A Professional Look = Customer TrustBecause B2B customers are professionals, they are looking for companies who have the same quality of professionalism, so the "look and feel" of your B2B site is an important way to demonstrate that quality. You must develop customer trust online or you won't be successful. In order to develop a trusting relationship with B2B prospects and customers, your site must make the statement that your company is reputable and knows what its doing. First and foremost, you must go to great pains to make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors on your site. One misspelled word could cost you a great deal. Secondly, your site should look like you spent a great deal of time and money on bringing your great product or service to the e-world.
Easy Does ItWhen people talk about a great site, one of the qualities I always hear is "it's so easy to navigate." Take great care to ensure that your visitors can easily find what they are looking for on your site, especially your contact information (without which you could be seen as a fly-by-night operation). Product information, white papers, newsletters, and anything else important to your target audience should all be accessible from your home page. Remember, your visitors have a job to do and are much less likely to dig through your site than B2C visitors would be. To your B2B visitors, the ease of navigation on your site is also a reflection of how easy it will be to conduct business with you.
Faster Is BetterI can't stress this enough: B2B customers don't have as much time to spend online as their B2C counterparts do. Time is a very valuable commodity. If your site takes too long to load, your visitors will probably go somewhere else. The June 12, 2000, issue of Fortune featured an article ("How to Lose a Customer in a Matter of Seconds") that explains that the average person will wait 8 seconds for a page to load before leaving the site. The more efficiently your pages load, the deeper your B2B prospects will go into your site, the longer they will stay, and the more likely they will be to buy.
Get to the PointB2B customers know what they are looking for and want to find it immediately, whereas a B2C customer may search the Web in a leisurely way without a specific target in mind. Making sure your site's B2B message is clear will help your B2B customers quickly find what they are looking for. Your Web content should be straightforward and clear, allowing anyone to easily understand the message your site is trying to send. One of the best ways to stick to a single message without losing anything important is to briefly tell your visitors the benefits of surfing your site. (As we all know, customers also buy benefits and not just products, and a good example of a benefit is a site that's direct in its message.) In the case of your home page, less can be more.
Your site acts as the magazine cover for your company. It will reflect your message and must be appealing in order to result in sales. If you create a home page that conveys a professional, clear message and provides information quickly and easily, you're setting your company up for success in the B2B market.
Examples of Effective B2B Sites