10 Key Elements of a Winning B2B Product Destination Page
Published: January 9, 2012
What is a product destination page and why is it important? One of the questions marketers constantly ask is how to effectively display products online. On a typical marketing Web site, each product appears on a product destination page. Site visitors looking for products usually traverse a path to the type of product they need and eventually land on a product destination page.
Product destination pages are some of most crucial pages on a Web site, because the major conversions that affect a company’s bottom line usually take place on these pages. Although all product pages on any marketing Web site—whether on a B2B or B2C site—serve a similar purpose, this article focuses specifically on B2B product destination pages. The reason for my focus on B2B sites is that marketing products on such sites generally involves a more complicated sales process; plus, the status quo of B2B product pages is less mature than that for B2C product pages.
Many factors can hinder or even potentially prevent your customers from finding and viewing your product destination pages, including poor search engine marketing, a bad site structure, and poor content organization. When your customers spend the time and effort that it takes to successfully find these product destination pages, the last thing you want to do is to disappoint them by turning them away once they get there.
So, what are the key elements of a winning B2B product destination page? Are your product destination pages providing the information users are looking for? Are your product pages effective in terms of generating and capturing leads? There are 10 key elements that a winning B2B product destination page should have.
1. Product Images
On product destination pages, graphic images showing products deliver the most immediate and direct visual impression to visitors. Based on the visual impression visitors receive the moment they see a product destination page, customers make quick judgments about whether the page deserves any more of their time and attention.
Choosing the right image or visual presentation for a product destination page is extremely important to building favorable impressions. To make optimal image choices, you must first obtain an in-depth understanding of how your customers perceive your products, then select one or more images that clearly convey the right message. This is relatively easy to do for tangible products such as home-improvement products. However, for virtual goods such as IT services and products, it takes much thought to provide an illustration that conveys your message in the right way.
2. Product Overview
Although an image is worth a thousand words, in addition to product images, customers want content that quickly helps them to understand a product’s advantages and how it can help their business. A concise, but thorough product overview lets customers quickly gain this understanding. This overview should be long enough to describe what your product does, but not so long that users can’t read it through a brief scan. Try using language that contains keywords your customers would be looking for, but avoid using jargon that would confuse new customers. A well-written product overview should answer these questions: What is the product? What does it do? What are its primary selling points?
3. Content Describing the Product
While a product overview is a good start, it’s far from enough. Your customers want to see comprehensive information that provides a 360-degree view of a product and helps them conduct their initial product research and make strategic decisions. According to industry best practices, you should employ one-step shopping—promoting and marketing products through polished product images that present a product from multiple angles; giving detailed descriptions of product features, colors, and sizes; and providing downloadable documentation.
Marketers should understand that having targeted content is extremely important to your customers. Although all customers look at your product destination pages, customers in different roles want different types of content; and customers at different stages in the research/sales cycle are looking for different types of content as well. For example, on a product destination page for a medical product, doctors and nurses need different content from patients. On a cloud product destination page, strategic decision makers and IT specialists need different information. New customers look for technical specifications, product details, and customization information, while existing or returning customers need support and troubleshooting content. Developing targeted content based on a solid understanding of your customers is essential.
One thing to keep in mind is that providing the desired content doesn’t mean pushing everything onto a page at once, without any focus. Employing multiple content formats and providing content of various lengths lets you provide different types of content in whatever way helps customers’ comprehension. For example, you need not display a lengthy data sheet directly on a product destination page; in this case, a link to a downloadable document would do the trick. The key is to prioritize your content, and use appropriate visual elements to present the content in a meaningful way. Visitors can quickly scan a product destination page and decide what areas they want to spend more time on. A tab structure is in wide use for presenting extensive product content, with content on multiple tabs that are parallel to each other. Customers can easily toggle between the tabs to view content that lets them comprehend a product’s features, without getting lost.
4. User-Generated Content
These days, customers conduct rigorous online research before they make purchasing decisions. What information really helps them make a decision between your product and your competitors’ products? User-generated content such as user reviews that provide first-hand feedback can really influence customers’ decisions. One of the things I keep hearing from participants in user research is that customers are looking for third-party information about products. They want to learn from other customers who can share information that is valuable in relation to their specific needs.
While having a filtering system is useful, customers perceive reviews as biased if you show only positive reviews. The key is to provide a welcoming environment that encourages candid and thoughtful reviews. Not only does this attract potential customers and engage them on your site, it also provides a good way of collecting ideas and feedback for future improvements to your products. Enthusiastic, loyal customers are willing to share their success stories with their peers. They are eager to provide their insights to customers who are still in the exploration stage. Make use of this. Take advantage of it.
If user-generated reviews are not applicable in your business model, providing case studies and user testimonials can be similarly effective. Potential customers can learn about the challenges and success stories of other customers who have similar use cases and relate the information to their own situation.
