B2B vs B2C Websites

The different dynamics between Business-to-Business websites (B2B) and Business-to-Customer sites (B2C) highlight the different nuances of the transaction that is taking place, and if you’re running a B2B website, your content needs to reflect that.

While the differences between B2B and B2C websites are significant, they also have some clear similarities that are worth noting. Both need to be simple for visitors to navigate, be intriguingly and attractively designed and provide the user with the information about the product or service that they want. However, the B2B audience generally has different needs to those of general consumers, with a more protracted ‘sell,’ often a higher price and the call-to-action not based purely on the attraction of a product, but on the business needs of the customer. So, let’s look at some of the unique factors of a successful B2B site.

Factor 1: Your content should inform considered purchase processes
Due to catering for the needs of businesses, with often more than one decision maker, B2B sites are not normally tailored for rapid, impulsive purchases. The visitor to a B2B site will be visiting many others too, including a lot of your competitors, to see which offering would be right for their business. Users of your site will have varying knowledge of the solution you offer, maybe it’s the first time they have experienced it and they’re looking for a reputable provider, or maybe they have been let down by another provider in this market. So, the level of content on your site will need to comprehensively reflect your knowledge of the sector.

So what does this content look like?

In-depth material such as articles, technical papers, case studies, podcasts or webinars can help those researching your sector understand that your company is the right solutions provider. Use your website as a marketing tool to show how your solutions work and why you’re the right provider of those solutions.

Building on that, make sure you’re positioning yourself correctly to make the most of your advantages over competitors. If you can demonstrate how you do something better than your competitors, highlight it, so that when a user visits competitors, they will look for the same thing and find it lacking. At the same time, acknowledge the viability of other companies in this sector, but return to why you provide a better solution, product or service.

Factor 2: Be compatible with other products that your customer will need
It is common for the products or services supplied by B2B sites to not be standalone products, but part of a larger ‘food chain,’ so your solution needs to be compatible with other products in this ecosystem. This is one of the biggest fears for B2B customers, as one poorly made investment could disrupt a large project with many purchases being made from multiple suppliers.

A very brief example of the categories of B2B purchases that customers frequently require compatibility and integration for include:

  • Software and computer hardware
  • Printers and networking equipment
  • Air conditioning or filtration systems
  • Engineering or automation equipment
  • Audio-visual equipment of all types
  • Chemical or biotech equipment
  • POS terminals and software

The information you provide when it comes to compatibility needs to be comprehensive, no matter how technical it may appear, this includes linking to external sites if possible. A comprehensive information package would include mentioning items such as; types of product which your product integrates with, what versions of these products, what product allows for the best integration, what tech support you provide, what industry standards (ISO etc.) you hold and link to the relevant organisation who validates these standards.

Also, provide links to pdf’s or other types of technical support documentation that show how your product connects or interfaces with others.

Factor 3: Speak to both users and decision makers
A common mistake for B2B sites is that they pitch their content or their message at the decision makers or purchasing managers, who may never actually be involved in using a product or services, and will only engage with your site as part of the final review of the purchasing process. It’s important that your content speaks to both users and decision makers, as it is often the user who makes the informed presentation to a decision maker who will sanction or decline the investment. So, you want to inform these users as much as possible, as they will ultimately be ambassadors for your product or service. If you supply a service, make sure you include comprehensive information on who exactly it is your customer will be working with, be transparent with your structure and how you have a team ready to support the customer, in addition to a product.

Factor 4: Be upfront when it comes to pricing
Unlike B2C sites, B2B sites can have far more complex pricing scenarios and strategies. Your product or service is likely to be scaleable or customisable according to the needs of the consumer. You also need to factor in the sales process that can allow concessions or discounts due to relationships with your sales teams. So, while it is not a ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to pricing, it is always advisable to show, where possible, what the average or exact price will be. Remember, B2B customers are likely as price conscious as their B2C counterparts. If you can’t show the exact price, provide samples of pricing based on case studies or else invest in developing a price calculator on your site. Since B2B interactions require more research, cost is going to one of the first thing a visitor to your site investigates, so be upfront and stand over your pricing. Provide easy contact interfaces too, maybe an online chat or a ‘receive a quote’ click. However, if you go for the latter make sure there is someone to send back the quote quickly. There is nothing worse than saying ‘get in touch’ but then not replying.

To recap.

A B2B website needs to be as informative, engaging and easy to use as a B2C website, but you have more latitude to explain your product or service in depth. Reward a customer who may be making a considered purchase by providing them with the information they will need. Distinguish yourself from the competition by clearly explaining the benefits of what you’re offering and how it will integrate and enhance other systems within the users business. Be upfront with pricing, and be easily contactable.

At Universal Media, we’re happy to sit down with you and examine all aspects of your B2B website and what we can do to help optimise its content and design in order to make the user experience rewarding for the customer, and easy to manage for your business.