From a trends perspective, the B2B world has different concerns than the consumer world from which most trends originate. Rather than driving trends, B2B generally responds to them.
Buyer Personas are on the Rise
Content is still king and personalized content is and will continue to be more important than ever in B2B websites. Within a single organization, the target audience is amorphous and yet particular, made up of groups of constantly changing individuals with different interests and motivations. Buyers seek a good financial deal. Engineers prioritize performance. Health and safety executives focus on low risk. While every audience evidences a mix of rational and emotional behavior, B2B audiences skew to the rational.
How can B2B marketers speak like insiders to the various needs of different decision makers and avoid lowest common denominator, generic content, or conversely, being overly verbose in an effort to be all things to all people? The answer is to create Buyer Personas that enable marketers to see audiences as real people with unique needs. In a nutshell, a Buyer Persona is a process of gathering intelligence around a specific audience and creating an identity for the person(s) to whom you wish to market. Look Buyer Personas becoming more standard marketing procedure.
Be on the Lookout for “Explainer Case Studies”
Adoddle PM: This example explainer video highlights the risk associated with mistakes that might result from poor planning and communication, and offers a corporate collaboration tool.
We live in a time in which images and visual storytelling are more motivating than the long-form copy of most case studies. We’ve seen an explosion in the last year of a presentation genre called “Explainer Videos.” Most often these are not actual live action video but animated storytelling scripts that explain how something works. “Explainer Videos” have proven to be cost effective relative to live video, and engaging because they tell a concise story. The typically staid format for case studies is poised for a visual and interactive update. At RainCastle we are currently developing four animated case studies in the “Explainer Video” mode. Look for more animated case studies around the web in 2016, which engage website visitors and explain business concepts, while at the same time touting a successful customer engagement.
Website Designers Need to be Integrated Marketing Experts
B2B buyers will be ever more scrutinizing in choosing web design partners. They are often in the business of having their products and services integrated into the wider systems of their customers, who require consistently detailed, examination, modification and measurement. This mindset prevails when they are seeking a website designer. The choice of website designer might be based on who best understands how to integrate the site into a wider B2B marketing campaign, how interactivity with users enhances messaging and brand, the degree to which SEO draws potential clients via search engines and how a content marketing strategy can generate sales leads. Although B2B marketers react to color and powerful imagery, a B2B website is rarely a cosmetic decision.
Real Photography Makes a Comeback
2015 was a peak year for the dramatic, full-bleed, stock photo images on scrolling home pages. The stylistic change cycle seems to occur every three or four years and/or when a new technology arises. The sweeping new technology of the last few years has been Responsive Design, a web design paradigm that automatically resizes the website according to a viewer’s device. I see no sweeping technology like Responsive design in 2016 and while the mobility tail will continue to wag the desktop dog — my informal poll of B2B clients indicates that still only about 20% of views come from mobile, yet mobile-influenced scrolling designs with huge type, flat icons and full-bleed photos dominate.
But in this increasingly image-dominant world, we are beginning to see B2B marketers invest in custom imagery for their websites. B2B marketers expect their websites to work harder; the wallpaper image approach is yielding to images that are carefully crafted and curated to tell a more compelling, accurate and differentiated brand story.
Pop Up Offers will Wane in 2016
While pop-ups have demonstrated effectiveness for subscription-based businesses on the consumer side, they are generally an anathema from a user experience perspective.
- According to WebMeUp, an SEO blog, 70% of Americans say they get annoyed by irrelevant pop-up ads (I’m in there!);
- The #1 reason why people would block a site is annoying ads;
- There are 2,000+ threads in the eBay community dedicated to annoying pop-ups.
A most fundamental aspect of a successful website is providing a user experience that is all about giving the customer what they want in the way they want it. Website designers will become more clever and resourceful such that they do not have to resort to force-feeding marketing content that often has not been properly considered as part of the overall user experience.
Business-to-business buyers are more predictable than their consumer counterparts because their decisions skew to rational needs. This means that the website designers with the most insight, tightest processes and deepest understanding and experience in the marketing context of the web, will be the best suited to meet the needs of B2B clients in 2016 and beyond.
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