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

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.

The Importance of Technology in Modern Marketing

Technology strategic plans often prioritize the wrong areas for improvement, too many activities at once, or fail to explain why one improvement is more important than another. Ineffective prioritization ends up wasting money and opportunities.

Technology evolves rapidly, and can change characteristics of society from national security to our daily lives. The Strategic Role of Technologies aims to understand how technology and innovation is transforming the world we live in.

Technology such as the web, mobile phones, social media, and customer relationship management systems greatly affect modern marketing. Tech helps businesses grow and prosper, create relationships, strengthen the effectiveness of organizations, allow people to learn about one another, and greatly affects the way companies communicate with prospective customers. Every marketer is starting to view technology as an important factor when it comes to development and growth.

Technology is definitely an important and strategic tool to increase your overall efficiency and stay on top of the competitors. Though the role of marketing has not changed due to technology, which is the dynamic power in buyer seller relationships, the corporate attitudes toward the marketing function and marketing approaches have all been impossible to separate save for the change brought about by rapid evolution of technology.

Through the use of the Internet, consumers have gained access to multitudes of data from around the world; data that is timeless, critical and verifiable. With just a click of a button consumers can gain meaningful insights about companies and their products. They can compare products, find lower prices, read reviews and even communicate with other users thru forums about product quality and buyer satisfaction.

The evolution of marketing from the past years will find that technology started as a minor role player, and evolved into the star of the show.

How the Internet Changed the Marketing Landscape

Promotion, one of the 4 P’s of marketing, includes any means of spreading the word about a product or service. Identifying groups of potential customers is just the first step in selling; an equally important component of any marketing strategy is the selection of communication tool that will be used to carry the marketing message. Companies rely heavily on mass media advertising to communicate to their customers, simply because the cost of advertising per viewer is very low. Although creating a television ad might cost millions of pesos, the ad will also be viewed by millions of people. However, mass media offers the lowest level of trust among audiences. After years of being bombarded by television and radio commercials, many people have developed a resistance to the messages conveyed in the mass media. In fact, the majority of people just mute their TV sets or switch channels during commercial breaks.

Recently, the Internet has become a very popular venue for companies to reach out to their customers. Marketers have recognized that Internet marketing is capable of delivering high-trust communication to their target audiences. Some companies have experimented with different communication modes, such as blogs. A blog is an example of how companies can use the Web to engage in communications that closely resemble the high-trust personal mode of communication versus the low-trust mass media mode, without incurring the high costs that both methods entail. Other examples of Internet advertising are banner ads, pop-up ads, site sponsorships, e-mail marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). More recently, companies have been utilizing social media such as Facebook, Instagram and even Snapchat to communicate to their target audience, who are almost always online on these platforms.

Many have considered social media as a passing marketing interest, probably because it appeared and gained popularity a little too quickly. However, for some entrepreneurs, social media marketing is a powerful trend that must be taken advantage of. Social media has demonstrated huge potential for boosting a company’s sales by reaching the correct market. There are almost 1.23 billion monthly active Facebook users, 757 million of which use the platform daily. Imagine that number seeing your brand every day; you gain access to potential customers, current customers and even lost customers. It makes a brand very familiar and recognizable. Personally, I can think of a couple of times when I tried a new product just because I kept seeing it on my Facebook news feed.

When used properly, social media is an effective communication channel. It is the fastest way to disseminate information related to your brand. It is also an avenue to demonstrate a company’s customer service level, which in turn will enrich its relationship with the customers. Communicating to your customers is a personal experience that lets them know you care about them. Other than this, the nature of the Web, with its two-way communication features and traceable connection technology, allows firms to gather more information about customer behavior and preferences than they can when using micromarketing approaches. As a company, this improves your customer insight. Information such as which pages are often viewed, how long each page was viewed, and other similar date can be easily tracked. This data helps firms analyze customer behavior, preferences, needs and buying patterns, which in turn they can use to determine prices, create promotions, or add product features. This connection to the audience helps in creating an intense feeling of loyalty toward the company and its products or services.

While the Web and social media seem like a marketing team’s dream, one must also be wary of the consequences brought about by using them as a marketing tool. If not addressed properly, these can be detrimental to your business. The sheer number of people using the Web and social media means that there are all sorts people lurking in cyberspace, including negative and malicious ones. These include spammers, scammers, and internet trolls who go all out just to ruin somebody’s online reputation. Also, as easy as it is to disseminate good and positive information about your brand, it also takes that small amount of time for negative and malicious content to spread online. A bad promotion or even something as small as a marketing material with an embarrassing typographical error can spread like wildfire once it’s been published online. With the advent of screenshots, it can be a challenge to remove anything that has been available in the World Wide Web. Lastly, compared to traditional methods of advertising such as TV commercials and print ads, the Return on Investment (ROI) of Internet marketing efforts is harder to define. Companies need this type of feedback so they can evaluate accordingly if their marketing efforts generate the result that they are gunning for.

