Optimizing a B2B Website

Improving a website can be done in many different ways. However, this process is preferably based on data and research as much as possible. Unfortunately, many of the methods used for B2C websites are not suitable for B2B websites.

B2B, B2C, D2C, C2C?

All these abbreviations refer to different business models. Based on such models, choices are made about strategic matters such as pricing policy, but also about which online marketing channels will be used, or how they will improve their website.

  • B2B: This stands for Business-to-Business. This is where a company sells products or services to another company. Examples of B2B companies are Optimizely and VWO.
  • B2C: This stands for Business-to-Consumer. This involves a company selling (often through intermediaries such as retailers) products or services to a private individual. Examples of B2C companies are Schwarzkopf and Alpro.
  • D2C: This stands for Direct-to-Consumer. This is where a company (without intermediaries such as retailers) sells products or services to a private individual. Examples of D2C companies are Nike and Dollar Shave Club.
  • C2C: This stands for Consumer-to-Consumer. This involves a private individual selling products or services to another private individual (often via intermediaries such as marketplaces). Examples of C2C companies are eBay and Uber.

Features of B2B companies

The most common types of companies are B2B and B2C. Companies that do business with other companies obviously differ from B2C companies in quite a few ways. For example, the product or service they offer is often more complex. The customer journey is also often longer and has more touchpoints. In addition, the target group is often more difficult to reach than with a B2C company. Furthermore, the so-called attribution of conversions is more difficult (because many conversions take place offline or over the telephone). There are also often more people (and more roles) involved in a purchasing decision. Finally, the number of transactions per month is often low.

"Today's consumers aren't comparing you to other businesses in your industry - they're comparing you to the best digital experiences they've ever had. B2B buyers are no exception - Google"

Statistics on business buyers

Some statistics from Google studies into how business buyers behave online (2015, 2017). Even though the studies are a bit older, they provide a clear picture of which direction the B2B market is moving online.

  • 89% of all B2B buyers in 2015 used the internet during the research process.
  • Nearly half of all B2B buyers in 2015 are already millennials.
  • 50% of all B2B searches in 2017 were made on smartphones, BCG expects this to grow to 70% by 2020.
  • In 2017, mobile generated or influenced an average of around 40% of turnover in leading B2B organizations.

Improve website for B2B target audience

The above statistics make it clear that it is very important to improve a B2B website. More than ever, the target group will (also) use the internet as part of their customer journey.

What works less well for B2B websites?

Improving a website can be done in many different ways. However, it is common within a conversion optimization process to make improvements based on research. Unfortunately, partly due to the first mentioned characteristics of B2B companies, some of the 'popular' CRO research methods can only be used to a limited extent for B2B websites.

Regular website analysis

When doing a website analysis, a CRO specialist examines the website. For example, this examines the extent to which websites comply with existing best practices, heuristics, etc. However, because B2B websites often have a special target group or offer an unusual product/service, it becomes more difficult to assess the extent to which a particular website deviates from this. For example, is it important for a chief security officer whether or not an organization is ISO certified or not? How much value does the average buyer of forklift trucks attach to the environmental friendliness of those machines? Etc.

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User testing with panels

User tests are often conducted with 'normal people' as participants. However, similar to the point above, it will be difficult for them to empathize with a B2B situation. For example, if a contact form states that a response will be received within 5 working days, is this fast or slow? And how relevant is it that a training on a Saturday may be almost twice as expensive as one on a Wednesday? Is it better to choose a company with 50 employees, or one with 500? Etc.

Running A/B tests

To perform good AB tests you need a large number of conversions per month. As a rule of thumb, approximately 1,000 macro conversions (purchases, leads, donations) are used. However, the vast majority of B2B websites will not generate 1,000 macro conversions per month. This alone means that A/B testing is rarely the best option for B2B companies. In addition, B2B companies often have long buying cycles. Unfortunately, such longer periods are difficult to combine with the short duration of an A/B test, which also makes this method less useful.


What does work well for B2B websites

Although a number of techniques work less well on B2B websites than on B2C websites, this certainly does not mean that there are no possibilities to improve B2B websites.

Interviews or focus groups

You could consider interviews with existing customers as well as contact with prospects. You will probably receive different feedback from those two different groups. After all, existing customers have already chosen your organization, while prospects have not (yet). Organizations where you have been part of a lost pitch can also provide very valuable input. When doing these types of activities, take the value-action gap into account.

Technical expert review

When conducting an expert review for a B2B website, you could use a different focus. An example of this could be to focus more on issues such as technology, user experience, heuristics, and forms, while placing less emphasis on issues such as copy and content. After all, a user-friendly form is largely independent of the target group, just like a secure website, a fast loading time, etc.

User testing with the target audience

User testing is also certainly possible for B2B, but with some adjustments. For example, we can work with existing customers to ensure that there is a good fit with the target group. There are also panels available that can help recruit B2B participants. Moreover, for the vast majority of websites there is often still a lot to be gained in the field of UX. For improvements in the field of UX, an exact match with the target group is often less important.

"B2B customers today do not expect to interact with a salesperson until it's time to close the deal - Google"

Use sales contact

Despite the above quote, most B2B sales processes involve much more contact with the prospect than with a B2C purchase. In such contact, questions, objections, uncertainties and the like will be amply discussed. Other parties they are considering will also be named, as well as other solutions they have tried in the past. By listening carefully in these conversations (and keeping thorough minutes!), the sales contact can be an excellent source for improving a B2B website.

Create case studies

As stated earlier, B2B purchases often involve more complex products or services than B2C, D2C, or C2C. For example, case studies can be helpful to give prospects a better idea of what the product or service can offer them. For example, this can explain in some detail how a particular customer came to choose your organization. Try to be as targeted as possible to serve different segments of the target group. If possible, you can even consider (professional) videos to offer this content to prospects in great detail.

Improve mobile website

Google research shows that more than 90% of B2B buyers say that with a superior mobile experience, they are much more likely to purchase from the same provider again. Although web statistics show that the desktop is often still the primary device group in B2B, mobile is rapidly gaining ground. Improving the mobile website (think of a responsive design, lightning-fast loading time, mobile-friendly forms, etc.) is certainly a good plan. In addition, implementing general website optimization tips is also recommended.

Save micro conversions

Because macro conversions are relatively rare on B2B websites, it is certainly advisable to carefully measure and store micro conversions. This can provide a picture of at which steps in the customer journey prospects drop out. Be sure to keep funnels and forms up to date.

Use personalization

Google states the following: "The B2B purchasing process can be long and complex. High-quality, personalized content delivered throughout the entire purchasing process can therefore be an important differentiator." However, keep in mind that personalizing a website is not easy. For example, consideration must be given to the different segments of visitors and what their needs are. It should also become clear how different characteristics and/or interactions of visitors can be converted into relevant personalizations. Optionally, marketing automation can also be considered to gradually deepen contact with the prospect.


Improving a B2B website is in many ways similar to improving a B2C website. However, there are a number of important differences, of which the complexity of the product or service, the low number of transactions, and the non-standard target group are probably the most important. Due to the above points, some conversion optimization methods are unfortunately less suitable, but at the same time this also provides opportunities to use other methods in a targeted manner.

About the author

Theo van der Zee (MSc, Psychology) has been building and optimizing websites and web shops for more than 20 years. As a freelance conversion specialist, he helps companies to improve their websites based on research and experiments.

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