Everything you need to know about Optimising your B2B Website for Lead Generation
Read Axon Garside's definitive guide to optimising your B2B website to increase site visitors and get them to convert.
Published: 20 Oct 2020
20+ minutes read
Your B2B website should be the most powerful asset you have within your business. It should work harder than your best salespeople and be a significant part of your lead generation efforts.
Gone are the days where the B2B website could simply be a shop window. It’s not simply a vanity exercise. A properly-functioning B2B website needs to educate your prospects, help your sales team with qualification and provide a seamless user-experience to turn prospects into contacts into customers. Best of all, it can (and should) do this 24/7.
We’ve put together this quick guide to help you get a feel on what’s needed to optimise your B2B website and leverage its full power.
Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)
Low cost, quick fix for B2B websites hit by Covid
Before going too deep into this document. We know that the last 6+ months have caused their own unique set of problems. Many of you reading this are coming to terms with the impact of Covid-19 and your B2B website has taken a hit as we all learn to adapt and, hopefully, thrive.
Our experts have put together several key considerations which can be implemented quickly and provide you with some uptick to combat the uncertainty.
Is no one seeing your B2B website?
Are you struggling to get people on to your site?
Alternatively, you’ve got quite a good conversion rate on your website but would like to get more people through that system?
The solution is the same. Improve your traffic and your visibility on the web.
Identifying how much traffic your B2B website receives
Understanding how much traffic your B2B website receives and where these visitors come from should be your first priority.
To do so, check out Google Analytics.
If you don’t have Google Analytics (GA) set up on your website then do so immediately. Setting up your account is straightforward, requiring you to:
- Name your Google Analytics account
- Enter a website name
- Add your website’s URL
- Choose an Industry Category
- Select your time zone
GA provides an often overwhelming level of detail but at its core, it provides valuable insight on how many people visit your website and how they’re doing so.
Not only will Google Analytics tell you who is actually hitting your B2B website, it can tell you a whole lot more about demographics, region, interests, browsers used, general behaviour. This can give you insight into the kind of people finding and visiting your site.
For example, if you’re a construction company based in the NE of England and you’re receiving a lot of traffic from Newcastle, Australia, you know that something needs to be amended.
Your content management system (CMS) can usually help you with web traffic analytics too. Take Hubspot, for example. Hubspot is far more than just a CMS, but this element of the tool can help you pinpoint where your visitors come from. With this information you can begin to build a strategy and plan which helps you augment the channels which provide the least value.
Getting enough people to your website is of paramount importance to any functional lead generation focused, B2B website. If you have no one there, you have no one to educate, inform or sell to.
Fortunately there are a lot of things which you can do to improve both the quantity and quality of the traffic hitting your website.
Here are the top 5 ways of improving traffic:
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) remains one of the most important tools available to a marketer to make their B2B website shine in a sea of competitors and alternatives. Getting on to the first page of the major search engines is hallowed ground and a massive boon to any business.
The minutiae surrounding SEO changes quite regularly but the core principles remain pretty consistent. Most simply:
- Set your goals
- Identify relevant keywords associated with your business
- Research these ideas and work out their viability
- Align your keywords to your web pages
- Rework web content to cater for the keywords
- Implement into your content strategy
- Continue developing content to assuage the algorithms.
It’s best to start at the beginning. Even choosing the right keywords can be difficult but fortunately we've got you covered.
SEO is not a quick fix!
This is a long-term project but, if done correctly, it’s likely to have the biggest impact on your B2B website’s ranking. Like water, most people will look for the easiest route to their solution. If you rank high on search engines, ideally first page, you're far better placed to get that visitor through the door, so to speak.
Ask yourself, How often do I go to page 2 of Google?
Ranking first can net you anywhere between 25 - 40% of all traffic for a particular search term or key word.
This has probably just whetted your appetite for SEO knowledge. We’ve got you covered with our comprehensive look at SEO. For a deeper dive into the world of SEO for B2B websites, consider reading our comprehensive guide.
“Should we be using social media for our B2B lead generation?”
Despite us now being firmly in the 2020s, we still regularly hear this question.
The answer is, of course, a resounding yes.
