Where are b-to-b marketers falling short with their Web sites?
Carton: Overall, I think that sites fall short on putting content first. I see this in software sites all the time, particularly in the content management system space. When I've got a new assignment to find a set of potential CMS software candidates for a new project, marketing-speak or ridiculously detailed lists of features get in the way. I need to be able to compare one piece of software against another. I need to know that they've got satisfied customers by having access to real testimonials. I need to be able to sell my selection to my client. I need to know what the basic features are that differentiate it from the competition. I need to know—gasp!—the price. And I'm not all that different from someone who's dealing in any part of the b-to-b space, no matter what the industry. Look, you can't trick me. Either it fits the budget and the specs or it doesn't. No amount of Web 2.0-i-ness or marketing whizbangery is going to make a difference if those two things don't match.
What's on the horizon for b-to-b Web sites?
Carton: More sites turning back to the basics: providing solid, easy-to-use information that comes out of a deep understanding of the needs of users. Does this mean turning away from technology trends? No. … A good Web site is one that does things that can't be done without the Web. All the Web 2.0 stuff that people point to—user-contributed content, video, real-time interaction with data via Ajax, blogs, etc.—are really all things that can't be done without a globally linked, networked, real-time platform for information: in short, the Web. If b-to-b marketers aren't doing stuff that 1) addresses the real needs of their customers and 2) can't be done in any other way than online, then they're missing the boat.