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The Anatomy of a High Performing B2B Website

Your website is never going to be perfect.

Sorry. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your website is never going to be perfect because there are no perfect websites.

There aren’t even finished websites… They’re ALWAYS a work in progress no matter how many times you tweak the colors or slightly change a design.

Since there is no such thing as perfection or done, we’re not going to be able to show you an exact formula for building a great B2B website.

We can, however, tell what we’ve learned building more than 200 websites over the past 10 years so you can maximize your chances of building a high converting website.

In today’s blog post, let’s take a look at key elements of a high performing B2B website.

Our list will include:

  1. Customer Driven
  2. Contains Social Proof
  3. Visually Appealing
  4. Easy to navigate
  5. Content Ready
  6. SEO Ready
  7. Secure

Let’s get to it!

Customer Driven

Chances are that you don’t know your customer quite as well as you think you know them. Before you install WordPress or write a single line of code for your website, you need to gain a truly deep understanding your customer personas.

By understanding who your customers are and what their pains are, you’ll be able to create websites that speak to the specific pains of your customers.

Check out ChartBoost’s website:

By taking the time to understand their persona’s, ChartBoost was able to build a website that:

  • Has consistent messaging
  • Speaks to a pain that mobile advertisers have
  • Directs users to take a specific action (Sign Up Now)
  • Offers users a relevant content upgrade

Download Your FREE Customer Persona Template

Social Proof

Have you ever signed up for a free trial of a product simply because a known industry expert gave a glowing testimonial?

I know I have.

That’s the power of social proof.

By showing site visitors that industry experts and giant corporations are using your tool, you send an almost subliminal signal to their brain saying “Hey Google is using this… it must be worth a shot!”

What types of social proof can I leverage?

There are a few types of social proof that we’ve found work really well.

 

Testimonials

A tried and true method of providing social proof is customer testimonials.

A simple and relevant testimonial from a known company or expert can speak volumes. Check out a testimonial for ChartBoost.

You may not know exactly who Ville is, but if the CMO of the company that brought me Angry Birds likes the tool, then I’m going to take it seriously.

 

Customer Logo’s

Sometimes referred to as Trust Icons, customer logo’s on your website can be an easy way to let people know about a few of the big brands that you work with.

The persona-driven site that the team at Grappos built show’s the names and logos of some of the biggest companies in wine.

 

Case Studies

A good case study that takes a deep and data-driven dive into how a piece of software or a service helped a customer get results is still one of the best forms of social proof.

B2B companies should leverage their biggest names and success stories to create engaging case studies.

 

Organization Logo’s

Is your company part of the Better Business Bureau? Are you PayPal certified? HubSpot certified? Maybe you were featured in TechCrunch?

You can use “Trust Icons” to help prove the legitimacy of your business

 

Killer Results

If your company has been getting killer results for your customers, you need to show off your stats.

Check out how McDonald’s has been doing this for 50 years

McDonald’s has been telling people for years how many people it has served as social proof.

Buffer does a great job of showing off their user count number similar to McDonald’s and combining it with some great logo’s

Visually appealing

The first thing people notice about a website is the look and feel. Buyers will not feel comfortable engaging with a website that doesn’t look professionally done.

So what makes a great looking website?

Relevant imagery

Images are a powerful element of any website.

They can galvanize your site visitors into following your mission, or they can turn your visitors off and make them bounce off your page in 3 seconds.

So you need to use your images wisely. Stock photography is a great and inexpensive option, but make sure they align with your brand.

Let’s take a look at how Grappos does it.

The imagery immediately gives the impression that Grappos is a high-quality, luxurious brand that happens to sell wine.

Every image transmits a subconscious message to your audience. Sometimes the result is not what’s expected. Achieving the right balance between images and copy on a website has been shown to increase conversions by 29%.

Easy Navigation

An easy to navigate website is paramount to building a high converting website. In fact, more than 75% of site visitors say that ease in finding information is the most important element in website design according to a recent HubSpot study.

There are two types of site users: browsers and seekers. Browsers will “wander” through the site, often working left to right across your top navigation. They are passively consuming information and want to be able to window-shop. Seekers are after one thing and want to get there as fast as possible. Your navigation needs to support both user styles.

