How to Create the Best Websites for B2B SaaS Companies
There is absolutely no doubt that your website - especially a site for a B2B SaaS company - is central to your marketing and customer acquisition strategy.
Whether you have a short sales cycle where you are looking to drive trials or freemium accounts or are an enterprise software focused on lead generation and demo schedules, your website is the prime conversion point in marketing.
In this article, we are going to outline key points in planning and building a B2B SaaS website:
- Platforms & Integrations
- Search Optimization
Now you are probably asking why isn't design on that list - isn't that what this article is all about? Yes, but design impacts all of these items in subtle and not so subtle ways.
Let's talk about website design a little bit even though it will be explored in following sections. Often times technical teams don't correlate the value of great design to results, but design is a game changer. Here are a couple of reasons that you want to take design extremely serious.
- Impression. People form opinions in seconds and they relate the quality of your product to their experience on your website. Design tells a website visitor whether you are legitimate, quality, professional, and more in seconds. Design gives them the confidence to convert.
- Conversion. Website conversion is a science driven by art. Making information consumable, leading people to the right place, drawing their eye to key actions and more are all created by design. A great design significantly increases conversion on a B2B SaaS Website.
- SEO. Search optimization for websites is impacted by your site design in multiple ways. Bounce rates are all about how quickly someone hits the back button; design impacts bounce rate and bounce rate impacts SEO.
These are just a few of the impacts of design that make a smart business case for better design, but what is most important to understand is that the design of your B2B SaaS website significantly impacts results and ROI.
Platforms & Integrations for B2B SaaS Websites
Your website needs to be a marketing and conversion tool - the software that powers and connects to your website are the engine to achieve results.
Choosing what software to use as your CMS, CRM, Automation system and more can be challenging. Like everything, there are a lot of options out there to choose from and blurred lines of feature comparison.
If you don't already know what you want, let's start with some questions:
- Do you already have systems you will need to integrate; and do they have tools that are part of their ecosystem?
As an example, if you are using Salesforce as your CRM, then Pardot is often a solid choice for a marketing platform.
- Who will be working in the CMS day-in and day-out?
If you have a less technical team, that should be considered in your choice to make it easy. Some teams want more creative flexibility when building pages for their site and that either requires code or a solid visual builder.
- What functionality is needed?
Will you try to run your SaaS subscriptions through the site, have robust software documentation, run a/b tests, implement personalization or other functionality that is better suited for certain platforms.
Ensuring B2B SaaS Website Conversions
Conversion is a sum of many parts that all have to be orchestrated to achieve the desired results.
Let's first establish that every single second and every single action a visitor takes influences whether they convert or not. From the moment they start their discovery process to the point that they actually convert, there are opportunities for them to move forward in the process or revert to go back and down a different path.
Outlining this path can help get a good idea of the requirements for conversion:
- A person decides on a search phrase that will provide them results for what they are looking for.
- They type that phrase and possibly the search engine recommends a different phrase.
- They are presented with several ads and then following organic results. Often their personality and habits have predetermined whether they focus on ads or organic results.
- They scan the ads and first 2 - 4 results. They can be influenced by a name they recognize or words in result titles that resonate with their need.
- The prospect clicks and waits for the page to load. (or hits the back button if it takes to long)
- Their eye is drawn to the largest thing and the first thing that loads on the page - an image or text.
- They read what appears to be the primary message of the page to confirm this click got them to the right place.
- Often they scan the page quickly looking for images that interest them or headlines / phrases that catch their attention.
Visitors rarely read paragraphs instead scanning headlines at first before they have confirmed the page matches what they are looking for and they have found the section of the page they think relates most to what they want to know.
- If the first page confirms they are in the right place and provides confidence in what they are looking at, the visitor typically browses 1 - 4 more pages on a site at which any point they can leave.
- On these pages they continue to scan with some reading until their interest and confidence build at which point they come across a CTA that matches their stage of the buying cycle.
- Now towards the end of this journey, they may need to get that final push of desire to click or start filling out a form.
- Now during the form, they cannot be met with issues or too many fields to dissuade them.
- And finally a second action is where they submit a form on the website.
