A defining line has been drawn in the sand for website design best practices between B2C and B2B websites.
For the longest time, the major focus was on B2C website design (business to consumer) and how best to communicate with the consumer. This same approach was eventually applied to B2B web design (business to business) without fully understanding the difference in product or service offerings between the two, and how each type of user interacts with and should be courted by the website.
One of the key differences to be aware of in creating a website design for B2B (from the more common B2C approach) is that B2B website users are much less likely to make an impulse buy based on your website alone. B2B businesses are inherently taking much more risk, investing more time and money, and relying on your products or services to perform as a well-oiled piece of their business machine. B2B customers typically prefer to make contact with an actual person before they make this commitment as opposed to simply adding a product to the online shopping cart and clicking checkout.
For more than a decade our Toronto Web Design Company, Parachute Design, has been fine-tuning our list of best practices for B2B website design. Let’s look at some of our B2B web design best practices and how we approach developing a new B2B website.
B2B Web Form Design for Better Conversion
Given our understanding of the B2B customer and their unique buying habits, we understand that simply displaying a flashy interface and beautiful product shots (bolstered by catch phrases) simply does not work. B2B customers want to glean the high-level information from the website to support the referral that got them on your website in the first place. But ultimately, they want to speak to another human. To satisfy this need in the buying process we use nicely designed, simple, and straightforward web forms.
Web forms, in general, can be a bit of a black hole. There is a widespread fear or distaste for web forms because we’re asking people to provide us with their personal information, and asking them to trust that we’ll keep it private and not use it to send them countless emails offering something they’re not interested in. Or worse yet, sell their personal information to a marketing firm.
The key to creating successful B2B web forms that people will actually use starts even before creating the form page design. The B2b web form must be supported by both professional web design and clear and concise web content, that when married together begin to build trust in the user so that when they do get to the form page, they’re more comfortable sharing their personal information with you to create that lead.
It has become a cardinal rule at our Toronto web design company that when designing B2B web forms, we advise our clients to only ask for essential personal information that is mission-critical in the early stage of their new relationship. Request too much personal information early on, and you are more likely to create a divide between you and your B2B customer, ultimately eroding the trust we’ve all worked to develop before getting the user to the B2B form page.
At this early stage, it’s best to seek very minimal and basic personal information as a start, such as a client’s name, email, and phone number. It’s important to first connect personally with the lead and establish a growing relationship along with a personal level of trust. Only then can you begin to ask for supplementary information from the customer.
At this stage in the lead nurturing process, your goal should be to simply make contact with a qualified lead, and not push for an order or start filling up their inbox with marketing material they may not want or might find annoying.
Form Design that Creates a Better User Experience
Below, we offer some tips on other areas to consider where you can improve your B2B web form design and create a more positive user experience for your B2B customers:
- B2B form fields and functions should be as simple and as straightforward as possible. You’ve already got their attention, you don’t need to wow them with frills and effects. Don’t interrupt the form completion process!
- Where possible, combine fields on the B2B form to make it as easy as possible for customers to fill them out.
- Adhere to common web form labels and conventions. If your web form is predictable and offers the user a quick and easy option to let their browser automatically fill out the form fields, you’re more likely to receive a higher quantity of form conversions.
- Instead of requiring users to manually enter information, offer an opportunity to select information from a list where applicable.
- Ensure a clean form design to allow users to scan easily and clearly indicate which fields are required if any are not.
- Avoid complicated B2B form design. Instead, break it up into multiple, bite-sized steps or pages.
- Where possible, set up your B2B form design to pre-populate information from earlier in the courting process.
- B2b web form design needs to conform to current browser standards so that no matter what platform or device is being used, everyone has the same user-friendly experience.
Many B2B website owners will make use of third party client relationship management tools such as HubSpot, as the backend of their lead generation B2B web forms.
If your B2B website designer is not already experienced in implementing these third party API’s and applying your new custom web design to their third party web forms, you’re missing the boat. Not only should your B2B web designer be skilled in implementing these solutions seamlessly, they should be able to offer you advice on best practices for setting up your B2B web forms in the third party service.
Offer Professional B2B Responsive Website Design
A B2B responsive website design is a must-have for offering not only the best user experience to your busy B2B customers (who are often on the go) but also for building your professional and trustworthy image.
A B2B website design that cannot be brought up on a mobile device quickly, or doesn’t clearly offer an optimised mobile experience, will leave a bad impression and often lead to frustration in the potential lead. With web form conversion as the ultimate goal of a B2B marketing website design project, offering a better user experience than the competition should be the cornerstone of your B2B mobile marketing approach.
Add Large, Clear B2B Call to Action
In order to drive the B2B leads to the form pages that lead to a salesperson, we need to ensure the website interface offers a large, clear B2B call to action (CTA) on each page.
There should be no mistaking what will happen next when a CTA button is clicked. If we leave the user feeling fooled or tricked into navigating to a part of the website they’re not interested in, we begin to tear down the trust we’ve set out to build on our lead nurturing initiative. By offering a call to action that clearly indicates what the next step will be, we can ensure that qualified users are being carefully lead on the path we want them to explore and that they want to follow.
Optimised B2B Landing Page Design
It sometimes can be a little tricky to convince a website owner that their customers do not need to land on their home page every time they visit the website. If your B2B company offers more than one product or service, a great way to create a faster path to the information your customer is searching for is by creating B2B optimised landing pages for each unique offering.
HubSpot has performed market research on website design and user experience concluding that 76% of customers feel the most important factor in a website’s design is that the website makes it easy to find what they’re looking for.
If we offer a quick path to the information our leads are seeking out and we eliminate distractions, we typically see an improved conversion rate from qualified B2B leads.
Optimised B2B landing pages are also a fantastic way to broaden and boost the SEO performance of your website and cast a more direct net on the areas of web search you wish to market to.
B2B customers, more than any other, seek the human element.
When creating your new B2B website design, ensure that your web content is written in a way that is distinctly human and avoid writing for search engines at all costs. Use the same vocabulary your customer will be familiar with and begin courting them before that first phone call or a cup of coffee.
Another great way to include the human element in a B2B web design is to include testimonials from previous customers and industry leaders. This will help to build your professional image, personality, and trustworthiness, playing a role in convincing B2B customers to ultimately complete the web form and set up the first sales call.
Wondering how we put all these web design practices into place? Have a look at our business to business website design case study for Polar to see how each design element fits together to create a beautiful digital experience.
If you’re interested in learning more about best practices for B2B website design and how Parachute Design can help improve your B2B website, or to have us prepare a proposal for your business, complete our online quote request form, or call our B2B website design experts in Toronto at 416-901-8633.