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Is Your Web Site Helping or Hurting Your Business?

November 17, 2015 | By David Snider

  • Our research shows that 71 percent of all b-to-b marketing inquires come via a company’s site – up from just 58 percent in 2010
  • The three key objectives regarding Web site visitors are attract, engage and convert
  • Learn the keys to Web conversion optimization to discover what sets apart optimized sites from information delivery sites

The b-to-b Web site is vitally important as a source for new leads, to convey important information about products and services, and, with modern marketing technologies, to monitor and interpret digital interactions between businesses and their site visitors. In fact, our research shows that 71 percent of all b-to-b marketing inquires come via a company’s site – up from just 58 percent in 2010. 

As a consulting director at SiriusDecisions, I often work with our clients on a Web site audit, Web site conversion optimization (WCO) is the Web site’s capacity to attract, engage and convert visitors. It is our view that every site falls somewhere along a WCO continuum, with “information delivery” on one end and “fully WCO enabled” on the other. Information delivery sites don’t have any visitor tracking, and all content is open and available; fully WCO Enabled sites track every interaction and visitor profile information is collected at every opportunity. (Please note these are theoretical anchors – I’ve never seen a website that does not contain elements of both information delivery and WCO).

So, where does your Web site fall on that continuum? Not surprisingly, the answer is “it depends.” Among other things, it depends on the personas you are marketing to, the characteristics of your transactions (e.g. average selling price, buying cycle complexity) and whether or not your commerce is digitally enabled. Let’s evaluate this with regard to the three key objectives regarding Web site visitors: attract, engage and convert.

Attract

Regardless of visitor personas or transaction characteristics, attracting visitors is universally important – at its heart is search engine optimization (SEO). Our recent b-to-b buyer study showed that search is the number-one way C-level buyers conduct research, followed by peer references. Beyond SEO, attracting visitors becomes a little more of an art form. What is the optimal search engine marketing (SEM) approach to supplement weak SEO results? Will other tactics, like content syndication, referring Web sites or targeted content ads, be effective? The answers depend on your unique situation.

Engage

Visitor engagement is highly dependent on your audience personas. In all cases, it’s important for audiences to find compelling content aligned to their specific stage in the buyer’s journey, but beyond that, the decisions about what content to present and when, and whether or not it is “gated,” require real thought. For example, an electrical engineer needs technical spec sheets and understandably becomes frustrated if they are hard to access. However, he or she will likely provide important lead information for a whiz-bang Excel-based modeling tool to help with a new product design. Similarly, a senior person in an organizational development role can provide important lead information in order to receive a deep, cerebral paper about techniques to motivate others, but will be disappointed if it’s just a shallow piece of marketing collateral. Strike the proper balance by analyzing your audiences, developing content that aligns to their interests and buying stages, and making gating decisions that reflect both key inflection points in the buyer’s journey and perceived content asset value.

Convert

Conversion is the coup de grace of the WCO process. In its simplest form, conversion is the moment that a prospect becomes a customer. However, the modern marketer should consider other relevant types of conversion and measure Web site effectiveness around those events. Conversion may mean a frequent, anonymous visitor is revealed through a lead form, or a known visitor reaches a level of Web site activity to score out as a sales lead, or an initial purchase on the site through e-commerce. Understanding and measuring various conversion points on your Web site will optimize its performance.

If you are struggling to understand how your Web site is performing, check out the research brief “Optimizing B-to-B Web Site Conversion” to learn about the 10 core elements that distinguish optimized sites from information delivery sites. To arrange for a WCO audit, please contact your account team or SiriusConsulting™.

David Snider

David is a growth-oriented marketing professional with 25 years of experience in marketing management, product development, operations and finance. Throughout his career, he has been involved with businesses exhibiting rapid revenue growth and has focused his efforts on business strategy, market segmentation and demand generation. He has won several awards and recognitions including the 2009 Turn Around Marketer of the Year from the Rochester Chapter of the American Marketing Association.
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