channels Should You Include in Your Strategy?
All of three types should be included in your B2B marketing and SEO strategy. It’s a simple answer, but it’s true. In order for one of these to provide great results, they must all be utilized effectively.
Your 3-Tiered B2B Marketing & SEO Strategy
If you are just getting started with your marketing and SEO strategy, you can take a three-tiered approach.
Start with what you own, can easily control, and can optimize. Create a professional, high-quality B2B website and blog platform. Set up your company profiles on the relevant social media platforms (don’t try all of them, focus on the 3-4 you can easily manage).
Next, share helpful information on social media and take control of all the review platforms available. Claim your Google listing so you are notified when a client leaves a review and do the same with Yelp and Glassdoor. Implement a social listening tool and set up an alert to tell you when people are mentioning your company online.
Once you have established your owned media and are paying attention/trying to get earned media, create a paid advertising budget. Determine if there are any paid directories that are relevant to your industry that you must be listed in. Create a Google AdWords and Bing Ads accounts, set budgets, and start running search and display ads.
There you have it: the basics of marketing and SEO essential to creating an effective digital marketing strategy. This is a high-level view of the nitty gritty involved in creating, running, and evaluating a successful B2B marketing strategy, but it should help get you started. Check out our other blogs on creating SEO and content marketing strategies today.
It’s time for this year’s B2B Trends + Predictions for 2016. Find out what you need to know to stay ahead of the trends in 2016.
1. Minimalistic Design
In the age of information overload, it’s time to get back to basics – minimalistic web design. Businesses are starting to say more with less, because they must in order to keep the attention of their audience.
In 2016, the shift in B2B web design is moving away from complex, intricate designs to more minimalistic designs that highlight a few different elements. This means there are a fewer number of pages and the design, visuals, information architecture are all carefully constructed to only have the essentials. The entire web design now focuses on the sales funnel and only provides the type of navigation needed to get more potential clients into the funnel.
The AdeptSource website is a great example of minimalistic design. The layout, content, and visuals have been paired down to create a strong message and design that focuses on getting potential clients into the sales process.
2. Flat Design
Recently, in 7 Web Design Trends that Died in 2015, we touched on Flat Web Design being the new trend in web design. Digital marketing continues to focus more and more on the user or customer experience. Flat design is the perfect fit for an industry focused on getting their message across to the user, as this simplified design approach places emphasis on visual simplicity.
Rather than focusing on design for design’s sake, flat design hones in on how the user will interact with the design. It includes 2-D images for use on 2-D devices and is most compatible for responsive design. Check out the Beginner’s Guide to Flat Design for a quick intro to flat design.
The recently launched website for TAG is designed using flat design elements. The images and icons are all flat and don’t use features like shadows or extra details that would complicate the designs.
3. Design That Tells a Story
While it’s started to gain popularity in 2015, B2B web design that tells a story will become a major trend in 2016. Rather than having a complex website with an in-depth navigation menu, website design will focus on taking the website user on a journey. The journey has a logical flow and tells the story of why the user needs the products or services offered.
The major shift in this type of web design is the approach. During the initial brainstorming for the website design, the brand message and main call-to-action are woven into the design and content strategy. When fleshed out, the design should present the content in an engaging and visually interesting way so that the user is motivated to explore and learn more about the B2B company’s offerings. The content and the design work as a cohesive unit to tell a story to get the user to complete a specific goal (enter the sales funnel).
This effort at storytelling through website design is also a move towards conversion marketing rather than content marketing. Content marketing focuses on providing information, but conversion marketing uses content to find out what a user is looking for, why they need it, and then providing the information they need.
An example of storytelling in web design is the PublishThis homepage. When a user lands on the homepage, they are guided through content that draws them in and sells them on the service that PublishThis provides.
4. Streamlined Navigation (Selling the Experience)
This will be the year of streamlined navigation menus on B2B websites. Only the absolute necessities are featured in the top of page navigation, typically calling attention to only 2-3 links to product or service pages. A website design with this feature often doesn’t include anything about the company itself listed in the main navigation. This trend is becoming rapidly popular, especially for SaaS firms.
