Business-to-business marketing (b2b marketing) online takes place in a different environment than business-to-consumer. It’s a slower, more deliberate process. And with B2B, so much hinges on credibility and relationships – which take time to build but are necessary to move forward in the sales funnel and are crucial for qualified lead generation. To build these kinds of relationships you must identify and speak directly to the people who decide whether or not to purchase your product or service. These are called marketing personas and they are much more involved than general marketing demographics.
In the past, you may have called on “outbound” tactics like brochures, cold calls and Yellow Pages to try and lure B2B prospects into contacting you. Today, those media are in noticeable decline as businesses join consumers in rejecting traditional ad tactics in favor of searching for information online. They are searching for content that speaks to their specific needs no matter how unique.
So your challenge is not just to get found online, but to identify the people within the businesses who are most likely to engage with you, then to inform, enlighten and even delight them long before you ask for the sale. Your website is a destination … but getting to the point where it delivers leads takes a commitment to inbound marketing.
Eight B2B website must-haves for qualified lead generation
- Content that resonates. Establishing your company’s credibility and expertise is no longer a matter of coming up with an ad slogan. Today’s B2B prospects want proof. Give it to them in the form non-advertising, industry-focused content. Engaging blogs, infographics and videos can be part of your website and social media. High-value pieces like whitepapers, eBooks and research reports can be offered as free downloads on your landing pages to encourage visitors to leave lead-generating contact information. Bonus: high-value content strengthens your credibility with Google.
- A consistent page framework. Your website’s logical page framework helps in navigation – not just for human users but also for Google, which indexes pages according to the way information appears on them. For each website page, create a page title and a single, easily understood element of relevant information – your product or service, along with examples of success stories or customer testimonials. Accompany each page with one relevant call to action and necessary links to related pages. With the proper formatting of headings, navigation, content and links, your SEO is enhanced on the page.
- Call-to-action on every page. The “CTA” that appears on your on-page (website) and off-page (Facebook, blogs) content serves a vital business to business marketing role – it guides visitors to your website’s landing page, where they contribute the contact and business information that helps you qualify them as leads. What makes a good CTA? The best ones express a benefit. So instead of “Click here for a white paper,” consider something like “Download a whitepaper that answers your top 3 questions about data security.”
- A landing page. The call to action brings visitors to a dedicated page that reiterates your CTA offer and includes a lead-generation form to fill out. Your web design agency can help you publish a clean, ad-free and easy-to-use landing page that neither confuses nor scares off visitors.
- SEO focus. It's not about keyword ranking these days. SEO has changed dramatically and companies who don't recognize that their online presence is about so much more than this will suffer the consequences. Yes, SEO still involves the words used in your website content but it must have an emphasis on quality and value. Search engine optimization (SEO), is much more sophisticated these days since engines can now deliver tailored content to the user. Do a good job of mobile optimization and providing plenty of helpful, VALUABLE information not only on your website but throughout your overall online presence and the effort will improve your odds of being delivered to just the right people searching for your product or service. Google’s Hummingbird update understands complete sentences entered into a search engine, so knowing the specific language your B2B prospects use is vital to producing online content that can attract qualified leads.
- Mobile access. Social Media Today called mobile access one of the top business to business marketing trends for 2014. And it’s no wonder – as data plans and WiFi become more accessible, smart phones and tablets are outselling desktop and laptop computers. Your mobile-optimized website goes farther than just “shrinking” your existing site; it ties into the way people tap, swipe and search on their beloved devices. Business people are much more likely to rely on mobile devices than the average consumer and as mentioned previously search engines factor in whether or not your web presence is delivering mobile friendly content.
- Social tie-ins. A consistently fresh and relevant Facebook or Twitter page is expected for B2B companies, but don’t overlook the appeal of LinkedIn. The world’s biggest business network, LinkedIn connects you to colleagues, customers, peers and industry insiders like no other social site. The content you provide to LinkedIn, and the comments and response you offer to others’ content, can go a long way toward boosting your website. These days marketing is not "plug-n-play", it must be valuable and engaging so you'll need real people who are able to provide highly focused conversations in the social media space to increase your odds of success.