If You Built Your Website Without Prospect Questions In Mind, You Blew It
We get asked to look at client websites every single day. We did that on Friday afternoon with a huge digital workplace services firm. The results were right in line with what we see almost every time. The site looked great, and it worked pretty good too, but when it comes to results it was missing the mark.
In this case, the site wasn’t getting found for much beyond the client’s own branded search words. The website design wasn’t performing well either. The website was taking too long to load, missing a site map and lacking most of the basic onsite SEO features that help it get found for prospect-centric keywords, phrases and contextual questions.
If you want to apply a similar review of your website to make sure you’re not making the same mistakes, here are some key indicators to look for on your own site.
Your Website’s Content Strategy
Almost everyone knows you need content on your site. Everyone also appears to know that you need top-of-the-funnel content on your site. Today, most sites have whitepapers, e-books or tip guides on their site, but they might not be presenting them properly. For example, we see a ton of sites featuring a resources sections with all of the company’s content.
If you think your prospects are going to spend an hour in your resources section wading through your content, think again. Instead, you should be looking at each page as it relates to your prospects’ buyer journey, and you should be giving those visitors content in context to their journey and their questions.
This also means you need to have content for every type of buyer journey contingency. You need content for the awareness, consideration and decision-making stages. You need content for all the roles or titles defined by your personas. You need content for any of the verticals you’re targeting. You also need content that answers your prospects’ questions. But most importantly, if you’re looking for sales-ready leads, you need value-added bottom-of-the-funnel offers that outperform “contact us,” “speak with a rep,” “free consultation,” “take our demo” and “download a free trial.”
Your Website’s User Experience
You worked long and hard to get this visitor to your site. The last action you want them to take is to hit the back button and leave. Instead, you want to work hard to get them to stay, click, explore the site and fill out forms. The best way to do that is to work on a website blueprint that goes page by page asking this question, “What do we want our visitors to see, feel, read, view, click and do on this page?” Once you can answer this question on every single page, you’ll start planning a different type of page.
The user experience also has a lot to do with the way the site tells a story. We notice that most sites are all about you, your product and your company, when instead they should be all about your prospects. You have to make your prospects the hero of your website story.
We looked at a site last week that featured the company’s software on the home page. We suggested they feature their prospects using the software. This type of subtle strategic change has a major impact on your visitors’ experience and how they feel about your company. People make initial purchase decisions emotionally, so you want your website to evoke an emotional feeling for your prospects.
Your Website’s Connection To Every Other Marketing Tactic
Many companies still work in silos, with their search team, their website team, their email team (or their search agency), their website firm and their email marketing agency. This siloed approach is preventing you from achieving your desired results.
You should not be building a website before you understand what keywords, phrases and questions you want to be found for. You should not be building a site until you understand (in detail) your prospects’ buyer journey and the questions they have during that journey. You should not be building a website until you have most of your content assets identified and completely understand how you want your visitors to flow through the site, just like you’d want to know how customers flow through your retail store.
How Sales Uses Your Website
Your website is not only for people who don’t know you. It’s also for people who are getting to know you while working with your sales team.
You should have pages and assets on the site that your sales team can leverage. The more time your prospects spend on your site, the more likely they are to become your new customers. That’s a fact. The more content prospects download and the longer they spend on your site, the more your prospects feel safe with you and want to do business with only you.
Your sales and marketing teams need to be aligned anyway. A site upgrade project is a great opportunity to bring sales and marketing together. Ask sales what tools they need and what pages prospects talk about or reference. Having sales in this conversation is going to influence a lot of onsite strategy. What content do you need on your blog, in your resources page or on hidden pages? Yes, hidden pages. Some sites have rankable pages that are not located within the standard navigation, but sales knows where to find them and uses them to help prospects make safe purchase decisions.
Without input from sales, you’ll be building a site that serves only one master (marketing) when it should be serving three masters (marketing, sales and, most importantly, your prospects).
It shouldn’t be a surprise that your site isn’t working right. First, it should be generating leads, both marketing-qualified leads and inquiries plus sales-qualified leads (people who want to talk to your sales team). If you’re not getting requests to talk to your sales team from your website, a lot is missing from your site.
The other metrics that are going to help you know whether the site is working right include total visitors, visitors from organic searches, site-wide conversion rate, conversion rate from top pages, blog subscribers, bounce rate, average time on site and, of course, marketing-qualified leads, sales-qualified leads, sales opportunities from the site and revenue from site-generated opportunities. You can compile all of these data points on a custom dashboard and track these numbers month over month. Before you know it, you’ll have enough trend data to highlight insights that literally tell you what to work on and when.
No matter what, almost everyone coming into your sales funnel is going to start at your website. Meet someone at a party? They’ll visit your website. Get a referral? They’ll visit your website. Have a trusted advisor refer your firm? They’ll visit your website. Even if your sales team makes cold calls, those new connections are headed straight for your website. There is no way to avoid it. Your website is the window and door into your company. If the site fails, your revenue engine is going to fail.
Based on our research, even the best-looking sites still fail the use case tests we discussed above. They either don’t tell a compelling story, convert visitors, drive the right experience or help your company get found in search. The good news is that you can fix almost all of these issues without having to redesign and relaunch the entire site. Also, you can prioritize most of the upgrades and implement them over time, driving results, controlling budget and impacting sales results in the short term.
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