A B2B website is a workhorse with multiple responsibilities — but its main goal is to convert prospects into customers.
Successful B2B websites handle everything from promoting brand awareness to conveying thought leadership to showcasing the organization’s products and talent. But at the end of the day, you want all of those things to push potential customers towards conversions.
Developing a B2B website is a long and often arduous task, with multiple stakeholders competing to prioritize their respective interests. The most successful B2B websites are those that keep the customer as the focus of the design process.
By understanding their customers’ wants, needs, and pain points, companies can better anticipate the customer journey across the site and create an experience that’s more likely to end in conversion. Here’s how to create a B2B website that caters to the customer.
Identify your goals and how you’ll measure performance
Before you begin the design process, identify the action(s) you want your customer to take and the key performance indicators (KPIs) you’ll use to measure success. Those desired actions will depend on your specific services and products. For example, a SaaS company might want customers to schedule a demo of their software. A consulting company might prefer that customers fill out a contact form.
More generally, how do you plan to use your website as a tool for your brand? Do you want to increase brand awareness and grow overall traffic to your site? Is it more important to promote your organization’s thought leadership to a core group of prospective buyers? These overarching goals will inform what metrics — like overall pageviews or whitepaper downloads — matter most to you.
Once you’ve defined your goals, determine the KPIs you’ll use to measure how the website is helping you achieve them. Such KPIs can include things like:
- Pageviews, which indicate brand awareness and overall traffic volume.
- Time spent on the site, which indicates how well your content is resonating with visitors.
- Goal completions, which measures the number of visitors who complete your desired action.
- Email sign-ups, which indicate sustained interest in your brand, product, or messaging.
- MQL to SQL conversion rate, which measures how many marketing-qualified leads become sales-qualified leads.
- Content downloads, which demonstrate interest in your company’s perspective.
- Lead form abandonment, which helps you pinpoint the moment leads decide not to pursue your product or service.
For example: if your ultimate goal is for a customer to get in touch with your sales team, you might track email sign-ups and form completions. If you want to quantify the success of your marketing campaigns, you might track content downloads and MQL to SQL conversion rate.
Map the buyer journey
Maximize the chance of conversion by mapping your buyer’s journey across your site. To do that, you need a deep understanding of your customer, which you can develop by conducting user research, developing buyer personas, and understanding the overarching B2B buying journey.
Understand the B2B buying journey
Unlike B2C buyers, who complete a transaction simply by clicking “add to cart,” B2B buyers have a more complex purchasing process. According to Gartner, “the typical buying group for a complex B2B solution involves six to ten decision makers,” and the process isn’t linear. Often, you’re not just selling to a single site visitor — you’re selling to that visitor, and to their boss, and to their boss’ boss. That means you need to create an experience that captivates the original visitor while anticipating the considerations of other people.
It also means it may take several visits to your site before a customer converts. The complexity of the purchasing process elongates the B2B sales cycle — which is, on average, 102 days. It’s important to understand this as you map your buyer’s journey across your site.
When you know your customer’s process, key decision-makers, and FAQs, you can design your site with these considerations in mind, so you can answer questions and provide the most compelling information up-front.
Conduct user research
User research helps you develop an understanding of your customer that’s informed by data, not assumptions. This, in turn, allows you to create a website that provides solutions your customers really want — not just solutions you think they need.
Analyze customer surveys before you begin designing your website. Review user feedback given during in-person conversations, via phone and email, and/or through social media. Conduct a search-log analysis to identify the phrases and keywords your customers are most likely to use when searching for your product or service.
Armed with this information, you can develop a website that more confidently bridges the gap between your customer’s needs and your company’s solution. Plus, a better understanding of your users helps you identify common goals and pain points, so you can develop relevant content and experiences for multiple user types.
Develop buyer personas
Once you identify users with similar goals, you can develop buyer personas that allow you to create messaging, content, and site experiences targeted to your most important prospects. According to Hootsuite, “[t]he idea is to think about and speak to this model customer as if they were a real person. This allows you to craft marketing messages targeted specifically to them.”
For example, instead of simply saying, “we need to gear our message to procurement,” you might develop a fictional persona: Paula Procurement. In developing this persona, you’ll put your user research to work. The final product should include demographic information, including physical locations and age ranges of typical customers in this role. It should also include information like pain points, personal goals and priorities, background information, and preferred communication styles of the persona.