How can you avoid such a vital aspect of your marketing, especially if you’re struggling to get people to visit your website? If you have an avenue that is uncharted... start charting it.
Nearly 80% of marketers said that they saw increased traffic with a little as 6 hours a week invested in the right sort of social media work. The right sort of social media work consists heavily of LinkedIn, which provides over 46% of all social media traffic to B2B websites. Even YouTube has to be considered. It’s generally considered the second largest search engine. If you have video content which isn’t also housed there, you’re missing a massive opportunity.
The reason social media is often overlooked is that B2B businesses who are just starting out with it often fall foul of thinking the social space is just another avenue to pitch. Only churning out messages focused on a hard sell which get no traction, marketing and sales lose interest and the project is abandoned.
Social media, particularly in the B2B space, is about showing that you’re a thought leader in your space, building brand awareness and being there for when that prospect is ready to buy.
“Are my B2B prospects even on social media?”
Yes. There are variations by channel. It’s estimated that nine out of ten companies are on LinkedIn. In the last year, more than half of B2B buyers have used LinkedIn to help them make key decisions during the buying process.
Even Facebook, a channel which has traditionally been seen as poorly performing for B2B businesses, has its advantages. While the younger generation have found new ways to play, a lot of the older generation remain on Facebook. That means that, for the most part, the CEOs, the decision makers, the buyers are all still on Facebook.
If you still need more convincing that social media is a tool to benefit your B2B website lead generation issues then read our blog, Six reasons you should be using social media for B2B lead generation.
So, what should you do?
Start with a simple strategy. Something achievable that will allow you to maintain constant usage and then, as you start seeing website traffic increase and begin to understand what works for your audience, you can develop it.
We recommend a simple 3 step process:
- What does success look like for you?
- Listen to & monitor conversations on social channels
- Be consistent with your brand voice
- Select your most suitable channels
- Set how often you’d like to post
- Vary the content and tone by channel and audience
- Automate & schedule posts
Based on the principles above, we’ve got a more comprehensive guide to developing a social media marketing strategy. Read it here to help you start driving traffic to your B2B website and generating leads.
Link building is the process of gaining hyperlinks from other websites to your own, and it’s a great way to boost your B2B website traffic and look good in the eyes of the search engines. A link from a highly-visited website with a good domain ranking could not only lead to a surge in website traffic, but potential customers.
If the link is from a relevant website to your own - even better. The leads you will get from these types of links will be genuinely interested in your product or service, and therefore more likely to engage with your site and even make a purchase.
There are 9 ways, as identified by Axon Garside’s link building experts, to start building valuable links for your B2B website.
- Creating link-worthy assets and outreach (AKA link bait)
- Guest blogging
- Broken link building
- Local citations
- Directory submissions
- Sponsored content
- Answering questions
- Link reclamation
Read more about these 9 areas and how to implement them here.
“Are all links born equal?”
No. Search engines can frown on the use of certain links and penalise the website. As a result, it’s best to be cautious about dropping links in the following areas:
- Links to your website in other site’s blog comments
- Directories that aren’t moderated
- Guest post signatures
- Unmoderated forum links
- Links from irrelevant or inappropriate sites
Paid Social & Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
Whereas the other items in this guide take their time, paid social & PPC, will work instantaneously… that is, if correctly targeted. Not only is digital advertising extremely quick to produce results, it is scalable and predictable. A godsend when you’re looking to accurately forecast results & ROI.
The obvious downside to these avenues is the ‘Paid’ & ‘Pay’ aspects. Costs can quickly mount and become unsustainable.
With that in mind, it’s best to consider the ‘dos and don'ts’ of paid social.
- Set realistic goals
- Carefully consider what type of ad would work best for your company
- Consider the buyer journey and how an ad fits within it
- Ads can be highly targeted by demographics… utilise this. Be personal.
- Experiment and be smart with your approach
- Use a broad range of platforms (at least until you know what works for you)
- Be too sale-orientated
- Be static. Your adverts need to evolve and remain relevant
- Be too reliant on this approach
This is the holy grail if you’re looking for rapid, almost immediate results. If you need more convincing that it works, check out our blog - Paid Social Media: Does it work?