Accessibility

It’s 2017.

If your website isn’t mobile optimized then you need to start to optimize your website right now. Over 58% of all browsing time is spent on a mobile phone or tablet in 2017, and your site needs to cater to these users.

Your site needs to be compatible with multiple browsers and devices, or risk losing out to forward-thinking competition.

 

Content Ready

“Content marketing is the only marketing left” – Seth Godin

Successful B2B brands are using content marketing to educate and nurture their prospects through the buyer journey.

Visitors may be coming to your website to check out your features, view use cases, or learn best practices. Engage your site visitors and feed them helpful content in the form of articles, webinars, case studies, and downloadable content upgrades.

Build a great blog design

The goal of your blog is for your visitors to digest your content. So you want to design your blog to make reading as painless as possible.

This means have clear typography with a high contrast between the color of your text and the background color.

Ensure that your responsive design also carries over to your blog. Ideally, your text will automatically resize for visibility and readability, your images will scale, and your reading experience will be smooth.

The team at AutoPilot has this down to a science:

Their mobile optimized blog is readable and easily digestible.

Don’t restrict content to blog pages

If you’re only putting your content on your blog pages then you’re missing out on thousands of opportunities for visitors to view your content.

You can include content on your persona focused solution pages, feature pages, and even your home page.

See how CloudCheckr does it:

 

SEO Ready

If you want to drive thousands of visitors to your website for free consistently, SEO is still the best long-term traffic strategy. Even with offline campaigns, paid acquisition, and social media

campaigns, a huge percentage of your new site traffic should come from organic search.

On-page SEO

This consists of optimizing critical elements of your page for the search terms and phrases you are targeting. The most common elements include headings, sub-headings, body copy, image alt-tags, links, and anchor text. Without these elements, search engines don’t know what to rank your site for, and competitors will consistently beat you to Page 1.

Technical SEO

The unseen parts of your page are some of the most critical for search optimization. Title tags, meta descriptions, mobile optimizations and page speed are site elements that you can’t see but will sink your SEO traffic in a heartbeat. Don’t know what a robots.txt file is? You will when it stops search engines from finding your site, costing you 80% of your traffic.

To ensure that your SEO strategy is sound, make sure that you think about your SEO strategy from the start of your web project.

 

Security

Not focusing on security when building your website can be a critical mistake. We’ve faced all of these attacks, helping our clients fend off issues and maintain continuity. We’ve found that the best approach to security is two-pronged.

Begin Well

To create a good result, begin with the best base. Use the most up-to-date version of WordPress and carefully chose the plugins that you need.

Carefully scrutinize your plugins to ensure you know the security impact and long-term maintainability of each of your plugins.

Secure websites will utilize a professional web hosting service to manage the OS and supporting systems like AWS.

For the best performance and security, we recommend utilizing a Web Application Firewall like CloudFlare or Incapsula in front of your web layer. This will help prevent attacks like a DDOS from ever reaching your infrastructure.

Manage Securely 

Once you get to launch, you’ll need to monitor and patch security and performance at the system and application level to maintain the highest levels of security. This means continuously updating WordPress’ core software and supporting plugins.

 

Remember to always be testing

As we said at the beginning of this post, there are no finished websites.

These best practices are great starting points that you can use to optimize your website, however, always carefully track your conversions and test your ideas. It’s up to you and your marketing team to find the winning combination for your visitors.

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The 4 Strategies this Series A startup used to grow leads by 54% in 6 months

How do you take a company fresh off a $50M series A that has been growing 25% quarter-over-quarter to the next level?

This is the question that Steve Hall, VP of Marketing at CloudCheckr faced as the company entered 2017.

CloudCheckr, which makes cloud computing easy for companies like NASDAQ, Lockheed Martin, Intel, NASA and hundreds of other enterprises and service providers by simplifying their cloud infrastructure for public users, had experienced enormous growth since its founding in 2011 and earned $50M in funding to accelerate that growth even further.

The company had been using a mix of content marketing, paid acquisition, SEO, and offline marketing to help them grow the number of leads they generated every quarter, but in order to meet the expectations that came with their latest round of funding, they needed more exponential growth.