The focus on these B2B websites is the main product/service offering and getting people into the selling process as quickly and efficiently as possible. Any additional information about the company or other products will be listed in the footer or bottom of the website.
Several examples of a highly streamlined navigation are the Meldium, AutomatedInsights, and Simple.com websites. Check out the side by side comparison of Simple.com to a traditional website from Wells Fargo (both are banks).
5. Customer Service Centered
In an era of unlimited options and choices, the number one differentiator ends up being customer service. Often, many consumers will sacrifice cost savings and convenience for better customer service. According to recent reports, 66% of customers switch companies due to poor customer service.
This shift back to quality customer service is also influencing web design and digital marketing. Companies must implement a holistic approach to customer service, accounting for how a prospect interacts with sales on the front end all the way to how a customer interacts with customer service on the back end.
Websites will be designed to accommodate this and to work in connection with email automation, retargeting, and social media to create a personalized experience. A B2B website won’t be created in a silo, rather it will be crafted and managed to positively contribute to the overall customer experience.
6. Interactive Content
The trend of interactive content is really two-fold. First, a website design in 2016 must allow for various types of content to be hosted on the site. This includes content types such as whitepapers, e-books, webinars, podcasts, infographics, case studies, videos, blogs, etc.
Secondly, the media on the website is going to be interactive. We are talking about hosting a map on the website that changes when clicked on or timelines that pop-up information as the user moves along the dates in history. Web developers and designers take a source of data and make it interactive in order to let website visitors engage with the data in an interesting and new way. Unique visuals that engage the user to interact allows them to learn about the B2B company and potentially helps them through the sales funnel quicker.
Check out the About Page on JetBrains to get an idea about what types of interactive content websites are going to be showcasing in 2016.
7. Less Code to Achieve Better Functionality
Minimalism is also impacting the back-end web development of B2B web designs. App and web developers are making an effort to use less code to achieve better functionality. This is absolutely necessary as more and more users are accessing websites through mobile devices.
A great example of this trend is Google’s AMP Project. AMP stands for accelerated mobile pages. Unless you are a web developer, much of this won’t make sense to you, but the simple story is that development is shifting to reduce the amount of code needed for pages – especially pages viewed on mobile devices.
8. Mobile Design First
You’ve seen the statistics on mobile search. However, until very recently, many web design projects are accommodating mobile design as more of an afterthought. Even websites with responsive design are designed first and made responsive later. In the upcoming year, expect to see websites that are designed first for mobile devices and adapted to desktop afterward.
9. Users Expect More in Less Time
Many of the web design trends in 2016 focus around speed and efficiency as website users expect more in less time. They don’t have time to spend 10 minutes searching for information; they need it immediately. The design and quality of the website must increase and be streamlined. All filler or fluff content and design will be eliminated. Copywriting will be intentional and focused on truly connecting with the website visitor. Everything on a website will work in tandem to move the user down the sales funnel.
10. Message Unification Across Channels
We mentioned earlier that a website can no longer be designed in a silo and this is certainly true when it comes to the complete digital marketing plan. Web design is going to be one piece of the puzzle that creates continuity across all marketing channels, including websites, social media, white papers, sales documents, emails, apps, etc. As users interact with a brand online, every part of their interaction must reinforce the brand and provide a seamless experience.
For example, our web developer, John, advises clients to take questions posed on social media page to create an FAQ on the website. Or, in response to questions on social media, companies can share a helpful FAQ or blog from the website with that user.
11. Social Regains Prominence
Last, but not least, social is going to rise in prominence again. Everyone jumped on the social media bandwagon back in 2014 because they thought it would be a lead generation tool. When it didn’t produce leads, many B2B firms took a step back and focused resources elsewhere.
Social media is will likely never be a lead generation tool – but it is an excellent customer service and retention tool. If your company boasts excellent customer service, you absolutely must have a presence on social media.
