Have you looked at what your competitors are doing about lead generation on their websites lately? Chances are that some of them will have sophisticated and engaging websites that are doing a highly effective marketing job. You can quite easily achieve this as well – but then you need to discard any preconceptions you may have about doing a simple brochure site, and drill down into what you really want to achieve with your site. Not all web developers understand how lead generation works on websites, so it’s your responsibility to brief them on your expectations.
You can start by getting clarity on these five questions. Your answers will shape how the site is designed, what you will communicate on it, and the experience your customers will enjoy when they come for a visit.
1. Who is your target market?
Your website needs to work for your ideal customer. So it’s essential to clearly define your customer personas before you get started. Find out who they are, what appeals to them, what their aspirations are, and what they expect to experience online? This is going to inform the brand image you portray on your website, the images you choose, the style of your communication, the tone of voice, the credentials you share, the actions you ask them to take. Above all, understand the online behaviour of your customers – and then give them the user experience (UX) that will work best for them.
Example: Why do people who are searching online have an average 8-second attention span? It’s because they are scanning for something which appeals to them. If you present them with the wrong language, the wrong visuals, slow download speed, irritating flash images or a confusing array of information, they’ll move on without giving you a chance.
2. What are the problems or needs of your customers?
Every individual goes online in search of something. Your customers will be seeking to satisfy a need or find answers to a problem. So you have to know exactly what it is they want. This will frame how you get their attention and present your business to them. Make absolutely sure that you speak directly to their concerns, their interests and their aspirations – not your own. If you want your visitors to engage with you and become customers, you have to offer them exactly what they are looking for. And deliver it in the way they want it.
Example: Which TV repair company would you call? The one with a carefully crafted mission statement and a detailed company history; or the one that understands how you feel when your TV breaks down on a Friday afternoon?
3. What solutions are you able to offer your customers?
When you know what your customers want, it’s easy to explain, really powerfully, how you can solve their problems. This is an area where business owners so often get the story wrong on their websites (especially if they do the website content writing themselves). Usually the visitor doesn’t actually want read through a list of service or product descriptions. He just wants to be sure that you can satisfy his need. So you need to communicate this quite specifically through key messages, evocative images, authoritative facts & stats, authentic testimonials, examples of your work, and a wide variety of interesting and relevant information.
Example: Which physiotherapist would you choose? The one who provides insights about your particular condition and publishes loads of blogs, FAQs and patient testimonials; or the one who merely has a list of treatments on offer?
4. What do you want your customers to do on your website?
Think of the various calls to action (CTAs) that we typically use on websites: Call. Sign up. Download. Enquire. Read more. Add to cart … and so on. These are named ‘calls to action’ because they ask the user to take action – and you need to be very clear about what action you want your visitors to take on your site. What do you want them to do when they visit the site? This will define the objectives of your website. Now it’s much easier to plan the content and the user experience so that it directs the visitor on a journey through the site that will help them reach their goal – and meet your objective.
You also need to consider how you will encourage visitors to spend a lot of time on your site – because the more engagement there is, the better your ranking will become on search engines like Google. So you need to find ways to keep users occupied on your site. It’s great for SEO and great for converting visitors into customers.
Examples: Do you want users to leave their contact details with you? Then plan an incentive, like a free e-book, that will prompt them to exchange their details in return for the download. Would you like them to get in touch with you? Then communicate compelling reasons why they should click on that Contact Us button. Want them to purchase something? Create a persuasive sales page that will convince them to click on the Pay Here button. Or visit your site regularly? You could publish an engaging series of blog articles that will keep them coming back for more.
5. How will you get people to visit your website?
How to drive traffic to the website? It’s the core challenge that every site owner faces. Your website can be state-of-the-art, but if no one visits it you will have wasted your money. It’s critical to include strategies for driving traffic when you plan the site. Social media can be the no.1 online platform for drawing attention to your site, but you have to consider what visitors will expect to find when they get there – and supply it. Google Adwords or targeted online advertisements are excellent sources of traffic, but be sure that those prospects arrive at dedicated sales pages that will meet their specific expectations. Organic traffic (i.e. people find you ‘naturally’ with search tools like Google and Bing) can only be achieved if people can actually find you. Which means that your site must be correctly equipped with SEO (search engine optimisation) features, so that in time your ranking on search engines improves. We all want to be on page 1 of Google. But it takes the application of very specific techniques and ongoing publication of engaging content on your site to achieve this.
Tip: Most web developers can be compared to designers of haute couture dresses or smart cars. They certainly understand the technical aspects of designing and producing these head-turners, but they don’t necessarily know how to use them to turn admirers into long term friends (a.k.a. customers).
In short, if you want your website to provide best practices in lead generation, sort out your marketing strategy for your website first, before you commission a web developer to build your new website.