Converting Users on Your Website
There are many reasons why users don't convert as buyers or sales leads on B2B websites, and each company website has its own conversion killers that are unique to the business and its online audience. A Stanford University study found that 80 percent of prospects judge a business's credibility by website design features. Many of the negative judgments that people make involve unfriendly mobile design, lack of self-service options and hard-sell tactics that turn off members who prefer a lighter touch that lets people make their own choices of whom to visit and engage when they're ready to buy. Conversion rate optimization or CRO involves improving a website’s design, functionality and user experiences while eliminating those pesky attributes that kill user conversions.
Leading B2B Conversion Killers
It's useful for any company to make a list of conversion killers based on general best practices and features unique to the business. Rectifying the issues might take a website redesign, system integrations, customized features or fine-tuning content strategy. Median conversion rates for generic searches are only slightly higher than 2 percent across all websites. B2B websites receive fewer visitors than retail operations, so they've got to do a better job of converting users into leads by convincing them to sign up for emails or a newsletter, register for faster service, download a white paper or place an order. Some of the common conversion killers that all B2B websites face include:
- Forgetting the Prime Directive, Part 1 It's easy to get caught up in technical jargon, descriptions and specs when describing catalog items, but companies often forget to tell what the product actually does and what benefits it brings to users.
- Forgetting the Prime Directive, Part 2 Failing to ask users what they want to do next is the second reason that people get lost or confused. The sales funnel still exists in B2B sales--it's just wider and deeper. Asking for the sale when buyers don't have enough information also kills sales. Offer a product demo, further product information, company information or ordering information. Give prospects several options of where to go next to find answers to their questions. Limit direct calls-to-action to three, but don't forget to ask for the order at the right times.
- Difficult to Search and Navigate Websites that have gradually added new features over several years can become confusing and difficult to get around. The best strategy is redesigning the site with clean architecture. This not only helps users but also guides search engines more effectively. A Nielsen Norman Group study found that 51 percent of people couldn't find the products they were looking for in eCommerce site searches.
- Failure to Answer Questions Quickly People searching the Internet on mobile phones won't spend much time looking around for answers to their questions. Companies need to answer the basic questions proactively and include links for further information.
- Keyword Disconnects Visitors arrive on websites from keyword searches, PPC campaigns and other websites, which are usually guided by distinct keywords or concepts. It's important that landing pages clearly connect to the keywords in ways that are immediately obvious.
- Poorly Written or Jargon-Laden Content Content needs to address each customer in the type of language that he or she understands. Limit technical jargon to detailed specs pages, and write content that uses the kind of language the reader understands such as business, casual, professional, scholarly, formal or simple terms that unscholarly service buyers use. It's also important to write for people and not search engines.
- Promoting Features Instead of Benefits People buy benefits and not features. Buyers look for products that they can sell to their customers that solve problems or products that solve problems in their businesses and offices.
- Assuming Something Works when It Doesn't Language, descriptions, headlines and images might seem entirely suitable based on everything mentioned above, but that doesn't mean customers will arrive at the same conclusion. Testing is critical for refining content and marketing strategy. Any content can be improved, and a small increase in conversion rates can generate huge profits. Testing site displays on different devices can also uncover unexpected inconsistencies that need to be managed.
- Social Media Sharing People expect their companies--even business-to-business organizations-- to have strong social media ties, links for sharing and regular posts in their favorite channels that help to define the company. This is critical for building essential trust in an organization.
Best Practices for Increasing User Conversions
The first step in generating higher CRO rates is calculating user conversion rates accurately. There might be separate rates for different website goals such as registering, signing up for emails, downloading research and buying products. It's easy to set up specific goals using Google Analytics. Most companies look for conversion rates between 2 and 3 percent, but the following practices could help B2B companies achieve better results in a longer sales process than B2C companies get in retail sales:
Commanding attention in B2B sales involves answering questions proactively by getting the right message to the right users. The content needs to add value to a buyer’s search efforts, answer important questions, provide helpful links to product research and third-party resources, demonstrate products in short video presentations and provide valuable information about the supply chain, company, shipping options and other B2B concerns. In the B2B world, commanding attention means earning attention with service and relevant content. The hard-sell is never appropriate in today's social media culture where hard-selling is ignored.
Building Trust and Credibility
High-resolution images of a company’s offices, warehouses and staff, reviews, testimonials, badges and lists of civic organizations to which a company belongs can increase trust. Just having a well-designed, fast and functional website goes a long way toward establishing credibility. Connecting to third-party resources, publishing high-quality original photos, listing a company’s physical address and making the site easy to use also help to establish trust.
Designing Convenient Forms
The highest conversion rates for filling out forms are directly proportional to how much information is required. The more information required, the fewer the number of people who complete the form will be. Ask for only the absolutely essential information, and automatically fill in as much of the information as possible.
Providing and Testing Calls-to-Action
Savvy marketers test calls-to-action because even the smallest changes can generate significant results. Hubspot points to a company that illustrates the point. The brand switched from a direct CTA to one that asked users to download a white paper. The paper helped to establish credibility and build trust in the company by describing its operations and concept in great detail. This strategy was responsible for improving conversions by 105.9 percent. Testing CTAs might include checking to see if the right or left side of the page is more effective or whether changes in wording produces a big dividend. If the CTA involves filling out a form, remember that complex forms are big conversion killers. Keep the form simple, and fill in any information that the company has about the user automatically.
Improving Conversions with Expert Platform Development
Conversion killers vary among industries and B2B types, but analytics can help you identify the likely causes for cart and site abandonment. Each company has its own unique audience and marketing goals, so custom platform development and systemwide integrations are critical for automating analytical insights, segregating customers and developing profile-specific conversion strategies. The right developer can make the design and development process easier and involve the IT staff in the process. Empowering your staff with insights and training in best practices for B2B platforms ensures that they’re ready to adjust content and marketing strategies to achieve better conversion rates. Your website generates a wealth of invaluable data, and a fully integrated platform not only provides better user experiences but also delivers sound advice about how to increase sales and convert leads into customers.
 Ringsline.com: How Do People Evaluate a Web Site’s Credibility? risingline.com/pdf/stanford-web-credibility.pdf
 Unbounce.com: 10 Conversion Killers and the Hacks to Fix Them unbounce.com/conversion-rate-optimization/10-conversion-killers-and-the-hacks-to-fix-them/
 Econsultancy.com: Six common conversion killers from ecommerce sites econsultancy.com/blog/63886-six-common-conversion-killers-from-ecommerce-sites/
 Blog.kissmetrics.com: What The Highest Converting Websites Do Differently blog.kissmetrics.com/what-converting-websites-do/