For most of my childhood I was certain that flying cars (or at least personal jetpacks) would be a common part of everyday life by the time I was an adult. To this day I often feel a twinge of disappointment when I see my car sitting like a lump on the ground with its horribly old fashioned tires.

I feel similar disappointment each time I see a B2B website sitting there like a lump spouting platitudes about how great its products are, and hoping some poor visitor will fill out its annoyingly long forms. 

For many years I thought that seeing a B2B website optimized for demand creation was as unlikely as seeing a flying car. If we could, we’d develop rich content libraries aligned with the needs of our buyers in specific buying cycle stages and dynamically deliver that content to targeted visitors based on the origin of their visit, their behavior and their profile data. We’d create rules and algorithms for activity-based triggers that would automatically launch timely offers with the right message to the right visitor at the right time. We’d monitor, test, tweak and always improve. We’d build lead scoring models based on not just profile data, but on activity, recency and frequency. We would convert unknown visitors to highly qualified leads, and deliver them seamlessly and continuously to our grateful and admiring friends in sales.

Yes, we have the vision, but we’ve lacked the technology. Occasionally, the very brave among us dared to voice our web optimization dreams and humbly asked our IT colleagues to build the tools and technology to enable our demand creation dreams. Some tried, but most failed. That is, until recently. A convergence of critical factors has begun to finally make true B2B website conversion optimization a reality. These factors are:

  • New approach. B2B marketing’s focus has shifted from sales cycles to buying cycles. We understand the information needs of buyers at specific buying cycle stages, and we’ve realized that high-value content is the fuel that drives demand creation. We’ve also adopted multi-touch portfolio marketing, lead nurturing, lead scoring and inbound marketing. We’ve come to understand that good B2B marketing is not a one-and-done affair, but instead is defined by our ability to attract, engage and qualify targeted audiences over time with value.
  • New technology. As marketing’s approach has evolved and became more sophisticated, new technologies have emerged to support such efforts. These include marketing automation platforms (MAPs), increasingly robust analytics, and web content management (WCM) systems specifically designed to help B2B marketers engage and qualify leads through dynamic content delivery, progressive profiling, lead scoring and much more. We’ve also realized the imperative of integrating these technologies with each other and our CRM systems.
  • Powerful catalyst. B2B marketers have become very adept at attracting targeted traffic to their ebsites, and most of us have been quite vocal about our search engine optimization and inbound marketing success, which has led to the inevitable question “how much of that traffic converts?” For many organizations the focus on driving traffic has shifted to a focus on converting traffic.

The combination of these three factors has led to a renewed focus on making corporate websites the true center of demand creation efforts and many are experiencing unprecedented success. How is your website performing?