• Is Your Web Site Demand-Ready?

    “71% of inquiries by 2015 will come from the corporate web site”

    -SiriusDecision (B2B Research & Analyst Firm), Fall 2011

    It’s not hard to recognize the value and growing importance of  B2B corporate websites in supporting buyers through the complex buying process. It’s clear that the website is a critical lead-generation tool, and that inbound marketing will quickly out-pace organizations, it already has easy, free outbound marketing as the PRIMARY lead source for some.

    Through social media, vendors sites, and a plethora of other content channels. Business buyers have access to insights and information about the products and solutions they are looking to purchase  This more informed, savvy buyer can potentially downplay the role of a salesperson. The ‘buyer 2.0” is both self-informed and less dependent on sales people to evaluate purchases. This fundamental shift in how B2B decision makers are shopping has given corporate websites a crucial role in the entire sales process.

    As B2B marketers, we need to embrace this evolution and engage savvy buyers with a more personalized and relevant web experience that educates and informs throughout the sales cycle. The B2B corporate website CAN do this work.

    Over the next few weeks, I will publish a three-part blog series about the evolution of the B2B corporate website and how it can meet the needs of today’s business buyers.

    • In Part 1 I’ll explore drivers that are leading the shift toward a demand-centric corporate website. I’ll also identify some key challenges that make this journey difficult.
    • In Part 2 I’ll provide some short-term and longer-term steps you can take to evolve your corporate website to better support inbound marketing.
    • In Part 3 we’ll segue into an important demand source content –and how inbound marketing can support demand-generation.

    Companies who embrace the corporate website as a demand-generation engine will gain a significant competitive advantage! The company who satisfies the key needs of the buyer (vs. their own agenda) will be more poised to answer key buying decisions and therefore help accelerate the sales cycle.

    In a recent survey* of B2B companies (specifically B2B marketing and IT professional), only 20% of marketers believed their business leveraged its company website to its maximum potential specific to generating leads and sales.

    *Survey was conducted in May 2011 by Demandbase and Focus.com. Respondents represented B2B companies of all sizes and industries.

    While microsites have been an effective work-around for demand generation teams, this significant shift to inbound marketing needs to drive the business case to begin understanding, and ultimately addressing, the key challenges with turning your corporate website into a demand-generation hub. Key challenges that I see regularly include:

    1. Lack of access – I often work with demand-generation teams who would have to move mountains in order to have influence (especially timely influence) on the .com. Therefore, these teams will typically leverage hard-working microsites to accomplish these objectives. I wouldn’t be surprised to see smaller organizations (within more nimble marketing organizations) transition their website much faster than larger organizations.

    2. Competing objectives – There are typically a number of chiefs when it comes to the corporate website, and it shows. Brand positioning, product marketing and other marketing functions all have different priorities for this hub. Demand generation may either be low or non existent in this list.

    3. Lack of  insights – A demand-centric website relies upon deep insights into target buyers. Relevant content helps move buyers through the sales cycle.

    4. Lack of tools – Identifying the right CMS (content management system) and analytics solutions (as well as the right practitioners and processes to unlock their power) is critical.

    Helping our organizations overcome these obstacles will be critical to the success of a B2B organization’s inbound strategy in the near-term and in the long-run. In future blog posts I will to explore more recommendations for evolving corporate sites to support today’s buyers.

    In the meantime, I welcome your input!

    What challenges do you see in shifting the focus of your website?  What steps have you taken to overcome these challenges?

    Lauren Goldstein is author of LaurenOnDemand blog providing expert B2B demand generation insights.  She is also VP of Strategic Planning for Babcock & Jenkins and shares her expertise at industry events such as the MarketingProfs B2B Conference and the Marketing Sherpa B2B Conference.

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