Have you ever cringed at a website that looks like it belongs in 1997? Yeah, us too. Don’t throw up a single-page image with a shoddy sidebar and expect potential customers to think of your brand positively.
If it’s not a marketing website, it’s not really a website, after all.
They cost money to maintain, so it should drive your goals for revenue. We’re going to show you how to do that right here.
Devise a Natural Flow for Visitors
Before anything else, your website needs to flow properly for visitors. Don’t send visitors in a dozen different directions! Most corporate websites did this between 2000 and 2016, and it was awful. Even the largest business website doesn’t need 37 items in the navigation menu.
Instead, give people enough information that they can learn about your company—but not 100 pages of vague policies and fractured information. Design your website according to how a visitor would want to read through it. Start with your vision, purpose, and core offering: what you believe and what you do.
Then you can explain more about your small or medium business, your process, and how you benefit customers better than the rest.
Give people easy access to your main pages and blog—the most helpful stuff! Make everything clearly accessible, but put the most relevant links to pieces of your website in the right places. That’s just good design.
Use Email Capture Forms to Make Traffic Useful
Email capture forms are the mechanisms that turn website traffic into leads for your small business. All of your main pages should capture emails—why create them, otherwise? Yes, some people prefer to call directly over the phone—but that just means you include both options, not one or the other.
Why would people willingly give their email addresses to small and medium businesses like yours? Great question! People want value, whatever that value might resemble. Usually they want answers to their questions. Your website will have answers to these questions with specific content (which we’ll cover next), but the delivery mechanism is an email form—it’s the exact spot where visitors decide they want to learn something more for free.
Offer something valuable in return for an email address and voila—you have a lead! Put these on your cornerstone pages, your blogs, and the obvious places (your contact and home pages).
Pair Each Email Form with a Lead Magnet
Lead magnets are what you create to offer for value in exchange for a visitor’s email address. This is where we step firmly into content marketing, and it fuels your website—it’s what lets your website deliver value to attract genuine business leads. Your lead magnet could be any of these:
You get the idea—you’re enticing people to invest in you through baby steps. Your website should offer different lead magnets based on different buyer personas at different stages of the Buyer’s Journey as well. Not only do people fall into different lifestyle categories, but they’re all at different stages of need and understanding.
Your lead magnets solve those problems. Remember that a single parent might not have the same problems as a fresh graduate looking for a new job, even if your product or service would be great for both—it’s about framing and messaging. That’s why your lead magnets should send specific “next step” messages to targeted audiences.
Create 1-2 Pieces of Cornerstone Content
Your website plan (or refresh) has flow, email sign-up forms, and lead magnets—what next? Cornerstone content. Your website needs to be useful in order to gain customer trust, plain and simple.
Your cornerstone content does that by providing in-depth knowledge and context for your website visitors. It’s that simple, combined with the other steps—people will only talk to you if they think you can help them. What better way to demonstrate that than y going ahead and helping them first? You can’t just say “we’re the best” and “buy from us.” Everyone and their aunt says that.
Many companies that have finally got on board with blogging regularly do so without providing any real value, which isn’t going to do all that much on its own. You can outmatch all of those competitors by providing something genuinely useful in the form of longform reading material, and we call that cornerstone content.
What Do Cornerstones Look Like?
These are pages that go into real depth, often beyond just the core concepts. They clock in at around 3,000 words due to the sheer amount of relevant information. Don’t panic—you don’t need to make these every week, or even every month! Just make sure that your website covers one or two topics in depth.
Even if you produce blogs that are genuinely useful here and there, then you can summarize related ones into cornerstone content. For example, an auto garage could create a cornerstone page on car maintenance based on these separate blog topics:
- Maintaining tire pressure
- Cleaning the inside of your car
- Protecting against rust
- Fixing or replacing your windshield
- How often oil changes should happen
- How to fix flaking paint
- When to change seasonal tires
- When it’s time to replace air filters
- What to do with steering fluid leaks
- The difference between timing belts and serpentine belts (and when to replace them)
Each of those topics could justify a 500-word or 750-word blog in their own right—and should probably be written—but they could also be folded into an anchor page that gives website visitors everything that want to know in a single place.
Making cornerstone content also gives you a competitive advantage for search engine optimization, which generates organic traffic for your website. That’s qualified traffic that can be converted into leads, if you have email sign up forms and lead magnets in place!
Make it All Mobile-Responsive
Last but certainly not least is mobile-responsiveness. This topic is best known among digital marketers, but it’s too important to ignore. Mobile viewing overtook desktop browsing in late 2016, and it’s only gained more ground since then.
That in itself is enough of a reason to make your site fit for mobile. Google has also released its “mobile search index,” which lends higher organic search rankings to mobile site. Don’t let that one come back to bite you. Making your website mobile-friendly will also bring more traffic into your marketing and sales funnel—it’s the new gold standard of website design and marketing efficiency.