Why B2B Companies Should Care About Online Content Marketing

Posted by: Marilyn Trent @ 9:20 pm | Date: April 6, 2014 | Comments Off
Filed under: All things business,Websites | Tags: , ,

Businesses buying from other businesses online increases daily.

B2B-SoMedia5According to Supplychainbrain.com, “In the United States, B2B e-commerce revenue more than doubles that of B2C – with $559bn annually in sales—and B2B players that fail to embrace online and mobile as leading channels risk losing market share in the short and medium term, and sustainable competitive advantage in the long-term.”

That’s just one of the many impressive facts that underline the importance of online marketing and brand management when it comes to helping B2B websites sell more and sell better. Say someone is looking for something you sell and comes to your website with just one thing in mind: to make a decision whether or not to buy from you. 90% of those people will look at your products and services and then, if they still want to know more, will move on to the ‘about us’ page to learn more about who you are and what your company is like.

Studies conducted by KoMarketing have found that online buyers look for:

  • Pricing information – 43%
  • Technical information – 38%
  • Case studies / white papers / blog posts – 38%
  • Shipping information – 37%
  • They don’t fully rely on blog posts but if they are there, they add credibility

This process doesn’t end with the initial search. A business looking at your business as a potential new vendor will explore your site while focused on one thing:

Is a relationship with you worth pursuing?

You, the vendor, must make the decision process as easy and seamless as possible. Recent research by KoMarketing Associates shows that the “Must Have” content for buyers is:

  • First and foremost, buyers want to know what products and services you have and how you can meet their needs and challenges.
  • It’s crucial to remove barriers between these buyers and the content that they are looking for.
  • Carefully considered content combined with a well-mapped user interface (UI) is the first step to success. Overlaid on that must be a carefully thought out user experience (UX) strategy – defining where on the page content is displayed and how the prospect will interact with it. A website with planned content, UI and UX will be easy to navigate and quickly communicate the information that the prospect is looking for.

Oh, and just a small tip:
Your prospects, like most of us, don’t want to be interrupted in the research process with pesky videos, pop-ups or audio that plays automatically. Don’t get me wrong, video can be one of the most compelling ways to engage a prospect. In fact more and more industrial marketers are using videos as a strategic tactic and  its one that all manufactures should embrace. Your prospective customer wants to control that interaction though, not have you force it on them.

Now all of this is a lot to think about and we haven’t even touched on the role that Social Media plays in content delivery. Manufacturers and other B2B’s are just now beginning to understand how engaging in two way conversations through LinkedIn or Facebook can grow brand awareness and customer engagement. But, lets save that for another day.

To sum it up, your content must be…

  • relevant and searchable; there are an average of 115 Billion global monthly searches on Google alone.
  • easy to grasp; once a prospect is on the website you only have about 8 seconds to get their attention.

Want help with your Content Marketing Strategy? Trent Design has been helping its manufacturing clients and B2B grow their businesses through the development of award-winning websites and Content Management Systems for over 10 years….

6 Reasons Why You Need A Responsive Website

Posted by: Brian Harwell @ 9:24 am | Date: December 13, 2013 | Comments Off
Filed under: All things business,Design,Websites
Responsive Website - Detroit Riverfront Conservancy

Views of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy website on different devices. Original PSD display mock by Lassi Vehviläinen

You may have seen or heard the term Responsive Website or Responsive Web Design (originally coined by Ethan Marcotte) floating around the internet lately. But what exactly is Responsive Web Design, and why do you need it? We’ll start by explaining some of the basic concepts behind Responsive Web Design, then delve into the 6 reasons why you need to consider it for your own website.

Responsive Design

Responsive Web Design (or RWD for short) came about in 2010 out of a need to address the number of mobile browsers accessing websites at a steadily increasing rate.

You’ve probably seen your fair share of mobile sites, usually a separate website you get redirected to when trying to visit a familiar website on your smartphone. They are typically subdomains, such as mobile.website.com or they have their own extension: website.mobi.

