Lead Generation Funnel

How to Build a Lead Generating Website

In four days, John has to pay a number of bills for his business including payroll and rent. He has already drained his lines of credit and maxed out his credit cards. While sales have been OK his problem isn’t in closing deals, but getting new prospects to talk to.  It takes approximately 2 months from getting a new prospect until he can close them and without a steady supply of prospects coming in, he simply isn’t closing enough sales to keep the cash flow coming in.  His situation is growing more desperate every day. John needs to create a lead generating website and fast.

Anyone that owns a business or must produce sales to live has been or can relate to John. If you are in real estate, financial planning, building contractor, insurance, mortgage lending, or any other number of businesses that require a constant supply of interested and qualified leads then you could benefit from building a direct response lead generation website.

A lead generation website is just what it sounds like.  It is a website that works 24/7 generating interested and qualified leads for you. There are not a lot of lead generation programs out there that can boost that type of power. The keywords here are interested and qualified prospects. A prospect that has no interest in what you are selling is a poor lead. A prospect that has an interest but cannot afford your product or isn’t really qualified to be a customer for any other reason is also a poor lead.  Quality prospects must have both attributes to be worth spending your very short and critical sales time pursuing.

To create a successful direct response lead generation website, you need to do a little homework. First, you need to know what your ideal prospect looks like. What industry do they work in?  What position do they hold in a company?  How big is the company?  Here is a key question, what problems do they face every day that really causes them to lose sleep? You really have to understand your prospect, how to reach them, and what their hot buttons and issues are.  You must be able to walk in his/her shoes and really understand the problems they face and how you can solve them. Check out this article to learn how to develop a full buyer persona

For example, if you are in real estate and your target market is first time home buyers then the strength of their credit and how much money they must put down are the two issues that really plague them in buying their first home. If you are a contractor your client’s largest concern might be all the horror stories, they have heard about bad contractors, so they are really concerned about how to pick the right contractor.

Once you know who your target market is and what the key problems, they face are now you are ready to build your direct response website. The website has several key ingredients to be successful…

Lead Generation Idea 1: Focused Customer-Centric Website

The obvious item is a website, what is not so obvious is that this site needs to be very tightly focused on your target market and it must be centered on the customer’s needs, not you.  So many websites out there are company focused.  They discuss the history of the company, the management team, and an overview of products or services. Essentially it is a large brochure about you, not them.  By doing the homework above you should be able to use the elements of your site to immediately communicate with your customers.

  • Develop Buyer Persona: Exactly who is your target market? How well do you really know them? Understanding your exact market of potential customers and developing your website, navigation, information, and offers based on this specific buyer persona will be a key to developing a customer-centric website that performs well.
  • Copy: This is the big one. Make sure the copy (text) on the website speaks to the client and to their problems. To do this effectively you must get their attention. Every page should have a powerful headline that simply causes the person to immediately stop, read it, and immediately dive into the first line of copy after the headline because they are so interested.  The first line of copy should get them to read the second line, and that line should get them to read the third line and so on.  For your copy to do this you must literally reach out and slap your prospect in the face with a problem they face and indicate that you have the solution to that problem. Effective copy has several important elements by itself.
  • Graphics: Your graphics should support the copy and the sales goal. These graphics can be pictures of products, diagrams of how the product works, or very well-chosen marketing pictures that illustrate visually what the copy is already saying to the prospect.  Remember the sole purpose of the graphics is not to add aesthetic value to the page but support the sales message.  If it doesn’t do that it is fluff and a distraction, cut it.
  • Intuitive Navigation: Your site must have intuitive navigation, the buttons have to not only tell the prospect very clearly what they will find if they click that button but also create a desire in them to click on it. To do that your buttons have to strategically placed and have appropriate labels.  This is not the place to get cute and artistic.  Plain, simple, limited navigation that is easy to see and act on is what is required.  You may need to do some usability testing on this navigation with prospective users to determine if you have it right. In addition, make sure your navigation guides the client (see persona above) to the exact information they are searching for, which if you develop a good persona profile should be something you know and understand.
  • No Clutter: Don’t clutter your pages with all kinds of extraneous copy, useless graphics, ads for other sites, dancing Flash-based ads or decorations, and other nonsense. With all the neat things webmasters can do with animations and JavaScript you might be tempted to let them create little effects on a page that “look cool” but at the end of the day only distract and confuse the user.

Lead Generation Idea 2: Effective Copy

For copy to be effective it must do more than simply list what you offer or details about your products.  These types of things are called features and contrary to popular belief features don’t cause people to buy.  The elements of effective copy include…

  • Powerful Headline: Again, the headline must literally reach out and grab your prospect’s attention. It must have a powerful benefit statement that tells them by reading further they will discover a solution to one of their problems that keeps them awake at night.
  • Benefits: Your copy must clearly show benefits to your prospect of doing business with you. For example, a feature of a computer is a fast processor, but the benefit is the ability to do work faster or process data faster and do more stuff in less time.

In short, your copy must stand on its own and sell when you can’t be there.  This is especially important on the web since you never know when people are reading your site. Effective copy should follow the solid direct response copywriting formulas to get the prospect to take action, which brings me to my final item a direct response website must-have…

Lead Generation Idea 3: An Offer or Call to Action

An offer is an item you are giving away to get the person to respond. In the inbound marketing world, this is a key component of developing a website that generates leads. Offers must be something that has a perceived value to your target audience. If they don’t value it then it won’t work. Examples include:

    1. eBooks
    2. Templates
    3. Free Tools
    4. Videos or Webinars
    5. Podcasts
    6. Slide Decks
    7. Industry Case Studies
    8. Specialized Industry Research
    9. Coupons
    10. Free Trials
    11. Free Consulting

You will also need a form of some type on the website to capture the contact information of the person responding to this offer. That form is a kind of friction that will cause people to decide if giving you their information is worth what you are offering so your offer must be very compelling. It must have value, enough to get them to fill out the form and respond. Coming up with a good offer is a process, but once you have the right one it will pour quality leads into your email inbox like a machine.

A lead generation website has a lot of moving parts and elements that need to be created, tested, re-tested and ultimately perfected. The issue is most businesses don’t want to put the time, energy, and money into creating a lead generating website. As a result, the website ends up looking like every other site in the industry, is viewed by a small number of people, has almost no-repeat visitors and ends up taking up space and collecting dust on the Internet. It doesn’t really work for you but makes you feel good because at least you have a website. The story doesn’t have to end this way.

Inbound marketing and the principles of direct response marketing are creating lead generating websites for businesses of all sizes in all industries every day. Building an effective lead generating website is like building any effective piece of marketing. You must clearly understand your goal, who your ideal target audience is, what your ideal prospect looks like and then use effective inbound marketing principles and effective web design to rake in all the leads you can handle.

In future articles, we will discuss how to get more qualified traffic to this website and other elements that can be added to a site to make it even more powerful.

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