This is a guest post from John McTige, Executive Vice President and Co-Owner of Kuno Creative, an inbound marketing agency based in Cleveland, Ohio. The article appeared on his company’s blog first and also on Business2Community. Note: This article is the first of a 3-part series in which the subject changes from marketing a website to making meaningful connections via social media. You’ll see what I mean. Enjoy.
We get a lot of our business from website owners whose sites deliver precious few sales leads to the bottom line. Why? Because they were never designed and filled with content with lead generation in mind. Their sites were created as Web brochures just in case anyone stumbles upon them and wants to know more about the company and its products or services. As Bob Dylan wrote, “the times, they are a-changin’…”. Bottom line – it doesn’t matter how good your SEO guru is, how much money you spend on PPC ads or how beautiful your website looks. If your website isn’t designed to capture sales leads, you are wasting your money. If there isn’t at least one compelling “hook” on your home page and throughout your site, you have no way of capturing leads. If you are in business to make money, you might want to consider a design refresh.
Best Marketing Practices for Web Design
All of the usual rules for attracting visitors and making your site “sticky” still apply. You must state who you are, what you do and what’s in it for your visitor. The best designs do this without a lot of text or too many images. A great logo and tagline go a long way towards identifying you and stating your value proposition. After that, it’s all about your target market. You have to anticipate what your potential customers are looking for and what “grabs” them. There’s a lot of range to an effective design, but in general the following elements must be highly visible:
- Clear calls to action to download, participate, become a member etc. It’s the offer itself that counts. It must be something truly unique and valuable to your potential customer. They will surrender contact information if the offer is good enough.
- Benefits statement. Rotating banners are often used to highlight your visitor’s “pain points” or needs and an invitation to find the solution.
- Smart navigation. Show your visitors (and Google) what’s really important by placing the highest priority items first in your menu. No, your About Us page is important to you, but not your visitors until they become leads and want to know more about you. Place your Products and/or Services links first.
- Fresh information. There is no reason for any visitor to return unless you are constantly updating your content with new blogs, webinars and other advanced content. Remember, no one cares what’s up at your company. What they care about is what’s new that can help them solve a problem or be entertained.
- Easy connection. Don’t make people search for your Contact Us page. Make it easy to contact you and connect with you via social media.
Make Your Website Memorable
We do some pretty snazzy designs for our clients, and there are good marketing reasons for that. Let’s face it, if you’re like most people, you’re online way too much these days. And yes, you see a lot of websites that are nicely optimized for marketing. So, you see a lot of calls-to-action and banners and “click here” links and buttons. It all starts to look like one big advertisement, which is one thing we are trying to avoid. A unique and beautiful design can go a long way towards alleviating that oversaturation problem. If the design itself is truly captivating, you stand a much better chance of keeping your visitor’s attention and causing them to explore, click-through and interact with your Web presence.
It’s a Process, Not a Project
I won’t use the “i” word here (hint, it’s the opposite of outbound marketing), but I want to emphasize that in today’s consumer-is-king world, redesigning your website earns you precisely nothing. Marketing these days is a process of making connections through content and engagement. If you take a day off, your chances of capturing qualified sales leads go down. If you work at it consistently and follow a comprehensive strategy, they go way up. If you think of your website as a static piece of marketing collateral, you have already lost the battle to your competitors. You must dedicate talent and time to keeping your site fresh and targeted, alive and vital. You must work it constantly and measure everything. It’s time to put your website to work for you as one of your most valuable marketing assets. Don’t redesign your website, redesign your marketing strategy.
Be sure to read parts two and three in the trilogy created by Kuno Creative and Feldman Creative. If you’re not already subscribed to this blog’s RSS feed, please join us today.