There are literally thousands of technology tools comprising the marketing stack in The MarTech Landscape , many of them released in just the last few years, and many of them targeted to B2B Sales and marketing programs. These advanced tools help engage the buyer, accelerate lead generation, manage the sales process and analyze results along with literally hundreds of niche applications that fill special needs. But what about the backbone and forerunner of all things Word Wide Web? What about your website? Is it keeping up with these new advances?
In this article we’ll take a look at some critical capabilities that a B2B website needs today in order to make the best use of the tools and techniques available. We’ll avoid going product specific unless we need to in order to illustrate our point. We’re talking about capability, not looks or “design”, what the site does. Here are seven critical elements that a modern site should support today.
- Content Management System (CMS)
A CMS is an essential. This allows your content creators to post content without the help of a developer who knows HTML/CSS. Fresh content is essential for driving traffic through marketing efforts as well as organic Search Engine Optimization.
- Website Blog
It’s true that WordPress started life as blog software, then morphed into a capable website-based CMS system over time, but not all websites are based on blog software, and if a CMS for the whole site is not possible, than at least having a blog is the next best thing.. A blog allows non-technical people to frequently post, catalog and tag content relevant to a company’s target markets. Today when a sites relevence to search engines such as Google depends almost solely on the relevance of the content, this is a must.
- Page-Oriented Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Every piece of content on a website must be optimized to express those keywords and phrases that customers the site is targeting will use to describe their need. Today a variety of tools exist that will “grade” site content and make suggestions for changes based on a pre-set array of target words and phrases. Good content is expensive and difficult to produce. It is essential to get the maximum value out of every piece of content.
- Inbound Lead Generation
Many companies exist today where the results of a website form submission are sent by the web server via email to an individual charged with routing the “lead” to an available sales associates. Many more used to do it this way, and a lead response study published in 2011 showed that the average response time for the companies surveyed at that time was 42 hours. The simple latencies built into a system where the leads travel through multiple hands before action is taken make up most of this delay. Today, form data can be pushed directly into a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, which can use workflow rules to determine the representative who should “own” this lead, and alert that representative to the leads existence. Plugins exist for many CMS that make form generation extremely easy and accurate.
- Landing Pages
Landing pages are web pages custom built to support specific email or social campaigns or other promotions such as banner advertising, trade show offers or white paper syndication. Landing pages always contain a call to action(CTA), which is normally an online form that must be filled out by the Visitor in order for the Visitor to realize the benefit that attracted him/her to the landing page in the first place. Because landing pages require custom online forms which have been traditionally difficult to build, many websites send all promotion-based traffic to a generic contact page where the Visitor is promised that they will be contacted if they fill out the form, but no promise for delivering the benefit is given, since the generic page does not “know” what the original motivation was. Measuring the effectiveness and thus the Return on investment (ROI) of campaigns is lost without this.
Using the same tools described in Lead Generation, forms can be built to support landing pages. Further, a variety of plugins exist that will help manage gated content, that is, Visitors have to fill out a form before they are served the gated content. Custom landing pages and gated content management can greatly increase the quality of online leads.
- Social Media Support
A 2015 survey from Demand Gen Report shows that more than half (53%) of those surveyed said that Social media played a role in their assessment of various tools and technologies. Compelling website content can be leveraged if it can be shared by Readers via social media. Plugins exist today which will place share buttons on a website in close proximity to relevant content, making it easier for Visitors to share. For Twitter, inline tweet sharing plugins callout “tweetable” sentences within the content which can be tweeted out with a single button push if the Visitor is already logged on to Twitter.
- Mobile Responsive Design
Many sites built more than 5 years ago are not responsive, that is, they do not adapt themselves to being rendered on mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones. Yet, the conversion of these sites is not proceeding at nearly the speed that would be expected, given the mass adoption of smart phones and their use in Internet search. In this interesting article published on Searchengineland.com, while a survey of Webmasters showed that 82% were using responsive design, hard performance data from Akamai suggested that 18.7% of the top 10,000 websites were responsive. I think this discrepancy could be explained at least in part by the tendency of certain Webmasters to exaggerate their experience by some small increment, but it is also safe to say that many of these high-traffic sites consider such a radical design change to be very risky from a revenue perspective.
For smaller sites with less traffic, the best answer in this case is very plain; CMS systems such as WordPress and Drupal feature versatile themes that are designed to be responsive. Converting to a CMS with a responsive theme, in addition to the benefits we’ve already described, give a clear competitive edge over others that have not made the change.
Is YOUR Site Ready?
These capabilities are what we would consider a minimum for a B2B website owned by a progressive company that is ready to embrace new concepts such as Account-Based selling and Sales Enablement. If you aren’t sure that your site is ready, contact us for a complimentary evaluation. Just fill out the form below: