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Websites Built to Generate Leads

Jul 3, 2008
What is your web strategy? Does your site need to generate sales leads? If so, how is it working? Do you know the basic metrics for traffic and conversion? How about more advanced metrics such as conversion by entry page or conversion by search term? How many clicks to conversion? How many bounces off of your "contact us" method without hitting submit? Did you know that all of these metrics can be measured, alternative methods can be tested and you can improve both traffic and conversion?

Start with a Traffic Based Design

Anyone familiar with The Net Impact knows our approach to building web navigation and thus generating traffic to a site is called Traffic Based Design. The very simple principle behind this strategy is the identification of different web audiences that may be interested in your company and then to create a web plan that will lead each segment to the proper page on your website based upon their search. What they search for is what they want. So, why not quickly give them what they want?

In a non-lead generating example: posting job openings for your firm on your website is an inexpensive and effective way to generate resumes. If a viewer is looking for a position with your firm, you want to make the application process easy. Provide a page devoted to employment opportunities and make it visible and obvious for navigation. It also might be helpful to allow them to easily print the job description, upload a resume and fill out a contact us form related to the job. Why not even post a phone number and hours to call for inquires or add the popular "e-mail to a friend" option, especially since the "friend" could be the individual's personal email address if he or she is searching from a computer at their work. Makes sense right? This would be a simple approach, post your jobs, let searchers find them and then make it easy for them to apply. The information should be obvious and the path for engagement clear.

Making it easy

If making it easy for the job applicant is the best approach, then shouldn't making it easy be the general rule for the business prospect as well?

Well, let's put this plan into action. Say I operate a manufacturing company. What kinds of business needs would I want to satisfy through my website? Here are a few that you might consider:

* Employment opportunities and hiring as we discussed above.
* Upcoming events and trade shows we will attend.
* Company information, press releases and news of interest.
* Product and services, especially new product or service, information.
* White papers and technical information that will help me establish industry authority.
* Case studies or examples of how my product or service solved a problem.
* Location and contact information.
* Client or distribution partner account and service information
* Employee Intranet for private communication.
* Privacy policy... and oh yeah...
* A way for prospects to contact us.

All of these are valid uses for your website. Do you notice though how the application of these pages and tools will have unique appeals to different audiences? Your HR communication through an employee Intranet can certainly be enhanced through web-based time keeping, insurance information and company wide information distribution. But this is not where prospective clients will want to go. Your current client or distribution partner account and service information is a great use for a site, if these viewers are already customers. Finding new employees with on-site employment opportunities also is a great use. But none of these help you generate new leads from new customers.

What pages of your website will generate the most leads?

Highly defined and very specific pages devoted to your products and services (think search terms) that also provide the right amount of technical information, case studies (testimonials) and a very clear cut call to action will undoubtedly bring you the most leads. Notice I did not say your "home page".

The more competitive the search engine marketing world becomes, the more important it is to build individual landing pages that are specific to your individual products and services. Your home page alone cannot compete with your competition's pages built for product or service specific searches. Your home page is for those customers that already know you, it is built to establish industry authority and display your "Trophy Case" of awards, successful projects and credentials. As far as new search engine driven traffic is concerned, your home page should be built for only the very broadest of searches on keywords that are important. Your other landing pages, built for specific areas of your business, will bring you more raw searches from longer tail search terms and thus, better leads.

What lead generation elements need to be on a page?

Standards are going to vary from business to business, but think about it this way. One function your website should serve is as your worldwide 24-7 411. When you dial 411 what do you want? A long message? An ad? No, you want a phone number! You need an address! You are looking for the quickest and easiest way to contact the people you are searching for! That's why you dialed 411; you want information you don't have.

When prospective customers come to your site, how quickly can they get in touch with you? Is your 800 number at the top right of the page or in another position that is clearly visible? It should be if you want them to call you. Is your address easy to find? It should be if you want them to visit you. Are your calls to action obvious and working whether they be "contact us", "click to call" or "quick quote". They should be if you want them to contact you. Again, making it easy works.

Five "must" guidelines to generate leads from your website:

1. In order to maximize leads, you need to know who you want to bring to the site.
2. You must know how to bring those specific viewers to the site.
* A great on-site approach includes the right content, keywords, titles, description and other content efforts.
* It also means information of value, events, tools and industry calendars..literally something of value to the viewer.
* For off-site efforts that means press releases, PPC, posts to industry blogs and even traditional advertising as examples.
3. Once you bring them to your site, you must provide them with defined paths that lead to conversion (click submit) with as few additional clicks as possible and, very importantly, no dead ends.
4. You must also provide them with very clear and user-friendly calls to action. What makes a prospect click?
5. You must measure results (web analytics), test new approaches and continuously refine your calls to action. Constant refinement means constant improvement.

Simple enough to understand right? But the devil, as always, is in the details. Through good advance planning, analysis of your web analytics and a commitment to refine your approach, you can turn your website into a marketing machine!
About the Author
Steve Thomas is President of The Net Impact, a Web Design Firm and writes regularly on SEO, Web Development and Internet marketing related topics. He can be contacted at steve.thomas@thenetimpact.com.
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