We need to start taking B2B marketing seriously

In 2006 I wrote a short article about Jacob Nielsen’s research into the user-friendliness of business-to-business websites . His research showed that they score significantly worse than sites that are aimed at consumers. Only 58% of B2B sites got a pass – compared to about 70% of B2C sites.

B2B site defects at a glance

The main flaws of B2B sites:

  1. B2B sites give visitors poor access to information. The navigation and user-friendliness leave much to be desired and there is still a tendency to hide important information (white papers, company brochure, etc.) behind a registration form.
  2. The structure of many B2B sites is a direct reflection of the internal organizational structure: every department wants its own place on the site, preferably on the homepage. The frequent use of professional jargon also does not make it easy for visitors.
  3. Most B2B companies feel they don’t do e-commerce. There is therefore little ambition to put themselves or their product in the shop window: no or little convincing calls to action, no need to distinguish oneself from competitors through branding and no price information. The latter is missing on many B2B sites. Sometimes understandable, because many B2B companies provide customization. Still, prospects want detailed information, and a price indication is part of that.

B2B vs B2C

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The comparison of B2B to B2C sites is interesting. In online retail, no effort is spared to optimize information architecture, branding and user-friendliness, and every stage CMO Email Lists of development is thoroughly tested. After all, webshops have to work and the creators want to be sure that the site works. Logical: it is core business.

CMO Email Lists

How different it is in B2B, where sites often go for bargains. Although things have undoubtedly improved since 2006, I notice in my work that many of Nielsen’s conclusions still stand. My research over the past six months into B2B sites from home and abroad shows large – sometimes shockingly large – differences in quality. The majority scored poorly on the four criteria used : providing information, positioning, arousing trust and motivating to act. Here and there a favorable exception can be seen, but the vast majority are due for a major improvement.

B2B website must be better

B2B is all too often satisfied with a website that only works ‘a little’. The underlying causes are – to those who know the industry – known, but in my opinion no longer tenable.

1. Focus on product or service

Traditionally, the focus in B2B has been on the product or service. The quality of this – for the makers of course – should be sufficient to ‘tell the story’. Because the market in which they operate is limited, a simple presence on the internet is sufficient. The site only needs to say something about ‘our company’, ‘our products’ and ‘our services’. Marketing and communication (not core business) are considered necessary evils.

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