Good marketing starts with knowing your customers. This can be challenging when marketing to the masses, but with B2B, you tend to know exactly who your customers are. The real work goes into understanding their challenges and motivations.
So we could say that good B2B marketing starts w
ith having empathy for your customers. Having empathy for your customers means understanding that they may be under a lot of tension or pressure. The purchases being made are often big-ticket items, and the wrong decision could have huge potential consequences. Your customers may proceed with caution and their decisions often involve a lot of research, meaning the purchase journey can stretch on for months.
When you’re thinking about your B2B website, it’s important to keep all of this in mind. How will your customers or potential customers be using your site? What kind of questions might they be asking, and are you answering them? Is the information you’re providing easy to find and easy to understand? Are you establishing trust and credibility that will help them feel secure in their decision? Are you making it clear how to proceed and how to engage with you? Start with that mindset, and you’ll be ahead of the game.
To get started, we’ll use some examples from Atlas Copco. The content and marketing team at Atlas Copco does an exceptional job across all of their web properties of helping their customers all along their purchase journey. (They are also one of our clients – special shout-out to the amazing Katie Falcon, who spearheaded most of these efforts.) Here are three high-level examples and tips to get you started:
Let’s ease into this before we start talking about UX and SEO. I want you to first think in terms of structure. Specifically, I want you to visualize a hub and spokes, like a wagon wheel. When you’re evaluating or planning out your site, it’s helpful to think about your main pages first…the hubs.
What are the most important pages on your site – or the most important to your customer? Are they product pages? Category pages? Pages about the industries that you serve? You’re going to want to identify these pages and then build them out with as much helpful information and content as you can.
In the case of Atlas Copco, it is a global company with many different types of products and many different models and configurations of each, serving many different industries. The company established a knowledge base page for each product type that serves as an information hub.
If you’re having trouble visualizing this, check out how the company has set up such a page for Nitrogen Generators. If you visit that page, you’ll see they have developed a robust “hub” for Nitrogen Generators packed with relevant information, like videos, white papers, resources, blog posts, and industry-specific application examples.
A lot of the content on that page is made up of what we can think of as the “spokes” – content or links that may live in more detail on another page, but are accessible here. This structure helps your users gain easy access to the information they are most likely to be seeking (UX), and this hub and spoke structure lends authority to these main pages with the search engines (SEO). It’s no surprise that this page ranks on the first page of Google for multiple keywords.
You knew I was going to say content, right? Your “owned” content should be a central part of your overall content strategy. If you’re spending more of your limited time or resources developing content for social media channels while neglecting your website, you probably want to reconsider your strategy. And if you’re struggling to get traffic to your site, or your bounce rate is through the roof, there’s a good chance you need to examine your content.
Start simple, with your specific product or services pages. Let’s get back into the mindset of your potential customer. Is your offering clear? Are your capabilities easy to understand? Are you providing evidence and credibility with case studies and examples? I see a lot of product pages with just a paragraph and a few pictures – if there are details your buyer might be looking for, this is the place to share them. I’m not suggesting that you pack your pages with repetitive or meaningless information, but Google likes long-form, authoritative content.
If your product or services pages have been addressed, a blog or resources section is a great way to build up your site’s domain authority and usefulness to your audience. A blog may seem like a lot to tackle, but the key is to just get started. Commit to a certain number of pieces of content per month. Can you leverage your product marketing people, sales team, and engineers?
Start a content calendar and plan your topics. If you know what your customers ask about most frequently, that’s a great place to start. You can also dig into your analytics and see what content is most popular on your site, and do some research to find out what your customers are searching for the most. You can also reach out to your industry’s trade publications and check out their editorial calendars – they know what the readers want. If you can manage to develop just 4 pieces of content per month, at the end of the year, that’s almost 50 pieces of evergreen content that you can leverage for email marketing, social media, and sales enablement…and, of course, your ranking with search engines just went up. What happens after a couple of years of this kind of effort? You end up with a super-blog. The kind of tool that becomes a top source of lead generation. Let’s say you’re a customer and still interested in Nitrogen Generation…some research will likely land you on Atlas Copco’s compressed air blog. It’s a wealth of relevant content that is reused for everything from social media to media relations, and it consistently generates new leads.
3. Industry and Category Pages
It’s easy to think of your site and your customer’s experience as a linear path….one might imagine that customers will come to their website’s home page and follow a logical journey, ultimately ending in a lead form, phone call, or request for a quote. But in reality, customers will only be viewing the parts of your site that are relevant to them. Their path and point of entry are unpredictable – they may find you via Google, enter your site from a search result for a specific product page or blog post and choose their own adventure from there.
So let’s back up, yet again, to understanding your customers. What are THEY interested in? If your company is product-centric, you’ve probably already thought about how to group your products, and we’ve already discussed landing pages (hub pages) for all your major product groups. But what industries do you serve? That is another very likely way customers will be doing their research. If our customers are still on the hunt for Nitrogen Generation, they’ve probably started searching for specifics related to their industry…like Nitrogen Generation for Breweries.
In which case, they may find themselves on a page like the example above – a page dedicated specifically to the brewing industry, featuring all the solutions that Atlas Copco offers, along with links to relevant case studies, etc. (some great hub and spoke content!). Of course, they have these types of industry-specific pages developed for all the different industries in which nitrogen generators are used, and it’s a great model to follow.
Those were some high-level concepts to get you thinking. Now here are two specific tips you might be able to use to further develop your B2B website:
You know your products and services inside and out. You live them and breathe them every day, which, as you know, can create blind spots. What’s clear to you may not make any sense to your customer. In real life, if you were sitting with your customer, you’d ask them lots of questions – so let’s use the same idea on your website.
How can you use diagnostic tools on your site to ask your customers the questions that you really want to ask them…and get the answers you really want to know? Chatbots are one interesting approach and maybe something to explore. Or you can wrestle through the logic of some diagnostic tools…something that will help your customers find exactly what they are looking for.
So let’s say our customer is STILL looking for the right Nitrogen Generator. They’ve already decided that they want to buy from Atlas Copco, which has provided them will all the content they needed along their journey, but they are just not sure about the details. Luckily for our customer, there is a tool to help: Spec Your Own Nitrogen Generator! (check it out, but let’s not spam their form) 🙂 Answering a few simple questions will help our customer narrow their search and provide Atlas Copco with all the information they need to send the customer a quote. Would something like this help your customers, and help you generate more high quality leads?
5. Customer Feedback
Let’s end this where we started…with a focus on our customers. Wouldn’t it be great to have their direct input on your website? If you have some great customer relationships, don’t be afraid to engage them and ask them to audit your site. What did they like about it? What was frustrating to them? In general, people are happy to help if they’re able (right?).
How else can you engage customers and potential customers on your site, and personalize their experience? Atlas Copco surveyed customers and other compressed air users to identify their top pain points. They identified such common concerns as quality (of air), air quantity, service, and efficiency as customer challenges, and they were then able to develop specific content for each of these challenges. Developing content based on direct industry and user feedback allows them to better serve their customers and potential customers through their website and beyond.
The reality is, getting prospects to your site can be difficult, involving precious resources like time and money. I hope that these thoughts and tips can help you bring more potential customers to your site, and keep them engaged so you can begin to nurture them as a lead. If you’re looking for help with your B2B website or lead generation, check out this page and drop me a line! You’ll find lots of these same concepts have been put to work on The Brandon Agency website, too. 🙂