Like weeds, buzzwords can spread quickly and sap the energy from everything around them. “Digital transformation,” for example, means so many things to so many people that your eyes might glaze over when you hear the phrase. But B2B high-tech companies cannot afford to ignore the digital technologies that have become critical to improving their customers’ experience.
A Harvard Business Review study notes, “The primary focus for most organizations’ move to digital has been to create an exceptional, highly relevant customer experience, with 40 percent of respondents naming it their number one priority.” It’s a priority that has been accelerated by the covid-19 pandemic. The global battleground is virtual.
For high-tech companies, the digital imperative is simple: Meet your customers at the digital touchpoints of their choosing. Getting started, however, is daunting and can paralyze a company trying to scale the demonstrate-ROI-before-investing bureaucratic mountain. Let’s simplify things by focusing on five quick wins on the road to digital paydirt. All five are driven by a straightforward but difficult-to-execute principle: Make it easy for customers to find answers and purchase products and services on your site.
1. Optimize your keyword search: The ubiquity of keyword search means you must optimize — preferably by yesterday — your site’s search engine. There’s not a quicker way to lose prospects than to see them bounce from your search bar. “Google it” has become a staple in daily conversations. That doesn’t apply only to consumers; today’s engineers face a time crunch, as they are tasked with accomplishing more with fewer resources.
When searching, what’s most important to customers? One recent survey identified four important attributes for keyword search:
- Accuracy of results: 38% of respondents cited this characteristic
- Results cover multiple domains (e.g., the supplier’s main site, a support site, an e-commerce site, etc.): 19%
- Parametric data shown along with keyword data: 16%
- Performance (load times): 15%
Technology advances are vital to optimizing your keyword search. The use of artificial intelligence and machine learning helps your engine anticipate your users’ needs. Features like spelling autocorrect and personalization save time and subliminally send the message that your company cares about each user’s preferences.
2. Optimize your parametric search: The ability to integrate keyword and parametric data stands as the search holy grail. In our own survey of engineers and other players in high-tech industries, 93% of respondents expressed confidence in vendors that offer high-functioning parametric search. Versatility in parametric search also matters: The survey also found that respondents use parametric search across all the phases of the design process: from vendor justification and awareness to research and prototyping.
The best parametric search engines handle a variety of inputs:
• a general product description (“microcontroller”)
• a part number
• a performance metric (“transistor that runs on 30 V”)
• a particular brand
Your parametric search should make it easy to find the most common “asks”: datasheets, application notes, purchasing options. While the filtering capability might seem complicated, you also need to keep the interface simple and elegant.
3. Make your website responsive: Pre-pandemic, customers had come to expect quick answers to their research questions. The importance of digital communication and e-commerce has deepened in the past year and a half.
The always-connected customer (describes everyone, right?) often views content from a mobile phone. A trend that started with consumers has permeated the B2B world, as engineers, executives and purchasers check messages and complete tasks while waiting for food at restaurants, while ignoring family members in their living rooms, and while half-watching their children play basketball or soccer at school. As a result, your website pages must be easy to view and to use on mobile phones and tablets. If your site is not responsive, busy customers will lose patience and bounce.
4. Integrate omnichannel customer engagements: Digital communication technologies have exploded, putting the onus on B2B high-tech companies to integrate the many different ways of connecting with customers. Customers do not take a linear path when they engage with B2B companies. They engage on multiple channels, and their journey often is disjointed, marked by starts and stops across multiple days. As a result, companies must deliver a consistent and streamlined customer journey by bridging the different channels.
For many customers, texting has become the preferred communication method. Did you know the open rate of texts far exceeds that of emails? Are you ready to join your customers on their platform of choice? Whether customers are texting, connecting on social media, sending email, or using chatbots, they expect a seamless and satisfying experience. Customers need to find answers, regardless of whether it’s 10 a.m. on a workday or 2 a.m. on a Sunday. If you fail to meet customers in their channel of choice, your competitors will step into the breach.
5. Create valuable digital content: You’ve heard the credo that “content is king.” Particularly in the B2B high-tech universe, you cannot succeed without offering content that your users find valuable. Just as important, your words are a direct reflection of the quality of your brand. A website riddled with typos, factual errors or outdated information sends a clear signal to customers: Don’t trust me. If a company cannot remove outdated product listings or get its facts straight, how can it be trusted with mission-critical parts for a new design project?
A technical audience is an educated audience. You cannot skate by with minimal content offerings. At best, your content educates with valuable and problem-solving technical information; at worst, your content consists of “empty bragging,” plagued by lifeless marketing-speak that fails the “educate” standard.
There’s something about fresh content updates that make an unmistakable impression: This company is dynamic, it’s on top of technology advances, and it’s actively engaged in the industry where I make my living. On the other hand, seeing the same content unchanged for months erodes confidence and makes users check out more tech-savvy competitors.
Your content should reflect the reality that engineers increasingly turn to websites for solutions to their problems. No self-respecting supplier or distributor can simply list its products and expect them to sell themselves. White papers, application notes, articles on leading-edge technologies and systems help to inspire confidence that you are equipped to solve your customers’ problems.
Each of these five quick digital wins would sharpen your competitive edge. Empower your customers by optimizing your website for research, easy communication and valuable information. To learn how to get started, check out our digital presence solutions or request a free search site assessment today.