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The Science Of Websites: Part Of An Inbound Marketing Program

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It Takes Science To Create A Website That Gets Found And Converts Visitors Into Leads

The Science Of Inbound Marketing WebsitesAs a continuation of The Science Of Inbound Marketing Series, today we focus on your website and your website metrics. This is the cornerstone of your inbound marketing program and one of the consistently weak areas for most of the clients that start working with us.

Before we start applying science to help you get found more frequently, drive visitors to the site and then turn those visitors into leads, let’s quickly look at some of the most common ways your current website might be hurting your lead generation efforts.

One of the first issues we see is the site is all about you, instead of being all about your prospects. It shouldn’t be an electronic brochure for your business. Instead, change your perspective and think about creating an educational hub for all the information your prospects would need to make a smart, safe purchase decision. That’s what your site should feel like.

Next, the site isn’t designed to collect contact information from people in the awareness or consideration phase of their buyer journey, just people in the decision-making phase. This means you’re letting 90% of the potential prospects leave without even asking them for their contact information. 

The third biggest challenge facing websites today is that they don’t tell a story. They don’t tell a compelling or emotional story and they don’t draw your prospects into your story. They focus on details, features and benefits, but human beings don’t typically remember these technical details. We remember, share and connect with stories.

Now that you know some of the root causes behind poor website performance, let’s look at how we apply science to fix those and other issues preventing your site from getting found and then turning anonymous visitors into leads.

Telling The Right Story, In The Right Way

The people visiting your website process information in a very specific way. Your stories have to unfold in exactly that way. Deviate and you run the risk of having a visitor become mentally fatigued and leave. You know what that feels like; just think back to the last long email you received. You said to yourself, I’ll look at this later.” That feeling is what we want to avoid.

Start with recognition of pain. The first story visitors want to see is that you understand their pain. Then, you can move on to how you solve that pain and how you do it differently than your competition. Finally, you end with social proof, showcasing how you’ve helped people that look and sound like your prospects. If you’ve helped others, you can probably help them.

Now that you have the sequence down, you have to switch into storytelling mode. You should be able to package these elements into a story that has a beginning, middle and end. It also has to feature the prospect as the hero, not you, your company or your product/service. This might take some finesse to create, and that’s why you might want to consider getting some professional help.

Get Found In All The Right Places

You want your website to be found is as many places as possible, with the understanding that its getting found by the people you want to find it — people who match your best prospect personas or profiles. Applying science to getting found is something I wrote about in this article on the science of search. Check it out for more details on how to leverage data to increase visitors from organic search.

The key to applying science to getting found is looking at all the sources that drive visitors to your site. Search is the most obvious, but you also have social media networks, referral sites, email marketing, direct traffic, paid ads and offline sources. You want to benchmark each of these sources and then make sure you have marketing campaigns targeted at each of these areas. Optimizing each, instead of focusing on just one, is an excellent way to start seeing dramatic improvements in website visitor stats.

To share a few examples, when you start writing original content for LinkedIn’s Pulse Network or sharing your blog articles across everyone in your company’s LinkedIn networks, you should see improvements in visitors from social networks. Getting a handful of guest blog articles would drive up the referral site visitor numbers, and running an active speaking engagement program would help with the direct visitor numbers and the offline campaign numbers. When combined, you get an amazing multiplier effect.

Convert Visitors Into Leads And New Customers

Inbound Marketing MetricsUsing science to drive conversion is a very complicated application. I’m going to do an entire article dedicated to the science of conversion in an upcoming session of this blog. For now, here are a couple of easy ways to look at conversion more scientifically.

First, make sure that you have conversion offers for all types of visitors. This means people at each stage of the buyer journey, people in various roles and people in various industries. The better you match your offers to your prospects personas and buyer journeys, the more leads you’ll get from your website.

Next, let’s start tracking site-wide conversion rate. This should be between 1% and 3%, but I’ve seen it as high as 9% for some clients and as low as .2% for some prospects we start working with. Initially, just work to improve this every month, no matter where you’re starting.

Now, look at the offers you do have. Which ones are getting clicked on? These CTA buttons should be getting clicked about 10% to 20% of the time they’re viewed. The better contextual placement of the offer, the better the conversion rate, but you also should look at the CTA button design and the copy used on the button. All of this contributes to clicks. Some CTAs might convert lower and some higher. Those converting lower offer opportunities for tests to improve performance.

Finally, the landing page those CTA buttons drive visitors to will be important. Landing pages need to be converting at a clip of 40% or higher. Remember, someone intentionally went to this page to get something. If they don’t finish that process, the page could be poorly written or poorly designed, the form could be too long or there might be too many options on the page that distract the visitor.

Start experimenting with low-converting pages until you get the form fill rate to improve and then keep tweaking the page until you max out conversions. This regular effort will also help you push up the site-wide conversion rate.

Improve Your Site’s Performance Over Time

You’ll want to look at other performance metrics over time. Bounce rate, while not a perfect indicator of site performance, does give insight that can be leveraged. Average time on the site and average page views are also numbers that you want to monitor monthly. There are usually influencing factors on all three of these metrics.

For example, if someone reads your blog and then goes back to business, that might be a positive interaction. However, these three metrics will show that activity as a bounce, as a single page view and as a low time on site data point. Look at numbers in context. Perhaps more links on your blog would keep a reader longer, but if you put links to pages off the site, this could increase all three of these KPIs.

What gets measured gets done:” Some people think Peter Drucker penned this quote, but for all you quote nuts, it was actually Lord Kelvin. Regardless, it’s true. Once you start tracking something, youre able to apply the thinking, time and resources to improve it. The first step in applying science and data to your website is to get intimate with its current performance. Website visitors, conversion rate and leads generated should be the daily KPIs that everyone on your team is aware of and able to report on.

Starting to hold your team and your website accountable for actual data-driven results is a great way to start applying inbound marketing and a continuous improvement approach to marketing. Eventually, you can move to a quantitative review of data across your marketing and into your sales efforts, too. If this is a major priority for your organization, consider working with a data-driven, results-focused inbound agency to provide the jump start and education you need.

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Topics: website traffic, website metrics, science of inbound marketing

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