Building a B2B website in the Philippines

In the beginning of 2016, Versatech was facing an identity problem. We didn’t have a functional website, our marketing materials weren’t professional, and we had trouble distinguishing ourselves from our sister companies. We didn’t even have a tagline.

We did, however, have an exciting opportunity to build this brand with so much potential from the ground up.

We felt that it was important to have two goals; one looking inward at our team, and another looking outward towards our target audience.

We started with two things; improving our company culture (internal), and creating a website (external).

When it came to the company culture, we implemented a new incentives program and a newsletter that could keep everyone up to date. It’s also become the most convenient way to make new announcements, recognize outstanding employees publicly, and educate the team about training opportunities or events. But this blog focuses on our B2B website build.

July to September Versatech stats | Building a B2B website in the Philippines

How we built our B2B website

Content: Filling in missing pieces

Our first step here was working with a marketing strategist, who analyzed our current website and found;

  • Broken links
  • Missing information
  • Empty pages
  • Poor SEO (ie. None)
  • Complicated site navigation
  • Underutilized space
  • Overstuffed space (too many words on the page, or in large paragraphs no one will ever read)

The first thing she had us do was throw up a landing page for our URL so potential clients didn’t see an unfinished website and bounce. The landing page had contact information and a short explanation of why our website was “in-progress.” We then used the back-end of the site as our content playground, testing navigation structure and content.

Our marketing strategist was able to use her knowledge of information architecture to create a more streamlined menu for us. For example, we had two contact pages with different information that had to be combined. A few other pages were merged for a cleaner menu, and some pages were split apart for strategic reasons.

For example, we had to break down our extensive services list and rewrite it for our two main target audiences; vendors and resellers. Previously, it was a bullet list of terms that our audience may not even understand, since there’s no industry standard for them. We split it into three parts; a landing page for services, why vendors should work with us, and what we can do for resellers.

After the content was done, it had to be put somewhere. We all agreed what we had wasn’t going to cut it.

Development: Hiring a specialist

Building a website we were happy with (and more importantly, our marketing strategist was happy with) was a hard struggle even with a team of programmers. Initially they built a site on Joomla, which seems to be the popular choice in the Philippines. However, we wanted something a little more user-friendly, so we made a switch to WordPress.

Initially our programming team said that this couldn’t be done, but thank goodness for people who know better (I don’t know about IT, so I would have taken this as a dead end).

We hired a freelance developer and WordPress specialist from Canada to help out.

My advice to you on building a website is to get an expert, even if it costs more. In the long run, it will be cheaper than having multiple people work on it because you keep finding mistakes that could have been avoided with a solid foundation.

At first, we had our overworked in-house graphic designer try to coordinate with the programming team to build a WordPress website, and neither parties knew much about it. It would have been a waste of their time and our marketing pesos to learn about it, much less implement it well.

Our designer did a great job for someone who was self-taught in a few weeks. Kudos to her for getting things up and running before we decided we needed a developer.

Our developer let us know that we did a few things wrong, including a half-installed child theme, duplicate websites (no idea how this happened), conflicting security plugins, and too many plugins overall (29 by the time he was done weeding them out). Also, it wasn’t mobile responsive and all of our URLs had a /wp on them, which looked unprofessional to anyone who knew anything about websites.

Even if these changes seemed subtle to us, and were mostly back-end fixes, they are crucial to the efficiency and reliability of the website. This is important because we also plan to add a loyalty rewards platform where our clients can create accounts, make orders, and earn points.

The website also functioned better, which I noticed as I scrolled through our optimized content. Things worked faster, images were sharper, and we learned about favicons. In the first month it was up, we even got a call from interested vendors.

Design: Creating value

Alright, so our website was up and running and our web content was good. Now we needed something to bring people to the website in the first place. We knew we could do this through blogs and SEO, and if you get an email from me you’ll see a link to our site in my signature, but we also wanted to become a resource for our target market.

