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.
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.
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.