07 Jan Your B2B Website Platform Options: Who to Choose, Who to Avoid
A well-built website site can be a huge asset to any B2B advertising campaign. Back in 2013, 67% of small business owners were using their website to market to their customers. That number is estimated to around 85% today. So, if you don’t already have a B2B website for your company, then it’s almost certain that your competition does. They’re also getting your customers because 81% of consumers research products online before they make a decision to purchase. If you’re just getting started, you may be wondering what would be the best website platform for your business.
Before you begin looking at platforms, you need to ask yourself how you will be using your website. Are you trying to generate leads, sell merchandise, or maybe both? Do you need something very user-friendly or do you have the coding skills to use something a little more advanced? Will you be paying someone to set up or manage your site? How much are you willing to pay for your website? How much freedom do you want with the customization? Are you planning to sell things from your site? Do you want data on who is visiting your site, how often, and when? Once you’ve answered all of these questions you should have a pretty good idea of your needs and can begin exploring different website platforms.
Open Source Platforms
Open source platforms like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal are platforms whose codes are open to everybody to use or modify. WordPress is one of the most popular platforms for small businesses. WordPress is best used for blogs, company info, and lead generation because it offers great search engine optimization. Joomla is better if you’re looking for something geared more toward e-commerce or social networking, and Drupal is really a one-size fits all platform. The software for these is free, but you’ll have to pay for certain additional themes and plugins. You’ll also have to pay for website hosting. There are also some coding skills required to take full advantage of the customization options, but overall these are some really great platforms used by some of the most successful businesses in the nation.
These are website builders like Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly that allow you to customize your content within preset themes. Because these templates are already prepared, there’s no need for any coding experience. You simply plug your content in and let it go.
Unfortunately, this plug and chug method doesn’t allow for a very customizable B2B website design, but the different platforms themselves offer varying amounts of customization. For example, Wix allows you to choose from several hundred professionally designed templates or to create your own, but once you’ve chosen a template you cannot change it.
These types of websites are also really cheap, and some you can actually create a fully functioning website without paying a dime. However, most of them are not cut out for e-commerce. These websites work best for artists and start-up small businesses, not established B2B companies. This is because you’re getting a “free subdomain” off a website with hundreds and thousands of subdomains which makes it much much more difficult to get found by search engines. This also means that you don’t own your website. If you decide to move your site to a new host or platform, you have to completely start over.
E-commerce platforms such as Shopify and BigCommerce are used by people who sell their merchandise online. They are relatively easy to operate, but coding skills may come in handy when setting them up or for troubleshooting purposes. When it comes to SEO, Shopify offers some basic help and blogging software, but it’s not the greatest. This is a let down since businesses who blog receive 55% more website traffic. These platforms can also be very expensive but are very customizable and easy to update.
Proprietary software sites
Some website development companies create sites using their own software/platform. Since these vary widely, we suggest asking for a demonstration or talking to people who use that company. One of the main reasons to use a company with proprietary software is because they specialize in a certain industry. That means they can provide additional insight into keywords and content. Unfortunately, one of the downfalls of these sites is if you decide you do not like your host, you cannot take your website somewhere else to host it. You will have to completely redesign the site to move it.
As stated above, finding the right platform for your B2B website is all about knowing what you need. Once you’re sure of that, you can judge which platform fits perfectly with your business. Many of these website builders offer free trials, so don’t be afraid of trying them out before making a decision. Also, check out different articles and reviews to see what other people in your business field think of these platforms.