The main issue with mobile sites is that they were optimized strictly for smartphones – namely the iPhone. As you probably guessed, mobile browsers are no longer just for smartphones – tablets, MP3 players and other devices have their own browsers and ways to access the internet. Pulling up a mobile site optimized for smartphones on your tablet looks awkward (especially in landscape mode), likewise pulling up a website optimized for desktops on your smartphone is equally awkward to view, and pinching and zooming isn’t user friendly and frankly, annoying.

These issues are exactly what RWD is intended to address. RWD responds to the width of your device and formats the layout and content to provide the best viewing and user friendly experience possible.

Why You Need It

Future Proofing & Accessibility

The main purpose of RWD is future proofing your website and making it accessible and readable across all devices.

Mobile browsing is expected to outpace desktop-based access within three to five years. Two of the three dominant video game consoles have web browsers (and one of them is quite excellent). We’re designing for mice and keyboards, for T9 keypads, for handheld game controllers, for touch interfaces. In short, we’re faced with a greater number of devices, input modes, and browsers than ever before. – Ethan Marcotte, May 25, 2010

Say, for instance, you just finished a brand new responsive website and within a year, a new device comes into the market which becomes insanely popular overnight, and you have a high number of visitors to your website from that device. Luckily, your new responsive website has been built for situations just like this and it displays perfectly fine – no need to rebuild or add a separate website just to handle this new device.

If for some reason you do need to have an optimized layout for the new device, all you’d have to do is contact your web developer and they can write a new media query to add to the stylesheet, and tada! your site now has an optimized layout for that device.

The best thing about RWD is that it’s scalable, so that no matter what comes out on the market, you can always add a new media query to optimize your site for it. That way, visitors to your website from any device can have an enjoyable and frustration-free experience.

Content Delivery & Easier Maintenance

Another benefit to having a responsive website is the same content is being delivered to visitors across all devices. Mobile sites typically have different content than the main website – focusing on only a couple of topics and requiring you to “view the full site” if you want access to the rest of the content.

Not only is this inconvenient for visitors, but it’s also inconvenient for you (the site owner/editor) since you have to edit two separate websites to keep content up-to-date. With RWD, you edit one website and your visitors access one website with the same content formatted for the optimal experience on their device.

A Single URL

As mentioned above, RWD allows you to have a single URL – which means no redirects (faster loading times if the site is optimized for mobile) and only one URL to remember. Any way you can make it easier for visitors to access your site and get to content quickly, the better – and you’ll see a higher visitor return rate because of it.

Larger Audience

Finally, by having a responsive website, you open the doors to a larger number of potential visitors – increased traffic could mean more sales, followers, and marketing opportunities.

To recap, here are the 6 main reasons why you need a responsive website:

  1. RWD is scalable so your website will be future-proof
  2. Your website will be accessible, readable and user friendly across all devices
  3. Visitors will have access to the same content across all devices
  4. A single website you have to maintain/update
  5. A single website URL to remember with no redirects
  6. Your website will be available to a larger number of potential visitors

If you need a responsive website, the talented designers and web developers at Trent now specialize in RWD, and would be more than happy to talk to you. You can also read about our latest RWD venture with the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy’s new website.

If you have any questions, concerns or comments about RWD and/or what we can do for you, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Midtown Makeover

Posted by: Scott McCabe @ 2:29 pm | Date: August 14, 2012 | Comments Off
Filed under: All things business,Design,Detroit,Websites

Have you been to Midtown Detroit recently? If not then you’re in for a surprise. Ongoing efforts to reinvigorate the neighborhood have brought in a steady stream of new businesses and residents. It has become a hotspot for new small business ventures and enjoys a building occupancy rate of over 95%. Add some of Detroit’s greatest cultural institutions and the result is a vibrant urban ecosystem, one that hosts an enjoyably eclectic mix of retail, restaurants and entertainment venues.

One of the key players in Midtown’s current economic revival is the aptly named Midtown Detroit, Inc. MDI is the result of a merger between the University Cultural Center Association (UCCA) and New Center Council. Like its predecessors it is a 501(c)(3) non-profit community development organization. Given its new identity and larger pool of resources MDI needed a new, more contemporary website and wanted Trent Design to create it for them. Given its positive role in the community we were more than happy to help.

