Which sites work best? Lead generating focused sites foster growth, but branding focused sites have their place
Lead generating vs branding websites: Which is right for you? With the web well past the 20-year mark and it's presence continuing to dominate, companies and organisations must continue to upgrade their online presence in order to survive.
Among professional services firms, the need for better websites is often tied to business development and presents the challenge of how to best support those efforts. The answer increasingly lies in one of two areas: the lead generating website and the more basic 'branding' website.
How much does your website facilitate sales?
A first step for deciding the type of website is to evaluate how sales are made. Are they mostly referral-based, or do they rely on repeat customers? What role does the website play and when do prospects visit most?
For some companies, the answers point to existing relationships as the foundation for sales. In these cases, a branding website is the solution. It provides basic information for prospects and influencers to understand who the firm is, what it does and for whom it does it.
Prospects, Investors, employees, partners and other influencers may only go to your website to validate what they have heard elsewhere and may make a judgment on your level of professionalism. They need to see a story that brings a firm’s qualities to life: how it was founded, the development of its niche, an updated news section and customer testimonials. These all draw in visitors in a way that keeps them engaged.
Lead Generating Websites need extra functionality
For an increasing number of professional services firms, the market has shifted and their relationships can no longer sustain growth and profitability. They need a website more focused on business development. Thus, they turn to a lead generating website.
Hinge Research Institute’s online marketing data shows that the higher the proportion of leads generated online, the greater a firm’s profitability. A lead generating website enables this by attracting new visitors with functionality such as a blog, a library or resource section.
Content should be free or available in exchange for an email address for content such as guides or webinars.
A content marketing strategy ties together the types of content delivered. Without this educational content, there is too little trust for audiences to become leads.
A lead generating website also makes extensive use of search engine optimization (SEO). Like the branding website, page content should be keyword rich and contain about 300-500 words for search engines to understand it. A good SEO campaign for your content will regularly add non-spammy inbound links and increase traffic.
Social media plays a role here as well because it provides a way to promote content and directly engage prospects.
If a website is the hub of a firm’s online activity, social media tools are the spokes. This makes it essential to include buttons linking to social sites where target audiences tend to gather.
Multi-Purpose, Singular Focus
Whether a firm decides on a lead generating or a branding website, the content, visuals and interaction have to be relevant to both target and influencer audiences. Visitors need to know they are in the right place. They should be able to easily find what they seek, whether that’s industry content, details about services or simply a way to get in touch. Help them by presenting what you want – a chance for them to take another step in building or deepening a relationship.
Thanks to Chris Ourand for sharing his advice and opinions in this post. Chris is an Account Director with Hinge, a branding and marketing firm for professional services firms. He contributed this based on the firm’s recently released Lead Generating Website Guide.