Bevelroom Consulting B2B customer-centric website design conversion rate optimization sales enablement

Customer-Centric B2B Website Design: A Checklist to Optimize Business Performance

You probably already have a website. The question is, is it doing its job? In other words, is it helping your business grow?  You’re probably spending time and money to manage a website. Why not make sure it actually produces results?

In the past, B2B websites were mostly online brochures, designed and built for aesthetic purposes. They were launched when the majority of the customer journey and revenue flowed through sales channels. They were designed to match what everyone else was doing. As a result, websites did little to support business goals. 

As we know, the B2B landscape has changed considerably. Because of this, the role your website plays in business is a lot more strategic and the bar for success is a lot higher.

Today’s B2B buyers expect you to have a digital presence that aids and guides their complex buying process. B2B buyers are self-reliant, and willing and able to research, evaluate and interact with providers almost completely through digital channels.

This means a lot of your sales process is powered by your website, and not just pre-sale. From building brand presence, to nurturing and converting new business, to facilitating transactions and partnerships, a B2B website has a much bigger job to do than before.

With the right strategy and design, your website has the potential to be your most valuable marketing asset. 

Here we provide a checklist of job requirements to ensure your B2B website is actually delivering the results your expect.

Your website is no longer just a brochure or billboard. It is the front door to your business and your sales team.

What's Covered in This Checklist

The Job of a B2B Website

Your website is not only the centerpiece of your digital presence, it can also be a powerful tool for boosting sales effectiveness.

To do its job well, your website had to be designed to do the following for your B2B service business.

Generate high intent traffic. 

This means having content that is SEO tuned and highly visible in online search and well matched to the questions buyers are asking in search queries along their purchase journey. 

Confidently convey your unique brand value proposition.

Your brand expresses what prospects and clients can expect from your business. This is your brand promise. Since modern B2B buyers start their journey online, your website is the front door to your brand.

It must confidently communicate how you meet (and ideally exceed) buyers’ expectations. The promise – and how you deliver on it through customer engagements — differentiates you from the competition.

All of this is conveyed through visually engaging and easy-to-use digital experiences that serve up exactly what buyers are looking for in their moments of need, with authority, clarity, proof, and offers to engage.

Establish you as a trusted expert.  

Upon first visit, your website must immediately build trust and credibility in your brand. The design has to present a clear story about who you are, what you do, and why you do it. It has to present a strong value proposition that speaks directly to the buyer’s self-interest.

Engage and covert visitors.

The website draws visitors in via a conversational conversion path of helpful content and compelling offers that promise something of value in return for a contact. Ideally, you are personalizing content and offer experiences to deliver exactly what they want, at the right time, and at a price point most likely to convert.

A well-designed B2B website also supports automated nurturing of prospective buyers through the sales funnel, often over an extended period of time. Your website should present information and micro-conversion offers that help prospective clients make better decisions and move them along the path to a service engagement. 

Support personalized B2B client experiences.

Your website’s job doesn’t end at first sale. It supports your brand promises across the B2B customer journey and augments personalized interactions across other channels (omni-channel) when and how customers want it, including: traditional in-person selling and customer service, remote / video call experiences, and provision of more self-service options, such as online help and chat.

 

#1. Start With the Customer

Unfortunately, many business owners don’t take the time to define who their right-fit customer is, what their buyer’s journey looks like, and what success looks like for those customers.

Building a new website should start with understanding your customer, what motivates their needs and what questions they have that you can answer in the right moments along their path to purchase. Once you have these insights, you can then design a website that converts visitors to clients.

Don’t short-change your investment right out of the gate by skipping over customer research. Here’s what you should do.

  • Boost your customer IQ

You want to get into the minds of your customers to understand what drives them and holds them back.

Talk with existing customers to better understand how they define value and perceive your brand. Get to know ‘what’ their core problems to solve are, ‘why’, ‘how’ and ‘when’ they go about discovering solutions to those problems (their journey), and what they expect along this journey.

Talk to the decisions makers and other people who play important roles in the purchase and service experience. These usually include a buyer (making the buying decision) and a user (using your offering). It might also include suppliers, partners or other stakeholders.

