When was the last time you visited a big B-to-B company's corporate home page and couldn't help but exclaim, "Wow, what a great Web site!" Rarely if ever, right?
That's why when we came across Support.com's exceptionally well designed home page, the very next thing we did was look for a "press contacts" link so we could get in touch with their Web marketer. Here is her story....CHALLENGE
When Ally Neal interviewed for a job at Support.com (NASDAQ: SPRT) a year and a half ago, the company had marketing jobs open but they weren't planning on hiring someone solely dedicated to Internet marketing. Neal met with CEO Radha Basu and pitched with a passion. Neal says, "We discussed the possibilities and realized how effective Internet marketing was going to be."
Won over, Basu created a new Internet Marketing Manager position. Now Neal had to prove her theories!CAMPAIGN
Neal began by working with the company's in-house design team to create a more effective company Web site. First she tried to create a home page that would effectively address the different interests of each of Support.com's visitor demographics.
She says, "If someone goes to your home page you need to make sure what they're looking for is there. There are lots of different people -- they may be a partner, a potential client, a purchaser, a job seeker, an investor. You want them all to see an option on the home page that will draw them in." In other words, one-click navigation for everybody.
Support.com's new home page manages this task by being divided into six areas:
1. Regular horizontal navigation bar -- this runs across the top with categories such as "About", "Customers", "Services" etc.
2. "Billboard" -- this horizontal box takes up the upper central real estate. Neal uses it to spotlight one particular Support.com service each month. This month's focuses on Support for mobile devices.
3. Support.com Spotlight -- this column at the far left includes useful and fun interactive activities, such as an interactive product demo, and audio interviews with Support.com's CEO.
4. Support.com News -- this column in the middle-left features headlined hotlinks to the latest company news.
5. What People Are Saying -- this column in the middle-right allows visitors to click to hear what various industry analysts and impressive have to say about its products. And when we say "hear" we really mean it. Visitors can download these testimonials in their choice of Real Player or Windows Media. Neal points out, "It's much more valuable to hear our customers talk. And some people prefer to listen as opposed to read."
6. Our Customers and Partners -- this column at the far right lists clients and partners in the most powerful yet simple fashion possible -- by simply showing their famous logos.
Next Neal began tracking her site results on a weekly basis.
She says, "Never assume a page is highly trafficked! Never assume a press release got attention! Never assume that ad click throughs continued through your site!" She examined all the reports available from her measurement system to pick the most useful ones. She says, "Some of the pre-canned reports are interesting, but you have to figure out which ones will really help you manage your business." Now Neal tracks:
a. Most highly visited pages for each day (especially when she's had a press release out pointing to one of them)
b. Which newsletter ad, banner ad, search engine term and hotlinked newsletter article drive the most traffic in to the site.
c. The path visitors and advertisement click throughs take once they start moving through the site.
d. The pages people are most likely to leave the site from, "where you're boring your visitors."
Then Neal uses these results to tweak Web pages, ads, online media buys, press releases and click though landing pages to work better.
On May 23rd she started a new test campaign -- now when Web surfers find out about Support.com when searching on specific terms in major search engines, they are given special links to click through on. When they click they see the regular Support.com home page, but get a special pop-up box addressing the topic related to the search term they found Support.com using. For example, people who click on some search engine results for the term "Microsoft" get a Support.com pop-up explaining how the company's solution works with Microsoft's products.
We normally are not fans of pop-ups, but Neal's pop-ups are among the least annoying we've ever seen. They load quickly and include a photo of a happy executive plus a strong sales lead generation offer, such as "How can Support.com save you money?" Click throughs then get a registration and qualification form to download a white paper.
Neal gathered about 500 sales leads during the first month of her testing special pop-ups for visitors coming from various search engine terms. She's also learned the following Web marketing lessons:
- Banner ads did not work. However ads in email newsletters distributed by related industry associations were big winners.The best tactic is to have them click directly to a registration form for a white paper or Web seminar (Neal says, "You're lucky to get 30 people in a room for an in-person event, but my first Web seminar had over 300 attendees!")
- When doing lead generation campaigns, have your click throughs land on a special registration page for that campaign.
Then, after they complete that step DON'T just fob them off with a basic "Thank you" or send them over to your standard home page. Instead, Neal says, "Land on something of value, perhaps a list of collateral, and other things of interest to help educate them." Remember your home page should appeal to a much broader audience, including customers, investors, press and partners. Your sales lead thank-you page should be more targeted.
- Along with studying your weekly site reports, also meet with your sales team regularly. They are on the front lines with prospects daily and can share site input your reports would never reveal. For example, Neal learned adding product demonstrations to her site shortened the sales cycle for Support.com's products, so she made sure product demo links where more accessible.
(Note: We've learned from other B-to-B marketers this is not always the case, so you need to communicate closely with your sales team on this matter.)
Final results? Well, not only has Neal kept her unbudgeted job during this economic downturn, but the percent of Support.com's marketing budget that's dedicated to online has "increased substantially." As Neal explains it, "Online you spend less than in traditional advertising and direct mail marketing. And we've had great success."
MORE: Here are links to two Case Studies on other B-to-B Web sites we have cited for exceptional design in the past:
1. UPS.com Raises Visitor Return Rates By Fine-Tuning Site Navigation
2. Welocalize.com's "Free eQuote" Web Site Button Generates Sales Leads from the Global 2000