While these journeys are short - often just minutes long - there are a lot of barriers for a visitor to get over to finally convert. That is why we often say that at every interaction you are winning and losing prospects - only a few make it to the end.
The goal here is to be smart and increase your odds of conversion.
So now let's talk about what influences this website journey that B2B SaaS buyers take.
The first place to start is your strategy for building a website and ensuring website conversions. When it comes to conversions we look at understanding where buyers are mentally in their buying cycle as well as what will entice them to take action.
Some website visitors are early in their buying cycle and their mentality may be that they are not ready to buy and just trying to understand the market - often this is where gated content or webinars can come in as they are low commitment conversions.
These conversions must exchange the right amount of value for someone to give their information. Conversions with little value or not well aligned to the buyers pains/needs will not produce conversions.
Obviously for our B2B SaaS buyers that are further in their process or have a high level of pain we need to be presenting higher commitment conversions such as demos, trails or even direct purchase of our software.
Conversion strategy is all about understanding your buyer persona and their journey as well as their core needs.
Often B2B companies under-estimate the impact of design but it is critical to driving conversions. In thinking through the buyer journey that was outlined above a number of those steps are influenced by design and can easily cause the visitor to turn back.
The place that we see its greatest impact is in the first few seconds of the first visit. Statistics show that visitors form opinions in a matter of just a few seconds. The question is what opinion are they forming and how is that influencing their decision to move forward or backward in the journey.
When we think of design we think about how it reflects their expectations of the product they are buying - especially a B2B SaaS product - and also the confidence that the design builds. In seconds, confidence can build when the design communicates professionalism, quality, and other key factors you need to communicate as part of your brand that buyers expect to feel.
A dated or unprofessional design as well as weak imagery (screenshots for software products) can quickly turn someone away to find an option that better matches their expectations and builds their confidence.
A website architecture is the structure of content and often presented through the navigation of the site. There are a number of decisions about navigation such as whether to use mega menus and what nomenclature to use.
The key with architecture is to first make it extremely easy for the visitor to find what they are looking for and to help communicate what you do. Most website visitors in the buying journey only visit a few pages in their process - no visitor reads your entire website so do not expect that.
Therefore it is imperative they find the answers or information they are seeking most. It is important to remember that in one way or another every person in the buying journey is trying to find an answer to a question.
A common mistake here is to use words that the B2B buyer does not understand - whether you are trying to be creative or use your own terminology this often causes the person to have trouble finding what they want. If every interaction and every second matters to conversion, having the right architecture and website navigation is key to moving them along that journey significantly faster.
You may ask how is user experience different than design. Design is the look and feel that communicate an emotion or feeling in the buyer - again we think of it as building confidence. User experience is about how you present messages and information to guide someone down a path.
User experience is about the structure of content on the page, how you present text, the images you use to reflect messages in content and where you place various CTAs (Calls To Action).
In creating a B2B SaaS website, the user experience planning should be meticulously done following best practices and eventually tested to ensure that it is producing the best results.
Minor improvements in the user experience can significantly increase conversion rates and produce a higher volume of sign-ups, demos, and trials for your software product.
According to a research report by Microsoft, the average human attention span is less than a goldfish, which means that your SaaS website has less than 8 seconds to grab the attention of the users that visit the homepage and compel them to convert.
Search Optimization When Creating A B2B SaaS Website
SEO remains one of the most successful marketing tactics available to B2B SaaS companies.
Search optimization is really about having a presence for buyers who already have demand - a pain or need that they are looking to solve. The alternative is to interrupt potential customers with advertising or email blasts but often interruptive tactics have much lower conversion rates.
As a SaaS SEO Agency, we know that when creating a new website or working on your existing website, that search optimization should be a central theme of the process. Now, SEO is a big topic, but we want to look at a few aspects as part of this topic.
The first thing to understand is that there really are three core concepts that all play together when thinking about SEO:
- Onsite SEO is all about the how you optimize your site.
- Content includes the articles, pages and basically all the words on your pages.
- Offsite SEO is about inbound links and sharing that indicate your value to the search engines.
In this article, we will focus on Onsite SEO and Content primarily, but if you do these two things right it should help drive inbound links to help with ranking.
Onsite SEO is the practice of technically optimizing your website for search ranking.
