October 31, 2014

70% of Small Business B2B Websites Lack A Call to Action

B2B call to action chart

Does your home page on your website have a call to action?  In other words, does your website home page attempt to get the visitor to do something — besides simply read and leave?

Examples of a call to action might be:

  • subscribe to an email newsletter
  • view a product demo
  • request a consultation, estimate or quote
  • download a white paper, or
  • take advantage of a special offer

If your website has such a call to action, give yourself and your marketing team a pat on the back.  You are doing better than 70% of B2B (business to business) websites.

A new study reviewed 200 websites of small businesses.  The businesses all had under 100 employees.  For this particular study, all were B2B, i.e., businesses that sell to other businesses, not to consumers.

And the results are surprising — surprising in how much money small businesses are probably leaving on the table.

Why B2B Sites Need A Call To Action

A “call to action” is just what the words suggest.  It’s something designed to get a website visitor to take action.

The reason you need one is simple.  After spending a lot of money and effort putting up a website and promoting it and getting visitors to it — the last thing you want is for that visitor to leave without establishing some connection with him or her. Today there are billions of Web pages.  Will that visitor ever find your website again?  Have you given that visitor some means to remember your business?   Have you taken a step — even a small one like a newsletter signup — to stay in contact with that visitor?

While some B2B websites have direct commerce on them, more than likely a B2B website doesn’t expect visitors to buy something online on the first visit.  Rather, the goal is to establish a connection with interested Web visitors. Later on you try to turn those visitors into customers.

That usually means getting visitors to voluntarily give you their email address — hence, a call to action. By giving you their email address, visitors are giving you permission to communicate with them.  From there you can begin to develop a relationship.

Other Website Failings

But it takes more than a call to action to make an effective B2B website.

Your website needs to be readily found in search engines. If someone goes to Google to search for the kind of product or service you offer, you certainly want them to see YOUR website.  That person already looking for whatever you sell has far more potential to become a sales prospect, than Joe Schmoe you bumped into on the street. Your site needs to be visible enough in the search engines to get people like that to click over to your website.

Once on your website, if visitors like what they see, they may want to pick up the phone to call you. For that, your contact information needs to be easy to locate.

It’s good to have a blog on a B2B site — and that blog also needs to be easily findable. The same goes for social media profiles. If you’re spending time connecting with people on social platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter, then you certainly want people to be able to figure out how to follow you on social accounts, by looking quickly at your website.

Resources and tools that peak visitors’ interest are also helpful.  Here again, they need to be easy to locate on your website.

And the list goes on.

Yet, according to this study, the vast majority of B2B small businesses do not make it easy for their sites to be found in the first place, or for visitors to contact them or stay in touch:

  • 56% of B2B small business websites don’t use meta descriptions that show up in search results and could help draw visitors into the website
  • 87% don’t do anything to make their “contact us” option stand out
  • 82% don’t bother to even list their social media profiles
  • 68% do not show an email address on the home page

Just think of the missed opportunities!  The items above are relatively simple and inexpensive changes to make — possibly just a few hours of work by the company webmaster or tech team.

It’s no wonder that some small businesses say they don’t get good ROI from their websites.  Their websites aren’t pulling their own weight.

If these things seem so obvious, and are relatively simple changes to make, then why aren’t more small businesses doing them?

It’s a combination of things.  Sometimes we can’t “see” what is obvious to others.  Since we know that phone number is there — somewhere — it never occurs to us that it’s hard for an outsider to find.  Or we may just not have an organized list of what a good website should contain.  A lot of small businesses don’t have full-time marketing staff, or the staff could be small and overloaded.  A best practices list falls to the wayside when you are short on resources.

The “Small Business B2B Call to Action Study” was sponsored by our company, Small Business Trends.  It was conducted by Online Marketing Coach, and its CEO Mike Murray. It’s based on an in-depth review of websites of 200 small businesses chosen randomly from the ReferenceUSA database.

