There are many great IoT companies in the world, but few great IoT websites. A highly effective IoT marketing website need only five elements in place to stand out from the competition:
- A unique value proposition
- Process-framed case studies
- A minimalist design
- Insightful content
- A powerful CMS
But before I share my recommendations, I first need to clarify what the makes a IoT website great, and what implications a longer sales-cycle, lead quality and the number of decision-makers will have on the design, layout and content of your website. Once you understand, the points I am going to make will make much more sense.
What makes a B2B IoT website different?
Most IoT companies have long sales cycles with multiple decision-makers and complex and expensive products or services. This means you need to factor in the sales team productivity, customer lifetime value, quality of leads, etc when creating your website.
It makes more sense to optimize your website to generate fewer but better leads then say a self-service SaaS or a B2C eCommerce store.
A good B2B IoT website is not only great at getting prospects to sign up for a newsletter or download a whitepaper. These conversions can occur months or years ahead of the sale, and your website needs to accommodate prospective customers who are in different stages of their buyers’ journey.
When planning your IoT website, you need to answer questions such as:
- How do we optimize the website for the highest value leads?
- What type of offers can we provide in each step of the buyer’s journey?
- What are alternative ways of identifying high-value leads besides asking them to fill out a form?
- How do we personalise the experience on the website for prospects in different parts of the sales and marketing funnel?
So, what elements do you need to have in place to create an amazing website for your IoT company?
1) A Unique Value Proposition
The Internet of Things can provide many opportunities and outcomes, but the downside is that many companies can fall in the trap of presenting their product in a vague, generic, and undifferentiated manner instead of positioning it in a way to win more deals.
A unique value proposition (also sometimes called your positioning strategy) is at the core of effective sales and marketing strategy. By articulating a clear value proposition, you can identify who your true buyers are, create a more compelling offer, write better content, and describe the outcomes that the buyer wants so that they engage with your website.
Your unique value proposition should be presented across your website, but it will be the most prominent on your home page. However, your home page is not a place where prospects spend a lot of their time.
You only have 50 miliseconds to make a good impression. With this in mind, you need to create a very clear and compelling value proposition that will grab the attention of buyers and make them take the next step.
Differentiation can be challenging. A good way to check if your company is differentiated enough from the competition is to go to their website and ask “if I swapped out the logo with our own, do they look and sound the same as us?” If they do, your company is not differentiated enough.
To create a compelling value proposition for IoT companies, you need to focus on a list of distinctive benefits of difference to the target audience such as:
- Your unique approach, philosophy or perspective
- The industries you work with (agriculture, shipping, automotive)
- The types of companies you work with (SMBs or Enterprises?)
- The background of the founders of the company
- The attitude/personality of the brand itself
- The type of business or pricing model
2) Minimalist design
Simple website designs are scientifically proven to be better. According to a study by Google, the research suggests that a visually complex website affects the user’s perception of the website within 50 milliseconds.
In other words, visually complex websites are rated as less beautiful and less user friendly than a simple and minimalistic website.
The reason behind this is that our brain prefers to think about what is easy to think about. In this way, our brain does not have to work hard to process the information we are seeing. This is why we prefer that websites have a structure and layout that we are used to.
When planning your website, follow some conventions that gives your visitors a mental shortcut. Examples such as this is a clear most wanted next step (a call to action), establish a clear hierarchy of what information is the most important, make sure the website is readable, have a simple navigation bar, and aim for clarity everywhere.
3) Process-framed case studies
“Okay, this company looks promising,” thinks the buyer when browsing your website and content, “all of this sounds very reassuring, but if we work with them and the project goes wrong we are months or years behind and have lost hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. Why is this company right for our project?”
The best answer to this question is “because we have done this type of work before”. However, the problem is that most of your competitors can show similar work on their case studies page.
Yes, showing case studies can be highly effective in the sales process, but the prospect will also wonder how often your company produces less successful work relative to your most successful projects. When a prospect is reading your case studies, they are looking for reassurance. You can not achieve this by only talking about how you work, you need to show it.
A good case study takes your defined process that you use for all your clients and frames the case study around it. In this way, the prospect can easily see that your company is routinely able to produce the same outcome for different customers with little variability in outcomes.
4) Insightful content
Content marketing died a long time ago. For the last 15 years, the big promise was that every company could and should stop doing outbound marketing and only rely on inbound traffic and leads.
