One of the best ways to improve online marketing results (or results in most other areas of life for that matter) is to identify pitfalls that others have fallen into and avoid them. With this in mind, over the next several weeks, I wanted to share some of the most common mistakes I have seen B2B businesses make online. Some of the issues may sound elementary, but I have seen enough businesses miss these fundamentals to know that they merit review.
Common Mistake 1 - Lack of a clear, focused welcome statement
Too many B2B companies (and other types of businesses as well) make the mistake of writing their Web content as if it were print media. Rather than clearly articulating what they offer, who they serve, and how to navigate their site efficiently, they emphasize empty statements of marketing "fluff." For example, the primary welcome statement on their Website is often a non-descriptive blurb like "products and services you can count on" or "the leader in quality and on-time delivery," etc. While these statements (and others like them) may be valid, they in no way communicate to the site visitor what the company does. Web users scan content before they ever commit to a deeper site visit, and they leave a site in mere seconds if they have not connected in a relevant way. With this in mind, if you are looking to use your Website to generate new business, it's critical that site visitors instantly validate that your company offers the products and/or services that they are seeking, and that they are provided with relevant and intuitive navigation. Sounds simple, I know. However, it's a fundamental that I have seen missed again and again. Here's a good test. Look at the primary opening statement or "welcome blurb" on your home page. Jot it down on a piece of paper. If you were to ask someone less familiar with your business to read the statement, would it give them a strong indication of what your company offers? Or, is it nothing more than a generic marketing statement that could apply to almost any other type of business? Don't misunderstand ... I am not suggesting that a Website should be devoid of creative marketing statements. It is critical that your Website communicates your brand message in a compelling manner. After all, intelligent differentiation of your company online is a key factor in increasing your lead/sale conversion rate. However, if your online messaging does not clearly state what you offer in an immediately discernable way, you run the risk of losing visitors (and new business opportunities) before you ever have the chance to differentiate your brand. I will follow up in future posts with more common pitfalls of B2B websites. In the meantime, feel free to share your comments. What are some typical mistakes you've seen businesses make online? Are there any traps you have fallen into and learned from the experience? If you are in the Milwaukee area on May 15th, check out our next Internet Marketing Seminar. We will revisit a variety of usability and search engine marketing fundamentals and discuss ways to build a winning online marketing strategy.