Would you frequent a business that was hard to find and had an unwelcoming, unappealing storefront? What if the door was hard to open and the shelves were haphazardly jammed with products making it difficult to find what you need? You’d undoubtedly make some unflattering judgments about the business, even if it sold quality goods. If you think of your business’ online presence in the same way, you begin to realize the importance of having a great website.
In fact, online users tend to be less forgiving. Statistics show that viewers form an opinion of your site in about 50 milliseconds, which is literally a blink of an eye! With 75% of Internet users making judgments about your company’s credibility based on your website’s design, and 85% of B2B customers searching the web before making a purchase decision, the importance of making a good first impression with your website cannot be overstated.
Which begs the question—what kind of welcome mat are you putting out? While content is key, studies of user behavior found that visual appeal and website navigation have the biggest influence on a user’s first impression of your brand. With that in mind, you may want to consider whether it’s time to update your website.
Ask yourself the following questions about your company’s website:
1. Does the website design look fresh and appealing? An outdated site can lead users to believe that perhaps your product/brand is also behind-the-times. Browse other websites to get a feel for those that grab your attention and make you want to learn more. For inspiration, check out these examples of B2B websites that are both beautiful and innovative.
2. Does the website tell our brand story? Your home page should clearly reveal who you are, what you do, and how you can assist potential customers. The message/image should be consistent across all platforms and collateral materials.
3. Is the website mobile-optimized? Not only does Google penalize sites that are not mobile optimized, but so will your customers! Mobile devices account for nearly 2 out of 3 minutes spent online and nearly 50% of people will choose a different search result if the first is not mobile friendly. Google developer tools can help you determine if your site looks good and works well on mobile devices and make suggestions for improvements.
4. Is the site navigation intuitive and functional? Beauty doesn’t matter if users cannot easily locate the information for which they’re looking. Today’s websites feature advanced functionality, which help pages load quickly, improve searches, and “push” customers in the right direction with obvious calls-to-action (CTAs). The best test is to recruit volunteers to navigate your site and provide honest feedback. Remember, if a potential customer gets “lost” on your website, they may be lost forever!
5. Is the content up-to-date and well organized? Again, Google will penalize sites for not being of high quality, which includes having updated, relevant content. Fresh content will also help your site’s search engine optimization or SEO. Have you added original information or news lately? How often are you publishing blogs or videos that provide customers with helpful data? Are you writing to your target audience? Does your content include eye-catching images?
6. Is the SEO up to par? It makes no sense to invest in a great website if no one can find it! The vast majority of people begin a purchase with an online search, and if they can’t find you easily, you will probably lose their business. We could write another post just covering SEO and Google best practices, but in short, you should be including relevant keywords on all high-traffic pages, using long-tail keywords (e.g., words that are specific to your business such as “commercial real estate loans” versus loans), and writing with natural language instead of simply loading your content with keywords. Descriptive meta tags, internal links, testimonials, and links to social media can also improve your SEO rankings.
In the B2B world, where sales are often low volume and high margin, the value of a single lead can be significant, which makes your website an extremely valuable tool. Regularly evaluating and maintaining your website should be a priority and not an afterthought, because, as they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.