The 30-page study is full of examples of best practices, as well as examples of what not to do.  It’s accompanied by a spreadsheet you can download with a 30-point checklist of elements a good B2B website should have.  We hope you’ll find it as interesting — and valuable — as we’ve found it.  Download the B2B Call to Action Study and Checklist here.

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Anita Campbell - CEO


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses, and also serves as CEO of TweakYourBiz.com.

31 Reactions

  1. Thanks for getting the word out on these website basics. Fortunately there are several CMS systems available that make editing your website easy (like WordPress) and all of the things you mentioned here require very little technical expertise.

  2. Hi Robert, Good point. That’s why WordPress is good for building a basic website, because someone in-house who knows how to use it can go in and make simple changes such as adding links to the blog portion of the site, links to social media accounts, and so on.

    And anything requiring a bit more technical work, your Web developer or technical staff (who are probably overloaded, too) can do.

    You get improvements made more quickly that way.

    – Anita

  3. Hi Anita,

    I work with entrepreneurs and companies, as Business Growth and Marketing Strategist.

    Seeing weak, or absent, calls to action on websites is a common occurrence.

    I recently wrote a guest post about this topic for SheOwnsIt.com.

    In the article, ‘Why Your Blog Might Not Be Converting Readers into Customers’, I show an example of an easy to use call to action box.

    Thanks for addressing this common problem.

  4. Yes. A lot of businesses forget to put a call to action on their websites. They usually present all their products and services and leave their potential clients to decide. It would be nice if the study also included the sales rate of these websites or companies.

  5. Anita,

    Indeed – it’s often underrated and sometimes, small business owners are so focused on creating content, they forget to convert web visitors and readers into prospects and leads.

    I often forget, too. I use this tool from HubSpot to check my marketing effort, including spotting when I forget to add call to action or conversion tool http://marketing.grader.com/

  6. Thanks for sharing these stats! I’ve been reading some case studies on conversion rate optimization lately and the trouble is knowing what to test and where to test it on your site – like using red buttons to your call-to-action message are more likely to increase your website conversion than green ones. Then, there’s testing the usability of your site to make sure it’s giving the optimal user experience so you won’t have a higher bounce rate. I guess, there’s a limit to data analytics and it doesn’t really answer fully the question of why do customers buy..

  7. Search engine optimization, in my opinion, is an integral part of a b2b small business company. Because many business owners engage in online activity to check their subscribed e-mails and social media accounts, it is only practical to be involved in what already is a part of their daily endeavors. But a b2b small business website should not only create a social media account for that purpose alone, one should use it to its advantage in order to bring publicity and content for such business strategy to take place.

  8. These stats are crazy! You’d think more businesses would have these obvious perks in place.

  9. Web visitors and readers are our prospects and leads that we ought to maintain some measure of contact with. This is where a call-to-action for small business B2B websites might be beneficial.

  10. Reading stuff like this makes me want to consult for businesses like this. Such basic stuff is overlooked because for the most part, they hire bad companies to design their website. I don’t blame them. A master chef shouldn’t have to worry about marketing.

  11. Regardless of the online and social media age, a phone number should not take a sleuth to find on a website. The home page and contact page should have all the important ways you can be contacted: form, phone, social media, email. Make contacting you feel like an invitation and welcoming. Thanks Anita, another great article.

  12. Thank you Anita for sharing this with us. I had also written an article on the same a while back. B2B companies have to have a good call to action for that is THE button/image that ‘calls’ and prompts visitors to take an ‘action’…the action that a marketer wants the website visitor to take…download something, sign up for something, add products to an e-shopping cart etc. I ou need to create an effective landing page call to action. In my article I have spoken of ways in which you can create aweome call to action buttons that convert: http://www.leadsquared.com/landing-page-call-to-action-buttons-that-convert/#sthash.b2gDMdEj.dpuf. I hope you and your readers do like it. Do share your thoughts on the same.

  13. I agree. Websites should capture attention and inspire action using AIDA concept (Attention-Interest- Desire-Action) CTAs and Contact Us Forms are very important in a site. It’s recommended to put CTA in each page.

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