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Your Most Important Digital Asset Needs The Most Work

by Hank Barnes  |  August 1, 2017  |  Submit a Comment

Research by Gartner, including studies that my team has done for the last several years focused on technology buying as well as new studies done by the team at CEB (now Gartner), clearly demonstrate one thing.   Your Web site is the most important asset for prospective customers (and it’s pretty important for actually customers) across all stages of their buying process.

Buyers consistently rank Web sites as the marketing asset that is most likely to get their attention and they rely on it heavily.    At the same time, we consistently hear from buyers that they find Web sites extremely frustrating.   Their frustrations typically stem from several factors:

  • It is hard to find the information they are looking for
  • The information is confusing or contradictory
  • They aren’t confident they can trust what they read
  • And, they are regularly confronted with gates that add effort (see my last post) to their research process (and, from their perspective, are not needed and potentially cause them to abandon to avoid getting into the “MQL or Bust Machine”)

This infographic from the CEB Marketing Practice outlines the resources that buyers rely on with quite a bit of detail (based on their most recent research).   Two key things to note include the heavy utilization of a computer (over tablets and smartphones) for research efforts and the continued use of Web site resources late in the buying process.    Maybe before you invest a ton in making your site mobile accessible, you should invest in making it good for computer users across the entire buying process, then add mobility options.

Source: CEB (now Gartner)

From the work I do regularly reviewing messaging on Web sites, I see a few patterns of problems.  The biggest is the assumption that buyers have fully identified their needs and requirements before coming to the Web site.   That leads to a site that is all about providing product information with little to no information about value and use cases.  Even when use cases exist, they are often so light and full of fluff that they provide no value.

To drive improvement, I’d assess your Web site in terms of it’s ability to make it easy for prospects to find and get answers to three questions:

  • Why Change – We call this the Exploration activity stream, but the key point is that you need information that makes a strong case for doing something different–the business value that can be achieved.
  • How to Change – This is the evaluation activity stream.  This gets into more details on alternatives (comparing your technology and approach to others) and lays out the key things that are needed for successful change.  Product information and details can be important here, but providing some context that links to how those capabilities support successful change is important.
  • Who to Change With – The engagement activity stream (and yes, your Web site plays a role).  Here the content is providing the roadmap for how you will help the prospect successfully make the change and why they should feel comfortable partnering with you to get it done.

The content for these questions is largely reflected in the infographic.  Case studies, demos/trials, product information, and the like can all be useful–and they can be oriented toward these three broad questions.   But you also may need things like implementation guides, adoption guides, project roadmaps, and more.    The ideas of assessments and diagnostics in the infographic is a great one.  Provide them with a way to look at where they are today and lay out what is needed to get to a better place.

Once you have content for those areas, make sure there are easy ways for prospects to download and share great information across their buying team, remembering that in B2B tech, it’s always a team buy and helping build consensus is critical.

In summary, before you say what I hear a lot, “Our Web site needs work”—think about it’s importance to your prospects and review it in terms of helping answer the 3 key questions that drive buying efforts.  Maybe some tactical improvements will get you farther than you think.

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Category: go-to-market  

Tags: activity-streams  b2b-sales  digital  engagement  evaluation  exploration  marketing  web-site  

Hank Barnes
VP Distinguished Analyst
6+ years at Gartner
30+ years IT Industry

Hank Barnes explores the dynamics, challenges, and frustrations enterprises face when buying technology products and services. Using that customer-centric lens, he advises those responsible for marketing technology products and services, general managers responsible for product portfolios, and startup CEOs on next practices to drive success for their customers and their business. Read Full Bio

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