Is there activity? Is it generating qualified leads? Are those leads then systematically captured and hotfooted over to sales leaving a mound of data behind so marketing can begin measurement?
Though the specific characteristics of a lead generation website have changed in the last decade, the intent hasn’t — create new business.
How do you measure the success of your website?
If it goes something like “Is our website cooler looking than our competitors?” rather than “How many website generated leads converted into closed business this month?”, it won’t be long before you realize your website is just smoke and mirrors.
By itself, the cool factor doesn’t build new business; it builds ego.
The good news is that your paradigm of why your website exists, what it should be doing month-to-month, and its importance to your organization can change.
Now, let’s grab that microscope and inspect the DNA of today’s lead generation websites.
The Definition of a Lead Generation Website
Though a B2C website can certainly generate leads, I’m going to focus specifically on the B2B segment because of its typically longer buying cycle.
At a high level, a B2B lead generation website should:
- create awareness
- engage its audience
- inspire them to action
- bring the company a step closer to closing new business
- keep stakeholders informed of its performance for proper measurement
Below are 5 defining characteristics of lead generation websites.
1. Qualified Traffic
The key word here is qualified, which basically is a synonym for actual prospects coming to the website. This could be in terms of NEW traffic (those unaware the company existed just seconds prior) or RETURNING traffic (those being nurtured). Unqualified visitors only skew analytics and create a false perception of successful activity.
Prospects will have more pageviews, deeper sessions, and be motivated to complete calls to action if they follow the Four C’s. More more on that in #4 below.
Qualified traffic is the genesis to qualified leads.
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A qualified lead is like a gold nugget in a sifting pan. It takes patience and a process to remove the rock and sand, but when discovered, it’s well worth it!
2. Clear Positioning
Does the website succinctly communicate the company’s positioning statement? Does it spell out what they do and who they do it for? (your homepage design is superb for this)
A lead generation website doesn’t beat around the bush. It clearly and confidently says “If you’re looking for this and need a company like us — lets talk.” A website without clear positioning could potentially cause an ideal customer to exit prematurely. And once they exit without taking action (there’s that word again), that prospect is probably lost forever.
3. 80/20 Content Rule
This is one of my favorites because it’s very quantitative and frequently creates “ah-ha!” moments. It states:
80% of a website should be devoted to the valuable content you create with your clients firmly in mind, and the remaining 20% should be your sales content.
80% of a lead generation website should engage and build relationships, the other 20% should sell them on services/products. That’s beautiful. Learn more about the 80/20 rule from Valuable Content.
4. Inspires Action at every Stage of the Buying Cycle
Whether you’re currently dating, or have dated in the past, let me draw this analogy. What’s more comfortable for that first date, a drink or a meal? A cup of joe or chalice of St. Bernardus (have I mentioned I love Belgian beer?) will always be a low risk alternative to reservations and hours of obligatory conversation. Am I right?
A smart website understands that prospects visit in various stages of the buying cycle. Some may have just discovered the company (Awareness), others are researching (Evaluation) and a few may be ready to engage in business (Purchase).
A prospect who is in the ‘Awareness’ or ‘Evaluation’ stage might not be ready for the Contact Us form (think dinner from analogy), but signing up for a mailing list, white paper or webinar with their email address is certainly the lower risk alternative (think drink in analogy). Encourage action on every page. Turning anonymous visitors into contacts is a critical component to generating a steady flow of leads long-term.
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To reach a level where your mailing list sign up form is obtaining email addresses regularly, your website should know and implement these 5 conversion basics.
5. Powered by a CMS
Not just a Content Management System, but a CONVERSION management system too. This system captures the fruits of a company’s labor by following 1-4. Do not rely on email notifications to manage and track this data. Let me say this again. Do not rely on email notifications to manage and track this data. Using an email program like Outlook or Gmail is unreliable and inefficient.
A CMS should manage the website’s content and conversions. Better yet, Salesforce integration would be ideal — but that detail is for another day.
Build Business or Build Ego? First, define “Design”
Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.
Jeffrey Zeldman (Web author, podcaster and speaker)
A well designed lead generation website is strategic. Design isn’t just about choosing typography, a color palette, or “nifty” navigational system. Though these elements (sans “nifty” nav system) are certainly a critical step, it’s not a quantitative measure of success. It’s about designing the ideal ecosystem that creates and manages new leads. You are in the business of measuring your website investment correct?
What conversation would you rather be having?
“Our website generated and helped close $146,890 of new business in 2013!”
“Our website is way cool, our competitors must be so jealous!”
I’m hoping it’s the former.