To do this, we needed to create resources. We tapped a few places to get these assets; our internal team, a design agency, and an independent contractor.

Internal team

Having someone on the team who can handle design is ideal, because they’ll have a good hold of all your design assets and you’ll be able to reach them pretty quickly compared to an independent contractor or external agency. We have a graphic designer who has been working with us for a while, and was able to help us put together our design standards. Once these guidelines were ready, we could then hand them to external agents to keep our branding consistent even when the writers and designers aren’t part of our in-house team.

Digital marketing agency

We outsourced some of our design and marketing work to a digital marketing agency to make use of their research teams, writers, and graphic designers. This was a good move for more complex materials, because as a small business we don’t have all the resources needed to do thorough research, revisions, design, and coordinate all the moving pieces.

Independent contractor

Freelancers are a great investment, but, like an in-house employee, you have to find the right one. Before hiring someone for a long-term project, be sure to do a test project with them first. Freelance designers could have great new ideas and insight that you’ll be happy to implement, plus since they work with multiple clients you may get some advice on how to improve your processes.

The results

Weekly view of visits | Building a B2B website in the Philippines

Our Google Analytics account shows that we went from 0 visitors to an average of 16 sessions and 51 pageviews per day. For a new B2B website in a fairly specialized industry, I’m pretty happy with that number. I also see that our bounce rate is below 50%, which means that for every 2 people who visited our site, 1 went to a different page on our website. We’ve gotten a few leads, are proud to direct potential clients to our website, and established our online real estate.

Perhaps the most unexpected success that came from the new website is influx of new talent. We received a number of great applicants, so much that we had to add more questions to our application process to qualify them more competitively.

Finding Objectives and Key Results (OKR)

Objectives and key results (OKR) are important to know in order to guide the strategic direction of the company, and how you measure success. Here’s how to define and measure your OKRs.

Define OKR

An objective, much like in a marketing plan, must be actionable and have a time limit. For example, you can say “achieve _____ in 12 months.” Keep your objectives clear, easy for everyone to understand and work towards, and in line with your overall strategy.

Key results, on the other hand, must be quantitative. Have a number you’re working towards, whether it’s increasing sales by 50% or earning 50 new long-term contracts. Your key results should be in line with your objective, and allow you to “grade” success. Try not to make them too hard to achieve, or you risk intimidating your team.

Measure OKR

List out your high-level strategies and actionable tactics, communicate them to your team, and get started. Once your strategy is under way, measure progress often on a set schedule. If you decide to do it once every two weeks, keep these dates consistent.  As you review your progress, you may redefine your OKRs and set new ones.

Check out the infographic below for more information, as well as some companies’ views on OKRs.

Introduction to OKR – Objectives and Key Results
Infographic created by folks at Weekdone, the better team management tools company

Customer journey: How to tailor messages to reach consumers effectively [Infographic]

In order to reach your target audience, you need to know how to target them. Marketing communications should be highly customized based on where a potential customer is in the buying process, what their previous touch-points are with the company, their interests, and their industry. You can reach consumers more effectively by tailoring your messages for each step of the customer journey.

This resource explains what to say and how to say it, when it comes to tailoring messages based on the customer journey. Check out the infographic below to learn more.

How to tailor messages to customer journey stages

Embed this infographic

Working from home tips for productivity

Companies are increasingly starting to offer flexible schedules and work from home days. Some are taking it a step further and employing a 100% remote workforce. This exciting new trend comes with many benefits, such as increased schedule flexibility, no long commutes, and a team who can be online 24/7 thanks to different time zones.

Even if your business doesn’t employ a remote workforce, sometimes life happens and employees need to work from home. Many businesses worry about how this may affect quality of work, but a telecommuting team member doesn’t have to stop work from getting done or healthy collaboration. This article puts together 5 working from home tips to keep your entire team productive, no matter where they are or in what time zone.

Benefits of allowing employees to work from home

Before we get into our working from home tips, here are some reasons to allow your team to telecommute from Remote.co.

