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This is the final blog of a six blog sub-series on the topic of websites, part of the ‘All That PR & Marketing Bollox” weekly blog series.

In the final part of my website series, we’ll explore how design and content can influence how your prospects engage with your website.

I’ll also explain what your ‘contact us’ form really means to your prospects and how a softer website with places for your prospects to leave their digital ‘footprints’ can be just as effective.

1. Balance cool design with solid content.

Flash design and zappy imagery do not replace the need for solid description and carefully considered content. Your site needs to look good, but it shouldn’t look good at the expense of reading well. You’ve attracted my attention with your cool design, now let’s make sure that you’ve put sufficient effort into the description of what and how you go about doing business and how you engage with your customers.

2. Mix up your content.

Not too long ago, the whitepaper was the key piece of lead generation content in use. In fact, many online publications in the tech space such as Tech Target have used the whitepaper as their sole lead generation mechanism.

While the whitepaper is not entirely irrelevant, bear in mind that in the internet age, many people find that a 4,000-5,000 word piece of writing is just too much content to take into their busy schedule. People will respond in different ways to different types of content, therefore it’s prudent to offer a range of content formats and lengths. Some people are very visual, therefore video explanations of products and services can be very valuable.

Similarly, the busy exec who is time-poor but is looking for a new product or service will very often respond well to an eBook which gives a high level overview with pull out text boxes, large headlines and diagrams but also is backed up with a level of detailed text. In that case, if he or she has time, they might read the whole thing, if not, they can skim it and still take away some key messages. Similarly, infographics are a very simple way of getting over a lot of information in a clearly readable and visual format.

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3. Measure the customer journey.

There is technology that will help you identify visitors to your website. The same technology can be deployed to help you to capture information from your visitors. Granular research into the way in which people move around your website is extremely valuable.

If you’re able to build up a profile of the content that’s being read by your visitors as well as the pages that nobody cares about, it will give you a very good indication of where you need to employ your future efforts. For example, if you discover that people who have read this particular page and that particular page are more likely to complete an enquiry form than visitors who haven’t read those pages, then you’ll know you need to make those pages more prominent.

Marketing technology products such as HubSpot employ ‘cookie snapping’ technology which enables a history to be developed as an unknown visitor visits a website on several occasions. The presence of that cookie (which most people accept as a regular course of visiting a website) will later enable you to see a detailed history of what pages were interesting and when, as soon as they fill out an enquiry form or download something.

4. Beware of the ‘send me a salesman’ button.

You must bear in mind that, to a web visitor, the “contact us” button essentially means “I am ready to talk to one of your salespeople.” There is an assumption that as soon as you make contact with sales, they will be calling you back on a near hourly basis until they finally get through to you to arrange a sales meeting. If that’s the only way that people can interact directly with you, then don’t be surprised if that form doesn’t get filled out very often.

In truth, if you are able to construct a website which has softer means for people to leave their ‘footprints’—such as providing an email address or contact details in return for useful and valuable information—you’re much more likely to make headway with your leads. It is also possible, with current technology, to employ smart or intelligent forms which ask the user further nuanced questions about their needs once they have expressed initial interest.

5. Keep the goal in mind.

Never forget that the reason you might consider going to the trouble of structuring your website in the ways described above is for the purpose of getting your prospects to a place where they actually want to talk to you. If you consider these as tips as you build your new website or as you refine the performance of your existing website, you’ll find that the quality of enquires and sales leads you generate from your website and then pass on to your sales team, will be much higher. Providing useful content is a step in that process, as is explaining what you do, but the whole system has to work together to create the kind of sales lead that will turn into increased business for your company.

Tip #12: When creating or reviewing your website, follow the rules above for an engaging website that helps your prospects long the journey to becoming a customer.

If you've enjoyed our website series, our 'Preparing to build a website checklist' is available for download, detailing the main factors you should consider when redesigning your website.

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