A website that’s professional, consistent and easy to navigate will be a huge component of any company’s online marketing strategy. For companies with a business-to-many (B2M) model, however, building a website can be harder than usual. These organizations need to create a website that’s both high-quality and effective at appealing to an audience consisting of individuals and businesses who may have wildly different needs.
It’s definitely possible for a B2M website to be highly effective at capturing both businesses and individuals — but the site will need to meet some unique design standards.
This list will help you tell if your B2M website is meeting customer standards. Ask yourself these questions:
While some elements of your website will need to be specialized — built for only businesses or customers — your entire site will need to appeal to both to stay relevant to all visitors.
Developing and maintaining a unified brand voice may be a little tricky, especially as you’ll have to balance the needs of your individual consumers against those of your business clients. However, a consistent brand voice is necessary if you want to be seen as professional and valuable to your audience.
And do you meet all your audience’s needs?
One of the unique challenges that B2M businesses face is that their audience likely has divergent needs. As a result, a B2M website will need to appeal to that company’s entire customer base.
Shipley Energy’s website shows how you can cover your entire audience at the same time without sacrificing clarity or confusing visitors. The two forms break down into business and residential services. They list out the different services available, quickly communicating what the company provides. This setup ensures residents and businesses get directed to the right pages based on what they need.
Simple design elements like separated lists are great if you want to be sure your services are easy to navigate. This arrangement can work even if you’re appealing to two or more very different audience segments on the same page.
In a similar vein, keeping internal links and CTAs clear can ensure customers access the resources they need. If a button or link leads to a service that’s intended for just individuals or businesses, adding extra language can steer every visitor in the right direction. Doing this may require adding in some extra links or creating additional pages that break down services based on the audience. The clarity these changes create can go a long way in making your website easier to navigate.
Upwork offers an example of a freelancing platform that achieves this well.
This form is built for businesses and individuals looking to hire designers for their projects. It also includes a link for individuals wanting to promote their services on the platform.
There are more visible links for freelancers elsewhere on the site, but this link ensures that anyone who has gotten lost looking for the freelancer sign-up page can be redirected.
Some of your products and services may be marketed to both individuals and businesses. For goods like these, you can focus on core features or similarities to keep pages valuable and relevant to both audiences.
If you have products marketed to both audience segments, you can design pages and product lists so you avoid splitting traffic and keep your website easy to navigate.
For any business website, a navigation header or toolbar with links to essential pages — like a list of services and products, an about us page and contact info page — will be important. These navigation elements make sure the website is easy to navigate, allowing customers to reach crucial information no matter where they are on the site.
For a B2M business, these same features are also critical. But, you’ll also want to be sure they make the site easier to navigate while considering your audience’s divergent needs.
For example, if you have separate pages for business and individual services, are you including them in site navigation elements?
Adobe’s navigation bar provides a great example of this idea in action. All services are available and easy to access from the site’s header — including ones for individuals and businesses. No matter where a user is on the site, they have quick access to Adobe’s full product line.
Both businesses and individuals will have questions, concerns and issues that need to be resolved — but their problems may not be the same.
Your support forms should consider all the possible problems your audience may have and collect enough information to direct the complaint to the right staff member. If you have a live chat or chatbot, make sure qualified reps are assigned to each customer’s issue. It may also be a good idea to invest in cross-training your customer service team so they’re equipped to handle concerns from both audiences.
For B2M businesses, building an effective website may be a little tougher than you initially think. Your site’s design will need to consider the needs of your entire audience, which can make common design elements trickier to build. You will need to create support forms, product listings and navigation headers to accommodate both audiences. You’ll also need to make sure your brand’s voice is consistent, even as you speak to different audience segments.
Doing this will take some extra work. The benefits of a website that fits your customers’ standards, however, will outweigh the costs.
Lexie Lu is a designer and writer. She loves researching trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.