Original UCCA Midtown site: Somebody over there clearly likes russet

Original UCCA Midtown site: Somebody over there clearly likes russet

The new MDI website was redesigned from the ground up; we restructured the existing information architecture, transferred the site to a more powerful CMS, added new features and gave the front end an updated aesthetic that more accurately reflects the open yet urban feel of the Midtown area.

The new site is designed to be a convenient online resource for anyone interested in Midtown Detroit, especially tourists and young professionals. The homepage layout is clean and inviting. It sports a large image slider that showcases compelling visuals of what Midtown has to offer. It also has a news feed that lets visitors see at a glance how the area is moving forward. The website’s calendar of events, property listings, news and interactive local area directory are all searchable and easily accessed from the homepage. Other sections of the site provide information on available development resources, ongoing community programs and several of the more prominent institutions and annual events in Midtown.

The new MDI site: Less russet, more usability

The new MDI site: Less russet, more usability

Being able to put our skills to work for an organization that does so much good for the community was definitely a feel good experience for us at Trent Design. Have to admit though, all the positive feedback they’ve gotten about their new, fully featured website feels pretty nice too.

Check out MDI’s new site here.

Raising the (Steel) Bar: A Business to Business Website Re-imagined

Posted by: Scott McCabe @ 11:16 am | Date: April 3, 2012 | Comments Off
Filed under: All things business,Detroit,Websites

Eaton Steel Bar Company New Home Page Design

Eaton Steel Bar Company’s New Home Page Design

Nowadays every business needs an online presence, even if it’s just your basic brochureware site. Eaton Steel came to us because they wanted more. They wanted a website that captured the essence of their company and worked just as hard as they do to make their customers’ lives easier.

With these criteria in mind we envisioned a fairly straightforward site for the client. Its content would focus on Eaton Steel’s products and services. Short, sweet and to the point. Of course, this was before we had a thorough understanding of everything Eaton Steel does for its clients: luckily that’s what discovery meetings are for.

Discovery meetings are part of the immersion phase that we go through for all our projects. It’s an opportunity to research, interview and fact find everything we can about a company and their culture. We’ll also bring the key players to the table during this period in order to discover how they envision the project helping their business. The insight we gain into the less obvious aspects of our client’s business during this stage lets us build a more robust product for them that enhances their sales and customer service process.

What we discovered about Eaton Steel is that they have always gone that extra mile for their customers. The company started off in 1953 as a steel brokerage that excelled at getting their customers what they needed when they needed it.  Their growth since then has been designed around expanding and improving what they can do for their clients. It’s been the key to their success and informs everything they do.

Providing superior customer service has always been a cornerstone of Eaton Steel’s business model and was exactly the sort of thing that their new website would need to emphasize. To do this we added a ‘Solutions’ section that goes over all the things that Eaton Steel does to optimize their clients’ steel supply chains. We also produced a short video that talks about the additional business lines that Eaton Steel has added over the years in order to better accommodate their customers in their steel supply chain process. A second video that we shot for the ‘About Us’ section talks about their history and highlights the company’s “what else can we be doing for our customers?” mentality.

The client trusted us to use our design and communication skills to their advantage and the result is an innovative and dynamic website that represents their company in an authentic and genuine way. It has been a great partnership for everyone involved.

“Everyone at ESBC is extremely pleased with the new website. We have received great feedback from our customers and internally.” – Craig Cipa, Eaton Steel, Inside Sales Manager

Visit the site and let us know what you think.

The Greatest Little Toy Shop in Downtown Rochester

Posted by: Marilyn Trent @ 11:29 pm | Date: November 16, 2009 | Comments Off
Filed under: Websites

e-commerce site for a brick and morter toy shop in Downtown Rochester

    Challenge: Produce a website that is engaging, fun and motivates the visitor the learn more about the toy shop while shopping online.

  • Result: www.froggystoys.com A website that showcases the stores philosophy of buying toys that are based on safety and enjoyment. Trent Design created the Froggy Approved Seal to show the stores dedication to high quality and safety. The site was also designed to represent a local and caring hometown store.