Introducing the FOCUSED Website Evaluation Checklist

There are standards to which you should aspire when planning and designing your B2B site. It’s necessary to stick to these standards because they give you guidance on what makes a successful B2B site.

A site that has no standards in planning and design is a site that will fail to bring in leads and create conversions. That’s why we are introducing the FOCUSED™ website evaluation checklist to put you on the right path, so that you can evaluate if your B2B site is firing on all cylinders is running smoothly.

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FOCUSED™ is an acronym that stands for:

  • Friction
  • Opportunity
  • Clarity
  • Urgency
  • Stepping Stones
  • Engagement
  • Distraction

What makes this framework so helpful is that it offers you a super-efficient way of evaluating your B2B site, at least on a very fundamental level. Some things to think about will be:

  • Are your links both clear and descriptive?
  • Is your call to action repeated enough times on the homepage and easy to access?
  • Is the site copy clear enough so everyone understands what your company does?
  • Does your buyer know to act sooner rather than later?
  • Does the buyer understand what the next steps are on any given page?
  • Is there high-quality content that engages your buyer?
  • Do you have so many distractions and noise on your site that the buyer’s attention is removed from the goal of any given page?

Now, it’s time to find out if your website is FOCUSED.

Friction

Friction is a conversion-killer, which is why it is so vital for you to evaluate your site to see if there are elements that cause friction. Friction can best be defined as “the psychological resistance to a given element in the sales process,” according to Flint McGlaughlin, the esteemed founder of MECLABS. Anything that’s an element of friction on your site will lead to fewer conversions and lost profits.

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So how can you tell if there are elements of friction on your site? Look for the following problems:

Pages that take a long time to load

Internet users of today are more impatient than ever. They are not going to waste a lot of their valuable time waiting for a page to load. Unnecessary animations, very large images (in terms of kilobytes), and sound are all contributing factors to how long it takes your page to load.

Search boxes that are hard to find

Usability research tells us that after consulting the main menu and the footer, confused buyers will look to the search box to find what they want. The easier it is for them to find it, the easier it will be for them to get to the information they want.

Showing too many products or services on a single page

Each page has to have one single goal. This will make it very easy for buyers to understand what they’re looking at and receive the information you want to communicate. But if you clutter it with competing offers, they will become confused.

Web forms that are much too long

Rule of thumb: any form that’s more than 5–6 fields long is much too long. When you decide to put content behind a form you have to think about how valuable that content is. Buyers will not be comfortable giving a lot of personal information for a whitepaper.

Links or buttons that fail to be descriptive and clear enough

Buyers are not going to click on a link or a button if they don’t know where it’s going to take them. Avoid vague buttons like “Submit” or “Go”, instead use more descriptive ones like “Go To Checkout” or “Sign Up”. This does a much better job at explaining what will happen after buyers have clicked and will reduce any anxiety they might have.

Absence of trust builders (testimonials, etc.) and privacy guarantees

Buyers want to know that the information they are giving you in forms will not be shared with anyone or sold. Privacy guarantees put those fears to rest. Testimonials tell people that others have tried your product or service and it worked for them. This also reduces friction.

Scattered Information

Information belonging to a single idea that is scattered across many different pages leads to buyers pogo-sticking around your site. This makes the information harder to access and you get frustrated buyers.

Sign up prompts

If your product or services is not user-based (like Twitter or LinkedIn for example), you should be very careful with what you put behind a username and password. No one will bother creating a username and password to access vital information they need. It’s a huge layer of friction that will deter the interest of a large percentage of your buyers.

In short, friction is anything that will make it that much harder for your buyers to convert, whether that’s just an email sign-up or an actual purchase of your product or service. That’s why you should remove friction as much as possible wherever and whenever you see it because you don’t want to give your buyers a chance to have second thoughts about any conversion. You want the path to a conversion to be as smooth as possible.

Opportunity to Engage

Opportunity basically relates to everything that you can do to move your buyers down the sales funnel until they eventually purchase a product or service. Opportunity comes in many different shapes and forms on your B2B site. In fact, done right, every element on your site presents an opportunity for you to capture a lead, generate interest and, eventually, get a buyer.

So what does opportunity look like on your site? Here are some examples.

Be sure that your main call to action is repeated a bunch of times on your homepage. You want to ensure that your buyer can efficiently click the call to action button when he decides to buy. Are the call to action buttons big enough that they stand out from the rest of the copy on your site? That certainly is an opportunity that you just can’t squander.

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On your landing page, it’s always prudent to have web forms — the shorter, the better — with which to collect personal information from your buyers for lead nurturing. Have you added links that make sense and relevant calls to action in your blog posts and inner pages?

To create a highly efficient B2B site, you need these various elements of opportunity that are readily visible and easy to interact with from the viewpoint of the buyer. This is what is needed to keep your viewers engaged.

Engagement can be looked at as how your site actually interacts with your site visitors and buyers. An example of engagement that’s valuable is downloadable content (a PDF or a white paper springs to mind).

However, simply downloading a white paper is just a one-time interaction. You should also ask yourself if there is a lead-nurturing process that’s alive and well on your site to keep the engagement going after the initial interaction. Another thing to keep in mind is whether or not there is a clear offer that targets every single stage of the buying process.

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What effective engagement does is produce customer loyalty and the ensuing, increased chance of the conversion that matters the most: an actual purchase of your product or service.

There are a few different things you can do to increase your engagement with your buyers. These include:

  • Offering a value-based user experience
  • Creating a targeted, email-marketing campaign that’s tailor-made especially for your specific buyer
  • Understanding what social media your buyers use

The danger with engagement is not to fall into the malpractice that is all too common with many a B2B site. This is either passive or completely nonexistent lead management, which is characterized by leads being captured on the site, yet not customized based on the specific lead or followed up on.

