How to create a lead generating, high performance website

by Guest Writer on March 10, 2011

A guest post by marketing strategist Sean McVey of Hinge Marketing

Professional services firms are changing the way they think about and use websites. Not very long ago the service website was an extension of a firm’s print collateral. It was little more than an online brochure, presenting basic information about the company. More recently, however, the function of the website has begun to shift from providing general information to generating qualified leads.

When looking at effective websites, you will notice that they not only describe the company and its services, but they also provide valuable content to educate visitors.  From white papers to blog posts and webinars, these sites give visitors a reason to come back.  Treating your site as a living breathing entity and updating it constantly with information relevant to your target market will help to build a foundation of trust between you and your prospects.

What Is a High Performance Website?

If we consider lead generation alone, we can offer up one possible definition of a high performance site: If 50% or more of your business is coming through the web, you’ve got a high performance website.

Sound like pie in the sky? In fact, many service firms today are exceeding that threshold. And they are doing it by crafting their sites to encourage responses from their visitors.

Here are just a few elements you should consider when transforming your site into a lead generating tool:

Clear calls to action – The best performing websites are built with specific objectives in mind. This means telling the visitor exactly where you want them to click. You can use the sidebar of your website to feature buttons that encourage the visitor to take action. Some examples:

  • Request a Proposal
  • Download our Research Study
  • View Our Case Studies
  • Watch Our Webinar

These calls to action create clearly defined pathways for the visitor. These pathways make it easy for a visitor to take the next step in a multi-stage customer development process.

Conversion Forms – If your goal is to have prospects contact you, then you must make it as easy as possible for them to send you a message. Including a simple form on your contact page is a must for any high performance websites — visitors can write a few words and click submit, without leaving the page. A surpising number of firms don’t include forms on their websites. Adding a form to your site removes any friction between the visitor and your goal. They just work.

Forms are also important for tracking purposes. In analytics programs, you can measure how many times people submit your form and get an idea of where those people came from.

Here is a basic form that helps capture information here at Hinge. We’ve intentionally kept the number of fields low to encourage people to use the form.

website contact form

Retention Elements – Once visitors get to your website, you should try to find a way to bring them back again. Many visitors are in the early stages of the buying process. To turn them into qualified prospects you have to nurture them, which takes multiple touches.

You can encourage visitors to come back to your site in many ways. For instance, you can put offers on your site for newsletter subscriptions, blog feeds, and free white papers. As visitors receive newsletters and blog posts, your company stays top of mind.

Search Engine Authority – None of your website’s elements matter if nobody comes to your site in the first place. The heart of a high performance website lies in its search engine authority. If you have authority with search engines, you will rank well and gain consistent traffic.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a complex topic that can’t be covered in a blog post. From keyword research and implementation to link building, SEO is a long-term initiative that all high performing websites must tackle. For a great free resource on this subject, check out SEOMOZ and their free tools and advice.

Now What?

Retooling your website may seem like a daunting task, but it is a necessary step if you want to generate a significant portion of your leads online. A great starting place is to begin looking at other professional services websites and evaluate what you may be missing. Consider the tips above for your next design and you will be one step closer to fulfilling your company’s online potential.

In today’s professional services marketplace, the almighty referral has a new rival: the high performance website. If you haven’t already, perhaps it’s time to open your mind and open your arms to the precious and potentially generous World Wide Web.

Examples of High Performance Websites

  • HubSpot – This software company does a great job of making things easy on the visitor. Basic pathways and calls to action make it very obvious how to navigate the site and contact the company.
  • Ian Brodie – This professional services consultant has mastered the concept of retaining prospects through free reports and other outstanding content. He claims that 70 percent of his business is generated by his website.
  • WebMarketing123 – Not only is this firm dominant in search engines, they also know how to treat visitors once they’ve arrived. Clear calls to action work together with proven retention techniques such as webinars to nurture the prospect throughout the sales process.

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Guest Writer

This is a guest post by someone whose views and writing we respect and think you'll find useful. If you would like to post an article on the Valuable Content blog, do get in touch: sonja@valuablecontent.co.uk.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Paul Marsden March 10, 2011 at 1:55 pm

A very useful post, thanks Sean/Sonja. Having just relaunched a site that is intended to be a “high performing website” it is good to be reminded of the factors that are needed to create that. One thing I have learned is that visitors never seem to behave the way you expect and so getting feedback and tweaking the site regularly is essential.

avatar Sonja Jefferson March 10, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Absolutely Paul. Thanks for the comment. Tweaking is essential and having a platform that allows you to track behaviour and respond quickly is the way to go – as you do well.

Paul’s site that we helped to develop is a good example of what Sean proposes – packed with valuable content, clear calls to action, increasing search engine authority, conversion forms and retention through his blog and email newsletter

Have a look at: http://www.payroll-services-centre.co.uk to see what we mean.

avatar Sean McVey March 10, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Thanks for the comment Paul. Your site looks to be a great example of a high converting site. Your calls to action are clear and you have distinct options for different roles. I wouldn’t be surprised if your leads begin to flow, especially as your search engine authority continues to improve. And you right, the more analysis and improving you do, the better performance you will get. Analytics are your best friend!

avatar Laura Pollard March 14, 2011 at 4:53 pm

This all makes good sense; essential reading if you’re redeveloping a website for either a service or product based business. Some really great tips too! In fact, I liked it so much I quoted from it, Thank you! http://laurakatri.com/2011/03/14/build-your-creative-business-through-creative-content-and-digital-marketing/

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