For many online users (and your customers) it’s easier to reach out to a brand via Facebook or Twitter. By carefully monitoring and responding to comments and questions on your social media, you are meeting the consumer in a spot that is convenient and familiar to them. That is a great step towards excellent customer service.
Think there is a trend that we missed for 2016? Let us know what you think is going to be a hot topic in the coming year.
There is a lot that goes into choosing the right vendor partner and a lot rides on it, so you want to make sure you make the proper selection.
So what does make a web design company the right partner for your B2B firm?
There are a variety of web design agencies out there and each one has a unique culture and brand. The web design company’s culture is relevant to the selection process because the culture can end up improving or detracting from your overall experience with the web design project.
For example, at Bop Design our culture is driven by our values. Our values state that our San Diego web design agency is proactive, professional, innovative, client-focused, passionate, balanced, and solutions-oriented. We believe in these values so strongly, we created a giant display of them on our entrance wall for clients and employees to see.
Many clients enjoy working with us because, although we are a creative agency, our culture is professional. We aren’t skateboarding through our office in Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops. For many agencies, creativity is their main and only value, so employees dress like they are at the beach, speak informally, and don’t have set schedules. We aren’t saying one culture is better than another, but we are saying that one may be a better fit for your B2B web design project.
Experience & Portfolio
We often turn away e-commerce web design projects. Why? Because it’s not our specialty. Have you heard the phrase, “jack of all trades, master of none”? There are firms that specialize in e-commerce websites, so we refer companies interested in an e-commerce website to those firms. We excel at creating B2B websites that create a strong brand presence, build credibility, and generate leads so we prefer to work with clients on those types of projects. Also, we want clients to work with a vendor that fits their needs so we are happy to refer them to the right vendor.
When researching and interviewing a B2B web design partner, check to see if they have the right experience. Also, peruse their portfolio to look at examples of similar projects. If a web design agency doesn’t have experience with the type of website you are looking to build, they probably aren’t the right fit.
Digital marketing and web design firms come in all shapes and sizes. During the selection process, learn more about the resources the firm has available. For example, the firm may only be two people: a web designer and marketer in which case, they may outsource the copywriting and the web development. There are certain advantages to working with a very small firm (mainly lower cost and only working with one person), but there are disadvantages as well (lack of technical expertise, control over the process, and turnaround times).
Before you select a web design firm for a partner, be sure they have the proper resources and that they aren’t outsourcing the bulk of the work. There is a quality aspect that can’t be controlled if much of the work is done by outsourced professionals.
Your B2B website says a lot about your firm, builds your credibility, and typically helps to generate leads. It’s an important component of your overall marketing strategy. It should be viewed as an investment and budgeted for accordingly. Often, the budget for your web design project plays a role in the type of vendor/partner you end up working with.
You are probably familiar with the common law of business balance, which states: “you get what you pay for.” Essentially, you cannot pay a little and get a lot.
Beware of web design companies who promise a lot and are charging significantly less. Typically, they are less qualified (or not qualified) and don’t understand how much work is actually involved. If you get quotes from 5 different web design agencies and one is significantly lower, it’s a sign that they didn’t understand what you are looking for or you won’t get the result you are expecting.
A good initial gauge of whether you have found the right partner is their responsiveness. How they respond to you as a potential client is a good indication of how responsive they will be when you are a client. If you contact them for a web design proposal and don’t hear back for a week, they are likely too busy or not committed to creating a great client experience. Now, there may be a special case (vacation, illness, etc), but multiple delays in responding indicate they might not be the right fit.
As a web design project is often a large undertaking and requires significant resources, it’s typically planned out in advance. If you need a website immediately, that will reduce the pool of partner vendors and may reduce the quality of potential vendors. However, if a potential vendor doesn’t have availability for 6 months, they may not be the right fit. A realistic expectation for a professionally designed and developed B2B website is to start a project within a month and wrap it up within 3 – 4 months.
This isn’t really a checklist to carry with you as you research and interview B2B web design firms. However, it is a guide to help you focus on the main areas to consider when evaluating website design partners.