At the end of the day, companies should ensure that their online marketing initiatives are always aligned with their traditional marketing efforts. For example, print ads should include a company’s website and social media accounts. Likewise, companies should exert extra caution when using online marketing, most especially through social media platforms. Online marketing, social media marketing in particular, when done right can lead to more customers, more site traffic and increase in sales. However, if done badly, it is also a surefire way to damage brand identity and kill customer loyalty.

How can we change the way we communicate for the better?

change-communicate

After letting us explore the menu for a couple of minutes, the waiter came back. Expecting we have decided the food we want to order, he asked: “So Sir, ano po order nila?”

But Marco, my son, was getting into a tantrum over an online game he was playing on his iPad. Instead of telling the waiter that we want two orders of pancakes, cheese burger, fries and soda. I responded:

“Uhm, meron ba kayong WiFi? Ano ang password?”

He smiled then he pointed to their signage:
Sorry. No WiFi. Talk to each other.

No wifi

What is wrong if the first thing I look for in a restaurant or coffee shop is WiFi? What is wrong if I always find hotspots? What is wrong if I have more friends on the Internet than in real life? What is wrong if I am online 24 hours a day on Facebook? What is wrong if we spend 3 minutes taking photos of the food and upload it on Facebook or Instagram before we eat it? How can technology be the enemy?

Technology can be defined as applications, instruments or processes that enhance or simplify the aspects of everyday life. They say that we are now living in a wireless world.

Nowadays, the Internet is the best way to keep in touch with a lot of people almost wherever we happen to be at the same time. It seems pretty obvious that technology has changed the human relations in the past few decades. Most of the people from all over the world now use Facebook, Twitter, Google groups, Instagram to exchange messages, photographs or videos with family, friends, colleagues, or sometimes, with your boss.

The widespread use of smart phones, the rise of the Internet, and the advent of social media have changed the way we work, the way we live and the way we make and maintain friendships. We live in a world where we are accustomed to being connected to the Internet at all times.

The Internet is just part of our lives now and seems to be one of the human basic needs. It’s almost impossible to go out without wanting to have Internet. We are all wired 24 hours a day. Before the Internet came into existence, if you wanted to speak to a friend who isn’t in the same room as you, you would have to call them on a phone. Or if you wanted to send them a note you had to send a letter through snail mail. But now, it’s so easy to just send a message on Facebook or Whatsapp instantaneously.

The principal advantage of the Internet is its capability to connect billions of computer and devices to each other. It creates convenience in sharing and receiving information between users through automation. For instance, with the Internet came the convenience of online shopping. Rather than having to drive to a mall, you can now do all of your shopping with a few click of the mouse. Nowadays, online banking is practically the norm too. You can now pay your bills, transfer funds or just check your balance online. Everything is fast and convenient.

But there are some people who see the problems that can come with the technology. The narrative is pushed that smartphones and tablets are turning us into anti-social screen gazers who are more interested in the wired world than the world that surrounds us. Teenagers spend huge portions of their day distracted by the virtual reality afforded by social media, a habit, an addiction that can affect school and work. At home, things are changing too. Some people, instead of talking to his or her spouse, parents, children or relatives, prefer to use Social Networking during breakfast, after lunch or even at night. In the street, it’s quite common to see people using their iPhones or smartphones. We no longer speak with our neighbors. You can also see people doing that at the bus stop or train stations. At work, sometimes, colleagues would rather prefer to send a private message by internet than to have a conversation over a cup of coffee, for instance. Indeed, human relationships have become more impersonal. Some argue that we don’t truly enjoy the real life anymore because everything happens just in the cyber world.

Today, we have a universal fear that technology controls our lives rather than vice versa. This fear is not entirely misplaced, but the real question is whether technology should actually be viewed as the enemy? It is true that technology has changed the way we communicate, but it has not eliminated communication. And that is good news.

The Internet does not hurt people. In fact, nothing really changes. We still interact like what we used to do twenty years ago when we used to read newspapers more. Technology, the Internet, Social media have actually improved and augmented our relationships, rather than undermined them. Online communication does not replace the traditional offline forms of interaction. Instead, it adds on to them, making the overall frequency of communication better. Email and social media communications are not better or worse than in-person ones. They are just different. The Internet contributes extra features in such a way as to improve, enhance or emphasize interaction and communication.

But of course, anything that we use abusively is bad and not healthy. These technologies will only be of greater use if we know how to use them properly. Everything has to be balanced by being a responsible user. Live and enjoy life to the fullest.