Today, we’re going to walk you through the 4 tactics that CloudCheckr used to grow leads by 54% in just 6 months.

We’ll cover

  1. Website optimization
  2. Putting content in context
  3. Opening the top of the funnel
  4. Building microsites

Alright, let’s get started!

Strategy #1: Optimize your website for lead generation

Before CloudCheckr did anything else, they took a step back and had an honest internal conversation about their website.

What they found was a functional website that left a lot to be desired.

Navigating the site was difficult, messaging wasn’t always consistent, SEO best practices weren’t always enforced, and worst of all, it was a time-consuming pain for their marketing team to use.

It was time for a redesign.

Fortunately, they approached our team here at HUSL to help them build a persona-driven web experience.

How they did it

Our approach started with taking a deep dive into their customers. So the first thing we did was work together with CloudCheckr to build target personas.

Step 1: Extensive User Research to Define the “Who”

Every great website starts with a deep understanding of your target market so you can understand how to create value for them and provide a high-quality customer experience.

We started by looking at past customers of CloudCheckr to better understand what their behaviors, motivations, and pain points were. From there, we identified who their primary user groups were so we could conduct deeper research to better understand users needs and specific objectives.

Once we determined who the key user groups were, we set off to learn as much about them as possible so we could tailor the website’s UX to these core groups.

We did this through qualitative and quantitative research that included:

  • User Interviews to have deep qualitative discussions to understand what a user’s needs are and what they’re looking for when going to CloudCheckr’s website    
  • Stakeholder interviews with CloudCheckr’s marketing and sales teams to better understand what they are hearing directly from customers when they speak with them.
  • Analytics review of CloudCheckr’s website to understand vital demographic information like age, devices used, location, and common acquisition channels

Once completed, the CloudCheckr team had customer profiles that resembled these:

 

Step 2: Built clear and consistent messaging

After understanding CloudCheckr’s target persona’s, the CloudCheckr team went to work on building the right messaging for the website.

CloudCheckr knew that their home page should clearly state what they could help companies with, what the benefits of CloudCheckr were, and how they have helped other brands.

They created copy that consistently highlighted CloudCheckr’s benefits and showed off its slew of recognizable customers.

The result is a focused web experience:

 

Another beautiful example of a landing page that converts exceptionally well is Unbounce. They ensure every site visitor understand that Unbounce is all about building landing pages that convert quickly.

 

 

In just a glance you can clearly understand that Unbounce is a tool that helps users build landing pages that drive conversions, just like site visitors can easily understand that CloudCheckr is a cloud management tool that helps enterprises and service providers save money, reduce risk, and ensure governance at scale.

CloudCheckr repeated this messaging clarity and consistency throughout the entire website.

Step 3: Drive users to the most wanted action on each page

When building a conversion focused website, you should always keep in mind what action you want site visitors to take on your site.

The goal of CloudCheckr’s marketing website has always been to drive marketing qualified leads through inquiries. These inquiries could be demo, webinar, eBook, whitepaper, or newsletter signups that come from any point on the website.

CloudCheckr’s persona-driven website segmented the tool according to the persona, and each persona had a different buyer journey. So each page had a CTA designed specifically for that persona.

Check out how they structure one of their solution pages:

 

 

Here we see a clear call-to-action that the public sector would find the most appealing. The main CTA points to the AWS Marketplace where users can signup and directly install CloudCheckr for a free trial.

As you scroll down the page, you’ll also see offers for specific whitepapers that are compelling to the public sector.

By building a persona-driven website, CloudCheckr was able to build specific offers for specific users and give them the best experience and content possible.

 

Strategy #2: Put Content in Context

CloudCheckr has always had a robust content strategy that includes weekly blogging, webinars, white papers, and ebooks. Their content strategy proved to be effective, however, site visitors would only see this content if they were on one of CloudCheckr’s blog pages.

Instead of continuing to silo this content, the HUSL team built CloudCheckr’s pages to display the most relevant content.

For example, CloudCheckr’s cost and expense management page displays several articles that speak directly to site visitors that would be interested in expense management.

 

 

This “related resource” section gives site visitors a great opportunity to continue to engage with CloudCheckr even if they aren’t quite ready to engage in a demo.

