From time to time, we can hear some misconceptions like that B2C (Business-to-Consumer) structures, which supply their products or services directly to end-users, need marketing strategies more. However, B2B (Business-to-Business) marketing strategies developed professionally are essential for B2B structures that serve other companies, especially if they want to survive in the digital era.

Let us support this statement with the data from two global studies: 94% of the B2B target audience (yes, that is right, 94%) does online research during their purchase journey. (Source: Accenture) 6 out of every 10 B2B users (59%) prefer to conduct research on B2B brands’ websites rather than meeting a sales representative. (Source: Forrester)

B2B marketing differs from B2C marketing, which we are more familiar with as consumers, in terms of target audience and methods. However, this does not move where customers land even an inch. In other words, the path to an effective B2B marketing strategy is again through the website. But what do customers expect from B2B brands’ websites? How should you develop your website for B2B marketing? We answered all of these questions with the results of a survey conducted by Orbit Media Studios and Ascend2 research company. Enjoy reading.

B2B website visitors vs B2B marketing professionals

Orbit Media Studios and Ascend2 collected the opinions of 429 B2B professionals for the survey conducted in March and April of 2021. 236 participants identified themselves as B2B website visitors, while 193 of them contributed to a B2B website. In this context, the questions were presented to 2 different groups, namely B2B website visitors and marketing professionals who develop B2B websites. Therefore, what you will read next will help measure how the applications you implement on your website within the scope of B2B marketing affect your visitors. We get started if you are ready!

According to the report, 78% of the marketing professionals of B2B brands consider websites to be critical in the decision-making processes of their target audience. 79% of B2B website visitors agree with this idea as well.

Things go a little different after a certain point when it comes to features on B2B brands’ websites. 52% of B2B marketing professionals say that what they think is most important in B2B brands’ websites is answering visitors’ questions. This is followed by easy navigation by 51%, expert opinions by 40%, and video and images by 23%. Good news! B2B website visitors agree with this idea as well. But only in these 4 features… So, where does the clash of opinions begin?

In the first place is “social proof”. Social proof can be defined as referrals made on websites, based on experiences of the brand’s previous visitors, like “best sellers” or “people who bought this also bought these”. According to the report, 44% of B2B marketing professionals find social proof important, while this percentage remains at 27% for B2B website visitors. A similar ratio is observed for B2B brands’ messages and stories on their websites. While the ratio of B2B marketing professionals that attach importance to this aspect remains the same, the percentage of visitors in this regard drops to 24%.

A good website design is more important for B2B marketing than you think!

Now, we can talk about the features that B2B website visitors attach greater importance than professionals do… This time, design takes the first place! While 22% of visitors find it essential for a website to have an eye-pleasing design, only 12% of professionals agree with this opinion. Another interesting difference is about team photos and backgrounds. While only 3% of B2B marketing professionals think it is important, the ratio of visitors is 11% in this regard.

CTA is not enough to call B2B website visitors to action!

Now is the turn of more technical details that your B2B marketing strategy is founded on! We suggest you grab a paper and pen at this point… We can keep going if you are ready.

Social media links, pop-ups, chatbots, educational materials like e-books, white papers, and many more on B2B brands’ websites… We know that all these occupy a rather important place in industrial marketing strategies. But how useful do B2B website visitors find the things B2B marketing professionals attach importance to? Can these practices create the intended impact? The survey reveals quite striking results on this question.

Let us start with “call-to-action” (CTA) messages in the marketing world, intended to drive visitors to take action. 80% of B2B professionals find it essential for B2B websites to have expressions that will encourage visitors to act, like “Subscribe now”, “Buy now”, “Register”, “Get discount”, “Contact now”. However, only 28% of B2B website visitors think it is important, so for the vast majority, this effort means nothing. The same applies to pop-up boxes used to warn visitors or provide information and e-books, studies, and whitepapers offered for lead generation that is one of the effective B2B marketing methods. But what is it that visitors find useful in B2B brands’ websites instead of all these?

Visitors find search boxes and chat tools most useful on B2B brands’ websites

Search boxes are the feature that B2B marketing professionals consider not that important but unfortunately make the biggest mistake. 69% of visitors find it pretty useful for B2B brands’ websites to include search boxes that allow in-site search. However, professionals are not aware of it, and only 26% of them agree with the visitors.

Another misconception is about live chat and chatbots. We should note that digital transformation does not mean that the human factor will be eliminated entirely! There will always be a need for humans. That is exactly why tools like live chat and chatbots are of importance. They address the needs of visitors, solve problems, show interest and make them feel special. Just like customer representatives accompanying you in a physical store.

Therefore, 45% of B2B website visitors put such tools in the second place among the most useful features. B2B marketing professionals, on the other hand, upset those visitors a little, by a rate of 23%.

Website equals fast and up-to-date information source for B2B brands

The results are pretty interesting, right? But there is more to come! It is because B2B website visitors pay much more attention to details than you think they do. For instance, how vital can social media links and feed in social media be to the website of a B2B brand? Survey results show that 20% of B2B marketing professionals find it important.

On the other hand, 35% of visitors find it helpful to give access to this information on your pages. Similarly, the sliders on your home page are of much more importance to visitors than professionals. The main critical detail is hidden in your blog posts. Aside from the nature, length, and clarity of the content, what 10% of B2B marketing professionals find important, but 24% of visitors consider one of the most useful features is the date information on your blog posts!

This means that being up-to-date is at least as important as the quality of the content. In other words, websites should equal “fast and up-to-date information source” for B2B brands. It is because visitors are after the easiest access to up-to-date information and easily consumable content.

Video content is essential for B2B brands’ websites

When we talk about being a source of information, we can’t leave content formats unmentioned. And the report agrees with us. For B2B brands’ websites, content is the most essential element that attracts visitors, as is the case with websites of all other structures. The most important content format for both marketing professionals who build B2B websites and visitors is video. 42% of marketing professionals and 44% of visitors state that video comes first. It’s great to sing off the same songbook! But again, it doesn’t take long. Such content as user comments and testimonials, which 36% of B2B marketing professionals attach importance to, is considered important by a larger portion of visitors, i.e. 59%.

Similarly, the content based on studies and the insights obtained from them is also of importance for 49% of visitors. And 37% of marketing professionals agree. Another format where a clash of opinions is observed is infographics. This format, which conveys information and data more easily and memorably through visualization, is valuable for 20% of B2B marketing professionals and 30% of B2B website visitors.

B2B websites are most often discovered through search engines and social media

We saved probably the most striking result of the report for the last. Most B2B brands know that customers discover them through search engines. This is exactly what the report says. 72% of visitors find B2B brands’ websites through search engines, 57% on social media, 46% via online advertisements, 44% by word of mouth and referrals by third parties, 26% via e-mails, and 7% via traditional advertisements.

These unsurprising rates are what we expected to hear. What is really interesting is which traffic source B2B marketing professionals find valuable. For them, it is much more important to be discovered through e-mails and third-party referrals after search engines, social media, and online advertisements.