The last bit of advice we can provide is to go with your “gut” feeling. If you are excited about a lower bid from a vendor but are suspicious that they don’t have the resources, get more information before you sign on the dotted line. If you think a company has a great portfolio but don’t see anything similar to what you are looking for, ask for specific examples.
There are a lot of web design companies that have great proposals and do wonderful pitches that make you want to partner up with them immediately. However, if something seems a little weird or “off,” be sure to go with your gut instinct and get more information.
Have you been asking yourself, “Do we need a new website?” If you are asking that question, chances are the answer is yes. The technology supporting web design has changed drastically in the past two years, so even a website that is only five years old is a great candidate for a redesign.
As a San Diego web design agency working with B2B firms on redesigning and launching new websites, we encourage those on the quest for a new website to ask the following 5 important questions before starting a B2B web design project.
Why Do We Need a New Website?
Let’s start with the basics. Why should you bother with a new website if you have an existing website? Here are three reasons why you may need a new website.
Multi-screen searching is when users perform searches for products or services across a variety of devices, including desktop computers, tablets, and smartphones. Whether a potential client is searching for your product or services on a desktop computer and checking it out later on their smartphone, you want them to be able to access your website with ease.
It’s a busy world and people often don’t have the time to pick up the phone and call a potential vendor. Whether your firm provides products or services, a strong B2B web design offers potential clients the ability to contact your firm via your website – typically with online forms. These forms have the possibility to become a major source of lead generation for your sales team.
Face it, we live in a digital age. Whether your firm provides cutting-edge SaaS, recruiting services, or hard-to-find components, your first impression to a potential client matters. As your B2B website is often your first impression on a potential client, you want it to build up your credibility and not make your firm appear outdated. A technology that incorporates current technology ensures a prospect that you are up-to-date and a credible company.
What Does a Great B2B Website Need?
There is not a definitive answer for this question, as every firm is unique and has distinct needs. The good news is that there are a few best practices when it comes to building a great B2B web design.
A Blog Feature
There are so many things that can be included to make a website successful, but these are a good place to start.
A strong B2B brand carried throughout the layout, content, and imagery informs your prospects who you are and what you have to offer.
Direct messaging removes all doubt, educates potential clients about your value proposition and tells them why you are the best.
An easy way to provide an excellent user experience for your prospects is by letting them know what next steps to take. A strong call-to-action (CTA) lets them know what to do next: Call for consultation, Schedule an appointment, Contact our sales team.
If a potential client isn’t ready to take the next step, it’s important to give them tools where they can learn more about you, your product or services, and how to use them. A Content Library with case studies, before and afters, infographics, and ebooks gives them resources to move them down the sales funnel.
This last one is simple: a blog. Even if your B2B firm isn’t ready to start blogging every week, it’s ideal to create a web design that incorporates a blog feature. A blog is a simple way to share timely, relevant content with prospects and existing clients and it’s an easy way to continue adding optimized content to your B2B website.
What Content Do We Need on Our Website?
The answer to this is: What content do your prospects and clients want on the website? Think back to grammar and high school English classes – a good storytelling includes the who, what, when, where, and why details.
Here are the main types of content pages to include on your website:
Who – About Our Company page
What – Products or Services pages
When – Clients Needs / Portfolio pages
Where – Contact Us / Map / Address
Why – All pages should incorporate your value proposition that discusses WHY a potential client should work with you.
Is SEO Really Necessary?
The only time SEO isn’t necessary on a website is when you want the website to stay hidden on the internet and have no visitors. You want visitors to the website and potential clients to find your website? Then you need to incorporate search engine optimization into your B2B web design.
SEO isn’t just keywords and page titles; it also includes the hierarchy of pages, website loading time, hosting, back-end coding, image titles and more. Work with a professional web design firm familiar with all the web design best practices for SEO.
How Should I Promote My Website?
It’s never too early to start thinking about how to promote your website after launching it. It’s best to have a soft internal launch first, meaning that after the website goes live, wait a few weeks to ensure any bugs or broken links are corrected. Once you are confident your B2B website is ready for the world – announce it.