Email remains one of the most effective means of communication and proven to bring people to your B2B website.
As a B2B organisation, you should have a stable list of contacts that you can send updates to, such as blog subscribers. Then, whenever you post a new blog (or any other piece of content) you can send an email to all contacts who will then be directed to read the piece on your website. To take it one step further, you can segment your email lists so that content is only sent to contacts who are likely to take interest. This way, not only will you boost your B2B website traffic, but visitors will be more willing to be nurtured by your business - meaning you can work to convert them into paying customers. Email is particularly useful as part of an inbound marketing campaign, as you can create lists based on specific buyer personas.
Unfortunately, there is a caveat associated with email. It’s not always a feasible solution. With GDPR, obtaining an effective database is more complicated than it once was. The upside of this is that the people you do have within your database should be relevant, interested parties who, at the time, may not have been ready to buy. The downside is that developing a rich database of contacts often requires good traffic and conversion on your B2B website.
So that covers a sizeable chunk of options when it comes to boosting traffic to your website. However, getting a decent level of traffic is only the beginning.
You may have users coming onto your site regularly - but is that all they’re doing? If users are simply entering your site, having a look around, then exiting swiftly - this is a major problem.
In order for your B2B website to generate the results you want, visitors need to take action. They need to convert. Let’s take a closer look at what this means, and where you can improve.
Are you getting people on your site but they’re not converting?
If you just jumped to this segment, it might still be worth casting your eyes over the first section of this guide. You can never have too many people visiting your site.
Glad to hear that you’re getting good traffic on to your site. Less so that you’re struggling to get value from those that visit your B2B website.
We’ve spoken about conversion here, but what does it actually mean?
A web conversion is classed as when someone completes a desired action on your site. In doing so, they show intent and, usually, identify themselves. This can include signing up to your blog, filling a form, sharing content on social media, or even purchasing a product.
If you’re getting a lot of visitors to your B2B website but they remain anonymous, then you need to be improving your conversion. Luckily, there are proven techniques to employ which will go a long way to helping you out.
But before you can improve anything, you have to understand what you’re looking to improve. That’s your conversion rate. To calculate your conversion rate, you divide the number of conversions by the number of visitors and multiply that number by 100 to get the percentage. With that percentage in hand, you can get to optimising.
Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)
Conversion rate optimisation is the process of increasing the number of people converting on your B2B website.
Like many things in inbound & digital marketing, CRO is a cross between science and art. Data should lead your experimentation, but sometimes gut feeling and a spark of creativity will help really turn your conversion rate around.
Which pages of your B2B website could benefit From CRO
Here are four areas of your website that have the potential to largely benefit from conversion rate optimisation.1. Homepage
The homepage is normally the most viewed page and first port of entry on your website - making it aa prime candidate for CRO. Without overloading potential contacts & customers, you should clearly emphasise offers or sign up buttons. Give people a reason to stay or remember you.
Additionally, chatbots which offer to support your visitors as they tour your site can help improve the browsing experience.
2. Pricing Page
Experimenting with your website’s pricing page can be the difference between a sale and a rejection. Altering how prices are viewed (pricing intervals), making it easier to read more information about services and products, or providing easy access to speak to experts or get a personalised quote call-to-actions (CTAs), can make or break a deal.
It should go without saying that your blog is key to improving your conversion rate. It’s a landing point for so many people looking to gain thoughtful content, and it provides an opportunity to persuade them to stick around. Using CTA buttons or subscriptions to provide further insightful content are a must on your blog articles, as they allow you to find out more about your visitors.
Landing pages are built almost exclusively to get your visitors to take action. They are regularly used to gate content or encourage people to register for an event, and as such, have to be prominent in your optimisation strategy. Landing pages are usually pretty easy to edit, to A/B test, and to experiment with.
This leads us smoothly into the next section.
The language of CRO is the language of experimentation. Come up with a hypothesis, test it, and use the data to influence your future experiments. The process is evolving and iterative. If you fail, you fail quickly, but you have the data to avoid it in the future.
Sometimes data supports how you amend a B2B webpage to optimise conversion. Other times it can feel like the most arbitrary changes - such as changing a CTA button’s colour - can alter the dynamics of a page. That’s no bad thing, you just have an audience that prefers red buttons to blue ones.
