The Essential Guide to Lead Generation Websites (2021 Edition)

The Essential Guide to Lead Generation Websites

Business and online tactics continue to evolve. In our modern, post-COVID economy—lead generation websites are one of the most effective growth engines for organizations that have invested in and are committed to delivering great digital experiences.

But websites aren’t what they used to be…

In the past, websites were essentially built to serve the purpose of a digital business card or online brochure. They were designed to look good and share information. That’s about it. Perhaps they helped influence offline buying decisions or interactions—but in large part they played a much more passive role than they do today.

Successful modern websites are different. They’re also more complex.

As buyer’s habits, search engines, and other trends continue to change—so too do the needs for your organization’s digital experience (aka your website).

Today, successful lead generation websites play an increasingly important and active role in your organization’s digital strategy—specifically in your customers’ experience, their expectations, and their buying journey. Effective websites not only look great on every device—they share your message and serve customer needs around the clock.

Now, when a marketer says “website”—they are referring to a growing number of digital systems and strategies that are all working in harmony to:

  • Communicate your mission and value to customers
  • Generate awareness and traffic
  • Engage visitors by providing valuable content
  • Nurture and convert visitors into leads (potential buyers)
  • Centralize the knowledge and value of your organization
  • Extend communication reach for your customer-facing teams (sales, marketing, service)
  • And create “listening posts” to better understand customer needs (i.e. analytics), gather feedback, and measure interactions

In this blog, we’re going to explore and break down the core concepts behind high-performing websites. By the end of this article, you’ll have a complete understanding of each of the critical components that make up an effective, lead generation website—including:

  1. Fundamental components and strategies
  2. Infrastructure needs
  3. How to approach conversions
  4. The role your website serves in your digital strategy and overall customer experience
  5. How a website will help streamline customer-facing operations
  6. Steps you can take to improve your digital experience & lead potential
  7. And more…

Let’s get started…

First Things First… Your Customer.

If you only take one thing away from this blog—make it this…

Successful lead generation websites solve customer pain points and deliver value by helping them overcome challenges and feel confident in making better decisions.

Consider how every webpage, sentence, and element supports your goals to wow customers. Focus on solving customer challenges, informing them about new and better ways to approach problems, as well as providing reasons and resources for them to keep coming back to you.

By taking the extra time and care to craft meaningful digital experiences and messaging—you’ll develop a more engaging, persuasive, and valuable experience. Websites that do this are rewarded with more traffic, higher repeat visits, and—ultimately—more leads and customers.

3 Fundamentals of a Lead Generation Website

As we’ve mentioned—effective lead generation websites are more than just a digital brochure or business card.

In recent years, successful websites have grown in complexity—weaving together web technologies, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, marketing and automation tools, and more. To be effective, a website must not only display information on the internet, but support critical business efforts, streamline tasks, centralize data, and be easy-to-use—for both your team and your customers.

Before we dive in to specific strategies and technical foundations—let’s take a moment to consider the following aspects of a website and how each contributes to your organization’s success:

  1. What You See
  2. What You Don’t See
  3. The Value You Provide (How You Use It)
3 Fundamentals of a Lead Generation Website

1. What You See

Yes, of course appearance still matters.

Your website needs to look great—and on a growing number of devices (i.e. desktop, tablet, mobile). Your website also needs to be responsive (designed to work on different device sizes)—or—perhaps even “mobile-first.”

“Approximately 50% of all website traffic occurs on mobile devices.” (Source: Statista)

Visually—your website communicates your brand, shares a story, and makes your content easy (or difficult) to understand and consume. A professional website builds trust, is easy to navigate, and leaves a lasting, positive impression.

2. What You Don’t See

Just as important is the functionality beneath your website’s beautiful exterior.

To be effective—your website needs an infrastructure that makes it easy to use and update, supports key business efforts, helps you get ranked on search engines, provides insights and analytics, as well as communicates with other systems and software.

This is true whether you’re a small business or a giant enterprise organization with national or global reach.

The foundation of your website—or “What You Don’t See”—is incredibly important to a business as it reaches new growth phases. Having a scalable and “future proof” digital experience makes it easier to update/change webpages and messaging, bolt-on new systems and services, as well as produce and manage a growing body of content.

