For several years now, company websites have been seen as a critical element of the “brand”. Much time, effort, and money has been directed towards creating sites that were intuitive and informative for visitors, attractive, sometimes flashy, and hopefully a little unique. A site with a tasteful theme, good graphics, and good organization is much more likely to hold visitors interest. And, if it’s truly unique and interesting …. well, now you’re on to something. Just stand back and wait for the business to grow …. right?
Well, not quite. There is no doubt big value in the design elements of a site. Spending a little money on a great web design pro can pay big dividends. BUT, for many businesses, it is not enough. Now, smart leaders are looking to their web presence to not only be a representation of their brand, but to be a lead generation engine for their business. So what are some characteristics of a lead-generating web presence vs. the online brochure model?
- Visibility. How do your customers buy? There’s a good chance that before they make any substantial purchase, they consult with Mr. Google, Yahoo, or Bing. You would be wise not to forget this. Optimizing your site so that it is highly visible to search engines for keywords and phrases that your customers likely care about means you will be highly visible to your customers. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). SEO and SEM are ongoing efforts, not one-shot deals you hire a consultant to handle and forget about.
- Content. The web is a swamp of content, some good, much really terrible. What happens if you’re consistently providing high-value content that is highly-relevant to your customers and prospects, in the way in which they prefer to consume information? Do you think there is good chance that they will remember your company over your competitors? Sure there is. And, this should really be thought of from the perspective of your overall web presence (web site, blog, social media, etc), not just your site.
- Action. So you’re visible to your customers and prospects. You’re targeted and your content is high-value and highly relevant to your visitors. The final characteristic of a web site that is a lead generation engine is that it converts visitors into leads. What does this mean? It means the site compels the visitor to take some action that moves them into your sales funnel. Typically, this means telling you something about themselves by filling out a short form. How do you compel visitors to take that step that moves them from visitor to lead? You offer them something of value …. typically high-value content that is highly relevant to them.
Think about this from the perspective of your own site. Is it meeting the characteristics of a lead-generation engine? If not, what is the opportunity cost to your business?