There are those of you who say: “I’m not giving away any of my company literature online unless I get a name and address in return. So what if it means only a tenth as many people read my company literature? They’re no use to me if I don’t know who they are.” And there are those of you who say: “I just want to get my company literature in front of as many people as possible. I don’t need to know who gets it. I’ll find out when they come back to me to buy”.
I stopped taking sides on that one long ago, because most marketing managers seem to have fairly fixed opinions. But here’s a well-written suggestion for a ‘third way’. Try It: An Easy Tweak for Better Leads on the B2B Web Strategy Blog says we should experiment with giving away the content without registration, but on the same page, having a ‘more information’ form. The author seems convinced that it gets great results, and it makes sense. After all, even when I write a promotion which says: “click here to visit a page where you can fill in a form to request something”, I’m delighted if 20% of the people who click through actually fill in the form, despite knowing exactly what they were going to be offered, and what was going to be required of them. Surely anything must stand a good chance of improving on that.
On the subject of content generation, as I was yesterday, it’s interesting to read the findings of a publication called the B2B Technology Collateral Survey Report, discussed in Online content preferences of B2B technology buyers on the B2B Web Strategy Blog. Respondents to the survey rated 4- to 8-page “White Papers” with plenty of technical content as being their favourite type of written collateral. Fortunately this also lends itself to website-based material, either as a freely-available offering or as content which can be requested in exchange for contact details. To be honest, a White Paper is really just a particular presentation of a technical article, and it needn’t always take a lot of reworking to get existing material into this format.
Second best are 2- to 4-page case studies which, again, work tremendously on a website as they also act as a testmonial. One of the hardest things to get across on a website, at a glance, is your company’s experience, and a nice list of case studies is a great way to do it. Maybe getting this sort of stuff written is what should be top of your marcomms budget in 2011, rather than just throwing money at traditional advertising. It’s the secret a lot of very successful advertisers in our sector seem to have discovered.
Hats off to the B2B Web Strategy Blog for some tough love: it’s no longer good enough to say you can’t find the time to update your website because there’s so much else going on. As How to keep your websites content fresh points out: “If its hard for you to find time to generate fresh, relevant content for your site, then Id respectfully suggest that your priorities are out of line with the fact that todays website is central to every B2Bs marketing strategy, not some hobby off to the side like it may have been 10 years ago.”
In the days when you actually had some money to spend on print advertising (and the justification for doing it), would you actually have failed to do any “because you just didn’t get around to it”? Would your colleagues have found that an acceptable excuse for them not seeing any adverts for the company? Would you have told them they’d have to use the same company brochure for five years running because getting a new one designed never got high enough up your to-do list?
The content of your website is more important today than printed material or press adverts. It needs to be audited regularly, and added to frequently (weekly, if you want to impress the search engines). Find the time, or find the budget to get someone else to do it. When I got into online marketing services, I didn’t expect that it would involve content creation, usually the province of the PR agency …but that’s certainly one area where there’s increasing demand, so hey, let me know if you’re interested.
Although most of us are fixated with pages deep within websites, where people with highly specific searches in Google usually arrive, we shouldn’t neglect our home pages. Now, I’m assuming your website’s home page isn’t still stuck in the 1990s with the fatal words “skip movie”, or “sign in to access the site”, or “please tell us what country you’re in”. I think we can safely assume that most B2B sites have moved on from that, and now try to explain concisely that the company does indeed do what the visitor was hoping for, and that there are some great pages just a click away. But even so, it’s quite possible that your home page has slowly had more and more added to it, and in the effort to keep everyone happy, it now looks like a bit of a mess.
Home Page Messaging: How Clear is Yours? on the B2B Web Strategy Blog suggests that you need two or three tiers of messaging, and that they should be designed for the real visitor to digest at a glance, rather than for the gratification of search engines. I agree.
No, seriously, bear with me. In Fast fixes for B2B marketing in a sour economy on the B2B Web Strategy Blog, author Bill Gadless says that in a downturn, leads are harder to come by and taking noticeably longer to close. So it’s time to take a critical look at your marketing and fix some of those deficiencies that could safely be ignored in the good times. Five specific ideas are highlighted (including why you might think about trying snail mail again), and there’s a link to a much more in-depth discussion on MarketingSherpa, if you’re really captivated by the theme.