Do you think you’re going to have the time or capacity to rebuild, re-engineer, or substantively change the infrastructure of your website during a time of rapid growth? If you do have to the time or capacity—wouldn’t it be better spent sharing your message, keeping prospects engaged, and focusing on customer communications?

Organizations with well-planned and scalable web infrastructures spend more on initial efforts—but save (and make) significantly more money in the end. By investing in web strategies as well as infrastructure that meets current needs AND can be expanded to suit future efforts—your website will have a much longer “shelf life.” It will also provide key feedback mechanisms to continuously learn about customers—and ultimately increase your earning potential.

Consider the following inputs and functions of a lead generation website:

  • What is your primary objective? Secondary? etc.
  • Do you need a Content Management System (CMS) to create and manage content among various authors/editors? How many team
  • members need access?
  • What web framework and SEO tools will you use?
  • Do you need “custom” functionality?
  • How will you generate leads?
  • How will you manage leads (Sales funnel management)?
  • Will you integrate a contacts/leads database (or CRM)?
  • How will you measure, track, and analyze ongoing website performance?

The underlying infrastructure and connected systems you plug in to your website significantly expand your capabilities and play a major role in your online performance as well as ability to adapt and grow your future website efforts.

3. The Value You Provide (How You Use It)

The final, crucial aspect—and catalyst for success—is how your organization leverages your website to generate awareness and engage with potential customers.

Effective lead generation websites are continuously monitored, analyzed, and iterated upon to improve messaging and SEO, drive engagement, provide valuable support information, and increase conversion rates. This requires a concerted engagement strategy that includes content, outreach, and more.

Successful organizations also invest in content marketing and outreach efforts across a variety of channels. Some examples include: blogging, email newsletters, social activities, podcasts, video tutorials, etc.

All Working Together.

Each of these elements play key roles in the success of your lead generation website strategy. In short…

  1. What You See: Sets expectations, reinforces value offered, nurtures engagement
  2. What You Don’t See: Provides key functionality, extends online reach and search performance, powers data and operations
  3. How You Use It: Communicate value, generate awareness, engage social audiences, drive traffic

We point these out because too often SMBs and startups overlook or neglect one of the three key aspects. Whether it’s infrastructure or engagement strategy—missing any one of these will restrict a website’s potential reach and hinder growth.

The 3 Step Conversion Strategy For Effective, Lead Generation Websites

Now that you have an idea of how lead generation websites work, let’s take a few moments to focus specifically on conversion strategy.

In 2021 and beyond—successful websites are carefully-crafted, persuasive, and clearly communicate value so that visitors engage and become customers.

3 Step Lead Generation Strategy For Websites

1. Attract Potential Customers

Effective websites bring in visitors through search engines, social media platforms, as well as other marketing efforts. Successful organizations drive traffic in large part through investments in content creation such as blogs, ebooks and resources, videos, podcasts, and other media. Then such content is shared and distributed via emails, advertisements, and on social platforms that potential customers frequent and spend time on.

The key here is that a website needs to generate awareness and deliver valuable content to drive search engine performance and organic traffic. These efforts should speak to and address customer pain points and challenges and will serve as a baseline to stimulate conversations with potential customers.

2. Engage & Provide Value

Once visitors are on your website—your content needs to engage with them. It should not only speak directly to their needs and pain points—but provide solutions and new ways to frame their challenges.

This is your opportunity to be as helpful as possible. Clearly communicate your expertise and value, how you’ve helped other customers, and more. You accomplish this through blogs, white papers, tutorial videos, webinars, downloadable resources, community forums and tools, and more.

We’ll stop there—and discuss website engagement activities in the next section.

3. Convert By Extending A Value Offer

Finally, effective websites turn engaged visitors into leads (or customers). The steps leading up to conversion are paramount. At this point—your website has already built a significant amount of trust with visitors through the value it’s provided through messaging and content.

If you’ve effectively demonstrated your knowledge and expertise, built legitimacy (customer testimonials and portfolio work), and made your case persuasively—you’re ready to extend a value offering, or sale.