  • Remote work boosts productivity. Employees can work during their most productive hours and take care of errands during the rest of the time. They also get to work from whatever environment they are most comfortable and productive in, so no more loud colleagues or constant interruptions.
  • Telecommuters experience less stress. Working from home means you don’t have to face rush hour traffic on your daily commute, plus there’s less preparation needed to begin your workday.
  • A Stanford University study found that workplace burnout reduced by half in a remote work setting, making for better employee retention.
  • Companies see lower operating costs, since they save on rent, supplies, and general overhead of maintaining an office.

5 Working from home tips

1. Invest in a project management tool

There are numerous project management tools out there that you can choose from, but it’s important to choose one that’s suited to you to keep your toolkit lean. If you’re using two or three PM tools, it won’t increase efficiency or speed, it’ll just cause confusion.

We use Trello for our content processes, and standard emails for the rest. So far this has worked for us, but as we continue to scale and grow our team we may have to shift more into Trello to ensure everyone can find what they’re looking for. When someone works from home, it’s harder to get information when it’s scattered in different places. We don’t want Jim emailing the whole team asking who has the order progress of so-and-so.

Some other popular PM tools for remote teams include Basecamp, Redbooth, and Mavenlink. They’re all great options with slightly different features and interface, so decide what feels best for you. It’s not about getting the most features for the cheapest price, it’s about getting the features that your unique team needs, and ignoring the rest (which is just clutter).

2. Use video conferencing

Video conferencing saves time, allows you to record your meetings, increases productivity, and is surprisingly affordable. It enables you to bring your team together live in one shared digital space, where you can see each other, discuss, and brainstorm from different geographic areas.

Even if you don’t have a remote team, video conferencing should be a default for meetings, since you can record them and have them ready for review whenever someone needs to get caught up.

Video conferencing is a great productivity tool, since everyone is more acutely aware of how long the meeting is going. In-person meetings can stretch for hours, whereas it becomes painfully obvious when a video conference has gone on longer than 45 minutes. Recording your meeting will also encourage everyone to choose their words carefully and keep things succinct.

If you have a team member who is remote, or someone who is telecommuting for the day but needs to attend a meeting, video conferencing will also save time. Instead of waiting for one person to commute to the office, just dial him or her into a conference.

3. Document your processes

Working from home is all about independence, and having well-documented processes helps remote and on-site workers get their jobs done properly on their own time. As long as they follow a process, results will be fairly uniform in quality.

You can use your project management tool to document these processes, keep them handy in Google docs, or have a folder of training videos ready for review. Use these tools to quickly onboard any new hire, and keep them available to your existing team members who may want to refresh their memory.

Tips

  • If you have your processes in a Google doc, make sure you only share viewing permissions, not editing. This will allow new hires to read and review the process, but not make changes to the document.
  • Use your video conferencing recordings to add to your training materials. For example, if you’re chatting with a new hire and explaining how to do something, keep that recording for the next person.
  • Record your screen with software like SRecorder to create training videos that show exactly what someone has to do, step-by-step.

4. Have them use a time tracker

If you see a dip in productivity or are concerned about lower output, test out time trackers and see if they help. Free time tracking tools like Toggl and RescueTime should give you insight into how long your remote workers spend on your tasks, how productive they’ve been, and what they’ve worked on during a period of time.

I recommend doing this if your telecommuters aren’t performing, since it can reveal surprising problems (ie. they may be working with multiple companies without telling you). Otherwise, if you’re happy with their output and the quality of their work, time tracking may not be necessary.

5. Focus on results

This final tip is possibly the most important. Focusing on results to gauge performance should be the case for both in-office and remote workers. When you’re trying to boost productivity while working from home, put special emphasis on results. If your remote workers are getting you high-quality work within budget and on time, that’s all you need to worry about. Develop a company culture that focuses on results, and results you will see.

Any other working from home tips?

