Your company’s website is one of its most important assets when it comes to effective content marketing.
You own it. You control the content. You can direct visitors to the parts that are most relevant for them.
And yet, many B2B companies still treat their website as little more than a digital catalog.
Some practically reproduce the catalog format, with an index-like homepage and subpages dedicated to product lines and spec sheets.
Is that what your audience wants to find? All of them, all the time?
Those are rhetorical questions, of course.
As I’ve discussed in many previous posts, an effective content marketing strategy publishes relevant, helpful information for buyers at all stages of their buyer’s journey.
Features and benefits—such as those that would typically appear in a product catalog—are relevant and helpful for buyers in the market for a specific solution.
They’re irrelevant and unhelpful to a buyer who has earlier-stage questions to answer, such as how to quantify the problem they’re hoping to solve or how to find and compare potential solutions.
Any member of your audience should be able to see themselves and find the information that’s most relevant to their situation
Your website is a place where any member of your audience should be able to see themselves and find the information that’s most relevant to their situation.
In this post, I’m going to discuss eight characteristics that make a website effective for content marketing.
If your company already has a built-out web presence, give it a grade against these criteria.
If you’re on the path to building—or refreshing—a website, take this list into consideration during your design and development process.
An effective B2B content marketing website must contain clear and concise messaging that focuses on addressing the pain points of your target audience.
It should communicate both the value proposition and benefits of your product or service, both in general terms (for buyers early in their journey) and at a detailed specification level (for those ready to make a purchase).
I recommend developing buyer personas and producing persona-specific buyer’s journey maps to identify the types of information that will be of interest to each type of buyer at each stage of their buying journey.
Every member of your target audience should be able to see themselves and their situation in the content you’ve published.
A buyer-friendly website features intuitive navigation that makes it easy for them to find relevant, helpful information—whether that’s industry commentary, product details, case studies, or contact information.
Keep in mind that some visitors will be experts in your field, but many will be learning the ropes.
Use clear menus, a logical page hierarchy, and search functionality to make the user experience as seamless and frictionless as possible.
Many B2B websites are, frankly, rather dull.
B2B buyers are humans who spend a lot of time on the internet. They expect business sites to offer high-quality, engaging content to almost the same degree as their B2C cousins.
For B2B content marketing, this means informative articles, illustrated case studies, animations, and videos that showcase your expertise and industry knowledge.
The content must be well-written, consistently formatted, professionally produced, and valuable to your target audience.
Over time, this will establish your website as a trusted resource in the minds of your audience.
The increasing use of mobile devices means it's crucial for B2B websites to take a mobile-first approach and use responsive design elements that adapt to different screen sizes.
A mobile-friendly website ensures that visitors can access the content easily, regardless of their device, location, or internet connection.
If a buyer thinks of a question while on the road, at the beach, or in the shower, the company whose website is accessible via the device closest to hand will gain mind share that later converts into market share.
The more frequently your audience can interact with you, the better.
If you want people to find and visit your B2B website, a solid SEO strategy is crucial.
This will involve optimizing both the site itself (technical SEO) and the page content (on-page SEO).
Research and use relevant keywords in the copy, meta tags, and page descriptions, and be sure each image has a relevant alt-tag.
Improve website load speed and performance by converting images to the smallest possible format (typically SVG or WEBP) and by avoiding any server calls that take more than a few milliseconds.
Use SEO audit tools to regularly audit your site for issues, working with your site developer as needed to get them resolved.
Although I talk a great deal about catering to buyers who aren’t yet ready to buy—those at the awareness and evaluation stages in their buyer’s journey—an effective B2B content marketing website must also incorporate lead generation forms, placed strategically throughout the site.
Key your forms simple. Ask only for essential information and contact details.
Give visitors a compelling incentive to fill them out—such as a download or access to exclusive content—and use marketing automation to immediately send a confirmation email with download details, where applicable.
I recommend restricting form submissions to visitors who can provide a business email address. That is, something other than Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, etc.
Although this will screen out visitors who aren’t currently affiliated with a business, it’s a vital step in blocking spam traffic. Direct unaffiliated visitors to contact you via a different method, such as a website chatbot.
Integrating your website with your customer relationship management (CRM) software and marketing automation tools enables effective lead nurturing and tracking.
These tools automatically capture leads, track their behavior, and feed personalized information into your email campaigns and other marketing efforts.
Businesses that track and analyze user behavior, personalize communications, and measure and optimize the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns perform significantly better than those that underinvest in these areas.
Finally, to be effective at content marketing, your website must establish trust and credibility with your audience.
This can be achieved through consistent, authentic content generation and by showcasing user-generated content, client testimonials, and reviews.
Other trust signals include secure URLs (always https://, never http://), secure payment options, documented privacy policies, and offering multiple ways to contact the company for help.
Attracting, engaging, and converting today’s B2B buyers requires more than just making your product catalog available online.
To be effective for content marketing, your website must be designed around the needs and interests of your audience—not just the information you’re most keen or comfortable to write about.
Keep these eight attributes in mind as you design and optimize your site and you’ll be well on your way to standing out from the B2Bcrowd.
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Image credits: Adobe Stock