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Online marketing requires great web design

Online marketing hinges completely on the ability to have an effective website. Without landing pages, content and navigation that are in great shape, purchasers are going to have fleeting interest at most in what a company offers and what materials it has available. Promoting goods and services on the Web requires a distinct understanding of design. Considering there are many different aspects to promoting goods and services on the Internet, committing to good design principles allows a business to garner a more effective response and helps bolster SEO over the long term. Conversely, bad or outdated methods can effectively ruin the chances of establishing an audience.

What to avoid at all costs
Before a company can tackle Web design to affect a powerful stance in B2B marketing, it should look at what to avoid. With so many trends coming and going, it's very easy to lose track of the changes that have occurred even in the last two years. Still, a good starting point is to find things that are either out of fashion or were never good ideas to begin with (1). For example, site designs that have had any degree of complexity have fallen to the wayside in favor of more simplistic and minimalist layouts. Any frivolous features to the design will likely bring down interest.

Another point of contention is how mobile is incorporated. As we've discussed recently, there is a need to deploy mobile marketing, especially as smartphones and tablets dominate Internet use. However, just doing mobile-only versions of the site alone isn't particularly useful unless there is something to the design that still makes it rewarding. Instead, marketers should invest in responsive design, which creates a seamless experience from various points in the design.

Then there's the matter of the actual content on the site. Many businesses have taken a roughshod, messy approach. Some use multiple pages for lead generation. Others use an excess amount of text, stock photography or static graphics where video would be more effective and appropriate. Even the fonts for the text could be done wrong by virtue of using defaults such as Sans and Times New Roman. All of these can come across as boring, tedious and uninteresting. Marketers should take care to avoid these pratfalls in a way that suits the needs of the company.

Along with content, navigation is critical, and yet many companies still mess up here. One common trap to avoid is having no distinct hierarchy to navigate the site from. Another problem is creating extra pages just to perform lead generation. While the workflow may seem sound, the problem is that potential clients see them as extra hoops to jump through and will lose interest. Finally, despite the rise of mobile Internet, many businesses still rely on clicking text links to access different materials. This approach will alienate mobile users and increasingly turn off desktop visitors as well. This is a pattern that should be avoided as much as possible, and companies should instead compress everything into one scrollable page.

The things they improved
After getting a sense of what to avoid, companies should be able to improve the design in such a way to increase conversions (2). The first step is to make sure the landing pages are not only seamless with the rest of the site but also very sharp and clean. The content should get to the point by explaining benefits and differences, and the calls to action should be clear. The point is to get the business interested in the products and services being offered.

Another design tactic is to not limit the landing pages by simply offering one choice. This is especially the case if the choices in question are free materials. By creating a choice, purchasers will feel more comfortable receiving something from marketers. That in turn increases the number of leads overall.

Other than that, there are obvious best practices that are still applicable to this day. Some content should be gated to create leads, while others should be freely accessible (3). In this way, the buyer doesn't have to feel compelled to give up information while they're only looking. The content should be balanced in such a way that these businesses can learn more when they feel ready.

Just as well, any content that is offered is not only sharable through social media functions, but also trackable. This can be done through a special tag within the link itself, a set of cookies or other means. When a business can track the sources of its traffic, it can tailor their messaging so that it's more effective and generates more conversions.

Finally, when using visual media, it's a good idea to focus on images and video that will relate to the audience in question, in as strong a manner as possible. That includes GIF background animations of clients working with a company product, infographics and video. All of these tactics make for good Web design, and strengthen B2B marketing for a company.

1. Bye-Bye to These 10 Web Design Trends

2. 5 Tips To Improve Conversions For B2B Sites

3. 6 More Best Practices for a Great B2B Website

Sheila Kloefkorn

With more than 25 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.