In an age of digital marketing with social media, marketing automation, email marketing and CRM, marketers often forget that their website remains the most important of their digital assets.
Research by SiriusDecisions shows that both sales and marketing underestimate the importance of the website as a communication channel at key stages of the sales cycle. The research shows that marketers and sales tend to think of their websites as ‘showcase’ pages at the early stage of selling and they focus on other channels such as email and events as key channels during the later stages. The real disconnect highlighted by the study is that customers still value company websites as a critical touchpoint throughout the buying journey — all the way to closed or won.
They key takeaway? Don’t underestimate the value and importance of your web site for lead and pipeline generation. Here are six tips to keeping your website at the heart of your demand generation plan.
Address prospects all along their customer journey
Regardless of the stage in your customer journey, you want to attract a wide audience of potential leads. This in practice means providing rich content such as blogs, articles and videos because 47% of website visitors engage with at least five pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. Once on your website, calls to action should lead prospects to conversion opportunities, like high-value content tip sheets or guides that encourage prospects to offer their details in exchange for content.
Understand your prospective customers
Today, customers have high expectations when interacting with suppliers. In Acquia’s own research, we found that 3 in 4 consumers switch to a competitor after just one bad experience. To connect with prospective customers, it is necessary to gather as much information about them as possible. One of the best ways to engage your target audience is by creating a buyer persona — a profile that represents your ideal customer.
Once you have identified your buyer persona, it’s time to use that information to deliver an experience that addresses their needs and interests. Serving up personalised, relevant content on your website keeps your visitors engaged and both marketing and sales can use the digital trail from every click to know where your prospects are in their buying journey.
Develop content your prospect will find valuable
Content fuels every digital experience. Personalisation cannot happen without content to support each buyer persona. With 78% of consumers more likely to be loyal to a brand if the brand understands them it is important that consumers can find content they can relate to on your website.
Based on what you know about the challenges your prospects face and the solutions you offer, ask yourself, ‘what information of value can I provide prospects at each key juncture in their customer journey?’ Currently 75% of firms aim to personalise content on their website, this figure is likely to rise as brands gain greater ability to provide individual experiences.
Successful brands find it useful to create customer journey maps to visualise their interactions throughout their engagement lifecycle.
Organise your content with purpose
The demand generation and web teams may sometimes have conflicting objectives when it comes to gating certain pieces of content. While the web team might not want to gate very much content because they want visitors to be engaged and spend time on the website, demand generation marketers will want to gate content to feed their databases and provide quality leads to their sales teams. It is important for both teams to find a balance, gating high-value content but by no means all content. Prospects will naturally fill in a form with their details if they feel the content is a value add to them but some content (like case studies or product datasheets) should be ungated.
You can also use techniques like progressive profiling which enables you to ask additional questions every time someone engages with your gated content. That way you minimise the form completion drop-off rate.
Optimise results by testing offers and iterating campaigns
Successful demand generation is a process, not an event. It is important to define strategy, channels and key performance indicators — but keep them flexible.
Results can be optimised by using A/B testing where some users are shown a different versions of content or given a different path to content consumption. A free sample of a whitepaper or brochure versus a download option for example — to figure out which performs better.
Use the data available across your channels to track leads from touchpoint to sale and leverage those insights to refine and improve demand generation strategy.
Increase buy in from internal stakeholders
Work to increase inter-department collaboration — particularly those responsible for branding, awareness and demand generation.
Involve the different stakeholders as early as possible in your journey mapping and content marketing programmes. Ensure that every activity involves a representative team of every function responsible for the delivery of the customer journey. Think about your organisation; what are the different team member’s goals or KPIs? How can you help them to help you? The beauty of this approach is that if you get it right, you can optimise the site, so all stakeholders feel included in the process, and all requirements are met!
Maximising your website spend
Websites are often a big investment for organisations, so it makes sense to maximise that spend as much as possible. Getting the look, feel, and user experience right is one thing, but optimising the site to generate customer leads is often a completely different undertaking, which starts by putting the customer first, identifying their needs and then tailoring the experience to them based on that data.
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