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Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

B2C vs B2B website optimization

We've all read articles about changing button color, the text from "buy now!" to "start using now!", etc, etc.  These are good techniques for impulse purchases.  But it finally dawned on me why B2B is different -- the person visiting the web page will often not be the only one using the software.  They have to pick something that others in their department will also use.  They quite often are comparing many similar products and have to run it by the boss or colleagues to see what they think.

With that in mind, what website optimization techniques should be employed?

The ones I came up with:
1. Simplicity over style -- communicate more than visual wow
2. Feature (lists) over benefits?
3. Touting low price may be counter effective
... others?
Doug Send private email
Tuesday, April 02, 2013
A/B testing.
Dmitry Leskov Send private email
Tuesday, April 02, 2013
Doug, the things you mention are all the MORE reason why you need to stress the benefits over features.

One simple acid test for B2B is to ask yourself, if you were a subordinate with a grumpy, sarcastic boss who doesn't know much about the topic or software needs, would you be happy to show that boss the website/brochure/whatever?

So yeah, you need a degree of respectability and formality but it's also important to remember that there's no such thing as a company that buys things. Ultimately it's always an individual person, and you'll still find a considerable percentage of their decision is based on the exact same gut instinct or "feelings". Just like someone grabbing a 99c iPhone app, they'll buy now, rationalize later.

Tip - if using a comparison table with competing products, make it super-presentable, easy to print and formal. Make it easy for them to print out and show their boss, stick in a purchasing file etc. Try printing it yourself in black and white, then making a photocopy, see how it looks?

Above all just remember that point, the person who finds your site is probably going to have to show it to someone else. That someone else may NOT understand any jargon or specialist features.

And use blue, B2B loves blue ;o)

Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Tuesday, April 02, 2013
Given that the boss has the final say, I still think it is probably worth emphasizing benefits.
Andy Brice Send private email
Tuesday, April 02, 2013
I have run a B2B website for a couple of years now, and if there was only 1 takeaway, it's that clients routinely tell us they love finding in-depth domain materials.

See this page http://www.lokad.com/service-level-definition-and-formula or this one http://www.lokad.com/salescast-lead-time for example.

Indeed, the vast majority of B2B websites are pure happy talk. The theory being that you need to please the boss. Hence, an over-focus on the supposed benefits.

However, I have found that it's typically not top execs that you need to convince - those hardly bother at visiting the website - but rather several layers of savvy people below them (savvy in their trade, not software experts).

If you manage to give a good reason to those people to spend hours on your site, then you're vastly increasing conversion odds.

My 2cts,
Joannes Vermorel - Lokad Sales Forecasting Send private email
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Joannes, those several layers of "savvy" people in the organization have to do two things, one, convince their managers to accept their recommendations, and two, take the heat when a recommendation goes sour.  So you are right, they want any information that will help make the case to their boss and convince themselves that they made the right choice.

Two centuries of business evolution have resulted in a situation where any business with more than 2 levels in the org chart operates this way.  It allows large organizations to avoid lethal mistakes and it takes personal relationships out of the picture.  It also allows anyone in the organization to be replaced.
Howard Ness Send private email
Sunday, April 14, 2013

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