In the age of internet marketing, everyone knows how important a website is to a business’s marketing
strategy. Almost every business, whether B2B or B2C, non-profit, local or global needs an online presence to reach buyers. Whether you’re looking to build your first web site, or your considering a redesign of your current site to make it more of a marketing hub, you’re probably wondering what elements to include.
Simply having a web site is not the key to marketing performance. Your site needs to attract visitors, educate them and convince them to buy. Today, the
world wide web is social and it is interactive. It is not static like most web sites tend to be. Gone are the days when all it took was a URL, some Flash Graphics and an advertising campaign to generate a temporary boost in traffic.
Today’s buyer wants to consume information when they want and how they want and mostly without any help from a sales person. They prefer to be educated and not sold to. Because of this landmark shift in buying behavior, it’s important to consider integrating search, social media, content, blogging and more as important features of an inbound marketing web site.
Without a web site, acting as an online sales professional, attracting more traffic and leads and ultimately closing sales, it would be difficult, if not impossible to administer an online marketing campaign. If you’re going to make an investment in a new interactive web site you should have performance goals just as any new salesperson would, and the performance should be measured regularly.
Marketing web sites are a different kind of online animal and here are 4 features that an interactive marketing web site must have in order to attract new leads, and convert them to customers.
- Getting Found Online; getting found online covers the top of the funnel of your inbound marketing strategy. A Search Engine Optimization strategy is an absolute must for any web site, but it takes hard work and consistency when you are aiming for the top. Here are some tactics that will help you achieve your SEO goals.
- Building Inbound Links-also known as Off-Page SEO, this tactic is about getting other quality web sites to link back to you. The more inbound links you have, the higher your site will rank. Link building isn’t easy since adding links to other sites is sometimes out of your control. Creating high quality educational content, submitting your site to online directories, writing guest posts for other blogs and researching link building opportunities are all important methods of link building. One important thing to remember, don’t beg, bribe or buy inks.
- On-Page SEO; this consists of placing your most important keywords within the content of your web site pages. Placing your primary keywords in your headline and sub-headlines, body content, image tags and links are all important tactics for on-page SEO.
- Meta Tags; for the sake of simplicity, a meta description is the little snippet of information that appears below the link on a search querry. Most web site editors and content management systems enable you to easily edit meta tags without coding. These still play an important part in your SEO strategy so make sure to use them on all of your site pages.
- XML Site Maps; the idea behind an XML sitemap is to help search engine spiders sort through your site pages more thoroughly. It’s kind of like a road map and it shows the structure of your site and where your pages reside.
- Website Design and Usability; after you are generating site traffic by getting found online your next task is getting that traffic to stay on your site. Depending on the industry most web sites have a 30-60% bounce rate. Bounce rate refers to web traffic leaving your site without navigating to other pages. Here are some tips to consider when improving user experience to help decrease your bounce rate.
- The First Impression; here are several questions to ask yourself when visitors land on your site for the first time. Is this site credible? Is it trustworthy? Is this a professional company? Is this company stable? Does this site make me feel welcome? Am I in the right place? Design is important but don’t forget that great content is ultimately what your visitors are after. Content that is useful and well organized will convince visitors to take a closer look at your site.
- Maintain Consistency; It’s usually best to keep colors, page sizes and layout consistent from page to page. This will help your site have good flow from page to page. Colors, fonts and layout structure are essentially the same throughout.
- Navigation; If visitors can’t find what they are looking for, they will give up and leave. Important factors in your site’s navigation include; keeping the primary navigation simple and near the top of your page, including navigation in the footer of your site, using breadcrumbs on each page so people are aware of their navigation trail, including a search box near the top so visitors can search by keywords.
- Accessibility; make sure that anyone visiting your site can view it no matter what device they are using. According to a study released by ComScore, mobile only search increased 394% from 2014 to 2015. As of April 21, 2015 Google has expanded their use of mobile friendliness as a ranking tool.
- Content; with the change in buyer behavior and the rise of inbound marketing, content is what search engines and site visitors are looking for. Content is the basis for the inbound methodology that turns prospects into leads and leads into sales. Here are some ideas to help you promote content on your site;
- Educate and offer Value; remember, it’s not about you, offer more than just product content, write your content as if you are helping your visitors solve their problems, be transparent, sound human and speak your audience’s language.
- Quality of content is important; these days search engines are getting smarter and buyers are becoming more selective. It’s important to offer unique content, write for humans, provide value, know your audience, and your subject well.
- Conversion; now that you know what it takes to drive traffic and engage visitors with good content, the next step is to convert visitors from prospects to leads and from leads to customers. Here are some ideas for increasing website conversions;
- Striking Calls-to-Action; a successful call-to-action will drive a visitor to take a desired action. They are the key to lead generation but they need to be graphically appealing to convert traffic into leads. Make them big and bold and test different colors and messaging where possible.
- Landing Pages; landing pages are used to convert visitors into leads by completing a form and collecting contact information from them. Elements of an effective landing page include; no main site navigation, making sure the offer is clear and irresistible, keeping your landing page simple and free from distractions.
The internet has changed the way people purchase products. Your business web site may be the most important factor in your inbound marketing strategy. Incorporating the integration of SEO, social media, blogging, content, CTA’s and landing pages that will drive traffic, encourage leads to download offers and nurture leads to become buyers.
Inbound marketing is the key to filling your sales funnel with qualified leads and your web site is where education, engagement and conversion take place.
After goal setting, the next step of your marketing strategy should include creating buyer personas.
What is a buyer persona and why does it matter? Essentially, buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers. They are based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations and concerns.
We’ve created a brief e-guide with templates to help you build buyer personas.