Write a press release
Share it on social media channels
Mention it in an Enewsletter
Add it to your email signature
The idea of launching a new web design project can be exciting and scary, but by asking these 5 important questions about your website you can start preparing for the process.
Have more questions about starting a website project? Check out our Guide to the Top 10 Website Questions to learn more about what a typical website costs, why you should care about WordPress, and more.
You likely already have a good idea what your next content topic should be – you just don’t know it yet.
For B2B firms, their products and services are often highly specialized and in many cases somewhat complex. The great thing about the B2B content marketing space is that there are so many topics to choose from, they just have to be identified.
Still with me? No?
What we are saying is that there is so much wonderful information you can share with your clients and prospects to educate them about what you do, how you do it, and why it should matter to them.
We recently shared 10 Ideas for Your Next Blog, which you can check out for inspiration on B2B blogging ideas in general. However, while a list of topics is great, what should you pick for your next B2B content topic?
Let’s get started with how to pick your next topic.
What Is Severely Lacking?
This is the first question you should ask when determining what blog post or content piece to create next. Do you need a general brochure for your company? Do you need to create a piece that clearly explains the what, why, how of your products and services?
This triage-style of content marketing creates a clear priority list for content topics. It’s not worthwhile to create entertaining blogs if potential clients have no idea what your software actually does.
What Is Sales Asking For?
Stop ignoring sales. If you are a marketing manager, it’s likely your job to drive leads (in addition to strengthening brand awareness, building your firm’s credibility, and helping bring new products/services to market). Have individual sales people requested similar things? Do they want a side-by-side product/service comparison? Do they need a new demo presentation?
Once you have created the critical B2B content marketing pieces for your organization, it’s time to see what the sales team needs. Whether you are trying to determine a content topic for a blog post, premium content piece, or social media campaign, your sales team can provide excellent insight into what potential clients are asking about. Make your job easier by listening to what they are saying and translating that into a new B2B content piece.
What Will Make Closing a Sale Better?
Now, this information may come from sales, but it could also come from product, customer service, accounting, or the management team. This can be a variety of things from a typical project schedule to an estimated budget to a list of deliverables. Whatever content marketing piece you determine to create next, make sure to repurpose it for a variety of different formats to ensure it reaches all potential clients.
After producing critical pieces and providing sales with the tools they need to reach new prospects and create a connection, it’s time to focus on closing deals with content. Get creative here. By asking internal teams what they need to make a deal closer sooner, easier, and quicker – you can create pieces that add value to your internal organization. These pieces also make doing business with your firm much easier.
Retain Clients & Make Projects Smoother
B2B content marketing isn’t done once a client signs on the dotted line. There are a lot of things that you can create to keep that client and make the relationship smoother. A blog can be a great retention tool you can utilize to share educational posts about how to get the most out of your products or services or to answer common questions.
At this point, you have trained your clients and your internal team to expect great content marketing pieces. Don’t let them down. This is a great opportunity to anticipate the needs of your clients and reinforce the partnership with them.
Always Ask “What’s Next?”
Don’t ever get complacent with your B2B content marketing. Always be fishing for new ideas and new content pieces or blog topics that will add real value to your team and your clients.
We often talk about creation and promotion in B2B content marketing, but the accessibility of content can often be overlooked by digital marketers.
So what do we mean by accessible content?
Accessible content can be easily crawled by search engine bots. What? Is that even English? Here is what you need to know: accessible content = good SEO.
It also refers to B2B content that has additional features and aspects to accommodate internet users with disabilities, such as low vision or hearing impairments.
How to Make Content Accessible (It’s Good for SEO!)
Now, let’s take a look at what makes your B2B website content accessible to those little search engine bots that are crawling around the internet-sphere.
4 Tips to Make Your Website Content Crawlable
1. Use Headlines and Sub-Headlines
In the code for your website or in your Content Management System (CMS), use H tags (H1, H2, H3, etc) to categorize your titles and subtitles according to their importance (The H in H tag stands for “Heading”). Search engine crawlers look at these header tags for clues on what the content is about and the overall structure of the page.
