Originally written for Site Point; October 7, 2002; By Justin Hitt, Strategic Relations Consultant, https://iunctura.com/
If your website primarily serves a business to business (B2B) marketplace, you already realize these buyers are different from the average consumer. Your site may also have different objectives depending on the product or service you provide. To cultivate B2B relationships with your on-line presents you will need to consider the following strategies.
Business relationships are fundamentally different from consumer relationships. B2B relationships are primarily developed around the needs of a group, measured primarily by return and financial wants, as well as increasing a company�s capital. In contrast, a consumer sites provide entertainment, addresses the needs of an individual, and are primarily measured by enjoyment and personal wants. Business relationships may contain personal relationships; however, their primary purpose is to serve the needs of a third party and the individual making the purchase.
Your B2B visitors come to your site to get something that will benefit them. In the case of purchasing a product, a B2B visitor is more likely to need additional information to justify the purchase. Provide your visitor the information they need to make a decision, plus materials to help them sell the idea to those who sign the check. Give the visitor what they need to convince others buying from you is a good idea; you can do this by sharing the benefits of your product more than talking about your company.
There are five key types of business relationships: partner, employee, customer, community, and industry. More relationship types are available depending on your supply chain model or distribution relationships, but you should concentrate on these five first. Know the needs of each type of business relationship as it pertains to their reasons for visiting your website. If your web sites purpose is to sell a product, then concentrate primarily on the customer and industry type of relationships.
It is not practical to expect your visitors to go right to the pages that you have designed to solve their problems, so provide a simple way to guide them to the content they want. Develop site indexes that address groups of relationship types while using navigation to guide visitors to the parts of you site that address their needs specifically. As a visitor navigates your site, the materials they receive should quickly get right to addressing their specific relationship type. Think of your website as a sorting mechanism to lead visitors to the information they need while categorizing them according to your sites purpose.
While visitors navigate your site, you should be providing them exactly what they came for without distracting messages. It is very likely B2B visitors are in the middle of all their own concerns, looking for a specific answer to a want or question they have. Help them get what they want first, and then make an offer. When your site clearly conveys what your visitor needs to get what they want, they tend to come back. It is important to align your sites purpose with the visitors wants.
Since it takes effort and resources to design your site around a B2B visitors wants, you should focus on just those visitors who advance your sites objectives. The targeted nature of business relationships promotes getting right to the point. Focus exclusively on the needs of your target audience even if it means you exclude everyone else. This makes good business sense because these visitors are likely to engage your company. You should not distract your idea visitors with extras, get right to their wants (nobody says you cannot have more than one B2B site.)
You do not have to change anything about what you are doing right now. Just start tuning the way you communicate with your business to business visitor by trimming out the fat. How do you know what to trim? Contact and survey your customers for what they would like to see on your site, as well as, what they like about your site. Then contact members of your target audience developing a profile of what they want, need, and expect from the type of site you provide. Shape your implementation around the purpose of your site considering methods as they support your business objectives.
To be successful in serving a business to business marketplace these strategies will get you started. Remember, you do not have to provide everything on your site, just those things that support the purpose of your site. If you must, publish other content on other people sites, do not clutter your site with things that distract your visitor from their wants and your sites objectives. It will only frustrate the business visitor and harm the relationship.
A simple formula to follow in building B2B site structure and page design is as follows:
A. Qualify (index pages, top screen). Anticipate the reasons for the visit, provide navigation grouped by purpose of visit or type of visitor. Depending on the amount of content you have, you could organize by both. Where the B2B visitor clicks is who they are.
B. Educate (inside pages, page body). Provide more information about what the visitor is looking for, bringing them further into your site teaching them about benefits. Do not distract the visitor with sales messages or any non-contextual links.
C. Action (content pages, bottom page). After you are sure, the visitor got what they came for, make them an offer. This offer can be a sales request, more information, to join a newsletter, or to be contacted by a sales person.
Wrap your general site navigation around the formula above and you have your design for a single page. As the reader gets further down the page, they become more qualified for the action you want them to perform. You give the reader what they want, bringing them come closer to you what you want.
These sites do a wonderful job building a relationship with the visitor in a strictly business to business marketplace. Noted is each functional area by (A) Qualify, (B) Education, (C) Offer.
Some of these points of interaction could overlap or intersect, but all primarily take the visitor from a general looking for information to a specific offer to provide the information. This whole process happens while generating demographic information about visitors through their navigation paths or point of response generation. Many B2B sites do not encourage visitors that the business is interested in the long-term relationship of each visitor. If you are on that list, then you will probably know by looking at your income statement.
These web sites are great to model because the entire visit is about the visitor -- most content is oriented towards the needs of the B2B audience in which they serve. To many site just talk about how great they are, what they can do, the latest stock prices, and more things most visitors do not care about. If you serve your visitor first, they will come back and buy.
Whether you are building a community, sell products or services, or even report on industry news -- What can you do to keep those business to business customers coming back while giving you valuable information to serve them better?
© 2002 Justin Hitt, All rights reserved.
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Justin Hitt, consultant and author of "Cultivating Your Best Customers, Part I of II: How to Get more Profits by Cultivating Your Best Customers" available online at https://iunctura.com/re/cultivate-topten