What Makes B2B Websites Different from Other Websites?
When you’re designing a website, it can be tempting to draw stark black-and-white comparisons between B2B sites and other types of B2B web design. The truth is far more nuanced, rendering a picture in shades of gray; after all, each different type of website has some overlap, and something to learn from, the others.
B2B vs B2C Websites
Business-to-consumer (B2C) websites and their content are largely designed for and geared toward mass appeal. B2B marketing, on the other hand, is a niche concern. This shows itself in three key ways:
- B2C marketing tends to be broadcast, while B2B is narrowcast. Your customer research, and the customer avatars that result, will be much more precise, and far more carefully targeted, rather than trying to be all things to all comers.
- B2B has a longer sales cycle or customer journey—more on this presently—with less emphasis on impulse buying or emotional triggers.
- In addition to our second point, it’s also worth noting that B2B content creation is an altogether different beast than B2C content; here, statistics, case studies, a robust knowledge base, and concrete solutions to problems that may require creative applications of innovative thinking tend to carry the day.
B2B vs ECommerce Websites
The prospective B2B web design client will go through many of the same steps that a B2C consumer does when researching, evaluating, and ultimately selecting a product, software, or service. While both types of business will find value in eCommerce, there are key differences in customers’ and end users’ experiences and expectations that set them apart. This is especially apparent in companies that cover both markets; a company like Dell, for instance, will pitch laptops to consumers in a different way than they would target businesses seeking servers or cloud computing services.
B2B vs Nonprofit Websites
At first blush, one would think that a nonprofit organization or charity is in many ways the complete opposite of the B2B marketing approach. What, after all, is a nonprofit organization selling? On the other hand, nonprofits’ focus on the greater good, community leadership, and an emphasis on service are all worthwhile to businesses, too.
When Unilever surveyed 20,000 adults worldwide to gauge customer sentiment toward their businesses, they found that 33% actively chose businesses with a sense of purpose. Nonprofit marketing, with its emphasis on storytelling that drives retention, also has much to teach profit-driven businesses.
B2B vs Governmental Websites
Many B2Bs are also B2Gs—Business to Government—making it important to understand what makes government websites tick. While the government can seem opaque and complex to outsiders, government websites need to make laws, regulations, initiatives, and even complexities like the tax code as transparent as possible.
To that end, government websites place a premium on three key principles:
- Usability: Can the public easily navigate the site and find the information they need?
- Development: Is the site mobile-compatible, accessible, and quick to load?
- Information: Is the information present, clear, and engaging to the extent possible, without compromising or obscuring its intent?
The Takeaway: What B2Bs Can Learn from Non-B2B Websites
If we view each of these pairings as a both/and, rather than an either/or, what do we learn?
- B2B sellers’ clients have sales headaches of their own. B2C websites’ emphasis on identifying and addressing pain points is instructive here, and businesses are slowly coming around to the value of emotion in building connections.
- Traditional eCommerce websites remind us that removing friction points from the purchasing process is vital no matter who’s buying, or what they may be purchasing.
Nonprofit websites remind us that the heart matters as much as the head and that our clients aren’t simply buying a product or service; they’re investing in the promise of significant change. They’re also a permission slip, of sorts, to wear your business’s heart on its proverbial sleeve and emphasize your own organization’s social responsibility in business.
- Organizational and governmental websites provide information, visibility, and accountability. They also remind us that our businesses often overlap with our clients’ legal and regulatory concerns; informing your prospective clients to better address those concerns, while also respecting privacy concerns and protecting your clients’ proprietary information, will be to your benefit as much as theirs.
There is one more component that each of these sites shares. Grab a compass; we’re about to embark on the customer journey.