Why B2B finserv brands need to go big on their website

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The marketing efforts of companies operating in the B2B space tend to have a very sharp focus - after all, they know who their potential customers are, and in many cases will take a very direct approach. So why, then, would they invest in an all-singing, all-dancing website?

It just doesn’t seem to make sense. A serviceable website with all of the relevant information about what a business does and how to get in touch with them is enough, surely. Well, for much of the asset management industry - and to a lesser extent, financial services in general - this tends to be the attitude. The belief seems to be that there is no compelling business case for spending big on a website if you are a B2B finserv firm. But I would argue that this logic is outdated.

You could be fooled into thinking that you were still living in the 20th Century if you were to take a look at the websites of some B2B financial services brands - even very big ones. Poor design and navigation are just the tip of the iceberg - information isn’t presented clearly, and often the websites don’t work well on smartphones or tablets. Yet according to data from our recent survey, 41 per cent of asset manager marketers stated that the number one objective for their website was to generate new business. Perhaps surprisingly, only 18 per cent stated it was to service existing customers - though it’s clear to see that neither of these objectives are not being met by any asset management firms.  

At the back end, things are little better. There’s often no effort been made to try and capture any useful data about who the website visitors are and what they are interested in. Websites can often be tricky to update meaning information about share prices and exchange rates could be out of date and therefore entirely useless to a visitor. Mistakes can lie uncorrected for days or even weeks.

All of this creates a very bad impression of the business for the potential client. Even if that client is representing another business that individual is still, at the end of the day, a consumer. They will have encountered the slick, well-designed user interfaces of many cutting-edge B2C websites and these are the yardsticks they use. If a B2B website looks as if it belongs in a completely different era, then it is going to be memorable for all the wrong reasons.

There are many examples of websites in other industries, owned by B2B companies, that show how it should be done. Take Otis Lifts, for instance, or Zendesk. There are high quality images, clear navigational prompts and interactive elements that you might expect from the website of a consumer brand. Everything looks modern and professional, leaving the visitor with a good first impression.

Keeping their attention

You may ask why they bother, when it is not the man or woman on the street that they are trying to reach. But it is about brand perception, and using any tool you can to gain a competitive advantage on your peers.

This is because they have a greater understanding of their sales funnel, taking a holistic view that allows them to the role that digital plays in the customer journey. First impressions count, so not only does the website have to look good, but it needs to be easy to find too. Getting the basics of SEO right isn’t difficult, but is so important to making sure potential customers actually get to the site in the first place. Good SEO can make the difference between appearing on page one of Google’s search results, or fading into page five.

Once the visitor is on the website, things need to work as they should. This is why it is important to use responsive design principles, so the website is easy to read for every visitor no matter what device they are using. Beyond this, there needs to be clear branding and messaging, in order to make the company memorable. Eye-catching images, videos and infographics that make the company’s message and USP easy to understand should also play a part.

It is also important to keep the visitor’s attention after the first impression has been made. There needs to be a depth of content, constantly updated on the website. Not just clear information about products and services - though this is of course critical - but a wealth of useful content for the target audience, such as recent blog posts commenting on industry affairs, customer case studies and links to press coverage. Not only does having this kind of content present the business as a trusted guide and partner, it offers additional SEO benefits if there is a regular cycle of articles, videos and infographics that pertain to the hot-button issues in the industry.

Longer-form content should also play a part. While it isn’t practical to put every article behind a registration wall - as this will annoy visitors and is likely to have the adverse effect - larger documents like whitepapers and brochures can be turned into downloadable materials, which have to be unlocked by providing a valid email address. This email address then provides an opportunity for your sales team to make a direct approach.

At the back end of the website, B2B companies need to be looking at how their visitors use the website too, in order to understand and serve these potential customers’ needs. How did they arrive at the site? Was it via a search engine, a link back in a press article or through social media? What pages did they look at and for how long? What search terms did they use? All of these data points provide invaluable insights that basic websites just cannot provide.

B2B financial services brands need to bring their digital lead generation efforts into the modern day, and bolster their online presence to turn these leads into clients. There’s no excuse for a having an overly basic or out-of-date website any more - it’ll cost you more in lost business than it will to create something that actually pulls the punters in.

Mash Patel, CEO, Kurtosys
Image source: Shutterstock/violetkaipa