Additionally, on many of CloudCheckr’s blog posts, they have the opportunity to opt into webinars, events, and eBooks from the blog pages.

 

 

By funneling more users into engaging content, CloudCheckr is giving itself more opportunities increase MQL’s

 

Strategy #3: Open the top of the funnel with SEO

Once CloudCheckr had a robust website that drove visitors to clear CTA’s and engaging content, they knew they could open up the top of their funnel and begin to drive more impressions.

“We traditionally had a very focused top of the funnel,” said Steve Hall, CloudCheckr’s VP of Marketing. “So we knew in order to grow at the pace that we wanted we would have to open things up.”

One of CloudCheckr’s most effective channels was SEO, so they resolved to double down on their on-site SEO techniques and create content that would help them rank for more keywords.

When HUSL rebuilt CloudCheckr’s website, our team focused on helping them improve their current on-page and technical SEO while providing them templates that enforced SEO best practices.

On-Page SEO & Technical

CloudCheck worked to improve both their on-page and technical SEO by optimizing critical elements of their web pages for the search terms and phrases they targeted. The most important elements include headings, sub-headings, body copy, image alt-tags, links, and anchor text.

From a more technical perspective, elements like meta descriptions, mobile optimizations, and page speed also needed to be maximized.

For CloudCheckr, this meant:

  • Wrapping page titles in <h1> tags
  • Wrapping subheadings in <h2> tags
  • Building a fully responsive web experience
  • Optimizing images with SEO friendly file names
  • Ensuring site speed was top notch

 

To ensure these SEO improvements would be utilized on future pages, HUSL built web templates that would make it easy for marketers to enforce SEO best practices.

These SEO improvements along with expanded paid acquisition work resulted in an 81% increase in site impressions in just 6 months.

 

Strategy #4: Build Microsites

The CloudCheckr team attends 50+ trade shows every year that provides a huge opportunity to drive leads.

To take advantage of this opportunity, CloudCheckr creates microsites that help inform visitors and event-goers on the benefits of CloudCheckr and how they relate to the message of the event.

Each event microsite gives site visitors the opportunity to register for the event, book a meeting with the CloudCheckr team, or gather information on how they can see CloudCheckr at the event.

 

 

Benefits of microsites

These microsites have several benefits including:

 

Targeted Campaigns

Deliver highly targeted content to specific audience segments.

Ex. Send a geotargeted audience Facebook ads to your event.

 

Lead Generation

CloudCheckr generates meetings by targeting conference attendees with their landing pages.

 

Virality Potential

A well designed, informative, and easily shareable microsite has the potential to create buzz around a certain event.

 

Are microsites scalable?

One disadvantage of building a microsite is the potential for high costs and long development times if you’re working with your development team. For some teams the prospect of building even just a single webpage for an event is daunting.

Fortunately, companies like CloudCheckr can setup easily shareable and editable templates that anyone of their team members can customize and have live in minutes.

 

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The 3 biggest mistakes B2B startups make with their websites

Building a great website is an iterative process.

It is never done.

So even though we increased on-site conversions for ShipHawk by 84% last year by creating an agile and persona-driven website, we still were still looking to make improvements and boost conversions.

You’re never going to have a 100% perfect website, but you can build a high converting site by avoiding some common mistakes that B2B startups often make. That is why we’ve compiled a list of the top three most common mistakes that B2B startups make with their sites.

Our list includes:

  1. Not building defined buyer personas and building your site around them
  2. Building a website with a complicated backend
  3. Using your product team to build your website

Let’s get to it!

 

Not building for your target persona

At the end of the day, what do you want your B2B website to do?

Get a ton of traffic? Nope

Tell investors about your business? Nope.

Your website needs to do one thing exceptionally well, and that’s convert.

That could mean converting visitors into free trials, demos, content upgrades, interacting with your chat widget (looking at you Drift), or whatever you set as a KPI that leads to marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs).

Conversions only happen when your well-targeted traffic meets a well crafted and relevant offer.

It’s hard to create that offer without a true understanding of your customer.

Why does knowing my target audience matter?

