I've been doing a lot of research lately and it's taken me to a variety of B2B vendor websites. I have to say I'm still amazed at the lack of context in their content presentations - from a customer point of view.
Some B2B websites I've visited are doing a better job on the positioning of their content to address problem/solution scenarios in the main content on the page, but the theme of laundry list sidebars seems to be in full force.
Here's an example:
I go to a page and get interested in the scenario they're talking about. I want more information, so I look to the right. I see a list that includes things like press releases, customer successes, white papers, etc.
The problem is that all those links take me to the general siloed list page for each of those items. Without any context for ME.
Now I'm frustrated and irritated because I have to try and determine which item in the list will continue the story I was interested in. As I scroll down the page, my eyes blur and my head hurts. None of the titles make it obvious if there even are any stories that go with the scenario that interested me enough to click to learn more.
I glance at my watch and realize I'm out of time for this activity. Disappointed, I leave, most likely not to return unless I get a darned good reason to go back. The impression left in my mind is that this vendor doesn't care enough to engage me.
At the risk of being snippy, I'd like to tell these B2B vendors to WAKE UP!
Your buyers don't have time to do archeological digs for content on your website. Unless they can't get what they need anywhere else, they won't bother to try and piece together the story for you.
It cannot possibly be that difficult to group content in useful ways. In fact, I'm guessing that most B2B websites only update their homepage and their press pages as the norm.
Rearranging your content to establish scenario context doesn't have to mean reinventing the wheel. You probably have enough existing content to make a difference now, if you just think about it.
In fact, you could do this one section at a time. This doesn't have to be a huge project that stalls because you have no idea where to begin. Or because the whole site needs to match before you can "take it live."
Take a highly visited page and assess it.
- What story does the main content tell?
- What questions does it raise for the reader?
- What's the next logical step(s) for learning more? (from their perspective, not yours)
- Is there a clear offer for that next step(s)?
- Then what?
- How do they know?
- How do they get there?
If the page you're reviewing is about a solution, don't lead off with product statistics or generalities, give me some problem/solution scenarios it addresses so I can validate my decision to spend more time with you.
Then make sure I have options to see how your solution actually solved each of the problems you discuss. I want to get a comfort level that I'm interpreting correctly, given my company's circumstances.
If you have a webinar about that issue, tell me about it while I'm actively engaged with that subject matter. A specific white paper that educates about the topic - put it right in front of me. Give me a compelling invitation to interact with your company.
In other words, present your content in customer-focused ways that keep your website visitor engaged with the reason they came to see you in the first place. Don't make me go searching and digging for the information I want. I'm not going to do it. There's just not enough tiime in my day.
Each page of your website should tell a story. If it's not, you're missing a huge opportunity for engagement. Your website visitors won't always enter from the homepage, but that should never be a problem if the story starts whenever and however they come to call.
Just in case you're shaking your head, thinking yeah, but she's not my potential customer. You're right. I'm a lot more determined and web savvy than most of them are. And, if I'm frustrated by most of the B2B websites I visit, what impression do you think you're making on your potential buyers?