When you have this information readily available, you can offer a more bespoke experience for the types of site visitors who are most likely to convert. For example, you can identify necessary components for your site that will meet the needs of your key buyers, such as unique landing pages or a content series specifically geared toward a given persona. When you understand a persona’s interests and communication styles, you can tweak your site content and messaging so it’s sure to grab their attention.
Unify your brand and messaging
A unified design system makes creating a cohesive, on-brand website easier and faster.
Brand consistency is important. In a 2019 Lucidpress survey, nearly a quarter of respondents reported that “inconsistent branding creates confusion in the market.” A design system is a dynamic set of reusable components, principles, and guidelines that give designers and engineers a shared language for consistent product and web design.
To be most effective, websites should not be designed in a silo. A good design system makes it easier for your design and development teams to work together, which ultimately expedites development of your website. A design system, particularly one created in a codeless environment, reduces duplicate work and helps designers work more efficiently.
To create a design system, start by auditing your existing products and designs to identify on-brand visual elements and flag any inconsistencies. This will help you define your design language, including the emotions you want to evoke in your customers and the visual elements — such as color palettes, typography, iconography, and imagery — that you will use to do so.
Once you’ve defined your design language, you can build a pattern library of common design elements, which makes it easier for your web design team to construct web pages and components quickly and consistently. Finally, be sure to create documentation that provides guidance on how and when to use various design elements so your teams know how to use and maintain the design system.
By defining your design style and messaging, you can more confidently select the right template for your site.
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Organize and optimize content and UX
Make sure your website is easy to navigate. Here’s how to prime your site for conversions by focusing on the user experience.
- Devise a smart layout. Use your customer research to determine how to organize your site in a way that quickly addresses your customer’s most pressing pain points and directs them to your solutions.
- Reduce customer clicks. Optimize your information architecture and structure your site to reduce the clicks needed to help a customer get where they want to go.
- Design with SEO in mind. SEO should influence content development from the beginning — not just retroactively. Everything from your headers to your images should help core customers easily find your site in search results.
- Optimize conversions. Get your customers to convert faster by identifying what they want from you and removing any obstacles that might stand in their way.
- Prioritize accessibility. Make sure your website is accessible to every customer. By designing with accessibility guidelines in mind, you can create a better UX for every potential customer.
Gather inspiration from B2B companies that have already designed effective websites. For example, Kajabi’s website packs an above-the-fold punch. It speaks directly to the user, showcases multiple value propositions, trumpets a testimonial, and includes two prominent buttons prompting the user to complete a goal — starting a free trial. This smart layout reduces customer clicks and optimizes conversions right away.
Test, launch, and review
Conduct a thorough pre-launch testing and review process of your website to ensure it works as you intend it to on launch day and beyond. A website that works well will be more likely to delight your customers and reflect positively on your brand.
Customers have little patience for bad, buggy, or slow website experiences. According to Kissmetrics, “a one-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.” Issues that interfere with the user experience can’t happen on launch day.
Optimize your customer’s experience from day one by thoroughly reviewing and testing the site pre-launch. Be sure to:
- Inspect design elements for errors and inconsistencies.
- Thoroughly proofread content.
- Test the functionality of any integrations, widgets, downloads, or forms.
- Check all links and fix any 404s.
- Test the site on various browsers and mobile devices to ensure a positive experience for every user.
- Test load speed to ensure all pages load promptly and won’t keep impatient customers waiting.
While it’s critical to test the site before it launches, testing doesn’t end once the site goes live. Post-launch, designate time to review and tweak the site at multiple touchpoints. That way, you can identify and fix any bugs, broken links, or errors early and then continue delighting your customers.
Use a design mindset to bring your B2B website to life
The primary goal of a B2B website is to convert prospects into paying customers. Take the time to create a website that celebrates prospective buyers, makes them feel understood, and illuminates their path toward a solution.
When you put the user at the center of the B2B web design process, you can drive impactful experiences that lead to growth, trust, and long-lasting customer relationships. And when you build your B2B website on Webflow, you’ll have the power and flexibility to iterate on your users’ website experience — without writing a single line of code.