B2B Sites Suck, Forrester Says. Here’s How Marketers Can Make Them Better
B2B sites have the opportunity to engage buyers for the long-haul that many of their customer journeys require, but few rise to the challenge, finds Forrester.
The research firm writes of its latest report on Friday:
“Forrester’s latest evaluation of 60 B2B websites across 12 industries ... [shows] almost all of them scored poorly, because they fail to engage and produce content that buyers find compelling.
“Industries ranged from HR, security software, marketing automation, and even medical products, and findings reveal that not one industry average passed Forrester’s test. This is largely because the content focused only on companies’ capabilities, rather than their customers’ needs.”
So more than a decade after Cisco shifted its web policy to be customer-centric, most B2B marketers haven’t followed suit.
B2B marketing can be more emotional and human, as well as filled with creativity, according to The Drum’s take on Thursday.
“Creative marketers may shy away from B2B, deeming it corporate and creatively-stunted when compared with B2C but actually there’s scope to really make a difference in the world. But creativity and storytelling is no longer a luxury but an effectiveness opportunity for B2B marketers.”
Forrester’s Laura Ramos writes on June 24 about her report released on June 21 about what B2B firms need to do to improve their customers’ web experience.
B2B Content Should Help Customers Solve Their Problems
The abstract for “B2B Websites Still Fail Our Customer Engagement Test” reads:
“Corporate website content initiates or advances business opportunities when it demonstrates a deep understanding of customers and their issues. Unfortunately, most B2B marketers still struggle to produce empathetic content that compels visitors to read further or take action.”
What this doesn’t say is most B2B sites are still product- or service-centric. The brands care more about accomplishing their goals than those of the customers. They care if customers are aware of their brand, if customers see the differentiation in their products or services — not in solving their customers’ problems.
Ramos writes in her blog post:
“If you talked about yourself the whole time, did little to relate to or engage with your date, and shared long, boring stories about what you do and what you think ... it’s guaranteed that you would never see that person again. So why would a prospect revisit your website if it behaves the same way?”
The B2B Site Is Often No. 1 for Brand Awareness and Consideration
B2B marketers need to do enough customer research to know how buyers find them, do their own research, and decide to purchase.
“This same study shows that B2B websites surpass digital advertising, search engine optimization, sales enablement, partner enablement, or events for early-stage demand-gen effectiveness. This means your website is likely to be the first place where prospects will get their first impression of your company and offerings.
“And what a sad impression you are making!”
Develop Empathy for Your Buyers
- Answer prospects’ questions before trying to sell them on you.
- Learn about your prospects before assuming you’re the right fit for them. It’s like a date—you can’t force a match. Ramos writes: “To produce content that is attractive to your intended, you have to show that you understand them (really) and share their concerns and issues.”
- “Go from ‘be interested’ to ‘be interesting.’ Asking visitors who they are, keeping track of what they do, and inviting them to share feedback are easy ways to make sure your content is hitting the mark. Top-scoring marketers organize their content experience around customer sizes, industries, and roles to show that they understand the unique needs of the segments and buyers they can best serve.”
- Position yourself as an industry thought leader, not just a brand leader. Ramos says the best B2B marketers “position their company’s website as a resource for the customers’ businesses, not just their product line.”
- Why are prospects visiting your site? What business problems are they hoping to solve? Do you provide answers? Ramos says: “Top-scoring websites use content to demonstrate that marketers and sellers have a deep understanding of customers’ business challenges, desired outcomes, and competitive landscape. They use narrative, video, and imagery to get to the heart of what it takes to tackle difficult business problems — and achieve results that have a measurable impact on the buyer’s business.”
- Learn from failure (and success). Test to see what works best.
What do you think, marketers?
Please respond in the comments section below.
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