Here is an example of H2 and H3 tags used in the HTML of a blog post:
from a ton of different places.
<h2>Here are 10 ideas for your next blog:</h2>
<h3>Share How-To Tips</h3>
<h3>Give the Highlights</h3>
If you use WordPress or a similar CMS, there is typically a drop down option in the WYSIWYG editor that looks like this:
2. Provide a Map with Schema Markup
First, let’s answer the question: What Is Schema?
According to Schema.org, “Schema.org provides a collection of shared vocabularies webmasters can use to market up their pages in ways that can be understood by the major search engines: Google, Microsoft, Yandes, and Yahoo.”
Schema markup is essentially microdata that provides additional information to search engines that people reading the web page would normally understand. This microdata labels different items on a web page, such as “name,” “address,” “person,” “review,” etc.
Why Use Schema on Your Website?
A person looking at a web page can typically identify these things easily, but a search engine cannot. The microdata labels the things in the code so search engines can understand what they are and improve the accuracy of search engine results. At the basic level, it makes your B2B website easier to crawl and provides better information to the search engines regarding your content, which is good for your SEO.
3. Provide Transcripts for Video and Audio Media
Search engine bots can identify video and audio files on a website, but they can’t crawl them for content like they can text.
In order to get the maximum SEO value of all the B2B content marketing on your website, create and provide written text transcripts of the videos and audio files you host on your website. (On a side note – these also enhance the accessibility of your website for users with disabilities as well.)
4. Make PDFs Accessible with OCR
OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition. In terms of accessibility and your B2B website, OCR technology is helpful for converting uncrawlable files, like PDFs, into crawlable text. The benefit here is that if you have a lot of information in PDFs, since that makes them easy for users to download, you can now make them easy for search engines to view and understand as well.
Making the content available to search engines ensures that you are getting SEO value out of the files, even though they are not traditionally crawlable. The only caveat here is to make sure your PDFs aren’t duplicate content of any of your web pages or blogs.
There is a lot your business can do in terms of a solid web design and B2B content marketing strategy to impact SEO. However, it’s always ideal to start on-site and to hone the things you can control (as opposed to offsite efforts like links, guest blogs, and social media which you don’t own). By following these steps to make your content accessible to search engine bots, you will improve the overall SEO of your B2B website.
Writer’s block is a definitely a real thing. But what if you can’t even get to the topic stage of content creation? Argh!
We feel your pain. Whether you are just starting out with content marketing for your firm or updating your blogging editorial calendar, brainstorming ideas can be tough. When it comes to B2B content marketing, we’ve got loads of ideas and get inspiration from a ton of different places.
Here are 10 ideas for your next blog:
Share How-To Tips
How-to content marketing pieces are super helpful and highly sought-after. Before you get in over your head with creating a large how-to guide or ebook, start with a blog that provides a simple how-to.
As a San Diego web design and marketing agency, we give away a lot of information in how-to blogs and advise our B2B content marketing clients to do the same. Learn how to write a successful how-to blog.
Give the Highlights
Do you have a product or service that is complicated or often misunderstood? A blog is a great opportunity to simplify and provide just the highlights.
Inbound marketing can be confusing so we wrote a blog that covers the highlights about inbound marketing. The blog does not promote our services as an inbound marketing agency, rather it gives the scoop on how it can help a B2B firm.
Make a Checklist
A lot of people crave organization and a quick rundown of the essentials. The best way to accomplish this is with a checklist. Grocery store lists, to-do lists, packing lists for a trip, lists for buying gifts – these are all checklists.
In the business-to-business world, it can be tough to come by a checklist – especially due to the complexity of products and services in the B2B space. However, most B2B firms can create a quick checklist that is relevant to their users. Looking for an example? Check out our Complete B2B Website Checklist. The best part is that it’s simple, it’s something you already know, and your clients and prospects want it.
