Minding Your Own Business On the Web
Most companies are moving their businesses online because of three advantages (Say, 2000). The first is procurement, where B2B companies are buying services and supplies that are needed to start their business. Then there is process integration, where companies select specific areas for businesses to focus on. The third advantage is selling online. One of the greater attractions and nature of the web is cost-effectiveness and frequent and informative updates. Information is also delivered and accessed quickly on the Internet, which also is time-efficient.
The above mentioned are not the only benefits that the Web has to offer for B2B companies. The Internet helps to create stronger brand value for companies as businesses can build relationships by collaborating with their audience inside the company with web-enabled services (McKinsey, 2007). Connectivity and innovation are enhanced on the Web with peer-to-peer networking, which helps to foster a strong network of people, which is more difficult to do with traditional media. Statistics Canada reveals 36% of businesses believe it helps them reach new potential customers, while 35% believe they have better coordination with this suppliers, customers and/or partners (StatCan, 2007).
B2B companies online profit from digital media metrics that allow them to track sales easily. Metrics, such as I/Count, SiteTrack, WebTrends, and Interse Market Focus, help determine how successful strategies are working for a particular company (Nowell, 2008). Even more beneficial is customer feedback and usability testing (Bannan, 2009), which allows companies to assess their performance in relation to their customer demands. Lastly, one of the most important traits on a website is original content (Web Reference, 1999). The Web allows a company to dominate a certain area in the business with their own credible information and allows them to demonstrate credible in a variety of forms, including text, graphics, audio and video.
What makes a great web site for Business-to-Business marketing?
A great website has focus, a clear purpose and helps the user to act (McGovern, 2004). Vertical tables help to organized content efficiently, allowing for easy navigation and simple reading on the front page (Web Reference, 1999). The idea is to create a well-structured, clean and simple layout that requires little effort on the reader’s part to search for information, making them less likely to feel confused with a complicated website. This also helps the business to create and customize content to a desired target audience. However, businesses must be careful to not bombard the reader with an information overload. Users should be able to find what they want in two-clicks, which can be achieved through strong, contextual search engine optimization (Bannan, 2009).
One rule to remember is that white space is your friend (Spark Design, 2010)! Trying to cover every topic may leave your readers feeling overwhelmed and tired from too much content and confusing graphics. A website should be user-friendly in order to allow users to interact with your side. Good usability is thus key to designing a website. An easy navigation menu and information hierarchy should be ordered in primary, secondary and tertiary importance (Spark Design, 2010). Usability depends on what you would like you’re your customers: would you like them to purchase something? Do you require information from them? Would they like to download something? The design and usability of your website must first be established with your purpose in order to achieve what you want from your customers and for your business.
Content is one of the more important aspects of the company’s website. B2B website must provide clear, concise product and company information to foster brand equity and encourage conversation among customers (Bannan, 2009). The goal is to promote trust with the audience through transparency, which will hopefully encourage users to return more often to your website and provide feedback. According to Howard Kiewe, senior research analyst at Info-Tech Research Group, “marketers should be asking their website visitors what they need and want to see, and also providing commentary around those needs.”
C2C (customer-to-customer) conversations on business websites are occurring more often. More rich-based applications on websites are providing interactivity on the front end of the page that are giving power to customers in their better interest, argues Kiewe. This is helpful in getting immediate customer feedback. Company websites are also starting with user input in order to facilitate conversation not only between customers your business but between other readers with anything from technical advice to business strategy (Bannan, 2009).
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“What makes a great web site?” (August 3rd, 1999). Web Reference. Retrieved June 7, 2010 from http://www.webreference.com/greatsite.html
McGovern, Gerry. (February 2, 2004). “What makes a great web site?” New Thinking. Retrieved June 7, 2010 from http://www.gerrymcgovern.com/nt/2004/nt_2004_02_02_ms.htm
Nowell, David. (2008). “Marketing on the Web.” Nowell Enterprises.
Say, Philip. (August 21, 2000). “The B2B Primer.” ClickZ Today.