These days, your customers care about more than their relationship with a sales rep. That’s because people are shopping differently – namely, online. As such, the experience that B2B distributors create on their websites for their customers has a big impact on their success. And a negative experience could negatively affect your engagement on other channels, offline and on. It’s all connected.
This perception, or experience, is commonly known as the “user experience,” or UX. Here, we’ll cover what goes into UX and why it matters for distributors.
What is Website User Experience (UX)?
Simply put, UX involves everything that the online user experiences while interacting with your website. It has to do with design and aesthetics, but it’s more than that. For example, UX includes:
- How easy it is to find desired products, which speaks to your search function as well as how good the underlying product data is and how well you organize the website so it’s easy to consume.
- How easy it is to find information as part of the shopping process. What kinds of resources are you providing to answer your customers’ top questions?
- The emotions that come up while interacting with your website.
Ultimately, it’s about building a website with the target customer in mind – making it easy for them to do business with you there.
Of course, great UX falls flat if nobody can find your website to begin with. That’s where good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes in.
How is SEO Connected to UX?
When you search for a product in Google and sift through the results that pop up, the top results appear because those websites rank well for those search terms. If you don’t appear on the first page of search results, the chances a prospect will find you are next to nothing.
An effective SEO strategy means that your prospects and customers can find you online when they need a solution to their problems. Great SEO is rooted in knowing your audience and knowing their challenges and needs. What are they searching for? What are their pain points? What keywords or key phrases might they be typing into Google?
A solid B2B website will have an ecommerce component as well as content marketing components (such as blogs, whitepapers and case studies) that offer useful, relevant and search-engine friendly content that get your website noticed by Google — and, in turn, by potential buyers.
SEO and UX are intertwined. You need people to find your website first. Then, the experience of interacting with your website needs to satisfy the user’s needs by being clear, painless and hopefully even enjoyable.
Why UX Matters in B2B Markets
Even though you’re marketing to other businesses, the people interacting with your site are still human. A great B2B user experience makes a big difference in how your customers perceive your business. Here are a few reasons why you should care and act now:
- Great UX can generate trust — and new customers. Great UX can lower the overall cost of acquiring new customers. A polished online presence can be perceived as more trustworthy and credible — which will then translate to your brand, and, by extension, the products and services you offer. This can all happen without extra time and energy from a sales rep.
- Great UX can increase wallet share. UX can help drive even the most loyal customer to buy more. Current customers may buy certain products from you, but a well-designed experience can point them toward other items they need that they didn’t know you sold.
- Great UX meets users where they are. When user experience is positive on both desktop and mobile platforms, you’ll be able to reach people however they choose to shop. Also consider the importance of a seamless experience for a user that may look at your website, and then pick up the phone to talk to a customer service rep. Is it easy for the rep to pick up where the website left off?
- Great UX improves search visibility. Google recently announced new ranking factors, known as “Core Web Vitals,” will take effect in 2021. The bottom line of the changes is that UX matters in search. If your website is difficult to navigate, loads slowly or doesn’t perform well on a mobile device, Google will downgrade you in search results. This has always played a role in search, but Google has now elevated its importance. For example, the speed at which your website loads has a dramatic impact on whether a visitor sticks around. Google found that bounce rates (the percent of users that leave your site after just one page) increased by 32% when load time goes from 1 second to 3 seconds. Bounce rate goes up 106% when your site takes 6 seconds to load (compared with 1 second).
What to Do Next with UX
While you can make tweaks to your website UX, and start to improve its SEO, this is not a one-and-done project. You may want to work with a professional to see the biggest impact. Start with a website audit to better understand your current UX and SEO situation, research your target audience and create customer personas. Then, consider spending resources on design improvements and website development to align with your customer needs.
Dean Mueller is Independent Consultant at Distribution Strategy Group. He has more than 30 years of experience in sales and marketing and helps distributors build holistic digital strategies that drive a significant shift to online sales, improve profitability and grow customer satisfaction. Take your digital strategy to the next level. Contact Dean at firstname.lastname@example.org.