Having worked with businesses large and small across a wide variety of industries over the past nine years we have come to recognize certain trends with how people interact with B2B websites. In that time period we’ve designed and developed more than 250 websites, of which I would estimate around 80% were for B2B types of businesses. Yes, every business is unique, but human behavior is frequently predictable. And our predictions are backed by years of data and experience. What would you imagine the most frequently visited pages on a B2B website would be? How long do you think visitors are spending on a particular type of web page, or on a typical B2B website overall? Do users of B2B websites interact with time intensive content, or do they move around quickly? The answers to these questions may not be what you’d expect. However, if you think about them psychologically they make a lot of sense.
I am hesitant to label these trend based insights as “rules” one must follow in order to design a great B2B website. There are always exceptions, and for some businesses a particular brand experience for their website is more impactful than a tried and true website sales funnel. This is also in no way a comprehensive list of the recommendations we have to offer.
As a business who also provides services to businesses, you will probably see we’ve taken our own advice and enacted these “things to know” on our own website. You may even recognize your own behavior on our website as running parallel to what we discuss here.
1. Show Don’t Tell
Businesses have a tendency to try and throw everything plus the kitchen sink at their website. Writing extended paragraphs about every single possible thing they think a potential customer might want to know about them into their pages. Thinking that the more information and services they cram into their site the more it will entice potential customers to reach out. Because now they know exactly every single thing you’ve ever done and how amazing your business has been since its founding 5 or 40 years ago.
Every year our attention spans get shorter as our minds are fought for by an ever expanding technology driven world. Whether you think this a good or a bad thing is irrelevant if you care about growing your business in a rapidly changing modern world. The reality is that the lovingly crafted wall of text you spent a day writing about a service you offer may only be read by 6% of your website visitors or less. The old copywriting rule of “never say it when you can show it” applies more than ever today.
Do you have an amazing team that feels like a family? Show photos of your team working and having fun together at a corporate dinner or doing charity work together. Do you have a high employee retention rate? Get a brief testimonial from a long-time employee and put that on your Careers page alongside a photo of them. Do you have a great introduction video you can include on your Home or About page? No? Then get to making one ASAP. The percentage of people who choose to watch video rather than read the text right next to the video is constantly increasing. Anytime you can replace long form written content with a photo, a pull-quote, an icon, a client logo display, a video, or an informative graphic, will benefit your website, and in turn your business.
Right about now you are probably asking yourself, “Well, what about SEO? Don’t you need a lot of written copy to do well on search platforms like Google?” That depends on how you define “a lot.” The minimum number of words you need per page for Google to not consider your website “thin” is 300 words. We recommend between 500 and 700 words though to retain optimal results. Written content should be brief and scannable, and written with SEO keywords in mind. Coupling your written content with visual content and breaking it up into smaller pieces, instead of having a wall of words, can make a huge difference. If a user looks at your service page for only 20 seconds, do they have a good idea of what that service is, how you perform that service, and how well you execute it? If not, then all of that written content is only doing half of the job required. Let your website tell a visual story as much as a written one and you will strike that perfect balance.
2. Know What Your Audience Is Looking For
Consider the last time you looked into a business you were interested in retaining services from. Perhaps you Googled some keywords or you received a recommendation from a business peer. Either way, you already had a strong indication of whether that business could perform the service you were looking for even before you visited their website. So what were you really looking for when you checked out their web presence? Chances are that you were looking to reinforce an initial perception of credibility, and you wanted to see if this business seemed like one you could have a great working relationship with. You probably wanted to see what type of vibe this business was giving off. You also likely wanted to know if you knew any of the people who worked there. And if you didn’t, what impression did you get when you read their bios or saw their head shots?
Nine times out of ten, the first page a B2B website user looks at after the Home page is the About page. There is a common misconception that the most important page of a B2B website is the Services page, or the Case Studies, or Work Examples page. Yes, those pages are important, especially for SEO. But in terms of reeling in new customers the About page is king (or queen). Ask yourself, would I want to go out with my About page after work and grab a couple drinks? If not, then you have some work to do.
Businesses want to work with other businesses, and people that they like. Business is about human interactions as much as it is about bottom lines, so great team photos and well written bios can make all the difference in driving users to your Contact page and reaching out to learn more. Being able to connect that person you spoke to over the phone or via email with a real face on your About page can be psychologically reassuring and begin the process of trust building. So put some thought into your About page. Keep it brief, informative, show potential customers who you really are, and follow it all up with a strong call to action.
3. You Have 15 Seconds To Make A First Impression
We see it over and over. A website user shows up on a Home page and within 15-30 seconds they either split, or head to your About or Contact page. That visitor has just made a snap judgment as to whether you are what they are looking for based purely on a quick scan of your Home page. You spent all this time writing, crafting, and investing in a full ten page website, and in 15 seconds a user thinks they know your business as well as they feel they need to in order to make what is probably an important business decision. This may seem unfair, but there is a good chance that you do this too. I know I do.
The fact is that a lot of your website’s visitors will only ever see your Home page. Moreso, an average of 42% of them won’t even make it to the bottom of that page. So, how quickly does your website inform users of who you are as a business? Can you get a good impression of your business without even scrolling down at all? Does your website exist to serve a specific purpose such as hiring, getting new customer leads, or generating email sign-ups? And does your website address those goals above the “fold”? The “fold” of a website is that area a user can see before ever scrolling down at all. If your website doesn’t address who you are or why that viewer has landed on your site above the “fold” then it may not be giving off the type of first impression that you’d hope for. So make your Home page, especially the top 1080 pixels of it, count.
Despite all of this, you still should not ignore those inner pages even if only a fraction of users ever see them. Just the mere existence of those pages and being able to see them as part of your above the “fold” navigation lends credibility to that first impression. So while you should let your Home page do the heavy lifting with a solid, scannable overview of who you are, be sure to treat every page of your site as a potential opportunity to connect with a future client or customer.
By Daniel Rizer
Outline by Raichel Jenkins