If you know…

  • How your audience speaks, you can use language that they would naturally use and relate to them
  • What their pain points are, you can specifically build content around their pains
  • Why they visit your site, you can build your website so it’s relevant to your most immediate needs
  • Where they hang out, you can reach them with your own content or ads

What do I need to know about my target persona?

Just like your website, building your target persona is never done. You should always be learning more and more about your prospects and customers.

You can start by understanding:

Demographics

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Location
  • Education
  • Industry

Behaviors/Habits

  • Would they consider themselves thought leaders?
  • Are they early adopters?
  • How do they make decisions?

Digital Habits

  • What blogs do they visit?
  • Are they active on social media? Which ones?
  • What type of content do they consume? Short form or long form?
  • Do they use internet research sites?
  • Do they lean on their online social network for buying decisions?

Goals

  • What KPI are they trying to hit?
  • How will their personal success be impacted by business success?
  • What projects are they working on?
  • What deadlines are they trying to meet? What events will they go to?
  • What is the overall business strategy and how will they try and meet them?

Challenges

  • What is taking their focus away from their objective?
  • What don’t they have the time/bandwidth to accomplish
  • What is slowing them down?

Check out the example customer profile that we’ve put together.

 

 

 

You can see that we’ve included detailed demographic and psychographic information along with a quote and picture to ensure that our team is visualizing our target persona.

How do I know all of this!?

If you don’t already have a deep understanding of your customer profile then you’ll need to do some work to better define them.

Customer Surveys

If available, one of the best ways to research your target persona is by surveying your paying customers.

You can easily set up a Google form with demographic, firmographic, and psychographic questions that will help you understand your customer further.

You can also add in questions about their buying experience to immediately receive ideas on how you can improve your site.

Check out the sample survey questions below:

 

Demographics

  1. What’s your title
  2. How large is your company
  3. What industry is your company in?

 

Website

  1. What problem were you trying to solve when you found {{company_name}}
  2. How did you find {{company_name}}
  3. What did you want to do on {{company_website}} when you first visited
  4. Did you complete your objective?
  5. What questions did you have that you could not find answers to?

 

Product/Pain

  1. How were you solving the problem before {{product}}
  2. What made you choose {{product}}
  3. Has {{product}} solved the problem for you?
  4. What can we do better to solve your problems?

Bonus Survey Tips:

Keep it short and sweet

The more questions you have the fewer people are going to complete your survey and once you go beyond 15 questions, your results will decline 5%-10% per additional question.

 

Make it mobile friendly

56% of all traffic will come from mobile devices in 2017 according to SimilarWeb while 54% of email opens happen on mobile devices.

Chances are that when you email your customers a survey, they’re going to open it on a mobile device. So optimize for mobile!

 

Stay away from multiple choice

It’s important that you allow your customers to say everything they would want to say in their own words.

Restricting them to preconfigured questions may lead to a few more responses but less valuable and actionable information.

 

Put a time limit and add an incentive

Only about 25% of people who receive a survey email and click through to fill it out actually complete the survey. Boost that completion rate by adding a cutoff date and an incentive to spur action.

People are much more likely to complete a survey if they will receive an Amazon gift card for doing so and they only have 48hrs.

Facebook Ads

The reason that advertisers are flocking to Facebook (and Google) is they reach billions of people and have a wealth of data that can be deployed for highly targeted marketing campaigns.

Any B2B marketer can build an audience for:

  • High income, married men, in Silicon Valley interested in Simon Sinek, healthcare services, SaaS, and Salesforce

OR

  • Single women in New York City who are interested in Apple, NASDAQ, and The Wall Street Journal

B2B marketers can test multiple audiences and obtain statistically significant results about the interests and demographics of their target market.

Already spending money on Facebook Ads?

If you’re already spending money on Facebook Ads, check out your audience insights to instantly learn a great deal about the users that follow your Page and interact with your content.

You can start by choosing the audience that you want to interact with.


Then dive in and understand demographic and lifestyle information.

 

Ask your sales team

If you want to understand who your prospects and customers are, why not ask the people that talk to them the most?

Sales development teams that are doing outbound outreach can be leveraged to test messaging and learn about your target market in the same way Facebook ads can.

