The Internet was supposed to level the playing field, but according to a recent Demandbase survey, 80 percent of B2B marketers and IT professionals feel like their website is not living up to its lead generation potential. In the report, a number of different reasons for this were discussed, including an inability to act on analytics data, problems tracking and reporting on unregistered/anonymous users, and marketers not fully understanding the people they’re trying to target.
If your own website isn’t living up to its potential, below are some areas I’d first focus on when attempting to boost your marketing power. Think of this as your customers’ wish list for your website.
1. Know Your Visitors
While 61 percent of respondents said they knew their prospects “well” or “extremely well,” all small business owners would benefit from focusing on creating specific content for consumers in the different stages of buying cycles. One big takeaway from the report was how important it is to create a personalized experience for users as early in the buying cycle as possible, especially as many are now researching online before buying offline. An effective way to do that is to use user personas that allow you to target your marketing message to very specific audience types. I’ve noticed that we’re starting to hear a lot of talk about the importance of building user personas. While this isn’t a new marketing concept, it is something you’d be wise to take another look at. During SMX East a few weeks ago, ex-Googler Vanessa Fox gave a great presentation about how to create task-specific personas. I thought this was a great way of giving new life to this concept and encouraging business owners to carefully create content based on the different buying stages of different visitors.
2. Be More Intuitive
It’s a simple fact: The more intuitive your website, the more comfortable users are going to feel navigating it. No one likes to feel dumb. We don’t like to have to hunt around for information or spend a lot of time figuring things out. Instead, we want to land on a website, immediately know what is it we’re supposed to do, and immediately see information that is relevant to our interests. That’s where creating distinct user personas already begins to work in our favor. By creating content and an experience personalized for each persona type, you give users what they want immediately and help them work through your website easily. You also want to concentrate on giving visitors a simple navigation, providing clear calls to action, and not sacrificing usability for “flashiness.” Focus on giving visitors the simplest experience that you can.
3. Invest In Portability
Last week a report from the Pew Research Center told us that nearly half of adults get local news and information via mobile devices. That’s a pretty good indicator that your website must be accessible to users the go. It’s also why it’s is so important that your business is easy to find in local search, why you need a social presence, and why your website should be as lightweight as possible. Invest in these features now, and reap the benefits today and in the future.
4. Be Interactive
Does your website resemble a generic direct mailing? If so, that’s a good indication that you’re probably not getting as much out of your website as you could. Instead of replicating your mailers of yesteryear, give your users something to interact with. Let them see the latest posts from your blog directly on your home page, use the Twitter widget so they can see your interactions there, provide a link to your company Facebook page, show off your Flickr or YouTube account, and so on. Thanks to blogs and other social media elements, there are so many different ways to add life to your website and your business that there’s really no excuse not to incorporate these elements.
5. Look Trustworthy
Another reason to add the social elements mentioned above is because it helps add to the trust value of your website. Customers are instinctively looking for certain cues to determine whether or not they feel comfortable on your website. When a visitors sees that you’ve taken the time to develop an active presence on social media, it lets them know you’ll be easy to find should they have a problem or concern, and that you didn’t just set up shop yesterday.
Other trust cues they’re looking for:
- Your About page
- Listing a real physical address
- Using real photos of your establishment, yourself and your employees
- Content that is is intelligently written without grammatical or spelling errors
- A site that has been updated in the past two years
Anyone who lands on your site for the first time is making note of all these things and more to determine whether or not you’re a business they can trust.
We all want to make sure we’re getting as much out of our investments as we can — and that includes your corporate website. Focusing a visitor’s Web experience around the five things listed above can help ensure that you are.
Knowing your customers goes way beyond just your website. It impacts everything you do from lead gen to sales to customer service. I’m constantly amazed by companies that want to do PPC advertising but can’t provide me with a basic profile of their ideal customer.
Great points! I’m happy to say that our company is doing pretty well at adhering by these ideas.
I posted this article to http://www.facebook.com/nametaginc.
Lionel Bachmann @ Model Trains
Nice tips. #3 is going to be the biggest factor in the coming years. More people are getting smart phones every year and are spending more time on those than on desktops and laptops. Having a mobile website allows your business to be available during those times customers are not sitting at a computer, but are on the bus, at the store, or waiting for an appointment.
Great article, and I agree with Lionel, having a smartphone compatible website is going to be huge in the coming years. Every day I open sites on my iphone and if it’s difficult to navigate, I don’t even bother.