Four ways to maximize B2B engagement with web design
As the sophistication and values of leading consumer brands permeate every aspect of our lives, these influences trickle down into the decisions that business leaders make about their own brands.
Buyers of professional services are essentially people buying the services of other people — and of the brand that they represent. Staying competitive with them means providing a speedy, seamless, and simple transition from the point of discovery all the way through conversion while providing plenty of relevant and easily absorbed information.
What’s new in B2B web design?
Websites for professional services firms have been central marketing features for a long time. What’s changed is how your clients use the web. Technology’s penetration into our daily lives has increased, and people have responded by becoming more discerning. Today’s users are less willing to spend time on websites, and they place a high value on ease of use.
Whether those professionals you’re targeting are business leaders, lawyers, managers, or engineers, your goal is the same: to convey the value of your team of professionals to tilt the buyer’s decision in your favor. Your organization’s web presence needs to be designed to meet the expectations of increasingly savvy digital consumers to avoid being overlooked.
Even the term “corporate website” suggests something old and faded in today’s market, yet firms ranging from Edgewell Personal Care to Boston Consulting Group are leading their marketplaces with interactive user experiences that convey their brands’ values and the emotional connection they hope to establish with their B2B consumers. The principles they’re applying to their web outreach are winning them engagement and providing great examples for anyone who wants to do the same.
Four crucial elements of professional website design
There are a few key strategies for designing B2B websites that catch the attention of buyers of professional services:
1. Optimize for speed. The web has evolved a great deal over the last decade, and so have user needs. Broadband service has grown in both speed and its number of subscribers, creating an expectation for a near-instantaneous experience. Users are often deterred when a site takes too long to load — in fact, JupiterResearch found that 33 percent express frustration after just four seconds. Slower wait times can damage credibility and result in lower traffic and revenues.
The busy, high-level decision makers you’re targeting have limited time to explore your site, so their focus will be divided. Keeping engagement high means knowing what your visitors are looking for and providing it upfront without any extra legwork.
Your web engineering team should be able to overcome the hurdles by optimizing page content and navigation for instantaneous loading. Strategies like reserving large images and video for the parts of your site where you expect deeper engagement can also help prevent loss of attention.
2. Focus on user experience. Overall user experience is critical to creating conversions, and speed is just one aspect. Your site should make intelligent use of animation, image, and proper information hierarchies on its pages.
Modern B2B websites are turning to more engaging interactivity to provide infographics, annual reports as branded experiences, and sophisticated recruiting tools. Powerful photography and infographics, alongside simple, quick interactivity, can grab the eye of more visually oriented users, as well as those with limited time to read lengthy prose.
3. Provide clean, simple navigation and search features. Effective web design can manage the tension between a user’s need for information and the demands on his or her attention. Although every page should contain relevant content, too many choices can lead to analysis paralysis, causing senior decision makers to lose focus and go elsewhere.
Featuring the content your target audience members are most likely seeking allows them to read it more quickly and explore related content on your site. Avoid overwhelming visitors by leading with a clean, open landing page with the navigation options most pertinent to your audience. Menu bars and featured content strategically position the material that your audience wants to see most, and a structured search will deliver relevant results.
You can also increase engagement and build brand familiarity by linking to your thought leaders’ bios and their recently published pieces or connecting to ideas from big names like Bloomberg.com and NYTimes.com.
4. Optimize for mobile. Because you’re targeting busy professionals, your site likely draws about half of its traffic from mobile devices. Business professionals are constantly on the go, and they’re more likely to come to your website via a colleague’s referral email, a link on social media, or an email marketing campaign than any other method. Don’t lose engagement by failing to focus on the mobile web experience.
2016 is shaping up to be the year of the mobile device in marketing — in a recent DemandWave survey, nearly two-thirds of B2B marketers said they plan to invest in mobile-responsive design this year. However, the remainder didn’t express a strong intention to adapt to the mobile market, so there’s still time to get ahead of the curve.
To capture more of that traffic, make sure your mobile design is just as attractive, readable, and accessible as the desktop version, with all of the same functions working smoothly. More firms are looking to mobile-first design to accomplish this, but don’t leave your desktop users behind just yet.
There’s a lot of room to stand out from your competition with a strong web and mobile presence that both delivers critical information about your company and promotes an image of expertise and professionalism. With more business being attained via the internet, a smart website makes your professional services team look smart — whereas a slow, clunky, and buggy site will make your firm seem slow, clunky, and buggy.
Getting the right design in place will not only increase client engagement, but it will also reinforce positive attitudes about your firm and increase its visibility in the marketplace.
Jaron Rubenstein is the founder and president of Rubenstein Technology Group. His experience, technical expertise, and passion for design empowers creative partners to identify opportunities, manage complex projects, and maintain the integrity of their work from concept through launch. Rubenstein Technology Group is the leading technology partner for top creative firms. Brands ranging from Bloomberg to Harvard University to Nizuc have benefited from his design-led engineering focus on empowering user experience.
This article was originally published on b2bmarketing.com