“Without a website, you don’t exist.” We’ve been telling businesses this for over a decade and, while it’s still true, it’s not the whole truth anymore. The needs of the modern, connected business have changed over the last few years and their websites have started to change to meet those needs. We’re in the middle of a significant shift in how businesses are choosing to spend their time and money… and how they’re using the internet to raise their bottom line. Business websites are not just an informational tool anymore – they’ve become an essential source of leads, conversions, and revenue.
Prior to this shift in focus, a pretty good company website would give potential customers information like business hours and contact phone numbers, company history, and maybe give them a look at the type or services or products that they offered. Most of the content on your average company website is fairly static – it doesn’t change from week to week. If it was a really well-built and designed site, it would have a clean, user-friendly interface and well thought-out content displayed in an attractive and effective layout but the goal – the whole point – of the website would be to have some level of presence on the internet so that a company could be simply found.
Being able to be found online is crucial for businesses, of course. Gone are the days of physical phone directories. We ask Google or Siri to find businesses for us now. The majority of customers are no longer content to simply come into a store to see what’s on offer. If they can’t confirm that you’re going to do what they need by glancing through your website, they will turn to a competitor whose website gives them the information that they’re looking for.
Source: Pew Research Center
These numbers are, frankly, astounding. More and more companies are reacting to this need for online conversions, not because they’ve seen the statistics but because they’ve seen the hit to their sales numbers. They’re offering new products and services, powerful expertise, high-end products, and great sales and specials… but their numbers aren’t growing. They need a new approach to lead generation. They need a new digital plan. And how they leverage their website should be at the very center of that plan.
A conversion-centric website can make a huge difference to your sales team by giving them the information that they need to turn a warm lead into a customer. For that matter, a conversion-centric website can GIVE your sales team those warm leads! Most marketers and salespeople understand that data is power. It gives you leverage, conversation points, and direction when engaging a potential client or customer. Your website can GIVE you that data.
When you put the right tools in the hands of the right people, you get powerful results. So, what does it look like when you change the focus of your website from a search tool into a conversion tool?
For starters, the sheer amount of dynamic content on your website increases. Events, news, announcements, personal stories of how your products and services have impacted your customers, and even blogs become far more important when they’re intended to do more than show a potential visitor that your business exists. They become crucial tools for keeping your customer base informed, engaged, and nurtured.
Instead of just providing information online, conversion-focused companies are implementing full eCommerce solutions with shopping carts, bundle deals, coupon capabilities, and even online sales people to help them make decisions. Online stores are an easy way to earn revenue and engage potential customers who cannot come into your brick-and-mortar stores due to distance, illness, time constraints, or other reasons. Instead of missing out on a sale and losing a potential repeat customer, you have the opportunity to engage these customers even when life gets in the way. This works even if you offer services instead of products or even if the nature of your business makes it difficult to allow online checkouts. Quote carts or service bins serve the same purpose as actual shopping carts. They allow customers to browse your site and add things to a “cart” which give you a chance to cookie the user, know who they are, and – ultimately – offer a non-sale conversion point such as submitting a quote or meeting request.
BUSINESS APPLICATION INTEGRATION
Your website isn’t just outward-facing. It can integrate with all of the systems that your business uses on a daily basis to keep things running. Systems like email platforms, marketing automation, inventory and point-of-sale systems, social media, and even CRM platforms like Salesforce can be integrated right into your website. That means that your sales staff has a one-stop-shop for all their lead generation needs and marketing needs. This also means that all of your data can be pulled into a single location to give you a top-down view of how your customers are engaging with your brand offerings and how your staff is managing their relationships. This “big picture” capability can be augmented by integrating tracking tools – like Google Analytics, Act-On, or any of a number of other systems – which help fill in the holes and tie up the loose ends. That kind of data is powerful for understanding where your customer base is getting hung up, disengaged, or even giving up on your company altogether.
This should come as no surprise by now, but all of this is nearly pointless if your website isn’t designed with mobile in mind. 71% of Americans own a smartphone. When you narrow that down to just Millennials (people between the ages of 18 and 34), that percentage increases to over 85%. Your customers are on the go. They have busy lives and, in order to connect and engage with them, you have to be able to go with them wherever they are – and that means mobile. This is more than just using a mobile-responsive web platform. Truly mobile websites also feature mobile-friendly content that takes care to have appropriately formatted content lengths, images, and page-breaks, uses mobile-friendly web fonts, and even integrates location-aware services like GPS, cell-tower awareness, or beacon technology (read: Beacon Technology: Putting the Power of “Where” in Your Pocket). Mobile isn’t the future, it’s RIGHT NOW and, if you’re not planning with mobile in mind, you’ve already been left behind.
So, where do we start? Strategy.
Assess your business needs.
- Do you have a conversion process in place?
- What does your digital sales plan look like?
- How does your digital sales plan line up with your online presence?
Determine your business goals.
- What does a perfect customer look like?
- What actions/milestones do you want your customers to do/achieve?
- How can your website measure these actions and what numbers do you want to see from those metrics?
List out your current capabilities.
- What is your company website doing well right now to nurture and convert customers?
- What tools do you currently have in place to support your digital sales plan?
- Do you have any way to track customers through their entire sales process?
Decide on a course of action.
- How will you need to change your current internal processes in order to meet these goals?
- What tools do you need to put into place to meet these goals?
- In what order do you need to implement these tools to make the best use of your time and money?
Once you’ve got a plan in place, you’re on your way. The rest is creating and integrating the tools and implementing the internal processes and procedures to ensure success. That’s far more easily said than done, of course. But is it worth the effort? Absolutely. Money talks and conversions make money.