I write copy for a lot of websites, and like all of you, I also visit a lot of websites. So you can imagine I can’t help but notice good ones, bad ones and ones that need to just shut down and start over from scratch. What makes a GREAT website? It’s not rocket science. It’s just following through on a little knowledge about how B2B customers interact with websites.
While the following list is not exhaustive, if you check off each of the items below you will have a terrific start on the website of your B2B dreams.
1. Clear mission – with metrics. You need to know exactly what you want your customer to do when she arrives at your website, and then make sure that every element of the design and copy are working together to get her to do it. Then you need to track user behavior and continually tweak your website until it is a conversion machine.
2. Clean, appropriate, industry-standard design. I am no designer. But I do know that the worst thing you can do is force your prospects to have to think too hard just to use your website. So for most B2B companies, this is NOT the time to get creative. Make sure the nav menus are where visitors expect them to be, and make sure the color scheme and graphic elements reflect your industry.
3. Sell solutions, not products. Take a look at your website. If you have buttons, tabs or menu options that list the names of your products, you got this one wrong. Trust me, a first-time visitor has no idea if she wants to read more about “BlueWidget 123 solution” and she is not going to waste her time clicking through all your solution pages to figure it out. Try placing a huge graphic button on your front page that says “XYZ keeping you up at night? Click here for a good night’s sleep.” Then watch the analytics to see how effective it is.
4. Keep SEO in mind, but don’t be a slave to it. If you’re writing good copy about what your company actually does, you should naturally include enough keywords to get the lift you want without setting off any alarm bells at Google central. So make sure you know what the 3-5 good keywords are for your site, and double check that you used them 2-4 times on each page. The search engines – and your readers – will appreciate it.
And a tip: You may have noticed that my checklist is just as much about design as copy. That’s because on the web, more than anywhere else, the two cannot exist in a vacuum. BEFORE you have a designer or a copywriter start in on your site, make sure you’re very clear about number 1, above, and remember that a good designer and copywriter can work together help you develop this mission and then execute it as a team to make sure your website is performing the way you need it to.
What makes your list of B2B website best practices?
Do you agree with mine?
About the author: Kate Headen Waddell is a strategic copywriter specializing in web copy, white papers, case studies, blogging and other B2B marketing tools. You can visit her website at www.smartb2bmarcom.com.