Go beyond asking about desired features to understand their sources of satisfaction and frustration and what motivates their choices and decisions. Inquire about compromises they are forced to make, and mistakes they have made. 

Learn about the journey your buyers take in finding and hiring solutions like yours.  Find out what triggers them to seek out or switch to a new solution. Find out where they go to find information to inform decisions, what search terms they use, and what they consider as helpful, trustworthy content.

The more you know about where they are in the journey and what’s important to them in those moments of decision and action, the better you can tailor an approach to building awareness and inspiring action at each stage.

Read more:

Building a Customer-Centric Sales Funnel

  • Define an ideal customer profile (ICP)

Organize what you learn into an actionable ideal customer profile (ICP). The profile helps bring clarity to who your target customer should be for future growth, as defined by their goals, motivations, challenges, common objections, and decision triggers, along with demographic and firmographic information they share.

Building your customer IQ has benefits across your entire business, not just in website design and marketing. The more know you learn about your customers, the more you’ll learn about how to build a solid strategy for growing your business.

Read more:
A Customer-Centric Approach to Building an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) 

Customer-Centric Strategies Tailored for B2B Service Businesses

Get our step-by-step approach for developing a B2B demand generation strategy and system for growing service-based businesses that is customer-centric, insight-driven, digitally enabled and adaptable for future growth.

#2. Craft a Compelling Value Proposition

One of the biggest jobs of your website is to create a great first impression and to convince potential clients to take the next step on their journey with you as their trusted partner.

To get started, they need to see themselves being successful by working with you. They need to see reasons and proof of why you’re the right solution to their needs.

This is your value proposition.

Your value proposition is a brief and persuasive description of how you make clients successful. It’s your promise of value and how you deliver it. It is a combination of copy, imagery, and a call-to-action at the top of your homepage that conveys what you do and what potential clients should do next to begin getting value — before and after they hire you.

  • Write impactful headlines and value proposition copy

Word-for-word, your value proposition headline and sub-headline is the most impactful copy on your entire website, so spend some time to get it right. In fact, 4 out of 5 people will read the headline and skip the rest of your copy (David Ogilvy.)

In other words, the headline of your value proposition represents 80% of the effort. When crafting your value proposition, remember that it is about your customer, not about you. Therefore, knowing your customer well is the first step to building an awesome value proposition.

Word-for-word, your value proposition headline and sub-headline is the most impactful copy on your website.

 

#3. Create a Conversion Path That Balances Customer Journey and Sales Pipeline

Ok, your website has a great value proposition and has persuaded your target buyer to take the next step. 

But remember: the journey that your buyers follow doesn’t always line up to your sales process. Their path is shaped by their jobs to be done, i.e. understanding their problems, exploring the market for solutions, and choosing the best providers of those solutions — all while under the pressure of not making any big mistakes. 

Ultimately, your prospects are going down this path to achieve a business purpose. Your job is to help them be successful in that purpose. So, you want to build a  conversion path that connects their journey with your sales process.

  • Develop offers matched to each stage of the buyer's journey

A targeted offer of value that is matched to the target customer’s stage and readiness to engage. This is best presented on a landing page as result of a call-to-action. You can also present offers conversationally on other pages, as triggered by behaviors that indicate interest, such as reading a blog article, or attending a webinar.

  • Design highly visible calls-to-action

The call-to-action is your request to act on the offer, presented as a highly visible button or link, such as to read content, answer a question, or request more information from. Calls-to-action may be placed through your website for visitors to complete various desired actions. Use copy that is brief (less than five words) and action-oriented (starts with an action verb). Examples of CTA copy are “Get the free guide,” “Get started,” or “Request consultation.”

In many cases, a call-to-action involves the visitor exchanging their contact and other qualifying information for your offer. Regardless of the type, all calls-to-action should be designed to increase the likelihood of a buyer hiring or referring you.

Calls-to-action should be used strategically and sparingly, much like a pitch in a sales call.

