Mar 13, 2017
Industry: Software & Media
Products: Website design and development
When Unleaded Software, Inc. got its start in 1996, websites weren’t yet enabled for ecommerce.
“We built nascent websites. We launched them and hosted them and proud owners talked them up. These were the early-adopters. They were curious and wanted to play in this internet trend,” recalls Jarod Clark, founder and president of Unleaded Group.
Fast forward. Clark and Andrew Klein teamed up in their senior year at Colgate University. Klein brought the design genius to the table; Clark breathed sales. By early 2008, the small team, by now including Ian Kullhem, the company’s longest-term employee, began sniffing around Magento, the shopping platform that included the first search functionality. The program was still in beta when Unleaded Group adopted it as the solution for B2C, the premier platform that to this day is unrivaled.
“B2B is the next chapter of eCommerce. Retailers were the earliest eCommerce businesses, now B2B manufacturers are looking to expand their exposure and awareness and the most readily available toolkit is that of eCommerce,” Clark says.
“B2B is getting wise that the connection to their audience is more than an order form. It should be more of an engaging B2C experience,” says Klein, VP and Creative Director for Unleaded Group, designer of 600+ websites since 2004. “Websites better streamline and drive their user experience, and also tell a damn good story about the brand. And that happens in mere moments. I love the design challenge.”
He adds, “From wholesale car parts to sexy lingerie to lawyers to breweries, it's all about brand position, and then conversion.”
Unleaded Group has several B2B manufacturing websites in its repertoire for notable companies like Commercial Architectural Products Inc. (CAP, Inc.) and Denver Beer Company.
For 36 years CAP, Inc. has manufactured curtainwalls, storefronts and awnings for commercial and retail buildings. “Our wholesale rebranding of CAP, Inc.’s website, logo, signage, and print catalogs reflects second-generation Kyle Crone vision to bring the branding current. Kyle is unstoppable when it comes to strategic new plans. He engaged us to build his second new website for the door kick plates he’s introduced to market in 2016. We are honored to be able to contribute to CAP Inc.’s success,” Clark adds.
“It was excellent to work with a manufacturer we respected and admired who also happened to be a fraternity brother from our days at Colgate,” says Klein about Denver Beer Co. “Great beer always help grease the wheels of the creative process, and I think that shows in the work we accomplished for DBC: branding, web, packaging, display, marketing, friendship, fidelity!”
The top considerations for an effective manufacturing B2B website that delivers results (sales) are:
Responsive. Not exclusive to manufacturing sites, but necessary for all. Google delimits websites in the hunt that are not responsive or mobile when the visitor is searching on a smart phone or tablet. In November 2016, StatCounter reported that 51.2% of all web visits in October came from mobile devices compared to 48.7% of visits from traditional desktops.
Persona. Like traditional brick and mortar stores did for decades before the internet, B2B manufacturers need to identify their current buyers and build a site to elicit response from those archetypes. More than one persona will emerge from the review: first time buyer, repeat buyer, visitor that bounces (available vis-à-vis your site’s Google analytics.)
Data. Drive with product data. When manufacturers take the time to build out thorough descriptive product data and pass that downstream, it greatly expedites the process allowing those resellers or dealers to focus on other ways to add value in the process.
Engagement. Web content is the forum to communicate knowledge of product, processes, end-users’ concerns and ingenuity. Sure, you can have a form for site visitors to fill out to gain more information, but if your site doesn’t demonstrate that you have information, chances are the forms won’t flood your email box. Incorporate calls to action
Google again. Google ranks websites in the hunt based on authentic, genuine, fresh content. Manufacturers don’t need to give away their intellectual property to be original. But the site must include the manufacturer’s capabilities, equipment, delivery window and more to show up as worthy of Google.
In meetings with potential customers, Clark is often heard to say, “If you build it, they won’t necessarily come. This isn’t Field of Dreams.” What he’s referring to is websites built and launched that are never fueled with new content and/or product, sites that are never again touched by digital marketing. Those sites are doomed.