B2B marketers have a long way to go when it comes to creating engaging websites, according to a new report from Forrester.
The market research firm evaluated 60 sites across 12 industries, and nearly all performed poorly, according to the report. Using a 40 scale and 15 criteria, only four sites received a passing grade of 25 or more points, down from only six sites in 2017’s assessment. The content on almost all of the B2B sites reviewed talked mostly about the company and its offerings, rather than creating a dialogue with customers’ to learn their needs.
Investment, semiconductor and medical product firms fared the worst in the Forrester report, showing a lack of support community/peer interactions and a dearth of substantiated case studies.
Human resources, manufacturing and security software were the top performing industries, offering visitors more engaging and empathetic content. Sites in these verticals provided more educational content and useful tools, as well as interesting and creative videos that gave viewers something of value before they were asked to share personal information or speak with a salesperson.
“B2B websites offer a window into companies’ content marketing and messaging strategy,” wrote Forrester’s Laura Ramos and Meredith Cain. “But more than that, website content, tone, and voice demonstrate how well a firm understands its customers and shares concern for the issues those buyers need to resolve.”
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Given that 44 percent of B2B buyers expect to do more than half of their work-related purchasing online in the next three years, creating engagement with web content is crucial. Forrester offers three tips to help differentiate your website experience.
Speak to buyers’ pain points. Don’t make your home page the place you brag about your product. Know what challenges they’re trying to solve, and show them that you understand.
Let your customers do the talking. Customer success stories can be the basis for content that feels authentic and empathetic. Industry-specific peer-focused content is the most valuable when making tech decisions, according to 68 percent of business and IT decision makers, says Forrester.
Tell a story. People are 20 times more likely to remember facts if they feel like they’re part of a story. Explaining your product or service’s capabilities and benefits within the context of a customer narrative will leave much more of an impression than a bulleted list of what you think you do better than the competition.