Create an FAQ of 5 – 10 Questions
Alright, this one is something that you can create and repurpose the heck out of (pardon our language). Create a blog that asks and answers the top 10 (or less) questions frequently asked about your product or services.
Start with your sales and customer service teams as they can tell you the top questions they get every day. As a WordPress-only shop, we get a lot of questions about WordPress web design. In an effort to help educate our prospects and clients, we put together a WordPress Web Design FAQ.
Discuss Industry Advancements
You want your prospects to think of you as an authority in your field. When there is a hot topic in your industry, write a blog about it. Take the advancement and explain it easy-to-understand language.
Earlier this year, the digital marketing community was abuzz about Google’s move to prioritize mobile-friendly sites, dubbed Mobilegeddon. In an effort to educate our audience, we put together a blog that gave the facts on Mobilegeddon and tips on how to handle it.
Explain How a Service or Product Works
When it comes to B2B content marketing, it’s essential to share information about how a particular product or service works to build your credibility and stand out from your competition. A blog is a perfect forum for doing this, especially since the rest of your website should focus on the benefits.
Responsive design and its benefits are often misunderstood by potential clients, so a blog that explains responsive design and how it works can be helpful.
Use a Current News Item
Nothing happening in your industry and you’ve already answered all your clients’ potential questions? Look to the mainstream news. Find a headline of interest (stay away from politics and religion) and use that as a jumping off point for your blog.
For example, recently a lot of press focused on the Volkswagen emissions scandal. The scandal could be used as the catalyst for a blog that discusses ensuring ethical business practices to maintain credibility.
Particularly in the B2B space, statistics are essential for making decisions, convincing upper management, choosing vendors and changing strategies. Gather a bunch of recent statistics about your industry or service and put this into a blog with a summary and takeaway points.
Even B2B content marketers can get in on the seasonal content action. This doesn’t mean just Christmas and Thanksgiving, think of Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Tax Day, Summer Vacation, Presidents’ Day, Labor Day, etc.
For example, a Valentine-themed blog in February could cover 5 Reasons You’ll Fall In Love With Our Support Team or How Our Service Is Your Best Match. These might sound cheesy, but they appeal to seasonality, what your clients are thinking about, and personalize your brand by adding a sense of humor.
Make a Top 10 List
Your prospects and clients don’t have a lot of extra time in their day, if any. Cater to their busy lives by creating lists that are easy to read and understand. Top 10 lists are an excellent place to start. Need an example? You just read one.
There you have it, 10 Ideas for Your Next B2B Blog. Content marketing for B2B shouldn’t leave you stumped. Check out our blog for more ideas on creating your blogging editorial calendar.
At our B2B web design agency, we’ve worked with countless clients on various aspects of branding, from naming a company or service, to creating a tagline, to designing a logo, to completing an entire website rebrand. There is no one-size-fits-all brand strategy for B2B firms. There are, however, B2B branding best practices and general tips that are applicable to various industries and firms.
What Are General Branding Tips for B2B?
Pick the Right Name
To start with, the name of your company should not be an afterthought. If you are in the process of founding a new company or completing a complete rebrand of an existing company, the B2B brand name should set the foundation for your overall strategy. It’s easy to use a boring or safe name for your brand. However, if you want to create an impactful, inspiring brand, you need to choose a name that reflects those attributes.
A logo is just a pretty design to put on your letterhead and email signature, right? Wrong!
With the extensive reach of digital media, your logo essentially becomes how prospects and clients identify your brand. Think about it: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Websites, Email Signatures, Printed Collateral – they all feature your logo. It’s one of the major visuals that ties all these pieces together.
Your logo sets the stage for your brand, but its creation can cause a huge debate internally. Learn more about How to Choose a Logo to get the scoop on what to consider when designing a new logo for your B2B brand.
Create a Tagline that Means Something
The tricky thing with a tagline, or slogan, is that it needs to be brief but also encapsulate your company values. How is that even possible? Let’s look a few examples of impactful taglines for B2B brands:
Citrix: Empowering You to Work Better, Live Better.