Perhaps the most common form of experiment is the A/B test.
An A/B test is about splitting a web page, for example, into an A and B version. Slightly altering the second version of the page to test a hypothesis against the original. You determine the timeframe for the test and then use a CMS like Hubspot, which has this functionality integrated within, to randomly assign visitors to either page A or B as they enter.
After the given period of time, if the B version of your page has received more interest then you amend the webpage accordingly. The best practice and most systematic approach would be to alter a single facet of the page each time. This enables you to precisely identify which variable has impacted the conversion rate of your B2B website.
Think of A/B testing as a means of proving or denouncing your hypothesis and a valuable tool to support your actions when gaining buy-in from stakeholders.
Probably the most obvious question to ask when discussing CRO is…
Do you have anything with which a visitor can convert on your website?
The most common means of getting someone to convert is the use of calls-to-action (CTAs). CTAs do what they claim to do… get people to act. They can come in many forms… such as forms, ‘more’ buttons and social sharing buttons to name a few.
So, do you have any?
Without any form of CTA across your B2B website then you may as well not have one. Plain and simple, you're missing out on revenue.
If you’re looking for a great introduction into CTAs and the types which could add value to your site then Hubspot is a great place to start.
If you’re looking to improve what you have then I can tell you that at Axon Garside we follow these four rules:
- Keep CTAs simple and make them clear
- Give people the choice (where possible)
- Make sure they’re an unmissable proposition
- Be bold and stand out
Optimising your CTAs by language, location and device in order to deliver a more personalised experience is an indispensable tool available to marketers.
Heatmaps such as Hotjar give further insight into how visitors interact with your website. With heatmaps implemented on your site, you can see where people choose to click or how far down a certain page they choose to scroll.. If it’s not immediately clear why this is an indispensable asset for improving your conversion rate, let’s drill down further.
Clicks on a heatmap show intent. Most of the time those clicks are going to correspond to a button or hyperlinked text but not always...
Take this example from one of our blogs. There’s been a sizeable number of clicks around the term ‘B2B website’. If the data suggests people want to know more about a certain topic - appease them. Just like we have with this giant repository.
Next, consider the scroll maps. If you can see that 80% of your audience make it 50% down your page and then there’s a noticeable drop off by the time you reach the 60th percentile, where should you place your CTA button?
It’s worth implementing heatmaps across your B2B website and assessing the placement of your CTAs. You could find out that your less than average conversion rate is in part down to the placement of your forms and CTAs.
Heatmaps provide some of the science and data to substantiate your experimentation and are a quick and easy way to rectify conversion issues on your website.
For the end user, chatbots are increasingly the norm across B2C and B2B websites. In many cases, they are the first ‘person’ a lead or prospect will ‘talk’ to from your business. It’s your first chance to make a good impression.
As the technology matures, people are becoming far more comfortable with bots. If programmed properly, people know they’ll get the answer they need without the hard sell, which they may otherwise get from direct contact with a marketer or salesperson.
The semi-automated nature of bots give users the chance to get the information they want without battling your website or salesperson. At the same time they can offer you:
- Lead Qualification.
Chatbots, should you let them off their hypothetical leads, are there to BANT (budget, authority, need and timeline) qualify or gather the information you need to turn a visitor into a contact, or contact into MQL. Even if you don’t get them to fully qualify a visitor, there’s valuable data to be gleaned from the products or services they request more information about.
- Schedule Meetings
Link your bot to your consultants’ and sales people’s calendars to provide a seamless, real-time way to book meetings and schedule appointments.
- Improve customer service and response times
This has a knock-on effect on your conversion rate. If your prospects have queries resolved and questions answered quickly through a bot in the buying process they’ll remember it, and could recommend you to their peers.
Best of all. They’re cost effective and entirely scalable! For a more in-depth view of how chatbots works and how they can support your CRO initiatives check out our blog.
Content Strategy & Messaging
Content has to be at the forefront of any conversations about your B2B website’s conversion rate. Ask yourself the following questions:
Are you regularly creating content?
Arguably more important as a driver of traffic to your site but consistent content development has a part to play in conversion to.
