B2B Marketing Agency for Technology Companies

Basic Website vs Lead Generation Website — what’s the difference?

What’s the difference between a Basic Marketing Website and a Lead Generation one? I’ll help you with the sniff test, here are 5 obvious ways.

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by Eric Sharp

I often wonder if Filmmakers can watch and enjoy movies from an entertainment perspective.

Can they stop dissecting camera angles and character development for 90 minutes and simply take in the experience?

I fall victim to the same curse but from a website perspective. I find myself analyzing rather than using the website — especially if it’s a basic marketing website.

Basic Website vs Lead Generation Website
  • “I wonder if this company’s prospects find this website useful?”
  • “Why can’t I find a call to action?”
  • “What service or product does this company sell??”

Call it a sophisticated sniff test if you want, but I have quite the nose for basic marketing websites (aka brochure websites).

Though sometimes this skill can be annoying (just ask my wife), it’s become quite a professional asset. My clients love that I shame basic marketing websites and care so deeply about lead generation. Prospects that hire us for website consulting also appreciate the candor.

Can you sniff out a basic website design? Is your website basic and generic?

Let me share my “sniff secrets” and see if it helps answer this question.

Basic Website Sniff Test

Follow my “sniff test” below and soon you’ll be able to spot a basic website.

Basic Website vs Lead Generation Website is not about Aesthetics

Some of you may be thinking:

These differences are about look & feel.

Let me address this assumption first — aesthetics are not a differentiator.

There are plenty of basic marketing websites that look beautiful and professional, which makes detecting these differences challenging through all the shiny objects. A lead generation website unquestionably has tangible differences.

To ensure my point is clear, I fully believe a poor visual design can kill a website. I’m not ignoring the importance of a harmonious color scheme, balanced layout, proper contrast, etc. However, look and feel is not what separates a lead generation website from a basic website design.

If not look & feel, what are basic websites missing?

Basic marketing websites have difficulty generating leads because they’re missing these 5 elements:

  1. Helpful Content
  2. Calls to Action
  3. Clear Value Proposition
  4. Conversion Forms
  5. Analytics (no data means no measurement!)

Let me explain each of these 5 elements.

1. A basic website is missing Helpful Content and saturated with Salesy/Promotional Content

I’m confident you see this often, but you’re ignoring it because we’ve all conditioned ourselves to ignore advertising.

A basic marketing website screams “HIRE ME NOW!”

Geez, wine and dine me first.

Basic websites focus on — as Jay Bayer describes in his book Youtility — HYPE, rather than HELP. Lead generation sites focus on being helpful to build trust with a potential client.

2. A basic website is void of Calls to Action (for every stage of buying cycle)

This one is easy to sniff out.

Just click around a website and look for buttons that say:

  • Contact Us
  • Free Consultation
  • Request Information
  • Free Demo
  • Download Guide/Cheat Sheet/Worksheet (e.g. a “Lead Magnet”)
  • Watch Video
  • Sign up for Free Webinar
  • Receive a Blog Digest

Missing CTAs, at every stage of the buying cycle, reduces a website’s ability to motivate and encourage action. Basic websites don’t grasp the psychology of implementing multiple calls to action.

Learn more about designing Calls to Action:

3. A basic website is void of a clear value proposition

Ever visited a website, clicked to a few pages, and muttered:

I still have no idea what they do!


Lead gen websites ensure their value prop is heard like a gong in a library.

A company’s value proposition is a key ingredient to a website’s homepage design.

What’s a value proposition? It’s a clear statement that explains what benefit a company provides for who and how they do it uniquely well.

Basic websites are typically ambiguous and unclear with their overall messaging. They leave visitors searching for what they specifically offer and unfortunately create unnecessary frustration.

Guess what happens when people get frustrated on websites? They leave.

Remember, clarity always trumps persuasion.

4. A basic website only provides an email address for the method of contact

Nothing screams “basic” more than a website without a contact form.

You’ve seen it.

Basic Website Contact Method

Andy Crestodina from Orbit Media makes a strong case that forms are better than email links because:

  • They reduce spam
  • Gather more specific info from a lead
  • Get saved & avoid email catastrophe
  • Require no email program
  • Provide a thank-you page
  • Good for tracking
  • More polished

Note: Many successful lead generation websites offer both (email link and form), but they never offer just an email link.

5. A basic website isn’t running Google Analytics (or regularly analyzing its data)

Nearly 30 Million websites run Google Analytics. Why? Because website data is important.

Through helping many clients turn their basic website into a lead generation one, I’ve come to realize this. Many owners of basic marketing websites form damaging assumptions around their website’s traffic, user behavior, and content. Rather than analyzing data, they’re analyzing their speculations.

Contrarily, owners of lead generation websites are infatuated with their website’s data. They understand it’s the window to knowing what’s working, and what’s not.

This aspect of a basic website is a little tougher to sniff out and requires a little research. Simply right click anywhere on the website and — in most browsers — select “View page source”. Then, search for the Google Analytics code (the tracking code starts with “UA-”).

View Source on Website to check for Google Analytics

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You’ll never view another website the same

I’m sorry.

You’re forever cursed. From this point forward, you’ll probably start to look at websites a little differently thanks to my little sniff test.

Welcome to my world. :)

If I’ve unceremoniously called out your basic website, and you’re now motivated to turn it into a lead generation machine, we’d be happy to help. Let’s discuss your website today.

We believe a conversion-focused website — paired with the proper traffic, content, automation, and end-to-end ROI measurement — equips B2B technology companies with a real asset to scale their business.


Years in business


Minimum growth in quality leads our clients see after an engagement


Websites we've created, supported, or consulted over the last decade


The jargon we speak (we'll approach conversation like a layperson)