First impressions matter, especially in the B2B buyer’s journey. Buyers identify the problem or need their company is experiencing and begin exploring their vendor options. They swipe left or right on potential matches based on nothing more than what they see on vendors’ websites.
The amount of time a prospect spends on all of that content you’ve produced is minuscule compared to the time you spent developing it. For example, Google Analytics data suggests that a reasonable target for average session duration on a B2B website is two minutes.
So much like a social media or dating profile, your site needs to be engaging right from the start.
Finally, buyers spend nearly half of their B2B buyer’s journey flying solo. A 2019 study from Gartner shows that buyers spend nearly half (45 percent) of their time in the journey doing independent research. Many potential leads are lost in this phase—without sales or marketing even realizing it. Why? Because something makes that prospect swipe left before they ever fill out a contact form, send an email or pick up the phone.
Is Your Website Setting Off Red Flags in the B2B Buyer’s Journey?
How does a company go about limiting rejections? Avoid red flags. If something about your website is making a bad first impression, you need to correct it before prospects will take the next step in their B2B buyer’s journey.
After nearly 15 years of conducting market research for the B2B tech sector, here are the seven most common reasons we see prospects swiping left on B2B offerings. From your messaging strategy to your layout, avoiding the red flags below will generate more leads.
1. You’re the Tool for Every Job.
Nothing screams “I need more customers and money” than being a generalist. Marketing your company as a SaaS solution that is the equivalent of a Leatherman might feel safe. But it actually sets you up for failure. Organizations tend to opt for the solution that is great at one thing over those that are merely average at everything.
Don’t Keep the Aperture Wide Open.
Suspect your company might be guilty of this? Try this exercise right now. Go to your website, and read the pages as if you’re seeing them for the first time. As you peruse, ask yourself these questions:
- Is your site written for anyone in particular? Can you tell who your intended buyers are?
- Does it focus on the needs of a certain type of business? Is it clear what size company your solution is targeting?
- Does it explain how your products or services help a given industry?
- Who in the target company would actually use the product or service? IT pros? Marketing directors? Financial officers? Is it clear from the website?
- Does the website explain which types of customers, organizations or personas would not be a good fit for your solution?
If you answered “no” to any of the questions, now you know where your problem areas are. It’s crucial that your website clarifies who your intended buyers are and why. Narrowing your focus with your niche and competitive differentiators will make you stand out in the B2B buyer’s journey and lure in compatible prospects.
2. Your Looks Don’t Cut It.
“Love at first sight” isn’t just in the movies. A series of studies published in Behaviour & Information Technology found that it takes people 0.05 seconds to form an opinion about your site. If they don’t love what they see in that fraction of a second, they won’t stick around to learn more. The majority of rejections happen in that snap judgement.
Visual Impressions Come First in the B2B Buyer’s Journey
Your digital aesthetic is your key persuasive element in that snap judgment. Everything from your brand colors to the typography on your website has an impact on visitors, so your success depends on your visual appeal.
Another way to spice up your website is to incorporate dynamic elements. This could be as simple as scrolling testimonials and animated icons. You could even go a step further and delight buyers with a homepage video.
The point is—if your site looks drab and outdated, then so will you. After all, what tech buyer could trust a vendor with a website style from the 90’s? Your lack of leads might be solved with a simple website or brand refresh. As Rachel Zoe once said, “Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.”
Seriously, Consider Dressing Up Your Site with Some Video.
Research indicates that video has a profound impact on the B2B buyer’s journey. Google conducted a survey of B2B decision makers and found that 70 percent of them are “watching videos throughout their path to purchase.” Respondents reported that the video often prompted them to talk to colleagues, look for more information or share the video. The most useful types of video content to this group were: product features, how-tos and professional reviews.
If you decide to incorporate video content on your website, however, make sure it doesn’t have the opposite effect by slowing down your page loading time or inundating potential buyers with information or pushy CTAs.
3. You’re Hard to Read.
The key to an amazing website is balancing flair with functionality. Your site needs to be engaging enough to keep users on it but should also be straightforward in its layout and language. That way prospects can get the information they need with ease to facilitate their B2B buyer’s journey.
Don’t Make Them Guess.
Even when a user stays on your website beyond that initial fraction of a second, you can only hope they stick around to hit the two-minute mark, leaving you with precious little time to effectively communicate who you are and what you do.
The first thing buyers need to see on your homepage is your headline and subheadline, accompanied by a sleek, relevant supporting image or video. Your headline describes the big picture of what you do in just a few words. The subheadline clarifies the target audience for your solution and how it helps them.
A good example comes from Slack’s website. Their headline is “Slack is where work happens.” And their subheadline reads, “With channels in Slack, you and your team know where to go to ask questions, share updates and stay in the loop.” In 22 words, we learn that Slack is a messaging platform for businesses that uses various channels to connect people across the workplace.
Cut the Fluff and Keep It Real.
Now imagine if this were Slack’s headline instead: “Stay in sync with Slack.” With a subheadline that says, “Transform your business with Slack, the industry-leading platform disrupting the way you think of workplace communications to synergize and synchronize your team.”
In the same number of words, this copy only serves to mystify, not clarify, what Slack’s solution is or how it works. Unfortunately, the kind of language in our bad, fake Slack example is far too common in how vendors market themselves. Many tech sellers boast industry leadership or use buzzwords and jargon to make vague promises without the rankings or stats to back it up.
In fact, the TrustRadius 2018 Software Buyer Poll asked 769 tech buyers to evaluate how vendors describe their products. They found that a whopping three in four buyers described vendors’ messaging as either meaningless jargon or lots of fluff.