For example, Square leverages their SDR team to understand and test new markets, products, or customer types.

B2B marketers can learn from their SDR teams by asking sales leaders what type of messaging has been resonating and with who.

Check Google Analytics

Much like Facebook insights, Google Analytics can give you detailed information about the users that are visiting your website.

Simply enable demographic and interest data on your Google Analytics account and you can start to build demographics reports like below:

 

 

And interest reports like these:

 

Once you’ve gathered this information you can add it to your ideal customer persona.

Conduct Interviews

If you don’t have many customers that you can leverage for surveys and don’t have the ability to gather ad spend data, then you can focus on qualitative interviews with your prospects.

You should focus on talking to customers from different backgrounds, industries, and buying situations. You’ll likely have multiple ideal customer profiles and you’ll want to make sure you gather information about all of them.

When you are conducting the interview focus on understanding the prospect’s unique pains, attributes, and buying situation. Dig deeper than the surface level and understand what’s really going on.

Use some of the survey questions that we listed above to get started, however, be sure to dive deeper. Here are a few examples of more in-depth questions

  • Tell me how X process works for you.
  • What part of this process takes the most time?
  • Is there any part of this process that costs more money than you’d like?
  • What is the most inefficient part of this process?
  • What tools do you use to help you with this process currently?
  • What part of this process provides you the most value?
  • How happy are you with the current process?
  • If you could improve one thing about this process, what would it be?
  • Do you use X tools to help you with this process? If so, do they do what you need them to do?

Mistake #2: Building a complicated backend

Building a pretty website isn’t difficult.

Anyone can go on Themeforest, find a good looking template, do a few customizations and be off to the races.

Without getting into the security and performance pitfalls that await you, simply getting a website launched is only the first part. Your website is your company’s central information location, and it’s only as valuable as it is consistently updated. What do you do when you need to make changes?

Are your Marketing Team’s needs for updates tied to your engineering team’s schedule? Does your team spend hours clicking around a confusing interface, choosing the same options repeatedly, just trying to get a new content piece online?

If your website is a pain to manage, your high-value marketing employees are going to spend their time hoping they can figure things out. Now your message is hindered by a messy process when your original goal was to have a tool that would help your team be more effective.

How does a complicated website prevent me from reaching my goals?

A complicated website will

  • Be difficult change and update, without needing to spend hours building a deep technical understanding of your website’s architecture
  • Limit your ability, so your marketing team will not be able to easily spin up unique landing pages
  • Force you to enter content repeatedly, after you create a landing page, you have to go create a block on the home page, and another banner
  • Leave you hanging without the tools you need, so you’ll have to go searching for plugins and or revisiting the development process every time a need arises
  • Not be built for SEO from the onset, so you may need to do major SEO overhauls down the road

At HUSL, we build modular websites that easily and simply adjust to your content so all your team has to do is plug in the appropriate content and launch their campaigns.

The team at CloudCheckr recently launched their modular website and are now able to build unique landing pages for every trade show their company attends in a matter of minutes.

Mistake #3: Using your product team to build your website

The mad scientists building your company’s tool are really the rockstars of any startup.

They are the innovators that build the tools that wow your investors and solve your customer’s problems… But they aren’t the best team to build your website for two main reasons.

  1. Their time is extremely valuable ($150k+ a year in the Silicon Valley!) and extremely limited
  2. They just aren’t marketers

Let your product developers do what they do best

Developers tend to build their websites with themselves in mind and not the marketing team that will be working on the site.

This means that they’ll often use code snippets to build the site which makes changing the website difficult, frustrating, and time-consuming process for any non-developer. So when your marketing team needs to make changes to the website they’ll need to ask their development team.

This time-consuming process can be eliminated by letting your development team focus on your product and allowing your marketing team to focus on the website.

 

Wrapping up – Avoid these mistakes

We’ve seen a lot of mistakes over the past 10 years and we’ve learned from them so you don’t have to go through the pain of building a bad website.

Remember to always:

  1. Understand your ideal customer profile so you can speak to them in their language
  2. Build your website so that anyone on your team can easily make changes, add pages, and edit copy
  3. Let your product team focus on your product and your marketing focus on iterating your website