Clarity

Clarity relates mostly to the site copy. Does the site copy make it super-easy for your buyer to understand what you’re selling? Has there been sufficient thought put into how the site copy was composed? Is the site copy both readable and legible? All these are fundamental examples of what to evaluate when you’re figuring out if your site is clear enough or not.

First, start with your company. Evaluate the site copy to determine if your buyer can easily figure out what your company does and who its main customer is.

Now, go to your value proposition. Has this been written in a way that’s inviting for your buyers?

Then, examine the messaging of your site. Ask yourself if the messaging has been composed from the buyer’s point of view.

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If you answered “yes” to these questions, then your site is firing on all cylinders in the crucially important element of clarity.

Having easy-to-read and very effective site copy is invaluable and can’t be underestimated. To get you started, here are some very helpful resources for developing sharp, effective and clear site copy:

Urgency

The research has already borne out for the longest time that using a sense of urgency on a B2B site will result in a healthy uptick of conversions and sales. That’s why including urgency on your B2B site is a must, but how can you tell whether you have included sufficient urgency? What does urgency look like in the first place?

Basically, urgency is when you encourage your buyers to act sooner rather than later. The most popular form of this type of urgency is pushing your customers to buy now because you’ll only have the deal available for a certain period of time. These kinds of time-sensitive offers are the epitome of creating urgency in the buyer’s mind.

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At the same time, you want to make perfectly clear to the buyer what cost or consequence he’ll be experiencing for missing out on the opportunity. For urgency to really work well, you have to make it crystal clear to your buyer that he is missing out on something huge if he fails to act right now.

Creating urgency is best done by way of words and persuasion. This means that urgency ties into great site copy as well. If your copy reads well enough, you can compel your buyer to buy now rather than later. For a primer on how to craft ultra-compelling and persuasive site copy that uses urgency on the buyer, see this handy, short tutorial on the subject.

Stepping Stones

It’s vital that you include perfectly clear next steps on each and every page on your B2B site. The buyers have to be guided and nudged on what to do next. Otherwise, they will get confused, frustrated and leave your site altogether. That is precisely where these important stepping stones…step into the picture.

Stepping stones are basically the clear path that a buyer should follow on your site. Buyers should always explicitly understand exactly where they should go next on a page. To make this a reality, every page ought to have a goal.

For instance, let’s talk about an effective landing page. A landing page’s goal will always be to convert the site visitor by having him enter personal information into a web form or click on a call to action button. As such, no site visitor should be confused about what to do next on your landing page.

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After a clearly expressed value proposition right in the middle of the screen, near the top, the site visitor should see a very noticeable and short web form or a call to action button. Now, your site visitor won’t be left wondering what to do next.

To understand more about how stepping stones are part of the overall user flow on a B2B site, see our “10 MUST DO’s Before You Start Designing Your B2B Website” blog post.

Evidence

Once you’ve stated your value proposition and have convinced your website visitors why your service/product is important to them, users are left wondering just how good you really are in delivering your promise. This is why providing evidence, proof of work, or a portfolio is extremely important in order to build credibility.

Case studies and testimonials are key to building user confidence. Most products/services scream for the need for a case study, a certificate, awards or better yet, a combination of them all. These types of validation will substationally increase the likelihood of your users to come back to your site. Case studies specifically will keep your audience engaged with your brand for a longer period of time.

Distraction

When you hear the term “distraction,” you usually hear it in the context of “distraction and noise.” Distraction and noise can be thought of as anything on your B2B site that competes for the attention of your buyer (the attention of your buyer should be undivided and exclusively on moving toward the call to action).

To evaluate whether or not your B2B site has too many distractions, just ask yourself these questions:

  • Are there too many elements on a page that can snatch the attention of your buyer?
  • Are there multiple, competing offers on the same page?
  • Are there any distracting animations or effects that will take away the attention of your buyer from your main message?

To get rid of as many distractions as possible on your B2B site, you have the power to do quite a bit. You can ensure, for instance, that you remove the navigation bar on your landing page. You can also cut down on the number of links that you include on your landing page.

The following example is a bit on the extreme end of the scale but it states what distraction is loud and clear. Your eyes don’t rest anywhere on the screen because there is just too much to look at. And to top it all off, that man you see in the middle is actually a video playing of a man talking about the company. If the images and red text doesn’t get you, he surely will.

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The end result has to be that your buyer always understands what the next step on the page should be, so that he can ultimately move to the goal of the page, which is to produce a conversion.

Conclusion

Now you have all the information you need in order to make your B2B site FOCUSED™. So…is your site FOCUSED™ or not? To evaluate if it is or not, just remember the individual words of the acronym:

  • Friction
  • Opportunity
  • Clarity
  • Urgency
  • Stepping Stones
  • Engagement
  • Distraction

The buying process should be as easy as possible for your buyer, with nothing to get in the way of a conversion. Elements like your calls to action and web forms have to stand out and be as painless as possible for your buyers to interact with. Your site copy has to be persuasive and tailored to your specific buyer while it never hurts to tell your buyer about limited-time offers, either.

Take into consideration the user flow, too, so that your buyer is always prompted to the next step until he eventually gets to the goal of the page, which is a conversion. Even when you have the lead’s information, don’t neglect him; keep nurturing the lead all the way down the sales funnel with high-quality content. Finally, ensure your site is as distraction-free as possible by eliminating unnecessary links and graphics.

Have you evaluated your site yet? Does it satisfy all of the requirements of a FOCUSED™ framework?

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON THE MARKET 8 BLOG BY LYNN SHARAFEDDINE ON APR 11, 2014 IN LEAD GENERATION AND B2B WEB DESIGN AND USER EXPERIENCE