Who likes dealing with a bad car salesman? I think we can all agree that a pushy or unhelpful car salesperson can be one of the worst interactions you can encounter. But a poor B2B website experience can actually be quite comparable.

Instead of a personalized experience presenting the most relevant content for each visitor, many B2B marketers are still using rotating hero carousels to cycle through content for different industries or value propositions, promoting the same generic case study or blog post to all visitors, and consistently recommending the same intro video that repeat visitors have already seen.

Many B2C retailers have an in-store experience to measure against and use as inspiration for designing great digital customer experiences. B2B companies, on the other hand, don’t have such a point of reference, so it can be difficult to understand how to optimize the online experience for their visitors.

My colleague, LB Wales IV, published a blog post a little while back comparing bad B2B website experiences to bad tradeshow experiences. If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to further drive home the point by comparing a bad B2B website experience to a bad car buying experience.

A Bad Car Salesperson

Picture this: You approach a car dealership and see a banner that promotes the latest models.

As you enter the lot, a salesman approaches and asks questions about your family size and what type of model you are interested in, and proceeds to show you some vehicles and their features.

After being exposed to those options, the salesman immediately insists on showing you those same options and features again.

Confused by having the same details presented repeatedly, you decide to see if you can gather some additional information — asking for some brochures or other collateral related to vehicles that might be the right fit for your needs. The salesman presents you with a pamphlet related to a flashy sports car, as it has been the most popular/eye-catching option on the lot.

As your frustration grows and you decide to leave, the salesman yells out “Hey, before you go, can I get your email address?”

If you aren’t using digital personalization techniques, your prospects are regularly going through this type of experience each time they visit your static, one-size-fits-all website.

Don’t be the Bad Car Salesman: B2B Website Must-Haves

Visitors that arrive to your site bring important information that you can use to deliver more relevant experiences. You can combine their firmographic and other web attribute information — data you can start collecting the second they arrive on your site — with the behaviors they display in that session and over time to respond with relevant, personalized experiences in the moment.

Firmographic Data: Considering the car they arrive in

When a car shopper arrives on the lot, a good salesperson pays attention to the car he is currently driving and uses that information to infer his needs and preferences. For example, he needs a vehicle that is appropriate for a family, he likes sporty cars, he needs the ability to tow or haul a lot of stuff, etc. You can take the same approach and glean information based on the IP address or referring source of a new website visitor. Depending upon the look-up technology you utilize, you can recognize not just a person’s company and industry, but also more in-depth details like employee count, revenues, technology stack, and even company logo. At the same time, you can identify her geolocation and her referring source (such as a specific email or ad campaign).

When you put this information to use, you can execute personalization from the first moment a new visitor lands on your site. For instance, you could replace a generic hero carousel with targeted messaging specific to the industry of the visitor identified by her IP address or campaign source, update any promoted case studies or blog posts related to that same industry or company size, promote appropriate regional events, etc. — even before you start collecting any behavioral data that will help fine-tune your personalized messaging.

Behavioral Intelligence: Listening to their interests

Firmographic, referring source and geolocation are great places to start, but not factoring in the visitor’s behavior is as flawed as a bad car salesman ignoring a shopper’s requests for a family-friendly SUV to replace his convertible by continuing to show him sports cars.

Monitoring the active time spent on industry-specific pages, for example, can help you confirm the visitor’s focus to inform your messages and experiences across the site. You can also factor in which types of blog posts, eBooks, videos, or other content the visitor explores to help you understand his interests. With that information, you can recommend relevant items to him, and — importantly — you can avoid recommending items you know he has already viewed or downloaded.

Additionally, you can use behavioral data to determine which stage of the funnel a person is in and then provide a more relevant experience to drive him further down the funnel with each visit to your site.

Final Thoughts

Much like an in-person sales experience, like at a car dealership, your website visitors have grown to expect an experience that is personalized for them to help them find information relevant to their needs.

With that in mind, optimize your website using personalization to avoid the bad car salesman-like experience that many B2B sites still exhibit.

A personalization and customer data platform like Evergage can help elevate your marketing efforts by tapping into the rich data available about your visitors and customers and tailoring their digital experiences down to the 1-to-1 level – both on your website and in other channels like email, web applications, and mobile apps. Request a demo today to learn more!