Talented and experienced engineers spend a year developing their software.
The team puts a supreme effort into releasing a product that is useful and easy-to-use.
Then what happens? The team treats its website like a second class citizen. They throw it together quickly using a standard template and corporate-sounding language.
What consequences do you suffer when your website is the poor stepchild?
Congratulations. Your software product delivers excellent value to your customers.
But how do your potential buyers become customers in the first place?
How do you:
- Make it easy for the right people to find you?
- Educate them, build trust, and nurture a relationship?
- Change their behavior from not-a-customer to now-a-customer.
Patrick McKenzie’s recommendation: treat your website like a shipping software product of your company. Apply the same process and discipline to your website that you would to a software product: testing, design, continuous improvement, code re-use.
Your website is your most powerful asset to facilitate a relationship.
York points out that you need to look no further than Amazon to see the power of a website that builds the business into the product.
Although the end result of your encounter with Amazon might be the shipment of a book, the experience is all about “convenience and credibility.” These benefits derive from the many features of Amazon’s software-as-a-service: Amazon.com.
Amazon’s features “include affiliate referrals, product search, offers, recommendations, one-click checkout, order management, support and nurturing.”
Automated methods on Amazon.com facilitate the purchase process at every step of the way for buyers.
Joel York says that the SaaS model “enables you to connect the product directly to your customers out on the Web and directly to your internal systems across your firewall. Your online business creates an opportunity for you to reengineer your fundamental business processes by building them out from your product.”
Business buyers want to solve a problem
How do you go about building your business into your product?
Start by studying the buyer’s journey of your customers.
Business buyers are rational (mostly). They make decisions in the context of a group. They prioritize their decision against other competing priorities.
They follow a predictable sequence from being unaware, to realization of a problem, through education and decision-making.
Don’t overlook opportunities to interact with your buyers
Most software companies work with buyers only at the time in the process where they are evaluating options and making a decision. Their interaction with the buyer looks like this:
They overlook opportunities to participate both earlier and later in the buying process.
Look for ways to facilitate the purchase process
If you want to “facilitate the purchase process at every step of the way for buyers,” then simply ask yourself these questions.
What can I do to help buyers on their journey?
How can I remove obstacles?
Where can I create value that will speed them on their way?
How can I connect them to others who are on a similar journey?
When you start to look closely at the steps in the buying process, you will find many opportunities to bring the business into your product.
- As a hub on the web, you’ll be easy to find.
- With a mix of lifecycle tactics, buyers will educate themselves and come to trust you.
- Wizards and tutorials will improve the conversion rate from product trials.
- Onboarding and support practices will increase the number of people who get through the vulnerable early stages of product deployment.
- Opportunities for community will enhance the experience of your product and increase loyalty to you.
Bring more of your business into the experience of your product
After all your hard work to create a software product, don’t let your website be a second-class citizen in your portfolio. Use it to facilitate the purchase process of your buyers.
Start by studying the journey your buyers undergo. Find opportunities to remove obstacles and improve the experience of that journey.
By doing so your online presence will bring more and more of your business into the experience of your product.
More buyers will become customers and more customers will remain loyal to you.