How you code your site and optimize images makes a huge difference in your rank. Today, many companies look at Core Web Vitals as a key evaluation of their technical optimization success. Core Web Vitals measures a number of factors that can be very technical but boil down to getting the visitor to see and interact with a page as quickly as possible.
If you consider meta data (your titles and descriptions) part of content, technical SEO is a lot about speed, page rendering, accessibility, and data structure.
Let's look at each at a high level:
- Speed is all about reducing the amount of code, the size of images, the number of external resources, your server, your cache configuration and more. Basically it is a process of reducing the time it takes for the page to be delivered from a server to someone's computer so that it can be browsed. Focus on image optimization first because often that is what causes the greatest issues with speed.
- Page Rendering is once a browser like Chrome receives the code how it then converts that into the visual page and content that you see on your website. This is where Core Web Vitals come in because Google wants you to code your site in a way that makes it easier for their browser or any browser to turn that code into a visual page.
- Accessibility is ensuring that the page can be used by disabled visitors who require content, buttons and images to be read to them or other specific features to help those that may require a different experience.
- Data structure is typically about schema and sitemaps. Basically it is a common format of information in your pages or on your site that tell Google things about your website to make it easier for them to scan and index in their databases.
These 4 SEO tactics are not the only approaches to technical optimization but cover the majority of what will impact your rank. Again, if you are creating a B2B SaaS website, then it is important to be planning and implementing these SEO tactics early in your process.
Content is the most important aspect of having your B2B SaaS website rank in search engines.
Google's goal is to deliver the highest quality, most relevant results for its searchers. The better results they deliver, the more searches and the more ad revenue they make from the percentage of clicks that are on ads.
Content - whether it be words on a page or media - is what is being ranked and presented. If Google's goal is to deliver quality and relevant results, than you must produce content that is quality and relevant.
To understand these things, let's break them down:
What is Quality?
Quality answers a person's desire for information an comprehensive way -- avoiding being surface level or written by a non-expert. Google actually has a number of ways to evaluate quality and Artificial Intelligence has only made that easier for them as their engines have been improving in reading and interpreting content like a human.
Search engines can understand the reading level, context, and quality through AI. Then they use signals such as they amount of content ( number of words ), the media included on the page, the outbound links to other websites, and more. There are many factors that the search engine takes into consideration on a single page to help signal quality.
Just as a side note - even though we were not going to talk about external SEO, the inbound links or links from other sites into yours also are a signal of quality. More links from reputable websites signal to Google and other engines that the content is worthwhile otherwise those sites would not link to it.
In the end, Google cares a lot about quality and uses hundreds of factors both on your page, across your entire site and on other people's websites that link to yours to determine that quality.
What does it take to create quality content for a website?
Let's be honest, effort. Our approach is often to have quality over quantity. You will get a lot more results from one fantastic article then 5 mediocre ones. We've seen great articles achieve 1st place rank for key terms that drive visitors who are ready to buy. Although a quality article might take hours or $1500 - $2500 to create, it can bring hundreds of thousands in return.
Typically this requires research on the right topic, concept outline by an expert, writing, multiple revisions, finding or creating related media, search optimization of the article, publishing and then promoting. If you think quality content is done cheap or fast, you are missing the mark and will also miss out on effective results.
What is relevancy?
Google cares a lot about relevancy - how much does the result they display match to the need and expectation of the searcher. Search engines have gotten very sophisticated to understand the intent of the search and adjust their results to that intent.
How do we achieve relevancy?
The best way is to keep your pages focused on a single topic. The core concept here is that an article's relevancy increases often when it is a narrow topic rather than a wide topic or multiple.
As an example, talking about Accounting Trends is a wide topic whereas How to track expenses automatically is a narrow topic.
This is where exercises to detail your target personas and especially their pains can be valuable to determine topics. Often target prospects search for their pains to find a solution to them.
Wrapping Up Creating B2B SaaS Websites
If it's not clear that a B2B company's website is extremely important to growth - then you scanned and didn't read this article.
There are a number of things to consider in creating your new website, but don't forget that it should be a constant evolution.
One strategy we try to impress upon our clients is that a site should never been seen as a project to be completed. If you are in the software world, you understand an agile approach to launch, measure and improve on an iterative basis.