As one buyer in their survey noted, “I can read the entire website of a software company and still have no clue what their products actually do.”
Many vendors think boasts and jargon will impress buyers—while research indicates the opposite. This type of messaging only serves to make you less trustworthy and harder to understand. If you cannot clearly explain to buyers how you can help, you’ll never be top-of-mind when they decide it’s time to buy a solution to address a pain point.
4. No One is Vouching for You.
B2B buyers may not see you as a suitable or long-term partner if they have no evidence that you can be one. Social proof elements like testimonials, reviews or a list of notable customers are critical for establishing your trustworthiness and experience. Therefore, they need to be among the first things buyers see on your site.
Unlike in B2C, the B2B buyer’s journey always entails a huge investment. The person designated to find a solution for their company may even have their career riding on their decision. That means you need to (a) prove to them that you will be a reliable partner and (b) empower them with evidence that they can present to the other key decision makers involved in the purchase. Reviews are one of the best ways to accomplish both.
According to a TrustRadius survey, 90 percent of buyers who were on a committee reported that reviews had a huge influence on the other people in their buying group. Without reviews or testimonials, the only thing buyers have is your word. Unfortunately, that is hardly a reassurance early on in the relationship. Equip prospects with what they need to convince other stakeholders that you’re a viable partner.
Another option is to include case studies on your site to illustrate the different types of problems you’ve helped customers solve. This evidence is especially helpful for buyers experiencing similar challenges. If your client work is protected by non-disclosure agreements, don’t be afraid to communicate that. Buyers will appreciate your discretion and perceive you as more trustworthy because of it.
5. You’re Hard to Reach.
Let buyers know you’re available with an accessible method of contact. This feature is the digital stepping stone in the B2B buyer’s journey. So, it needs to have a prominent, intuitive place on your site pages.
Set the Tone.
The method of contact also presents the opportunity to humanize your brand or give buyers a glimpse of what it’s like to work with you. Using phrases like, “Give Us a Shout,” “Drop Us a Line” or “Talk to a Human” conveys a more casual, conversational tone. Or, maybe you want to create a sense of urgency saying, “Let’s Get Started,” “Contact Us Today” or “Get Help Now.”
Even something as simple as changing your company’s general contact email address can help. In our own experience, we were able to increase our website’s conversion rates by going from email@example.com to a more personable firstname.lastname@example.org. Not only is this address more friendly, it’s also less likely to be flagged as or targeted for spam than the info@ address, according to the creative agency Trillion.
These small details have a huge impact on how buyers perceive you. It is so important that every component of your messaging has the desired effect among your audience.
Make a Promise—and Keep It.
Not only does your method of contact set the tone, it can also help you establish trust. Make potential buyers a promise that you can keep like, “Reach out to us today, and a representative will get back to you within 2-3 business days.”
The most important thing is to follow through on your promise. If you tell buyers they can expect to hear from you within a certain timeframe but nobody from your organization contacts them, that failure indicates two things:
- You are untrustworthy.
- You can’t commit to deadlines.
Of course, you don’t have to explicitly tell them when they can expect a reply. But the faster you can get back to them, the better. Even if it’s sending an automated welcome email, any contact will keep you top-of-mind. Otherwise, that warm lead will go cold if it takes you nearly a week to reach out to them—especially if your competitor gets back to them within 24 hours. Prospects may not even remember the name of your company a day or two later.
6. You Aren’t a Good Fit.
Sometimes the relationship isn’t meant to be, and that is okay. You cannot and should not try to please everyone. If your product, service or expertise doesn’t align with the prospect’s needs, then it is in your best interest and theirs to not force the partnership.
That’s why it is imperative that your website clearly outlines what your offering is, whom it’s intended for and how it will help them. The worst case scenario for any business relationship is to get in too deep before realizing it’s a bad fit.
Don’t be afraid to tell a lead that they are incompatible with your solution. They will respect your honesty much more than your futile attempts to make them happy. Otherwise, you’ll end up wasting your time and theirs.
7. You Aren’t in Sync.
Even when you may seem to be a good fit in skills and expertise, a buyer may pass on you if they feel you have different relationship expectations and cadence. Their needs determine the tempo, which you may or may not be able to accommodate.
They may want something short and sweet for a one-off project. Or maybe they need a steady partner they can build a relationship with and help them evolve their business. How you market yourself determines their perception.
A website that’s heavy on CTAs and lightbox popups conveys a more aggressive style of selling. This angle may appeal to buyers with a time-sensitive problem but doesn’t work for everyone. If a buyer seeking long-term consultation services fills out your contact form and immediately starts getting spammed with irrelevant newsletters and webinars, they may perceive you as clueless about their needs—or even disrespectful of their already overflowing inbox.
You need to consider these factors as you communicate the type of partnerships you want for your business.
What to Do When They’re Just Not That Into You
Rejection happens for various reasons and isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes, it’s just not a good fit on paper or in personality. What you need to focus on is why buyers who are compatible just aren’t that into you. You may need to reassess how you market yourself on your website.
Use these insights as a first step. If you still aren’t seeing the conversion rates you want, maybe it’s time to dig deeper to understand what your buyers value in your offerings and partnership. For more information, talk to one of our analysts to discover how you can make yourself more appealing to your target customers in their B2B buyer’s journey to ensure they never swipe left on you again.
This blog post is brought to you by Cascade Insights, a firm that provides market research & marketing services exclusively to organizations with B2B tech sector initiatives. Learn more about how we bring insight into your customers’ buyer’s journey here.
Special thanks to CEO Sean Campbell & Director of Systems Design Philippe Boutros for advising on this article.