This was a wonderful idea, but it was never that simple.
To make matters even worse, most companies around the world started approaching content marketing the same way where everyone tries to outperform each other by posting more articles, targeting the same keywords, creating more videos or starting a podcast.
The problem is that there is way more content out there than any of us are able to consume. What we are lacking is insight created for a narrowly defined audience that actually turn into customers.
While using Google to find relevant keywords can be useful to inform your content calendar, it is not the best approach for innovative IoT companies. The standard approach to creating content that ranks can drive more top-of-the-funnel traffic, but this strategy is limited by what people search for, finding interesting angles on a topic others have written about, or your own ability to find the best keywords.
Yes, you should make content for SEO purposes, but it should only be a small part of your content strategy. While a month-to-month increase in traffic looks nice, your primary goal is to generate qualified leads, close more deals, and grow your business.
Instead of trying to outperform your competitors and rank for the keywords with the highest search volume, you should create what we call bottom-of-funnel thought leadership.
This approach is simple; Create content around the challenges your product is uniquely positioned to solve. This can be content centered around:
- Pricing and costs
- Case studies
- Product comparisons
- Problems and negatives
- Often asked questions
By joining or listening to sales calls, you can start to identify important patterns that can inform your content strategy. Over time, you will have insightful articles and videos that are easy to rank, and the sales department can use the content to close more deals.
5) A Powerful and easy-to-manage CMS
It was not long ago, if you needed a website for your company, you would have to hire a developer or learn to code. The process of creating a new website was usually time-consuming, expensive, and you would have to rely on an external partner to make significant changes to the site.
This has resulted in many websites being static, with little or no content, low engagement, and no offers or webinars to sign up for, making the website more of a liability than an asset that generates leads and customers.
However, thanks to the development of cloud-based CMS platforms, people with little or no technical knowledge can do simple changes to a website such as uploading new content, adding new pages, or integrating the website with tools such as Google Analytics.
CMS stands for Content Management System. Some examples of the most widely used CMS platforms are WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.
While these platforms are great, we believe that the HubSpot CMS is the superior CMS for most SMBs and Enterprises. Don’t get me wrong, WordPress is still a great CMS, but the HubSpot CMS stands out for a couple of reasons:
First of, the HubSpot CMS is more than just a CMS. HubSpot is a holistic platform that manages your website, CRM, marketing and customer service on one platform.
- All-in-one solution for your website, blog, landing pages, email, contacts, SEO, file management, social media publishing etc.
- Intuitive drag-and-drop functionality, making it simple for non-technical team members to update your website
- Best-in-class managed hosting and security to reduce IT costs
- Built in SSL-certificate
- Manage multiple languages and domains from one portal
- 24/7 support over the phone, email or chat
- Local development, serverless functions, website themes, extensive developer docs, and dynamic content with HubDB
- Revision history so that you can roll back changes
- Adaptive testing, A/B-testing and personalization
- Smart CTAs, forms, and content that creates a more personalized and streamlined experience for your prospects and customers
While WordPress and similar platforms can be a great CMS to create a website or a blog, for IoT companies that have aggressive growth goals, the HubSpot CMS is the clear winner. The ease of use and powerful functionality will make both marketers, IT, and developers happy, and serve your company’s growth goals well.
The advice in this article are simple, but rarely implemented. Most IoT websites have a generic value proposition, a complicated design, ineffective case studies, uninteresting content, and is built on a CMS that is hard to manage. No matter how innovative your product is, an Iot website can not move the needle for your business if these factors are in place.
So, to review. If you can say that each of the following five statements are true, then your website is doing its job:
- A great IoT website articulates the unique value proposition with a coherent message distributed throughout the entire site.
- A great IoT contains process-framed case studies that showcase how your company can routinely deliver the same outcomes
- A great IoT website has a minimalist design that offers the visitor a clear next step, has a clear hierarchy of the most important information, is readable, and has a simple navigation bar.
- A great IoT website contains bottom-of-the-funnel thought leadership content in written or video format.
- A great IoT website is built on a powerful and easy-to-manage CMS so that it is easy to make changes and add new content.
Is your IoT company’s website great? If it isn’t, why not? And, more importantly, what will you do now to make it great?
Nettly are experts in customer acquisition for industry 4.0 companies. We work with IoT companies that are shaping the future to improve client acquisition, grow their pipeline, acquire more customers, and navigate long sales cycles.