While B2B and B2C may have different target audiences, they have the same primary objective – to generate sales.
But a different audience means different homepage will be needed to generate the sales that businesses need.
In B2B, most of our sales are part of existing or budding relationships. They are created through trust and responsibility – through the company’s outward appearance (marketing). In B2B, there are multiple stakeholders throughout the purchase process, meaning the decision-making process quite different.
In B2C, the relationship may be nonexistent, a consumer may buy from a website but never buy from that company again. There are also fewer stakeholders, from one to maybe four tops (in the case of a family buying a product).
These are the people who visit each type of website. But what are the results of this differing audience? That’s is what we explore in the following article.
Number of Offerings
B2C homepages are tempting you with everything they can to make sure that you don’t leave their page without buying something. It is for this reason that even the non-personalized version of the Amazon’s B2C website has seven areas for users to explore as soon as they come to the website for the first time. But if they’ve been there before, you can guarantee they will be bombarded by those 100’s of offers. After all, with so many options, you will quite clearly want to buy something off there. Right?
B2B business have less products and services to offer by the very nature of that sort of business. These offerings are usually at the very top of the webpage, encouraging the viewer to jump directly to the sale (if they are ready.)
B2B companies should keep it simple in this way, a B2B company with too many offerings risks muddying its reputation and could spread itself too thin. Too many offerings also means that a prospect could get confused and it would create friction towards a sale. If they can’t find what they are looking for, then they will likely go search for it elsewhere.
There is clearly a different level of personalization needed on a B2B website compared to a B2C website. Obviously, B2C has more of an opportunity to personalize on the homepage, because, as mentioned above, there are more offerings. This makes it easier for the B2C website to personalize, as they can simply take a consumer’s shopping history (if they have an account) or track it using cookies and then display those offerings and similar ones to create a personalized homepage.
Amazon is a good example (as always) of this. Its homepage starts off relatively bland, then as soon as you start clicking through pages, the homepage begins to grow. Even if you don’t sign into your account, as soon as you enter Amazon, you are being tracked and your personalized results begin to populate.
This wouldn’t work with B2B. I would argue that it’s because intense personalization like Amazon’s might make the B2B browser feel a little uncomfortable. Imagine getting onto the homepage of a company you were planning to buy software from, and seeing every page you’ve viewed on the website.
That might work for some people, but most business-savvy people know that’s just good old-fashioned cookies spying on you.
Additionally, the website is often the singular point of contact in the B2C. In B2B, the style of personalization is more… personal. Instead of simply picking a product and checking out, there are countless steps involved including:
Filling out a form
Getting on multiple calls with a sales representative
Signing the contract
And that’s an overly simplified version of the purchase process.
That isn’t to say that there’s no place for tech-driven personalization on the B2B homepage.
It’s just not as highly personalized as a B2C homepages. To create a homepage that is personalized for the B2B crowd, you’re better off taking a moderate level of personalization instead of one highly focused on one person.
This is done through segmentation, or grouping your visitors based on factors like company size, sales stage, and previous customers. Then you cater your messages to each of these segments, creating a personalized experience for visitors that doesn’t feel so creepily personal.
When you go to Content Marketing Institute’s homepage, scroll down just below the list of services and you’ll find some of their content.
Scroll a bit further on Hubspot and you’ll find both a link to the blog and an invitation to follow them on a number of their channels.
But go to B2C pages like Etsy and it’s a bit more difficult to find the blog. Etsy’s is at the bottom of the page and you’d be hard-pressed to find the blog on Amazon’s consumer website. They do have blogs. They’re just entirely separate from the consumer side.
Amazon has a blog for its web services, which also happens to be B2B focused. That’s a good example of the difference between a B2B website and a B2C website. On the homepage of a B2B website, knowledge marketing is key, because the basis of a B2B relationship is trust. This is built through solid content that makes it clear whether or not the company knows what it’s doing.
In B2B, you have to convince not just one person to buy, but multiple people, then get the budget approved, coordinate the purchase with other endeavors, etc. There isn’t always an immediate need.
There is no such faith or approval process needed in the B2C landscape. All you need is appealing product and maybe some good customer reviews and you’ll likely get orders. Sometimes you don’t even need good reviews, you just need appealing enough products that your buyers won’t care. That’s how galleries like this one of online shopping fails happen.
Search Bar Placement
On B2C websites, the search bar is likely at the top. This is key for getting consumers to the products they want. They might just be browsing, but chances are if they log onto a large consumer website, they are looking for something in particular. B2C websites make sure they can get to that something with a prominent search, while also populating the area below it with a stream of products to browse through.
The search bar on B2B websites is placed with far less priority. Because the products are already displayed at the top of most of these websites, if someone is looking to buy, B2B websites want to make it easy.
More than likely the search bar on B2B homepages are there for visitors to find content they are looking for. While the search bar is good for this topic, it doesn’t have to be the primary focus, as it doesn’t directly lead to the sale, it just serves as a tool to develop the relationship.
Because B2C companies are marketing to one consumer, they often rely on lots of product images and uh… bold design. These are intended to entice the viewer into buying something by making the website appealing.
Isn’t that in your face?
But B2B takes a different approach. B2B buyers and relationships are based entirely on professionalism, which comes through in the designs of many of these websites.
But in an effort to combat the cold nature of what these businesses are selling, there are also many websites that utilize a lot of human-focused imagery. There are images of humans connecting with something(human, content,etc), which again falls back on the nature of B2B websites as trust and relationship based.
In B2C, the focus of the homepage is enticing the viewer to buy immediately. This isn’t the aim for B2B. While it would be nice to convert every single person who enters your website, that isn’t the reality of the industry. A B2B homepage needs to blend education and CTAs to create new relationships, that could eventually lead to a sale.
Do you notice a difference in the B2B and B2C websites that you visit? Is one more pleasurable to use than another? How can B2B companies make their websites more enticing? Tell us in the comments section.
Acadia Otlowski is the editor and copywriter at HiP. She handles writing subject lines and email copy as well as contributing weekly to the blog. Acadia is a journalism major turned marketing enthusiast with a heavy background in research and writing. Outside of work, she is an avid reader and storyteller, as well as a fire performer.