Top Ten B2B Resolutions for Website Practices in 2009January 6th, 2009 |
With the new year already here, a number of new technological standards stare the business world in the face. The horizon for 2009 presents a number of new challenges, certainly, but also a multitude of new opportunities for growth and development—to seize the new methods available to internet developers in addition to new metrics to help calibrate maximum website effectiveness.
Below you can find the list of our top ten “resolutions” for your business and website that will allow you to make the most of the new year.
1. Structure and adjust your B2B website around usability. Business-to-business transactions are rational and relationship driven, so while eye-catching Flash pieces are important to help your website stay current, they by no means take the place of building your website around clear messaging and strong service branding.
2. Assess your website according to usability standards and best practices. Gain valuable real-world user feedback about the advantages and shortcomings of your site through live, high-fidelity usability studies. Actual user feedback can be an excellent barometer about your current site’s messaging and focus.
3. Develop mobile web content. In 2007 this was seen as a burgeoning market, in 2008 growing to be a normative part of web browsing, and 2009 is expected to be the year that mobile web browsing and the .mobi suffix becomes a prominent part of the market share for web browsing. Tailoring your B2B site toward mobile browsing or setting up a parallel site greatly improves the accessibility of your messaging.
4. Take advantage of new forms of social media. Already, highly visible social media like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have helped shape the way people do business and communicate. While social media will never take the place of real business communication, it’s becoming too important of a realm to ignore.
5. Finally take advantage of blogs, vlogs (video blogs) or podcasts in 2009. Having regularly updated dynamic content on your website is a great way to encourage return visitors and blogs are quickly becoming the standard—not the option—for both B2C and B2B sites to encourage repeat visits. Consider the prominence of blogs and social media in the 2008 presidential campaign, and think of it as a model on how to cultivate relationships.
6. Introduce video to your homepage if you haven’t already. Video is stimulating and can easily be tailored to maximize your website’s messaging with messages like a company overview or a possible elevator pitch. Given that user viewers watched 13.5 billion videos in the month of October 2008 alone, a website without video is losing ground against its competitors, even in the B2B world.
7. Be careful about reducing marketing budgets. The economy for 2009 almost certainly means that some sacrifice will be necessary. Redefining your business focus on existing customers rather than developing new leads is fiscally responsible—but only in the short term. The measurability of ROI on the internet, the relative cost-effectiveness compared to print media, and the ability of the internet to more quickly develop a diverse customer base all make internet marketing retain its value even in hard times.
8. Revisit your web content to be both user and search engine optimized. Based on an Infrared eye tracking study conducted by the Nielsen Norman Group, most users view websites in an “F” pattern, scanning from left to right in jumps from top to bottom. This makes bullets an absolute must. Additionally, Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) has been becoming increasingly prevalent in major search engines. LSI emphasizes relevant and related content and actually blacklists the practice of keyword stuffing when indexing a web page, which redefines how pages should be constructed for optimal search results.
9. Examine the structure of your business communication model. Do you communicate exclusively via e-mail? If so, how well does it work? Consider developing alternative inter- and intranet based applications to help unify your business communication, from sales to project management and development.
10. Remember the little things. Remember that your clients and relationships are oriented not only around presentation, but ease of communication. Is your website set up obtrusively at all? Does it contain any broken links or PDFs or outdated copyright material? If so, it can give the appearance of a site that is more or less abandoned by its creator, setting up a serious barrier to your messaging. Making sure that your content is current, functional, and legible are critical indicators for how likely a prospect is to glean your messaging from the website and increases the chances of conversion.