Must-Have Characteristics of Inbound Marketing Websites

5 Must-Have Characteristics of Inbound Marketing WebsitesYour company's website should be a lead generation and business development asset.

If you want real ROI from your digital presence, it all starts with the foundational component -- the inbound marketing website.

A website that informs, educates, and helps people self-diagnose whether your business provides and appropriate solution will help you develop industry authority and trust with potential customers.

Good inbound marketing websites rely on the following must-have characteristics.

1. Deep-Rooted Strategy

Inbound marketing websites feature lots of good information that your ideal customers will find useful. But just having a list of content to create on your website is not a strategy. Many companies take for granted that developing content and educating their customers is a Point A to Point B type of project. But the most important word here is not “content,” it’s “strategy.”

Know where your website fits into your overall digital strategy. The role of your website is to attract ideal prospects, educate and inform them, and turn visitors into personally identifiable contacts.

Understanding this is critical because where the customer is in the buyers journey will influence what information you have on your website.

Here's an example. A common thing I notice when evaluating websites is that businesses start blogging without knowing where the blog fits into the digital strategy. The purpose of a blog is primarily to attract visitors, and secondarily to turn those people that are researching solutions into personally identifiable contacts. For that reason, your blog isn't the right place for company press releases, job openings and that new workplace award you won.

Another common issue with company websites is that there's an increase in website visitors when a company starts blogging, only to wonder why they're not getting any leads. Mapping out the entire process that your buyer might follow -- from finding your blog to downloading a guide and requesting pricing or a demo -- is necessary if you want website visitors to become leads.

Common questions to ask when developing an inbound marketing website

  1. What problem does my company's products or services solve for my ideal clients?
  2. What are the benefits of doing business with my company?
  3. What is my ideal prospect not know about my product or service?
  4. If a procurement manager was researching my company, would my website overwhelm them?
  5. What have past customers learned about working with us that they didn't know before working with us?
  6. Can a customer quickly qualify or disqualify themselves from buying our product or solution?

Consider your customer personas when answering these questions.

Learn about getting a customized inbound marketing diagnostic for your business

Integration with Marketing Automation or Marketing Technology

Because some leads you'll get from your website are not as valuable as others, you need marketing automation.

A marketing automation platform passes lead data and behavioral data to your CRM, scores leads as they interact with your company, and helps you make sure no opportunity goes unnoticed.

Here are some ways businesses find marketing automation helpful:

  • Every lead is passed from form fills on your website to your CRM.
  • It increments lead scores as contacts fill in forms, visit pages on your website, open and click emails you send, etc., and passes that lead score real time to your CRM, where a sales person can be notified.
  • You can segment your email list and send newsletters, blasts, blog notifications, etc. to the list, and can also automate follow-up based on logic when someone becomes a contact for the first time.  For example, if you subscribe to our blog, you'd get an automated email asking what you'd like to learn more about.
  • Provide detailed analytics on where contacts originated, helping you attribute opportunities and sales to activities so you know where to spend your time.
  • Automate sales follow-ups once a lead score reaches a certain level. Because lead scores are incremented based on activity (like visiting over 20 pages on your website), those emails will be triggered while your company is on their mind already.

Learn more about how marketing automation might benefit your company

Integration with CRM

I mentioned that the marketing automation system sends data to a CRM, and sales people will find this invaluable if they take the time to understand the benefits. 

75% of companies don't nurture leads and miss out on opportunities because they are not immediately sales-ready.1

CRM systems do many behind-the-scenes functions to help your business sell more. Companies that have good CRM setups get these advantages:

  • Pipeline visibility - reporting that allows you to predict revenue based on opportunity stages and values.
  • A timeline of a contact's interactions, including forms they've filled out on your website, pages they've visited, emails they've opened and clicked (both "blast emails" and personal emails you write from Outlook), and notes that you've taken during meetings or sales calls.
  • A running list of companies that visited your website, even if the person seeing your website didn't fill out a form. It should also show what web pages they visited.
  • The ability to nurture leads. Most companies let leads go cold. 75% of companies don't nurture leads and miss out on opportunities because they are not immediately sales-ready. Most people that visit your website are not ready for a quote or demo, and so you're probably not capturing those opportunities even though they could eventually become customers.
  • Sales document storage so marketing can provide sales with nicely-designed case studies and other sales documents.
  • A call queue of high-priority leads.
  • Storage of sales prospecting email templates and reports on how templates are performing.

Learn how a CRM might work at your company

A Blog

You read earlier about how the website's purpose is to attract new visitors and convert them into personally-identifiable contacts. 

A blog is the best way to organically attract new potential customers to your website.

Why? Search engines index these specific, short-form articles and tend to rank them higher. When someone searches, your blog posts will appear as long as they are well-optimized and are customer focused.

I just did a competitive assessment for an industrial company that illustrates this point. This company was a $5 million company, and the two competitors that had regularly-updated, customer-focused blogs saw over 5 times the visitors and had 2x to 4x the company revenue.

If you're thinking that your company is "niche" and you think this doesn't apply to you, read this. You also might want to read "14 Reasons Why Your Business Should Start a Blog."

Conversion Opportunities

It wouldn’t be marketing if there wasn't an opportunity to make a sale. That’s where conversion opportunities come in -- those explicit opportunities for your customers to take an action and start a relationship with your business.

On most inbound marketing websites, conversion opportunities include the design, placement, and text of your Calls to Action (CTAs), landing pages, and forms. Design every element of these conversion opportunities to speak clearly to your target customer.

Never rely on just a single "contact us" link. Every web page should have a conversion opportunity where someone can learn something new about your industry, product or service.

If you'd like to read more about conversion opportunities, then check out this article.

Responsive Design

People that visit your website on a mobile device, such as a tablet or smart phone, likely account for over 25% of your visitors. Inbound marketing websites need to meet the needs of all three visitor types.

Websites that are not optimized for visitors on mobile devices have higher bounce rates, lower conversion rates and lower search engine rankings.

You must design your website so that your customers have a consistent, compelling experience, no matter what device is used to access the site. Responsive design is the answer.

SSL (Security)

A secure website will tell your prospects and customers that you care about protecting their privacy and security of information. It will improve your form completion rates.

A side benefit of SSL is that Google tends to show secure websites above those without security in search results.

SSL security is so inexpensive and easy to install, your business can't go without it.

Do you need help transforming your company website into an inbound marketing website that attracts qualified prospects and generates more leads? Do you need better lead intelligence to help your sales team sell more effectively? Let's talk.

How to Transform Your Business Website into an Inbound Marketing Website

1 Source: Cloudswave infographic 

About the Author

Rick Whittington

Rick Whittington is the founder and Principal at Whittington Consulting. He has over 15 years of experience in websites and online marketing. Rick shows clients how to turn their marketing challenges into opportunities that yield measurable results. If you'd like to get in touch with Rick, click here to get his contact information or connect on LinkedIn here.