Does investing in digital strategy pay off for small B2B businesses?
If digital is not part of your B2B’s current marketing strategy, you definitely need to read this. Like right now.
Today we are functioning in a world of commerce that puts mobile first. And for good reason; according to a recent Google report, in an average day, more than 27 per cent of mobile users only use a smartphone to connect. 27 per cent!
Are these people your buyers? Maybe. Maybe not.
But the fact is consumers spend nearly 170 minutes on their smartphone each day while working, eating, commuting, lounging and every micro moment in-between. All of these people (and this includes you and me) demand pain-free web surfing. (What do you do when you can’t quickly find what you’re looking for on someone’s site? You leave!)
The silver lining: massive opportunity!
When the wall between physical retail stores and online sellers came crumbling down, along with it came buyer behaviour as we knew it—and old methods for marketing and sales. Digital has changed everything: how businesses advertise, how buyers find and assess businesses before engaging with a sales person, how buyers comparison shop, their level of price awareness, and so on. The list is long.
On the bright side (we’re glass half full people) this has created opportunities galore for companies to differentiate and grow. Amazon is a perfect example of this. It came out of nowhere and in just a few short years ascended to top dog among online retailers thanks to an incredible digital strategy that includes an excellent experience for shoppers (one click to buy, free same-day delivery, etc.).
And even brighter: in B2B we have a lot of wall flowers, so our digital party is just heating up. This is the time to get out ahead of your competitors and become the dominatrix you’ve always wanted to be. Err, you know what we mean.
The importance of making your website display on all devices
Here’s where things get a tad more complicated, but stick with us. Think about the devices you and your family use in a given day. Google reports that more than half of users rely on more than once device on an average day. It’s likely you have a tablet, in addition to a phone and desktop. And do you expect to be able to navigate websites using all three devices? Of course you do! You didn’t spend all that money on a schmancy ipad for nothing!
If your site doesn’t work well on all types of devices, you’ve got a gaping hole in your mobile presence. To further complicate things, each of these devices presents a very different user experience, with varying screen sizes, layouts and interactive touch points, so we can’t stress enough the importance of working with pros when you design your digital strategy.
The difference between mobile and responsive websites
Let’s dig a little deeper into screen sizes. If you aren’t well versed in all things digital, here’s a brief on the difference between mobile websites and responsive websites:
A thing of the past, a mobile website is a condensed version of your desktop website designed to be viewed on a smartphone. They work by auto-detecting if the visitor is on a phone or desktop, then sending mobile visitors to the mobile version of the site (for example, “m.yourdomainname.com,” rather than “www.yourdomainname.com”). Mobile sites tend to have smaller images, thumb-friendly buttons and links, and content delivered in a stacked format so it is easy to scroll and see. And they don’t usually have as many pages as a desktop site. But again, they are a thing of the past. Today the only way to go is responsive.
A responsive website is designed for use on desktops, tablets and smartphones. Instead of creating a separate version of your website exclusively for smartphones, the content on responsive sites adjusts to fit the screen dimensions of the device. If you are on a desktop and reduce the size of the browser window by dragging the corner, everything on the page resizes and shuffles around automatically. This is the rich uncle of the mobile site.
So in a nutshell, your site needs to work on all visitors’ devices—responsive is the only way go. Do you have a mobile site, or a responsive site? If your site isn’t responsive, Google won’t like you very much. And trust us, you want Google to like you.
Content is crucial for B2Bs
Chances are, when a mobile consumer searches for a business, product or service, they’re looking for one or two pieces of information and they make their selection in mere seconds. They might be looking for a product price, a review, or article on a particular subject matter. Just like mamma always said, your words matter, so pick them carefully; ie. you have to be deliberate in the words you use on your web pages because if you haven’t included the words your buyers are searching for, you won’t be among Google’s chosen ones for page one search results. (How often do you go to page two, let alone page four or five.)
If you haven’t done much in the way of search engine optimization (SEO), we can pretty much guarantee you that you can increase the number of potential buyers who find your site by including key terminology about your product or service and your industry expertise in your website. If you want more info on how to optimize your content for search engines, read this article that we wrote.)
We don’t mean to over simplify things. There’s a lot to SEO: keyword strategy, where and how to use keywords on your site, descriptions you write for photos and to describe what’s on each page), and so on and so on. It’s basically a luddite’s worst nightmare. That’s why you hire a marketer who knows SEO (most don’t) or an SEO specialist (good ones are hard to find). Our advice: ask us to introduce you to our favourite SEO vendor—he’s a gem.
Give context to your content
Ready to take it to a whole new level? Provide your content in the correct context. The marketing terminology for this is “personalized content”. Are you providing your content at the right time, on the right channel and on the right device for each consumer? Is the context curated based on that person’s preferences or browsing history?
Yes, personalization is for the pros, but there are tons of tools out there that make this happen. Picture this:
Your company, ABC Company, sells safety helmets for mining, construction and fire.
Scenario one: a lead interested in buying your helmet returns to your site for more information. The homepage has a photo of a fireperson wearing your helmet, and a generic headline about job safety. You have a testimonial from a mining company, and a case study about a construction company.
Scenario two: the potential mining buyer lands on your site. Because we got their information when they downloaded our ebook during their last visit, the photo we show them is of a miner wearing our helmet; the headline says: “Welcome XR Mining Company! Did you know our helmet reduces injury in mines by 25%?”, and the case study is about another mining company we’re already working with.
Which site will have a better chance of converting that lead? Investing in personalized content increases stickiness with contacts, leads and clients. #NailedIt
Have an authentic voice
From simple business listings on Yelp and Google My Business, to active social media profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn, your company has a lot of arms. While sales is typically one-to-one, marketing is one-to-many and reaches far and wide. This is a good thing—who doesn’t love engaging contacts, leads and clients—but it requires forethought to be done well. As you extend your company digitally, consider how to portray the company uniformly. All the arms are attached to the same body, after all. How will you respond to customers’ comments and questions? What if they voice a concern in a public forum? Your digital strategy should include how you’ll embrace your online audience.
The bottom line for B2Bs
If you don’t have a digital strategy, it’s too late. Just kidding! But seriously, you need one ASAP. Having a strong, well-thought-through digital presence is necessary for B2Bs to thrive. But be prepared: digital requires ongoing work. As consumer expectations, and ability for businesses to deliver, advance, so too should your digital approach. At the risk of sounding ominous, fail to adapt and you’ll find yourself in your competitors’ shadows.