  • Provide options to engage and start a conversation

Once a person enters your conversion path and shares their contact and other information about their needs, you have their permission to engage in a conversation. In some instances, the conversion path may begin with a question or a non-digital interaction at an event or through networking.

Simply answering a question quickly can mean the difference between gaining a quality lead vs. a never hear from again bounce.

Use conversational forms and quizzes that ask questions in a low-pressure way such as “What brings you here today?”. These tools allows you to segment your visitors by asking simple questions.

Gather the right information from your prospects in order to provide them with the most useful resources to learn and make their decision.

 

#4. Use Landing Pages for Specific Business Objectives

A landing page has a very specific purpose: to convince and convert a website visitor to complete a desired action. It’s like your online sales rep designed to make a great pitch and close the deal. A landing page can be presented at any point along your conversion path.

Of all of the pages on your website, the landing page is the simplest in design, yet is a crucial element in a modern marketing system. A high converting landing page combines the art and science of psychological design principles and functional UX best practices to convert passive, anonymous visitors into future customers.

The visitor should be able to quickly scan and understand what the offer is, how it benefits them, why they need it now, and how they can get it, with very little scrolling.

The placement of headline and body copy, images and colors, and click elements are crucial. Also, you want to minimize distractions such as links that lead visitors to anything other than a conversion.

The conversion action is usually accomplished using a web form meant to collect a contact and qualify the new lead through carefully selected questions based on your business model.

Bevelroom Consulting B2B website landing page design
  • Build in micro-conversions to warm and qualify leads

Remember that your prospective clients have complex buying processes. 

The majority of your prospects aren’t ready to buy upon their first visit or expression of intent. In some cases, they may have to satisfy a multi-step RFP and buying committee before purchase.

This means that you have to be ready to nurture prospective clients over many touchpoints to close a deal.

So, instead of going for the close right away, warm qualified leads to a level of readiness that makes sense for them and you.

These micro-conversions include email sign-ups, content downloads or a webinar registration, or a higher level of commitment such as a demo and consultation request.

  • Make the conversion as easy as possible

Provide all of the information they need to streamline their process, save time, stress and money. Serve up content that answers their biggest questions and objections ahead of time. And do this in a way that establishes yourself as a trusted expert with proof of how you help clients succeed through case studies.

 

#5. SEO Tune Your Website for Optimal Search Visibility

As mentioned before, buyers are most commonly asking their questions in online search, so you want to ensure your content is as visible as possible during these discovery inquiries.

When prospects are searching online in their discovery phase, they will generally see two types of results:

  1. A limited set of paid ads, which are usually salesy, sometimes helpful (but usually not).

  2. A much wider array of organic results including standard pages, video, news, and sometimes a direct answer to question (featured snippet).

Some people may click on the ads. However, chances are, they will choose the more helpful, less salesy results. You want to ensure your value proposition and educational content are well positioned in their search results. This is done through search engine optimization, or SEO.

 Your website has to be optimized to be highly visible in those key moments of discovery and consideration. 

  • Formulate a content strategy

When planning for your website, ask yourself these questions about your customers (which you would have already done with proper customer research):

  • What questions are they asking?
  • What words and phrases are they using in their searches?
  • What information are they having trouble finding?

The answers to these questions form the basis of your website’s design and your overall content strategy.

Combine thought leadership (articles and guides) and proof content (testimonials, case studies, accolades), along with your value proposition to build a solid foundation that positions you as the no-brainer choice. We say no-brainer because people decide what to buy based mostly on feeling, then justify the decision with facts. The decision has to ‘feel’ right.

A great SEO tuned content strategy pays huge dividends to capture clicks to your website from high intent keyword searches. 

  • Conduct topic and keyword research

Good keyword research can save you time and money in 3 ways:

  1. Matches your offer and content to what your customers expect, in the right moments they are seeking it.
  2. Drives more qualified demand, matched to your offer with a higher conversion rate.
  3. Reduces the need for costly paid advertising to build the same demand – and also improves the performance of paid ads when used.

There are a lot of advanced tools designed specifically for keyword research, however, you can get started with keyword research without them.

