SiriusDecisions Reveals Best Practice for Optimum B-to-B Web Sites

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Web site conversion optimization (WCO). Quite a mouthful, to be sure, but well worth looking into for its rich sales lead generation potential according to SiriusDecisions. The firm’s research reveals that WCO is now a best practice for business-to-business (b-to-b) organizations seeking to generate more value from their Web sites by attracting, engaging and qualifying targeted visitors.

...WCO leaders really see it as a major leap forward, a revelation; their organizations are realizing amazing benefits.

Cell phones once the size of large shoes slip into shirt pockets. Hernia-inducing desktop computers and TVs replaced by flat-screen models. Traditional media fighting for survival against such feisty new media upstarts as blogs, Facebook and Twitter. And today’s “go ahead, impress me” Internet-savvy buyers spurring smart b-to-b companies to think: When they come to our Web site, better be ready to optimize that visit as a demand creation/conversion opportunity.

Change, and evolution, march on. SiriusDecisions, the world's leading source for b-to-b sales and marketing best practice research and data, has learned that an exciting new area of “evolvement” for leading organizations is Web site conversion optimization (WCO). Conversion basically means turning potential customers into actual ones and, in the case of WCO, leveraging your Web site to help accomplish that goal.

“WCO is the practice of creating site environments that attract, engage and qualify targeted visitors,” explains Jay Gaines, research director with SiriusDecisions. “B-to-b marketers have long known that a conversion-optimized site is the promised land of demand creation, and have been trying for years to achieve WCO. Until recently, very few have done it. However, SiriusDecisions is now seeing leading b-to-b organizations finally begin to achieve true WCO due to the convergence of two primary factors: approach and technology.”

Continues Mr. Gaines: “In approach, there’s increased sophistication in demand creation strategies and tactics, defined by a deeper understanding of and focus on buying cycles and the role of high-value content in engaging and qualifying target audiences. This includes the emergence of inbound marketing which uses content, social media as well as search engine optimization and search engine marketing to draw people to Web sites; WCO leaders are now focused on how to convert that traffic. The second factor is the evolution and adoption of key marketing technologies, including marketing automation platforms, Web content management and analytics; these enable such critical functionality as progressive profiling, along with true dynamic content delivery and lead scoring based on both user behavior and profile data.”

Why has WCO become so critical? B-to-b marketers have become quite good at drawing high volumes of targeted traffic to their sites, but are coming under increasing scrutiny for not converting that traffic to qualified sales opportunities. Enter WCO, which finally enables marketers to “reinvent” their corporate site as the central hub of demand creation they always knew it could be. Web sites can now be effectively integrated into all demand creation programs, producing a continuous stream of leads for sales.

According to Mr. Gaines, effective WCO is built on three foundational pillars: Web site ownership/organizational structure, content and technology. He outlines the keys to each as follows:

Ownership/organizational structure:

  •     Marketing senior leadership takes control. Formerly sharing ownership with IT, marketing leaders gain complete strategic control of the site; IT remains responsible for managing servers and other backend technology. In addition, corporate marketing supports the efforts of the demand center (see below) and maintains responsibility for message quality and consistency.
  •     The demand center emerges. Designed to “fill the void” where internal marketing resources and skills may be lacking, these central or regional hubs of shared marketing services, infrastructure and process are responsible for all site elements that play a direct role in visitor conversion. This includes optimized forms, improved user profiling, multiple landing pages/microsites and dynamic content delivery. Notes Mr. Gaines: “Managing these tasks piecemeal – as is often done today – will almost certainly ensure a Web site that’s nothing more than a disorganized mess.”

Content:

  •     Aligned to buyers’ needs. High-value content aligned to the information needs of buyers in defined buying cycle stages is a key element of WCO.
  •     Four-step process. SiriusDecisions recommends four content-building steps to drive WCO, beginning with defining the target audience (who buys, and how) for what your organization provides. Then identify their specific information needs and map content to those needs, audit your existing content for value and relevance, and fill any content gaps you’ve uncovered.

Technology:

  •     Have integrated technologies. What were once merely pipe dreams for marketers have now become reality thanks to WCO.
  •     Three key elements. Best-in-class performance requires implementing and properly integrating these three WCO-related technologies: Web content management systems, a marketing automation platform, and Web analytics.

Concludes Mr. Gaines: “The b-to-b sales and marketing executives I talk with who’ve emerged as WCO leaders really see it as a major leap forward, a revelation; their organizations are realizing amazing benefits. The ability to continuously analyze effectiveness, as well as rapidly update and adjust Web site elements, is the key to WCO success; having these skills within a demand center helps ensure the proper resources are focused and available. It really comes down to this: Trying to do business in a new way while remaining wedded to outdated structure and methodology is a sure-fire path to failure.”

For more details regarding how to optimize your WCO strategy, contact Jay Gaines at jgaines(at)siriusdecisions(dot)com.

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About SiriusDecisions                                                                                                                
SiriusDecisions is the world's leading source for business-to-business sales and marketing best-practice research and data. SiriusDecisions Executive Advisory Services, Consulting Services, Benchmark Assessment Services, Learning and Events provide senior-level executives with the sales and marketing operational intelligence required to maximize top line growth and performance. The unique combination of thought leadership, benchmark data, analytic tools, best practices and access to a peer and analyst network allow SiriusDecisions clients to quickly receive the critical insight they need to make decisions effectively. For more information about SiriusDecisions, headquartered in Wilton, CT, visit: http://www.siriusdecisions.com.

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