Does this sound familiar? You and your company spend a huge amount of time and money building a beautiful new website in the hope that it will attract and generate leads for the business.
Then reality sinks in, you don't get the response you hoped for and around 12 to 24 months later the organisation starts talking about building another new website to - yes, again - help generate more leads for the business. How many websites will the organisation build in the hope of them being a successful lead generator?
Introducing the 'build and hope' approach
As marketeers this is something we see over and over again. It could be as an agency working for a client, or as a marketing department struggling to articulate to the rest of the business on 'how we should do it right this time' rather than 'build and hope'.
Common traits of the 'build and hope' approach
- Focus on the goal soon disappears: the goal is clear, all parts of the business are shouting about it at the onset of a website build. But as time goes on and more people in the business get involved to have their say, the focus on Lead Generation disappears, although the forgotten goal stays the same.
- Focus on 'us' appears: taking the place of the original focus on generating leads becomes an internal one on what we do, our products and services and the shiny awards we've won.
- The voice of marketing is drowned out: again a product of other, much louder, voices getting involved in the project. The trouble is, everyone is passionate about the website build working out and often you'll see the sales team, the CEO and even the finance team heavily influencing the website redesign and build.
- Reverting to the classic website build: the website must have the following pages because this is what everyone else does (notice how inward-facing this structure is compared to one that supports the visitor's buying journey):
- The only call to action is the contact form: or worse still an email address or phone number. Even worse still, the contact form fill notification is not even directed to anyone in the sales team.
- The website is finished so let's relax: Three months of blood, sweat and tears to finish the website is over, now we can concentrate on something else. More often than not the 'something else' isn't developing more valuable content for your readers and building upon the great work you've done.
- Our last blog was 11 months ago: well here you go, this is the evidence of the point above.
- Reporting - anyone know how much traffic we are getting? Did you remember to add Google Analytics tracking code to your website when you launched it? Are you looking at what the analytics tells you in your marketing meetings? How do these measure up with the goals you established at the start of the project? Or are you thinking: "Goals... what goals?"
The list of traits of the 'build and hope' approach to building a website that generates leads goes on. Unfortunately it's something that we've instinctively been moulded in to.
So how do you break free of this approach and make sure it doesn't happen again?
Ammo up with the core principles of Inbound Marketing:
Inbound Marketing? What's that?
Actually, it's key. Inbound Marketing focuses on the needs of your prospects and customers as opposed to the immediate needs of your business.
Inbound Marketing defined:
Inbound Marketing in the first instance aims to create valuable experiences for your website visitors. How do you do that? You first attract prospects and customers to your website through relevant and helpful content (to them!). Once they arrive, you can use conversational tools to engage with them like email and chat, or provide continued value through context of their visit. In other words, providing them with the information they looking for based on what they have already looked at. Through this you are demonstrating you are an empathetic, trusted advisor making it a much easier decision for them to fill in a form.
So what are the core principles of Inbound Marketing?
There's plenty of content out there but to keep things simple use the following as the checklist to test your sanity during your next web build:
- Set your website goals: be fairly specific e.g. we want to generate X leads per month or we want to increase organic traffic by 50%. Establish timing for these goals and ensure they are measurable, attainable and realistic.
- Create content that is valuable: it's not about you, make it about them. If you must, keep the 'about you' stuff on the 'about us' page.
- Align content to the buyer's journey: your prospects firstly need to recognise the issues and challenges they face to appreciate they need a solution... your solution. To clinch the deal demonstrate how your solution works, the ROI, evidence through examples or case studies and how easy it is to get started.
- Clear and relevant Calls to Action (CTAs): your prospects need signposts that are both relevant and timely. But keep it simple as too many CTAs on one page just confuses your audience.
- Test, measure and refine: you won't know if something is or isn't working unless you see what the data is telling you. Look at the data regularly and act on it.
- Report back to the stakeholders: let your stakeholders know where you are in relation to the goals you established. This allows them to make informed decisions that can help you such as deploying more resources, investing further in your tool stack or in PPC.
Inbound is about positive growth
Unlike Outbound Marketing, with Inbound Marketing you don’t need to fight for your potential customers’ attention nor do you have to fight with your stakeholders for support. By creating content designed to address the problems and needs of your ideal customers, you attract qualified prospects and build trust and credibility for your business both outside and in.
More on how to generate leads through Inbound Marketing >>
Build it to ensure they come
When you come to building your next website, check you aren't doing the same thing you did the last time or the time before that. You could even make that a goal. Setting expectations early with your stakeholders is paramount, involve them to establish what the measurable goals are, agree the attainable timelines and reinforce the importance of focussing providing value for your audience.
Once the website is built, use the analytics data to identify what is and what isn't working and use this to inform what changes you need to make or what further content to create.
Finally report back to your stakeholders. Success might bring you a pay rise and even if it's not as successful as you hoped, you might get the investment you need to make it happen.