Do you work with telecommuters, or do you work from home yourself? Send us your advice on staying productive and what strategies you use to ensure success.

Learn more from the infographic below from Hubstaff.com.

5 Social media marketing tools to boost sales

Social media may not be a top priority for a B2B company, but there is merit to claiming your profiles. If you have the time and resources, you could even invest in lead generation and customer targeting. In this post we’ll go over social media uses for B2B companies and some social media marketing tools you can use to get results.

Social media uses for B2B brands

There are plenty of case studies out there about B2B social media successes, such as the American Express Love My Store campaign that engaged thousands of small business owners. These businesses used creativity and tapped into a need to make their voices heard on social media. You can use LinkedIn to find great talent, Twitter to reach industry influencers, Facebook to target ads and make partnerships, and Instagram to build up your brand.

A B2B company can use social media for marketing (traditional), support (innovative), and sales (strategic). Here’s a closer look at how a B2B might tap into social for these needs.

Marketing

This is the traditional view of social media. Most businesses classify social media efforts under the marketing department, since it’s typically used to engage customers and distribute your brand’s content.

In order to successfully market on social media, make sure the content you publish is interesting and relevant to your target audience. That may mean sending out other brands’ articles, images, and videos. Don’t exclusively send out your own blog articles–if they wanted to see your blog roll they could just go to your blog.

Support

Jay Baer is the expert on using social media for customer service. He says on his website, Convince & Convert, “The goal is not to be good at social media. The goal is to be good at business because of social media.”

Jay is an advocate for providing top-level support on social media. It’s where your customers, both happy and unhappy ones, can find you and talk to you. It’s important to note that these discussions on social media are public for everyone else to see, which means it’s in your best interest to reply quickly and graciously.

Sales

You have to be highly strategic in order to execute sales via social media, because your audience is highly intelligent and sensitive to sales pitches. Just take a look at the popular web community Reddit and its infamous disdain for marketers.

However, social media is an excellent tool for your sales team. You can discover and score leads through social media, make a connection, build a relationship, and finally make a large-scale sale. For example, if you set up an alert for a certain hashtag, such as “ICT Philippines” on Twitter, you can find potential business opportunities for your company.

This article from Inc shares a few more tips on how to use social media as a sales tool, such as sending traffic from social profiles to custom landing pages, using pay-per-click advertising, and increasing visibility on Twitter. Duct Tape Marketing also shares some advice for lead mining and opening conversations.

5 social media marketing tools and what they do

Now that we’ve discussed all the impressive uses that a B2B company may have for social media, let’s go over a few tools that can help you execute.

Hootsuite – This is a social media scheduling tool that provides data and reports to see how your profiles are doing. If you don’t have time to curate content every day, scheduling them in batches ahead of time is a great way to keep your profiles consistent and interesting.

Google Alerts – This tool can monitor a term or phrase around the web for you. Type in a term relating to your business to keep an eye out for opportunities. For example, if you sell hardware to other companies, you can set up an alert for “wholesale hardware” and restrict the domains to Twitter and Facebook. That way, if someone has a question about hardware, you can step in and join the conversation.

Warble – A free email alert tool that integrates with Twitter. Warble will send you a daily email with all mentions of the terms you set. Set up a list of key phrases for your business, and keep an eye out for any potential leads.

Nimble – Out of your customer base, there is a small segment that’s made up of your avid fans. Nimble is a social CRM that will help you manage and organize your contact with them, and keep your response times quick. Get insights to who you’re talking to, and keep track of every team interaction with a customer.

Sprout Social – This is a social media management tool that helps you manage, monitor, and market on your social profiles. It has great analytics to show you what’s working and what isn’t, as well as an all-in-one social inbox that’ll make it easy to handle customer service across different channels.

This is just a small sampling of the numerous social media marketing tools out there that can help a B2B business succeed.

How has social media helped your B2B business?

Do you agree or disagree that it’s useful for a B2B company? Do you invest in social media management? Why or why not? Share your insights in the comments below.