As a digital marketing company, we look at websites all day every day. Some websites are great, some are abysmal, and most are somewhere in between.
Perhaps you’re wondering what I think makes a great website. Is it just design? That it looks modern? That it has great images?
While those things are important, they are auxiliary. What I’m looking for is a website’s ability to do its job. If the product or service being sold is something that a prospect needs to see in order to purchase, then great images will go a long way toward facilitating a buying decision.
More important, however, is the site’s ability to convert a casual browser into a warm lead, and this requires more than just aesthetics. Here are 5 things I’m looking at to determine if your site can support your marketing initiatives:
Mistake #1: Your Home Page Doesn’t Tell Me What You Do
Especially in the B2B sector, the problem you solve and the solution you offer might not be things that the average user encounters. You must explain your service so that your target market can understand it, regardless of whether they are experts in your industry or not.
This can be more difficult to do than you anticipate. We all have jargon that we use within our industries, and when you and the people you spend 40+ hours a week with all speak the same language, it can be hard to remember that your target audience may not, and that the language barrier must be accommodated.
I’ve heard this argument: “The people who are searching for this service know the lingo, and they understand what we do.”
Before you build your marketing foundation on this premise, please take a moment and examine the truthfulness of this belief. Maybe it is true for you — if you are a software vendor, maybe your target market is speaking your language. Consider your buyer personas carefully though; it’s not uncommon for someone who is not an industry expert to be researching vendors to present to a final decision-maker — who may also not be an expert in your industry.
Marketing is a perfect example of this. We encounter a number of prospects who have other roles within a company, such as an administrative assistant, and they have no marketing background whatsoever. Their boss, who also has no marketing background, assumes that digital marketing is a small thing that can easily be added to an already overly large workload. This is a great opportunity for us, and it would be a huge mistake for us not to explain the value of our service in a way that anyone could understand.
Mistake #2: Your Home Page Doesn’t Hook Me
Living in the Information Age comes with its advantages, and one of them is that there are innumerable options for anything I could possibly want. If I search for your service on Google, odds are good that Google will give me back a hundred million results. If I click on your site, you have about 3 seconds to give me the information I’m looking for, or I’m clicking the back button and going to the next site on the list.
So what do you need to serve me on your home page? This is a question that you should spend significant time with. Bonus tip: I’m probably not interested in what you have to say about yourself. My experience with your website better be all about me.
Mistake #3: Dead Ends
No matter how great your site looks, its job is to generate leads. In order to do this effectively, you have to do some backwards planning and integrate some sales funnels into your site. A sales funnel is the map that gets me from my starting place on your site (and that’s not always the home page!) through the pages that I need to read in order to decide to convert into a lead, and ultimately to that conversion point.
I should never get to the end of a page and reach a dead end. It’s your job to anticipate what I will need next and send me there.
Mistake #4: Too Much Text… Or Not Enough.
Writing web copy is a tricky business. As I said above, you have about 3 seconds to hook a reader. Your copy must be accurate, concise, and compelling.
Too many businesses treat their website like a really expensive brochure. The content just sits out there, letting people read it, and then just letting them go away.
Your website should not exist just to explain your features and benefits. If you really want to turn your site into a lead-generation machine, you have to give the user what they want:
- Address their pain
- Educate them about available solutions
- Make them feel confident that they’re going to have a great experience working with you
Mistake #5: Ineffective Or Missing Conversion Points
Conversion points refer to those opportunities in your website for a user to become a lead, and they are perhaps the primary indicator of the success of your marketing initiatives.
Most websites have at least a basic contact form on it, but I can’t tell you how often I see it on a page with no explanation of what will happen if I fill the form out. Who is the form going to? What can I expect to happen if I submit it?
Also, forms are bits of code that are meant to execute a series of commands based upon user input. While they are ubiquitous and you’d think that by now, all the kinks would be worked out, you’d be amazed at how often these things break.
Put some copy on the form page that explains what the user can expect next, test your forms regularly, and make sure that it’s obvious to a user that a form submission has been successful.
Contact forms are not the only opportunity to capture a lead, however. If your solution has a long buying process, there may be other points in the Buyer’s Journey that you can leverage.
What I mean by this is that if someone is taking a long time to do research on the problem they’re trying to solve, you may be able to offer them more research material in exchange for an email address. If your information is valuable, a user is usually willing to exchange something of value to get it, and then you can continue to market to them. This, of course, is the whole crux of Inbound Marketing.
To learn more about how to leverage the power of your web presence, generate quality leads, and accelerate your business growth, check out our free e-book, “30 Greatest Lead Generation Tips, Tricks, and Ideas.”