There are a number of good resources out there on how to build effective ecommerce product pages. These product pages tend to be short, highly visual, and optimized for quick purchases -- a style that matches the typical behavior of a B2C consumer.
B2B purchase decisions, on the other hand, tend to take a bit longer. Whether the buyer is signing up for a service or product, B2B purchases often require more information, research time, and ultimately more decision-makers than a typical consumer purchase. Good B2B product pages reflect the distinct way that these purchases are made, and should be designed differently than B2C pages. Here's how to do it.
1) Research how visitors consume your product pages.
We've done a fair amount of user testing to see how visitors navigate our website and consume content on it. In each experiment, we invite a range of individuals to explore the site and ask them questions intermittently to determine why they made the decisions they do. When we user-test the website, we are typically trying to ascertain a few distinct things:
- Do users understand that HubSpot sells marketing software?
- Where do users go to gather information about HubSpot?
- What information is missing for users to make an informed decision about the HubSpot software?
- Can users define what HubSpot does after exploring the website?
Recently, our team asked visitors to examine the product pages of our website. We asked them what they noticed about a given product page, what they expected to be there, what they understood from the content on it, and what their next step would be. After the most recent round of testing, customer experience expert Rachel Decker tells us:
"The biggest takeaway [about the product pages] is that people need to take a while to get to know us. Each of these people had known about us for at least a year and have had a relationship with our marketing materials and social media accounts ... It's not easy to understand what we do, even after we've had that relationship for a while. The product pages need to nurture and recognize that relationship and process."
Today's buyer is self driven. CEB estimates that nearly 60% of the buyer's journey is complete before they ever talk to a salesperson. That means the product page has to do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to satisfying the questions a prospective customer has before they contact your company. Our testing has found that prospects use a combination of product pages, ebooks, case studies, and pricing info -- as well as a plethora of information off the site to prepare for a sales call. On the product page they're trying to discover:
- What are you selling?
- Why will it make my life better?
- What makes it different from other products/services?
- Can I afford it?
- How does it work?
- How do I know it's good?
- Who else uses it?
That's a tall order for any one page to address, but here are a collection of components that will help you get there.
2) Develop your product positioning.
Your product positioning needs to be present on your product pages, loud and clear. It should be the very first thing a viewer sees on the page and fit well with the visual components.
There are two main types of product positioning: feature-based or benefit-based. Feature-based positioning tells you exactly what the product does; benefit-based positioning focuses on what the product makes possible. Below is an example of benefit-based positioning that is supported by a secondary feature line. What's the benefit? The end-result? The reason for buying? Help Scout will help you delight customers in less time.
Keep your positioning simple. Avoid jargon. No one believes "best-in-class," and "innovative" or "revolutionary" don't mean much to the average buyer who is just trying to make their day-to-day easier. If you say your product is the best or the easiest or the fastest, make sure you play that positioning off with real examples further down the page. Product videos and testimonials can both be helpful for this purpose.
3) Create a compelling product video.
Really good product videos are rare finds. Product videos should do more than showcase the product -- they should give viewers a sense of how that product will fit into their lives, and how it will change things for the better. To do that, you need context. Below are a couple examples of videos that explain products in the context of how it improves things for the user.
This product video from Perch is stand-out because it clearly demonstrates the challenge it was built to solve. B2B buyers who are the right fit for this product will likely recognize themselves in this story and identify with the struggles of remote collaboration.
In the case of HubSpot's recent content optimization system (COS) launch, we wanted people to identify with an aspiration rather than a day-to-day problem. Because the product was breaking into a new space, we had the product manager lay out the vision and supported that with a use case from one of our customers. In both cases, we kept the benefit close to the storyline: Treat people like people.
Many companies shy away from product videos thinking it will be too hard or expensive to do it right. As this post from Wistia's Kristen Craft explains, that doesn't have to be the case. The value of using video on a product page has been underscored time after time in user testing and has the added benefit of being easily shareable on social media.
4) Don't shy away from product comparisons.
Every product page on our site has a section on it that highlights how HubSpot is different from other software in the field. (Insider info: We debated over this for awhile.) Dharmesh Shah, one of HubSpot's founders, is fond of saying, "Attack the problem, not the competition." So we try to keep our gaze fixed on customers rather than the rest of the field. But when it comes to product pages, user test after user test revealed that comparative information really helps prospective customers. They seek it out. And if it isn't there, they waste a lot of time trying to deduce it themselves. So why make it hard to find?
