DIGITAL MARKETING: Breathe life into your site

There can be few B2B marketers who remain unconvinced of the importance of the online channel. As Catherine Lawford, MD of customer experience consultancy Seren, puts it, "Online is more than important. It is becoming - and will continue to be - the single most important tool in a marketer's armoury. Bearing in mind that the vast majority of customers will decide whether to engage with a company by first looking at its Internet site, creating a poor online experience makes no business sense."

Yet, despite this - and despite the fact that most B2B marketers know exactly how much this matters - the B2B world is lagging some way behind its B2C counterparts in terms of online customer experience. Martina Schell, head of user engagement at marketing agency Archibald Ingall Stretton, says, "While B2B online experience has developed very little since the early buzz in the 1990s, consumer-facing online experiences have developed around user needs and technology."

She continues, "This has steeply raised expectations of business websites. Remember that all business customers are also consumers. Today the majority of B2B customer experiences seem clunky, poorly thought out and ill-matched to the complex demands of business customers. This is a great opportunity to lead in your category."