Attract – Engage – Convert – Nurture
While there are many reasons to have a strong presence on a multitude of online properties, the only digital tool that you have complete and total control over is your own website; your ability to engage and convert users is exponentially more potent when they’re on your home court. Where online profiles like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (in order to protect the integrity of their community’s aggregate experience) have very specific guidelines and functions, your website can and should be custom tailored to engage your users on your terms allowing you to capitalize on your viewership and ensure the highest possible conversion rate.
For this reason it’s crucial to make sure that, regardless of how active you are online, ultimately all roads lead back to your website. Secondary properties like those mentioned above are extremely important but they are still secondary and should be run with the aim of driving all possible and relevant traffic back to your website if and when appropriate.
To this end, your website needs to accomplish the following overarching goals:
I’m assuming you’ve heard the term SEO (search engine optimization) – this is a process geared toward making your website the most “relevant” result for a specific key phrase (or phrases) in the eyes of major search engines (i.e. – the almighty Lord Google). If you’re interested, you can dive more deeply into the intricacies of SEO. It’s important to touch upon here because before we can begin this all important and exceptionally tedious process, we have to ensure that your website is actually optimizable. This means your site must be well built with clean, transparent code, quick to load and best practice compliant.
You have seven seconds. Statistically a user will decide whether or not to stay on your website within seven seconds which means is you need to build your website with immediate engagement in mind. Your website needs to clearly and succinctly deliver your target message in a way that allows users to immediately qualify your web application as pertinent to their search.
This means ensuring that your highest value information is delivered above the fold (meaning they don’t have to scroll down to see it), is easily identifiable and displayed in ways that help capture your user’s attention and illustrate your main points. Images, videos, bullet points and infographics are extremely valuable tools to this end and should be built with the idea that they must capture a user’s attention before earning the right to educate the user any further than the initial seven seconds.
A mistake many digital marketers continue to make is focusing primarily (and often solely) on the homepage of their site while leaving internal pages sparse and void of engagement. Remember that the great and mighty Google has made it its mission to get its users to the end result as fast as possible meaning that, very often, they’ll be linked to an internal page or blog post on your site and bypass the homepage entirely. Every page on your website (and especially your blog) needs to be built with targeted engagement in mind.
User conversion is absolutely key to an effective digital marketing strategy. Conversion and engagement go hand in hand; if a user is engaged the logical next step is conversion. Your website is not a static, informational brochure meant to host information online for your users to browse at their leisure. Your site should be built with the intention of converting users into active and ongoing members of your own personal digital community. But what does it mean to “convert” a user?
Conversion refers to any action taken by the user that assists in your ability to engage them further.
- Subscribing to your blog or RSS feed
- Submitting their email in order to receive updates and newsletters
- Commenting on your articles or engaging in further discussion on hosted forums
- Filling out a conversion form
- Emailing, calling or otherwise contacting your organization for additional information
- Liking, friending, +1ing or following any number of your social media properties
- Bookmarking your site
- Downloading / accessing internal sources of media and information
Converting users is the first step in “filling your funnel” and beginning the sales cycle required to turn users into prospects and prospects into customers. There are three layers to your sales funnel (top, middle and bottom) and all three should be serviced through consistent conversion points throughout your website. An important thing to remember is that your conversion points should be specific to the area of the website within which they are housed. If you have a products/services page make sure to have conversion points geared toward further defining your products or services. Conversely, your portfolio or client pages may house conversion points such as case studies or testimonials better suited to the section’s topic.
Top of the Funnel
A “top of the funnel” conversion point is typically a very broad and (dare I say) general offering that helps convert users who are in the beginning stages of their due diligence process. More often than not these top of the funnel offerings are geared toward education and clarification. It can be something as simple as a high value blog or article and as intricate as an eBook or whitepaper meant to explain one of your key topics or core competencies. It’s critical that any content you provide as a conversion point is high value enough to your target user to trade their email address for. Please consider this your new gold standard: “Is my [insert content type] valuable enough for a user to be willing to give me their email address for?” If the answer is no, then you’re not giving enough – you have to give to get in the realm of inbound marketing.
Some examples of good “top of the funnel” offerings:
- eBooks and/or whitepapers that explain the products / services from an objective standpoint and educate users on their values and uses
- Explanatory / educational videos highlighting key points about your industry and product or service
- An infographic explaining the way a product or service works and the value it provides
Remember to stay far away from a sales pitch when creating content meant to convert. Try to provide your users with information as though you were an independent and objective consultant giving advice on the industry. This approach is the most effective at building trust and establishing credibility as a thought leader.
Middle of the Funnel
Where a top of the funnel offer is meant to incite interest and/or educate a user, a “middle of the funnel” offering is geared towards assisting users who have moved further along the sales cycle in making specific decisions. These offers are more focused and need to be geared toward advancing the user toward the bottom of your sales funnel.
Some examples of good “middle of the funnel” offerings:
- A budget calculator that allows the user to determine the costs associated with the types of products/services you offer (these can be constructed in Microsoft excel with simple algorithms for automated calculations)
- Checklists or “one-sheets” meant to assist users in specific use and deployment of the tools and technologies relevant to your industry
- Videos that detail the specific differences between certain levels of offerings and which level is most appropriate for each user based upon their needs
- Seminars or podcasts instructing users on specific components or facets of your industry and how they pertain to a user based upon their needs
Bottom of the Funnel
Bottom of the funnel offerings almost always entail direct interaction with a user on a one-on-one basis. These users are presumably ready to buy and have been well educated on your specific offering, the value they will receive in its use and your organization’s methodology and value-add compared to your competitors.
Good “bottom of the funnel” offerings include:
- Free, no-obligation consultations
- Personal demos via online meetings meant to showcase your offerings and explain their uses in regards to the user’s specific needs
- Onsite visits geared toward ascertaining user specific needs with a full analysis of their specific requirements and a proposal as to how your organization can fulfill them
Bottom of the funnel offerings and conversion points are the highest value and most time consuming offering you can provide. It’s important that you qualify your users prior to leading them this far down the sales funnel in order to ensure that you’re not wasting their time or your own.
While you’ve probably heard of nurture tracks this particular “nurture” section pertains directly to your website and its ability to keep your users continuously engaged and, within the scope and feasibility of your industry, constantly coming back. In order to function adequately as a nurture resource your website needs to be organic and constantly changing and updating.
This doesn’t mean that you need to recreate your core content on a regular basis – instead you should make sure that you’re updating your website with relevant news, new products or services, case studies, testimonials, completed projects (including images and videos), new hires or additions to your team and anything else that might be pertinent to your organization.
Your website should be an ongoing reminder to your users that you’re always evolving, innovating and growing as an organization and it should continue to give them a valid reason to revisit your website. One of the most powerful nurture components your onsite digital marketing strategy has available to offer is your blog. When users subscribe to your blog (or your RSS feed) they give you the ability to continuously “drip” high value, highly relevant information on them with the aim of keeping them continuously engaged and constantly aware of your organization and its potential to meet their need.
In addition to your blog, image and video galleries are also extremely high value properties to have and maintain as they give your users the opportunity to see exactly what you do and the specific implementation behind your offering. It’s important that you’re diligent in the upkeep of these properties since an out-of-date gallery can do as much harm as an up-to-date gallery can do good. You don’t want to give users the impression that you’re not continuously working and completing new projects.
So…now what? Let’s talk! If you’re willing to give us fifteen minutes of your time we can give you clarity and direction when it comes to websites and marketing.