For your own product pages, think about the mindset prospective buyers are in. They're likely evaluating a number of different solutions. Put yourself in their shoes and try to genuinely isolate and highlight the things that could help them make that decision. Do you specialize in a certain business type? Do you have you any features that stand out? Don't be an infomercial pitch star here, just tell it to them straight.
Moz.com does a nice job with this. They clearly state their differentiator without tearing down any individual competitor, and they back root their claims in data -- customer satisfaction rates, number of URLs indexed, and so forth.
5) Offer testimonials or case studies.
Social proof is a powerful way to give assurance to a prospective buyer. From happy tweets to in-depth case studies, social proof can come in a number of different formats.
Many companies display happy customers on a case studies page, however, even if you have a separate page for reviews, you can't take for granted that your viewers will make it there. Use pull quotes from your case studies or quotes from happy customers throughout your product and conversion pages to reinforce the positioning you've chosen. In fact, MECLABS, a marketing research and training organization, advises placing testimonials deliberately on the page at places that stir up the most trepidation -- near pricing points or complex explanations of your product, for example.
The testimonials you select should align with the positioning you've chosen to highlight on the page. If your product is the easiest on the market, find a testimonial that talks about how simple it is to use. Square, a payment device for small businesses, invested a lot in building up a bank of case studies. They knew how important social proof and recommendations would be for persuading businesses to give them a shot. They also smartly repurposed those case studies throughout their site and product pages.
A segment of Square's product page with testimonial built in
6) Clearly display next steps.
Earlier this year we did some user testing and landed on a few interesting observations about the way people use our site. As much as we wanted product page visitors to click on the CTA and request a demo after reading the product page, as pretty and endearing as we made that demo button, readers had much more work to do before feeling ready to talk to a sales rep. In fact, we found that the typical path after viewing the product page involved multiple stops to our case study and pricing pages.
So, while you should certainly prioritize a core conversion like a demo request or call to your sales team, make sure there are other options available for people who are not quite ready for a conversation with sales. Connect people to your pricing page, customer case studies, or other decision resources. (HubSpot User Tip: If you have Smart CTAs, you can personalize the next step in your process to each viewer.)
7) Measure it all.
The effectiveness of product pages can be measured in a number of ways depending on the analytics reports at your disposal.
All accessible through free Google Analytics reports, a combination of page views, time on page, and bounce rate can give you a basic check-up and diagnosis of how your content is working to attract and engage visitors.
- Page Views: A simple measure of success, increases in page views can be attributed to a good search engine optimization strategy or other off-page tactics for attracting visitors.
- Time on Page: There are no hard-and-fast rules for how long viewers should stay on your product pages. Too short a time could mean that the viewer found the page useless and didn't read through it. Too long a time could mean that it's hard for the viewer to find what they need quickly enough. As a marketer, your best bet is to look for abnormalities and variations in your time on page after a product page redesign.
- Bounce Rate: Keep your bounce rate as low as possible. Bounce rate refers to the percentage of people who hit your page and instantly leave. While not a flawless metric, if you have a high bounce rate, it could mean that you're not giving people what they expect when they hit the page.
Digging a Bit Deeper:
If your analytics allow you to dig a bit deeper, you can measure how well you've optimized your product pages for search and whether your product pages are leading to conversions for your company.
- Conversions: Conversions may not happen right away on your product pages, but the rate of clickthrough on a call-to-action is certainly a positive sign. Keep an eye on your conversion rate after any redesign and be deliberate about CTA placement to make it easy to take the next step.
- Search Engine Optimization: There's no better lead than the one who actively searches for your product or industry. That's why search rank and SEO analytics like number of keywords and inbound links are important to track for product page success.
- Conversion Assists: Some analytics software will give you what's called an assists report. This report will show you the most influential pages on your website for driving purchases or conversions. Assists reports can give you a sense of how big a role your product pages play in the customer journey.
An example of conversion rate and SEO data for a product page.
Inevitably, your product page will rely on a great number of supporting pages on and off your site. The product page can be where all of those resources can come together to tell a complete story.