This is an updated version of a blog article that was originally published in June of 2013.
I recently had a prospect ask me: “Is there a difference between a traditional website and an inbound marketing website?”
While I answered emphatically, “Yes!,” I thought it would be good to translate (a revised set of) best practices around inbound marketing website design and position them against traditional website design practices.
What Separates Inbound Marketing Website Designs From Traditional Website Designs
1) Content: Inbound marketing pros know that the key to turning website visitors into leads is content. They also know that content helps sites get found. The more content you have, the more your site is going to rank on major search engines and the more your visitors are going to share that content on social media, which will also drive rankings and traffic.
Naturally, one of the differences between an inbound website and a traditional website is the amount of content: blogs, whitepapers, tip sheets, e-books, videos, webinars, infographics and podcasts are prominently displayed all over the site.
2) Offers: The difference between inbound marketing content and content on traditional websites is each piece of content is carefully crafted for a particular persona at a particular point in his or her buyer’s journey.
There needs to be content for everyone visiting the site – not just the people ready to buy today. This means taking into consideration your prospects’ buying process when you create content for your inbound marketing website.
The trio of offers includes no-risk offers for people at the top of your sales funnel or in the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey; low-risk offers for people in the middle of the funnel or the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey; and the direct business offer for people at the bottom of the funnel or in the decision stage of the buyer’s journey.
3) It’s Not About You: A common mistake most business owners make is talking about their people, their building, their experience, their products, their services and their history.
Unfortunately, most prospects don’t really care much about you. They care about how you are going to help them. During your prospects’ first contact with a search engine, they’re rarely looking directly for your products and services. They’re looking for a solution to a problem.
An inbound marketing website accurately articulates the challenges and goals of the person visiting that site. That’s the difference between an inbound marketing website and a traditional one. It’s not about a catchy tagline or homepage message. It’s about conveying that fact that you are equipped to help visitors solve their problems and provide guidance within the context of those problems. Only then does a prospect feel safe enough to make a purchase decision.
4) Personalization: All of our prospects are getting more personalized experiences from websites these days. Amazon, Netflix and other progressive sites are delivering a very personal experience. As progressive marketers, we need to consider creating a similar experience. One way to do this is to be smart about our marketing and use inbound marketing tools to deliver content in context.
This means, if a prospect downloads a free report from your site, you don’t want to offer them the same free report on the next page, but you do want to offer them a related piece of educational content. The only way to know this about your prospect is to use tools like HubSpot. Incorporating “smart content” into CTAs, headlines and landing pages that all adjust according to past behavior helps to personalize visitors’ website experiences and make them feel like you are talking directly to them.
An inbound marketing website takes conversion optimization to the next level. It knows what your prospects want at every stage of their buying journey (or, at first, it purports to and then adjusts according to data), uses stories to engage and turns people from website visitors into leads.
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