The New ‘New’ Corporate Website

Your prospects don’t care about you. They don’t even care about what you do. They care about what you can do for them. I am fond of saying this to, well, anyone who will listen. It not only encapsulates exactly what B-to-B buyers are thinking, but also pokes a little fun at the ego with which so many marketers think of their own marketing materials.

Tom Marin blog website design illustrationYour prospects don’t care about you.

They don’t even care about what you do.

They care about what you can do for them.

I am fond of saying this to, well, anyone who will listen. (I believe it’s the phrase on which my now-16-year-old daughter perfected her eye roll.) The reason I’m fond of the this saying, aside from it’s slight snarkiness, is that it not only encapsulates exactly what B-to-B buyers are thinking, but also pokes a little fun at the ego with which so many marketers think of their own marketing materials.

To avoid this trap on your company website, you must keep the focus pointed outward, not inward. The language you use will be a big part of this focus, but the site’s navigation and organizing structure are important, too.

In other words, the About Us and What We Do pages aren’t nearly as important to your prospects as you think. You should de-emphasize those pages and/or rethink them in favor of pages that explain the benefits of what you do and the impact what you do can have on your prospects’ businesses.

With that in mind, you should make sure that About Us finds its rightful home, which is not as the first item on your main menu. That first item, which can have any number of titles, should be an entry point into the ways you can help prospects improve their businesses.

(About Us should, in most cases, be the second-to-last item on your main menu. Having the Contact page occupy the last spot has become enough of a convention that you should not mess with your audience’s expectations.)

On your home page, talking about yourself and your products or services beyond a basic introductory paragraph is a waste of valuable screen real estate. That screen space should be used for three (give or take) calls to action that draw visitors deeper into your site.

Once you have your navigation and structure properly focused, you should review your site’s copy – both its focus and its language. In addition to being all about “you,” the prospect and not “we,” the marketers, it needs to provide value to your target audience.

Your site should include tools, tips, and thought pieces. You should have landing pages devoted to your key audience segments. And your materials should be timely and relevant to the issues your prospects are facing – exactly the things that About Us and What We Do nearly always aren’t.

To be an effective marketing tool, your site has to bring the benefits of what you do to life. Content has to include useful tools and tips and how-to guides that provide value to your target audience. The marketing value is driven home as prospects come to think of you as a knowledgeable and valuable resource on whom they can rely when they move from exploring an issue to seeking a solution.

Any Time Is Search Time for Consumers

At a baseball game the other day, I couldn’t help but notice how many people in my seating area were busy looking at their phones, phablets or tablets. Baseball, with its languorous pace, provides spectators plenty of extra time to search online, check their email, send texts and engage with social media. It seems no one near me at the game was wasting a single moment of this valuable screen time. Savvy sports marketers already know this and regularly encourage social media use, providing hashtags and URLs almost everywhere.

At a baseball game the other day, I couldn’t help but notice how many people in my seating area were busy looking at their phones, phablets or tablets. Baseball, with its languorous pace, provides spectators plenty of extra time to search online, check their email, send texts and engage with social media. It seems no one near me at the game was wasting a single moment of this valuable screen time. Savvy sports marketers already know this and regularly encourage social media use, providing hashtags and URLs almost everywhere. Go to any sporting event and see for yourself just how much online activity is going on all around you. It would be a fair to say almost everybody is constantly online with a mobile device.

This highly distracted behavior is not confined to sporting events. This behavior is the new norm. It is pervasive. Google has recognized this and has adjusted their algorithm to give a boost to mobile friendly sites. There are several clear signals for ecommerce site owners in this shift to mobile. With limited search real estate available on smaller screens and search rankings increasingly difficult to secure, each organic search click becomes more important. They must not be wasted. It is imperative that a site catch the surfer on their first search and direct their attention directly to the product they want with minimal effort; otherwise that searcher may very well move on to another site or to some other online activity. Are you making it as easy as possible for all your visitors to find just what they want almost instantly? That should be the goal.

If your site were perfectly optimized—an ideal, hypothetical, situation, every searcher would conduct a search and find just the right product on the very first try. It doesn’t work that way even in fairy tales. It took Goldilocks three tries to find the “just right” porridge. Are you effectively supporting the customer’s quest through your navigation, and does Google understand how your navigation supports the user? If you cannot answer this in the affirmative, you need to adjust your proverbial sails to catch the wind.

Ask yourself whether your faceting supports a second more refined search query. For example, someone searching for “batting helmets” might want to refine their search to reflect the user (youth or adult), a brand or price preference, or the whether the helmet is for slow pitch softball or high-velocity hardball. Your navigation and its faceting should support this searcher behavior. Does your site make it easy for the first time visitor to quickly find additional options when they arrive from a search engine, or must they go through numerous clicks to see them?

Your navigation should act as a secondary search tool. Google has recognized the value of the navigation, and through site links allows site owners to communicate key navigational elements. We can expect to see Google continue to make efforts to compress more useful information into less space in the search listing in an effort to satisfy the user more quickly. Give your Google listings a quick sanity check and see if they conform to how users look for your products. One quick tip is to review your two and three word phrases and see if they show up when and where you would expect them. Search and shop your own site the next time you are sitting at a ball game with spare screen time. You’ll be surprised at what you might find out.