Start by Google searching for your service offering or category. Use question style searches such as “what is [your product/service category]?” or “how to [the solution you provide]” to model a prospect in their discovery phase.

Read more: 

SEO Guide (and Checklist) for SMB Service Businesses

 

#6. Move Prospects to Sales Meetings with Website Selling Tools

Ok, now you have defined your target buyers and created compelling content to attract more qualified traffic.

Now, your goals is to move them from visit to new relationship.

Relationship building starts long before the decision to buy. Most companies tend to prioritize their CRM efforts starting at the point of purchase, or maybe right before, i.e., when a hot lead comes in.

However, this is a missed opportunity considering the large number of people who aren’t yet aware of your brand, but may still be willing to consider it for future purchases or recommend you to others.

Give them plenty of reasons to feel good about your brand, and view you as a trusted, helpful resource.

  • Qualify and prioritize website traffic

You can use these interactions with your content to segment and prioritize prospects according to their value and where they are in the sales funnel.

This means qualifying your prospects according to fit and readiness. For all your new prospects, segment them by the following two dimensions:

  1. How good of a fit they are for your business.

  2. How ready are they to buy.
Bevelroom Consulting B2B Lead Segmentation
  • Add customer-centric selling features

Customer-centric selling isn’t just about closing a deal. It’s really about guiding prospects through a path to solve problems with expertise, openness and a genuine desire to help. Approach sales conversations as an opportunity to empower a customer to overcome an issue now or into the future, rather than just pushing an immediate deal.

One tool that helps here is a digital sales room. Integrated with your CRM, digital sales rooms help deliver continually personalized solution content, decision aids and incentives tailored to each buying stage and individuals in each client team.

Seamless integration with CRM functionality connects experiences with workflows so users can tap into these features from within the CRM interface.

  • Add referral generating content and forms

Referral programs are a terrific customer growth strategy because referred prospects are more likely close and cost less to acquire. Additionally, referrals often close faster and result in higher value deals.

Despite all of these benefits, many businesses don’t invest enough in making referrals a key component of their growth strategy. This presents an opportunity: since most of your competitors aren’t pursuing referrals with intent, you will have a unique advantage when you do.

Make it easier to generate referrals by automating the process. Add a specialized landing page and form on your website to collect and process your referrals. 

Incorporate referrals into the entire customer journey: From the first interaction and all the way through post-sales communications, weave in opportunities and nudges for referrals.

 

#7. Enhance the User Experience

In addition to the above, here are some additional best practices for website design that you don’t want to forget.

Intuitive navigation and information architecture. Design your website with customers in mind so they can easily find what the need. Give them the option of using your navigation headings or keyword search to explore and find answers.

Optimize for mobile. Make sure your website is easy to use on all screen sizes as many of your customers will visit from several devices including smartphones. This also pays dividends for SEO and search visibility.

Simplicity wins. Don’t overdesign your page layouts and keep copy, visuals and interactive elements as simple as possible. Minimize the number of clicks in your conversion path. Don’t ask for too much information on forms. And strive for a minimalistic visual design that expresses your brand authentically.

Enhance the reading experience. Use a variety of text and visual content types to enhance the reading experience. Link topics and keywords across your internal pages. Use white space and headings for easier scanning.

 

Need Help With Your Website Design?

Take a look at your website: it is doing its job? Is it a strategic driver of growth for your business, or it is just an online brochure?

You probably have invested a lot of time and energy into building your business website. Now, make sure it is doing what you intended.

In today’s B2B landscape, your website is the centerpiece of your multi-channel brand presence and should be helping you win and keep more of the clients you want.

At Bevelroom Consulting, we use all of the best practices included here to make sure your website is doing its job.

In our website diagnostic, we assess current strategy, identify root causes of obstacles to desired outcomes, test the biggest levers for change, and develop a roadmapped action plan to improve demand generation / go-to-market.

What you get:

  • Optimized SEO, ranking and traffic
  • Better enabled sales funnel
  • Improved performance and ROI
  • Lower costs and effort of website updates and maintenance

Get started with your website diagnostic today.

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