The Uncomfortable Truth about Your B2B Website

Summary: Your B2B website makes many easily fixed mistakes that drive leads away. Others are fundamental and take a more in-depth look to repair. Learn what you can do starting today to capture the qualified leads you should with your B2B website. 

Time to read: 8 mins

angry-businessman-smashing-b2b-website

Do your prospects feel like this when they visit your website?

Today’s B2B buyer? They simply don’t get what they want from your B2B website. 

And you’re not alone. The problem plagues B2B companies as a whole. 

A joint report by the CMO Council and Netline Corporation says: 

…BtoB vendor web sites are inadequate and hard to navigate. These sites lack the depth, objectivity and strategic context that buyers are seeking to inform and lead them through complex evaluation and purchasing processes.

What Exactly about B2B Websites Bothers Buyers? 

You got a few hints up there. But, let’s get even more granular and detailed so you know exactly what bothers them. That way, you know exactly what not to do, and what to do instead. 

You get happier buyers. That means more leads. 

Check out the list below: 

1. Not Giving B2B Buyers the Content Assets They Want

According to the 2015 B2B Web Usability Report done jointly by Diana Huff, KoMarketing Associates, and BuyerZone, B2B websites most often lack these content assets: 

ko-associates-content-assets-b2b-websites-lack

The simple fix: Add those assets to your B2B website if you don’t already have them. FYI, through my own personal experience navigating B2B websites, I’ve had a similar experience.

As additional incentive, white papers and case studies often get cited as two of the top three most persuasive B2B marketing materials. So if you don’t have those, you’ll do yourself a huge favor by adding them to your website. 

But, you need to do them right. And that works best when done by a freelance B2B copywriter. 

2. Free Me Right Now…Take It Away!  

I’m a huge Foo Fighters fan, and their song “Free Me” sets the perfect emotional tone for this point. You only need to listen to the first 25 seconds to get the idea: 

ConversionXL, a leader in B2C and B2B website conversion, notes that popups (when done wrong), and automatic actions like autoplay videos, and carousels/sliders send B2B buyers running the other way. They didn’t suggest data on this, but I’d bet you could throw in those annoying live actors too. 

Note that this data does not include those live video backgrounds. Personally, these don’t bother me because they don’t interfere with my ability to use the website. I think they look neat, which may add a little credibility to your website. FYI, my mind works much like a B2B buyer’s, so it’s reasonable to think they’ll have similar attitudes. 

However, I don’t have data on those live video backgrounds. So, that’s not a concrete theory yet. 

The same goes for live chat. When you have the tool that pops up and it says,”Hello! I’m Kaitlyn. How can I help?” …that’s creepy. Think of like being at a Best Buy with a salesperson standing right next to you, just staring at you without asking questions. 

They just stand…and stare. The whole time without asking a single question. 

I’m on edge. How ’bout you? 

The simple fix: With autoplay videos, carousels/sliders, and live actors, simply don’t use them. Find another way to layer the information on your B2B website. If it requires an extra click or two, so be it. 

With popups, they actually work quite well, but only when done right. That’s too long to explain here. So here’s another great resource from ConversionXL that shows how to use popups the right way

With the live chat, you can have it. Just don’t make it pop up right away. Keep it folded down. Put some copy on it like,”Click here for live assistance.” 

That gives B2B users the option and freedom to use that when needed. 

3. Just Who Does Your Messaging Focus on Anyway? 

Personally, I’ve heard that most B2B websites focus on the company and what its product does about a billion times. It comes out again and again, and it hasn’t subsided for years. But don’t take my word for it that this is a problem. 

Instead, listen to what Laura Ramos, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester says plagues B2B websites: 

The biggest problem [with B2B websites] is that the majority of content talks about the company, what its products and services do and how many awards they’ve won, but doesn’t speak to the issues their prospective buyers are trying to solve. 

The simple fix: Okay, so this is one is simple. But it’s not fast or easy. Your website pages, which really form the foundation for your marketing messaging online, need to aim at the pain and problems your B2B buyer faces. You need to discuss what keeps them at night, the benefits your solution offers, and then social proof that you can in fact provide those benefits. 

Website copy, though, isn’t fast. It’s at least a weeks-long project for even a small B2B website of 5 pages or so. 

4. “User Hostile” Design

Now, this data comes from an interesting source: the Nielsen-Norman Group. I believe they founded themselves sometime in the mid-or-late 1990s when the web was in its infancy. 

Anyway, they do a lot of user experience testing. And while a lot of it’s old (in terms of calendar years), the lessons still apply today because most websites do not apply their recommended best practices. 

How people use the web really hasn’t changed all that much since the late 1990s. The big change has been what you can do, not how you do it.

While humans have the capability to change profoundly, the overwhelming majority do not. In my mind, that’s just the way humans work. So you can bet the lessons from these guys, though old, still apply. And they continue to do groundbreaking research today. 

For B2B websites, they’ve found this: 

  1. Segmentation, while appropriate, often doesn’t match the way users think of themselves
  2. More information (case studies, white papers, reports etc…) should be placed outside of gates to establish credibility
  3. Lack of basic pricing information
  4. Confusing navigation

The simple solution: Again, not an overall easy solution here. With navigation, you should follow the “3-click rule,” which says all important information on your website should take at most 3 clicks to get to. The majority of information should fall outside of gates (although you can “soft-gate” and give an option to sign up to your list first). Navigation needs to be as simple as possible. Just one extra step is still an extra step. 

5. What’s That Say? (too small of a font)

Did you know, as of 2013, 42% of Americans age 12 to 54 are nearsighted? And, totally coincidentally, 42% of B2B buyers use a mobile device while searching, with 91% growth from 2013-2014. Those stats come from Google. 

Both support my conclusion that it’s generally harder to read what’s on the web. Nearsightedness for obvious reasons. And smartphones because they have smaller screens. 

Just see “tiny text” as the #5 highest concern in the 2014 B2B Web Usability Report:

2014-b2b-web-usability-report

The simple solution: Pardot suggests you use at least a 16 pixel font. I agree with that as a minimum. 

This website, for example, uses a 22-point font. B2B buyers, and any other web reader for that matter, don’t mind a large font and longer pages with lots of “white space.” 

They’ll read as much as you write as long as you make it easy to read, and useful. 

6. Potpourri 

Remember this category from Jeopardy? I watched Jeopardy a lot as a kid. 

And no…it didn’t do me a lick of good. I was never that good at it. And I’m still not. 

But anyway, it was a category with basically random questions. 

Hubspot cites research from Small Business Trends which shows 70% of small business B2B websites lacked any kind of call-to-action whatsoever. Further investigation into that research from Small Business Trends reveals 56% don’t use meta descriptions (the 2-3 lines of text below the big blue title in Google’s search results). 

The simple solution: You need to tell your website visitors to take an action on every page with a compelling CTA. Every page also needs a meta description, which gets you more clicks, visits, and ultimately, leads. 

You Perfect Every Aspect of Your Marketing, And Your B2B Website Needs Perfecting Too

Now, let’s be clear: even the most well-marketed website leaks leads. Perfection is difficult, and likely impossible, to achieve. 

You can easily drop six figures or more on conversion rate optimization. Yes, B2B websites get that elaborate. Just read this conversion rate optimization case study done for Moz to see how elaborate it gets. 

And they’re experts in the first place. So…even the experts need expert help sometimes. 

But, you don’t have to go that far. Include the tips from this post to get the quick and biggest wins.

And then you can decide how far you want to go from there. 

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