One thing I can assure you about marketing your business is that it's a neverending treadmill of change. Think about where we were only 3 short years ago. There were no supply chain issues. COVID had not happened. Chances are your business was just humming along.
Now we have COVID (and vaccines), supply chain issues (that are easing), and what I feel is a very cautious yet vibrant business environment.
If you tried to use 2019 messaging in 2022, chances are it would fall flat. I last updated my website in 2019 (but most of the content was written in 2017-2018.) I suggest that my customers update their websites every 3 years, but alas, I am just the cobbler whose kids have holes in their shoes.
When it comes to website technology, there is not a lot of earth-shaking change happening. WordPress is still the #1 platform for building dynamic websites. Google is still the #1 search engine, and the cell phone is still about 1/2 of the traffic viewing a website. Depending if you are B2b or B2c that can change, but not so dramatically that you have to change everything.
Ecommerce is huge for business-to-consumer, but try navigating a huge website on a cell phone. One example I can share is Home Depot. Of course, you can buy wood, tools, and stuff for remodeling (or a new home). But did you know they sell furniture, cookware, and luggage, too? You would never guess that going into their store, but it's on their website. There are almost 60 pages of options just for furniture alone and hundreds if you add up all the categories and thousands of products (including succulents.)
Trying to shop for any category (say a fridge) and choose options like in-door water and ice, counter depth, and so on, is a chore on a cell phone. On a desktop, you can see the filters, and the options change on the screen to the right.
Desktop vs. Cell Phone
Today, most platforms like WordPress will create responsive websites that change their look and navigation based on screen size (desktop, tablet, or cell.) I can almost assure you that companies like Home Depot have a much more custom and sophisticated system than WordPress. Most small to mid-sized businesses don't need that much power or flexibility (and it's hard to make a business case for the ROI of a custom system.)
You should absolutely try to make your website usable and functional on all devices, but you should also focus on your audience. Who is using it? What are they looking for, and how easy is it to access?
Using Google Analytics, you can see the number of users who access your website via desktop or mobile. I have customers where 80% of their traffic is based on desktops. That's because their audience is based in offices and are sitting at desks, not out in the field on their phone. You don't want to ignore that other 20%, but I would not sacrifice desktop usability to make the 20% more comfortable with usability.
Another organization (a national boating club) has a moving target. During the summer (boating season) mobile to desktop ratios are about 60/40 mobile views. During winter months, the ratios flip-flop with desktops making up 60% of the traffic. They have simplified their website to cater to the mobile crowd, yet maintain a very easy interface for desktop users as well.
What's The Goal?
In the case of consumer websites, e-commerce is king. Their websites have to make finding, saving, and buying items the most important function that a website can provide.
In the business-to-business space, it's different. More often than not, your end goal is human-to-human interaction. That means, you want to create as many opportunities to capture, names, have people fill out forms, and maybe even just email or call your company or individuals within it.
That should make the case for less is more. Less but more targeted content (other than blogs that lead people to your website), should always be done with the goal of creating human interaction and conversations.
That has been making me think about how I am going to redesign my website to better serve my own audience.
Out With The Old
My old website B2b-im.com (still live) focused on services that clients would be looking for. This had two purposes. First to help people looking for specific solutions to easily find them. Also, to serve the Google ecosystem with keywords that would help my site be found and rank better.
What I have found is this model is becoming less effective and harder for people to navigate. When you have menus, and sub-menus, people get bored too fast to dig deep into the content. I am also finding that blogging, podcasting and email are driving the majority of my traffic, not Google searches. That means that direct traffic has become my new focus. But what happens when they get there?
How can I fix that?
Less Nav… More Salve (or Solve)
I think a modern B2b website needs to hit the viewer over the head with a problem-solution model that gets the visitor to say “Hey? That's Me!” And then as quickly as possible, get them to initiate contact.
Anything viewed as a sales pitch will be met with hesitation at best, and a click away from your website at worst. I believe that you have to identify their problem, tell them they are not alone, and get them to take action. The goal should be to have the deeper dive be on the phone or a Zoom call and not simply reading more website copy.
If you can find a way to encapsulate the problem or issue your customers have that needs to be solved, you have the chance to give them a short potential solution. Then you need to lead them to you or your sales team as the next step in helping them understand how you serve them… not sell them! Even if it means pointing them in another direction if you are not a good fit for their immediate needs. That may lead to them coming back in the future to try again!
I will be working on my new site using a flowchart and mind-mapping software to flush out the process. I hope to see an increase in human-to-human contact, and hopefully create new and profitable relationships. Check back often to see if there's any progress. It will be a live experiment that I hope you are willing to participate in.
“Perhaps all human interaction is about wanting and getting.” – David Mitchell
I would love to hear your thoughts about the state and uses of a website today. Have your searching and consuming habits changed? How is your own website holding up with changes in business? What has Google Analytics shown you about user interaction over the last few years and have you even looked?
Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas, or questions about getting a website makeover!
To learn more about this and other topics on B2b Sales & Marketing, visit our podcast website at The Bacon Podcast.