5. Product Customization Options
One size doesn’t fit all. Allow customers who have different needs to customize your product for their own particular situation—or at least make options available and provide a way for customers to talk to someone about them. Marketers should communicate to customers that you are not offering a cookie-cutter solution, but providing a solution that is customizable according to specific customer needs. It should be crystal clear to your customers what options are available. Make this information prominent on your product destination pages.
6. Calls to Action: How to Buy, Where to Buy, or Next Steps
Most customers have conducted solid research in comparing products. They have looked through your product categories and found the right product destination page, which can be long journey in itself. Once your customers have a good understanding of the market and your products, they are at a stage where they are comfortable asking questions or even talking with a salesperson. But if they repeatedly scroll a page up and down without finding any way to get in touch with someone or anything that points them to such information, they’ll be frustrated. Who to call? What to do next? Where to find local sales representatives?
Not providing the right call to action can be the most costly mistake in B2B online marketing. Some might say that customers can always find a phone number on a site’s Contact Us page, but since the golden rule of Web user experience is don’t make me think, you should make finding this information as easy as possible.
7. Lead Capture and Form Design
It’s always tricky to show prices on a Web site marketing B2B products, especially for large-scale enterprise solutions. However, how much a product costs is always the top question customers have in mind, which means you’ll have to address the investment your customers must make somehow. Customers scan for relevant words like pricing and quote. So, to capture qualified leads, provide price or quote request buttons or links to direct users to an effective lead-capturing mechanism. In most cases, this takes customers to a Web form that asks for their basic contact information.
One common mistake that marketers make is asking for too much information, resulting in a long, complicated form that your customers won’t fill out. How to avoid such situations? Ask for the bare minimum of information that would enable you to track a lead, so customers will actually complete and submit the form. A hundred completed forms with just a name and basic contact information are more valuable than just ten extensive forms that actually get submitted.
8. Related or Similar Products Customers Might Find of Interest
Sometimes there are several products that are similar, and your customers might not be sure which one is best for them. In other cases, there might be a couple of products that would work very well together for a customer, and you might offer them as an integrated bundle of products or services. However, new customers might not know about these bundles. When your customers arrive on your product destination pages, don’t forget to present such opportunities. Show similar products that you offer. Show related products that work well together. Enable your customers to explore your products through a connected experience. Provide solutions instead of single products.
9. A Style of Product Navigation: Hierarchical, Multithreaded, or Wizard
To facilitate product discovery and enable customers to find the product they are looking for, a well-designed and architected product structure is essential. Even on product destination pages, customers might still be at the research stage and want to look at additional products. Allow them to jump between products. Always show them where they are in a product category, so they’ll have a clear picture of your product families. Industry best practices suggest using a navigation bar on the left to display product categories. Progressive disclosure is a widely used technique for preventing customers from becoming overwhelmed by too many options, but still showing the most relevant product categories.
10. Social Elements: Share, Print, or Send Email Message
Social marketing is now an unstoppable trend in B2B marketing. Your customers like to send valuable content to their colleagues and their customers. Making sharing easy is a no-brainer to help boost your social presence. Also, don’t forget about supporting generations that are more familiar with traditional means of sharing information such as printing it out or sending it via email. A printout on a piece of paper or a simple email message can disseminate information just as effectively. By integrating a Share button on your product destination pages, you allow your customers to easily share your content on all the platforms that are out there. Learn which platforms your customers are using the most.
What to Do Next?
You’ve now learned about the 10 key elements of a winning product destination page:
- good, representative product images
- a product overview that’s concise and to the point
- product content that is rich and engaging
- user-generated content
- product customization options
- calls to action for how to buy products
- good forms for capturing leads
- information about related and similar products
- effective product-category navigation
- social features
What to do next? Quickly evaluate your product destination pages and score them according to the presence of these 10 key elements. Most likely, all of your product destination pages use the same template—perhaps with a few variations for specific categories of products—so you’ll need to check only one of these pages to understand where you are in comparison to best practices. Give your product destination page�one point for each of these 10 elements that it includes. If your page scores around 8–10 points, it’s in good shape. If it’s at 5–7 points, you can do a quick makeover and see an immediate return on your investment. However, if your page scores below 5 points, you need to take immediate action, because your product marketing site is not effective. You are not meeting your customers’ needs, and your product pages are not resulting in conversions.
Because product destination pages are often conversion points, giving them a simple makeover usually offers the biggest return on your investment. Making these improvements doesn’t require any significant changes to your site structure or anything else. All you need to do is to satisfy your customers’ needs for information on the most critically important pages on your site: your product destination pages. Even if your site is still far from perfect and there are a million things you want to do to improve its design, I recommend that you start at the lowest level of your site and refine the design of your product destination pages. When users have a satisfying experience at this last touch point in their product search—the product destination page—they’ll leave the site having had a satisfying experience over all.