Well writing is like a muscle. The more you do it the stronger you get. The better your writing and knowledge on a subject matter is, the more trusted you will be, the more conversions you will see. That said, there’s no point writing for writing’s sake. Much more valuable in terms of conversion is to ask yourself…
Is the content you already have optimised for conversion?
If you’re regularly sharing content on social media platforms and distributing content via email, your blog pages will be some of your most visited pages on your B2B website.
Are you making the most of people hitting these pages?
- Include CTAs on all blogs
Your blogs should end with calls-to-action for a relevant eBook or offering. You know there’s an intent, they’re reading about a pain point on your website. Don’t let them bounce off your site.
- Make it easy for your blogs to be shared
Social sharing buttons are CTAs too. In the short term, they may seem less useful than a filled form or requested quote but you should never underestimate the power of peer advocacy. If the reader deems it worth sharing then they must also know people with similar pains and problems.
- Review your best performing content
Use your CMS to identify which blog pages convert best. Does that align with the most visited pages?
If it does then consider writing more around this subject area, there’s clearly interest.
If it doesn’t then identify the differences between the pages. The most visited pages likely have subjects (or titles) which intrigue the reader but what’s stopping them from converting? Try rewriting them or mixing up the content a bit to get results.
Is your messaging suitable?
Businesses often pivot internally and fail to reflect this on their website. This is especially true during the middle of 2020, as organisations look to react quickly and adapt to the new normal. Make sure you reflect this clearly on what is the shop window to your organisation.
Language that worked well previously may no longer work as well with your new value proposition or USP.
Mixing up content is crucial.
Reading dry, text heavy content will begin to bore even the most ardent bibliophile, and will completely dissuade the time-pressed buyer you’re trying to attract. If you do need to use a lot of text then break it up, separate out sections, and make sure that it is navigable with a contents page. If content is lubricant which will help your visitors convert, then make it easy for people to engage with it.
Cross reference your content styles and format with your personas and the buying stage. Many businesses lose patience with a content approach because they repeatedly post blogs and fail to see any progress. The following isn’t a rigid format nor is it exhaustive but is usually a pretty good guide to types of content where they are most effective.
- How-to guides
- Ebooks - which subsequently provide a great opportunity to convert visitors into leads by gating (placing behind a form) the eBook.
Keep it light. Keep it helpful. Use this to support the prospect’s journey as they identify their problem.
- Case studies
- Product/Service specifications
- Free Trials/Samples
Contacts are now looking for who will help them with their pains. Make it obvious that your offering can help.
Final decisions are taking place. Help yourself stand out. Can you attract people with a reduced price or attentive customer service/pre-sales?
Once you start mastering which formats resonate most with your audience take your personalisation one step further and think about implementing smart (or custom) content across your site.
What is smart content?
Smart content is the ability to alter content of your B2B website based on the interests of the visitor or previous browsing habits. As with most things to do with CRO, smart content helps to create a more personalised experience for the visitor. Removing content that doesn’t interest them so they can focus on what they really need.
It sounds difficult but there’s technology out there to make this sort of personalisation relatively pain-free. For example, users of HubSpot Marketing Hub Professional and Enterprise customers, can create smart CTAs, forms, and rich text modules on landing pages, website pages, or in email.
Reviews & Success Stories
You’ve managed to create a personalised experience for visitors to your website, how else can you improve your conversion rate with content?
User generated content!
People want to hear from people you've worked for. They want to hear how you did from the client themselves. Even if case studies usually need client approval, you can be creative with the story. Reviews and content created by the client - which you can't edit - paints a truer reflection of your business relationship.
Help convert new visitors by letting other people wax lyrical about your work.
Congratulations. You made it to the end... or you didn't and you've skipped to the end to download it and read at your leisure.
Either way, there's a lot for you to unpack and implement here.
If you're finding that you can't implement large swathes of the advice here... If you can't alter CTAs yourself nor put user-generated content front and centre... then I'm afraid to say it could be time to start from scratch.
Having a website which can adapt and evolve with whatever the times and business throws at you is indispensable in 2020 and not just because of the year we've had. If you don't have a website which works for you in this way, your competitors will.