Maybe you’ve heard some of the feedback, possibly whispered in the more dimly-lit corners of those industry networking meetings…

“Have you seen XYZco’s website? …it looks like it was done way back when Netscape went public!”
“Yeah, I went to their site… what I saw didn’t read anything like what I thought they were about.”
“I thought it was funny that their Events page invited me to ‘See us at HealthFair 2005’ …until I got to wondering whether they might be going out of business.”

Mostly, though, even your best friends won’t tell you how bad your B2B website has become;  you kind of have to figure it out for yourself.  It’s really not all that difficult, though:  you can get feedback from a small focus group;  you can look at your log files and note the high percentage of quick exits;  or you can simply put yourself in the place of a good prospect visiting your site for the first time, and ask yourself how the site would impress you and how well it would meet your informational needs.

Your B2B website is probably hurting you more than helping if…

  • it contains obviously outdated information (like that invite to last year’s tradeshow)
  • its content no longer accurately describes your company’s current business strategy, branding, or product/service offerings
  • it has a seriously outdated appearance, difficult navigation, or dense content that clearly was copied from brochures without reworking for how people actually use the Web

Even if it “only” has spelling, punctuation or grammar errors (and more than one per page is really too many) – or is written in a style that’s at odds with your company’s image – your site will cause at least some visitors to wonder just how much care you put into your product or service, since they don’t see an appropriate level of care being taken with your company’s most public “face”.

Top 4 excuses for living with a lame B2B website

In fact, it’s usually not news – least of all to Marketing – that the company’s website has fallen behind the power curve.  Generally, we hear these reasons given for not fixing it:

Budget (or, “Yeah, we know… but we just can’t afford to fix it.”).  In most cases, this stems from an improper allocation of budget to the online vehicles …which is typically due to a lack of understanding of the true ROI of online marketing.  If so, your Web consultancy can help you measure it properly and make the case.

Tied to a bigger project (or, “We’re working on a major repositioning/branding effort, and plan to get to the website when that’s done.”).  Sometimes this is legit, and certainly the website needs to reflect the company’s latest positioning/branding.  But sometimes the branding exercise stretches out to where it’s time to re-brand again …so the website never gets done.  Kind of like an immature software company that intends to put out a new release once the flow of new-feature requests dries up …which never happens, so there’s never a new release.  Sometimes you have to set a firm deadline and just do it.

Low priority (or, “We never get any hot leads from the site anyway, so what’s the rush?”).  If this is truly the case, it’s a reason for raising the priority, not lowering it.  You probably need to not only rebuild the website, but also re-examine each facet of your Web marketing:  SEO, PPC, lead conversion, nurturing …everything.  And it’s likely to require professional help.  Your competitors are probably getting both warm and hot leads, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t be, too.

Technology trap (or, “IT has ‘Christmas-treed’ our site so much over the years, we’re afraid to touch it;  and there isn’t enough money in the world to duplicate its functions.”).  There are several cost-effective options, and you owe it to yourself to review them with your Web design consultants.

Do it Now!

Good as it may have been when first launched, websites don’t last forever:  styles change and your company changes.  If your B2b website shows any of the problematic signs we mentioned at the top, it’s surely hurting your company’s image and probably costing it serious money, by way of lost potential prospects that instead become your competitors’ sales.  It’s a false economy to use budget as an excuse:  when they run the numbers, most B2Bs can prove to themselves that the lifetime revenue from just one or two new customers will easily pay for the site makeover.