Apple: Think Different.
Microsoft: Be What’s Next.
IBM: Building a Better Planet
GE: We Bring Good Things to Life.
Fedex: The World on Time.
In seven words or less, each tagline communicates the values of the brand. Complicated values like innovation, building better lives, timeliness, and inventing new products are all communicated in simple, straightforward, easy-to-understand language.
Your B2B brand should answer the question, “Who are you guys?”
By laying the foundation with a brand that clearly answers this question, you create a clear image of what your company represents and values. Once the brand name, logo, and tagline are created, your work as a B2B marketer is not over. In order to have an effective B2B brand, your entire marketing strategy must center around that brand. You and everyone in your company must live and breathe your B2B brand.
How to Get Brand Buy-In
The easiest way to get brand buy-in internally is to communicate the brand message openly and honestly.
Explain to every member of your organization, from receptionists to IT to customer service to senior management, what the values of your brand are and how it should be portrayed. Clear communication of a B2B brand strategy is one of the major components of a successful marketing strategy and is often the most overlooked or ignored. At Bop Design, our brand values are clearly communicated in writing and are hung up in a spot where every member of our team can see them on a daily basis.
Don’t worry. You don’t have to go it alone. We’ve got plenty of resources to help you out as you navigate the B2B branding process. Check out our B2B Branding Quick Reference Guide and our blog for everything you need to know about branding or rebranding your B2B firm.
We recently published a WordPress Web Design FAQ that answered 8 of the most common questions we hear about WordPress. In this blog, we are going to dig deeper into the question: Is WordPress Secure?
Let’s start with the cold, hard truth: there is no such thing as a 100% secure website or 100% secure Content Management System (CMS).
While that is the truth, there are platforms that tend to be more secure than others. The WordPress content management system is widely regarded as one of the securest platforms available.
Why Is WordPress Secure?
To start with, WordPress websites are in widespread usage and they boast a large developer and support community. Here are the facts on WordPress:
About 23% of websites worldwide use the WordPress CMS.
Since 2005, there have been 31,977 changes ‘committed’ and 135 releases of WordPress.
Twenty-five active contributors are continually providing updates to enhance the security and features of WordPress. (Source: GitHub)
These facts about WordPress web design are nice, but is it really secure?
Doesn’t the widespread usage mean that it comes under attack more and is more vulnerable to attacks?
Quick Response to Security Threats
WordPress developers have quick responses to security threats (such as mandatory password resets for all users). WordPress is an open-source platform, supported by a vast number of volunteers. This community is able to detect and write fixes much more quickly than a proprietary content management system (closed source). By default, many of these security patches are installed without any user-intervention required.
When it comes to mandatory password resets, these types of security threats are due to a user choosing an insecure password or login. The best way to avoid these security-related issues are to follow safe password best practices for setting logins and passwords. Typically breaches come from users with passwords like “password,” “1234,” or qwerty.
WordPress Pushes Updates
Websites that use WordPress have regular updates that are pushed out to users and are easy to perform – often with the click of a button. Aside from the automated security patches, updating the WordPress core can be done with the click of a single button. There is no need to risk uploading files manually to your hosting account. These updates add new functionality to the website, repair a newly discovered issue or enhance the existing security of the WordPress website.
Let’s take a look at what you can do to maintain and increase the security of your WordPress website.
9 Tips for a Secure WordPress Website
Choose a hosting company that specializes in WordPress hosting. They will understand both how to make WordPress more secure and faster than a traditional web host.
Use reputable themes and plugins that are updated regularly.
Create unique passwords following safe password best practices.
Update passwords regularly.
Closely manage and monitor administrator access.
Perform regular backups.
Read WordPress’ recommended guide on “Hardening WordPress.” It’s a good idea to share the guide with your hosting company and ask what they do to keep your hosting secure. This is important regardless of the content management system you choose to use.
At our web design agency, we recommend WordPress not only for its security features but also for its accessibility and range of features. It’s easy to learn how to update a WordPress website and almost any functionality can be added by simply adding a plugin.