Effective websites use clear and simple Call To Actions (CTAs) to inspire an action—or conversion. Make it easy for visitors to understand what they are trading (email, information, money) for the value you’re providing (a service, product, digital download, etc.).

For example:

  • Save 25% On Your First Order (ecommerce, product-based)
  • Start Your 30-Day Free Trial (SaaS/subscription model)
  • Schedule a Free Consultation (Service-based)

NOTE: Whether you push customers straight for the sale or into some process that “nurtures” the relationship will depend on your product/service and approach.

Some websites will do this across a range of pages (blogs, product overviews, case studies, etc.)—while others may achieve this on a single landing conversion page. The specific tactics you use in each step will depend on a number of factors such as your industry, offering and value proposition, the cost/complexity of your products or services, and more.

Measure & Improve The Conversion Pipeline For Your Lead Generation Website

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” – Peter Drucker

Whether you use Google Analytics, Matomo, Oribi, Kissmetrics, or something else—having the tools to measure your web experience, funnels, and conversions is CRITICAL.

Pay careful attention to each step in the process (Attract, Engage, Convert). Successful websites are those that have analytics tools integrated to help identify gaps and track progress for the purpose of continuous refinement and improvement.

Without measurement tools—you won’t be able to tell if you have a leaky leads pipeline or even begin to understand where your website is falling short.

To achieve real results and growth—a website needs to perform all three of these well.

Websites that are missing any one key element in the Attract > Engage > Convert process—or the ability to measure the experience—typically struggle to generate traffic and leads. Often—with only a few minor tweaks and gap fills—websites can close the loop and see significant improvements in traffic, engagement, and leads.

What’s Your Engagement Strategy?

How Will You Bring Customers To Your Lead Generation Website?

In the previous section, we mentioned that your website will need to “engage” customers. You will need to achieve this with content that speaks to customer pain points and challenges, helps them expand their knowledge, as well as solve their problems.

But how do you execute and share that content? That’s where an engagement strategy comes in.

An engagement strategy outlines how your organization plans to organize, deliver, and share the content you produce—both on your website as well as other channels that customers frequent Other channels may include Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, community forums, trade shows (remember those? :P).

Despite its name, an engagement strategy serves a critical role in BOTH the Attract AND Engage steps of the conversion process. Yes, it’s primary purpose is to engage potential customers—but because it helps deliver content to the social platforms and networks where customers spend their time and attention it significantly extends content “reach” and attracts more traffic.

A few examples of engagement activities include:

  • Generating instructional courses, materials, lesson plans, etc. (YouTube videos, webinars, etc.)
  • Providing lightweight tools and basic solutions to problems and sharing them on community forums
  • Having discussions and conversations about experiences, specific challenges or topics, etc. (i.e. online videos, podcasts)
  • Sharing quick tips, motivation, or insights (daily short podcasts and audio bites)

Many businesses leverage a variety of these. Based on engagement and success—sometimes engagement strategies can even turn into alternative revenue streams.

Once you identify engagement activities and begin to execute—you can look to apply Inbound methods, paid advertising, or other means to increase traffic/awareness and accelerate your growth and results.

To learn more about engagement and developing a content strategy, see: The Elements of an Effective Content Strategy.

The Bigger Picture. How Your Lead Generation Website Drives Traffic.

We’ve covered a lot of ground at this point—so let’s incorporate a few visuals and bring these concepts together.

Our website model now has a number of moving pieces and strategies to convert visitors into leads. But it’s important to understand where each piece fits and how they contribute to ushering customers through your digital experience.

How Lead Generation Websites Convert Visitors

Take a look at the following graphic. You’ll find that your website and lead conversion elements sit in the middle of this online “journey”—AFTER online experiences (those not on your website) that attract visitors but BEFORE sales conversions.

Website Experience Map | SequoiaCX

An effective lead generation website manages the nurturing and conversion of online traffic to deliver qualified leads for sales teams and tactics to push over the line. It provides information and messaging that serve potential and existing customers—and it sets expectations that will leave lasting impressions throughout each customer’s journey with you.

How Lead Generation Websites Contribute To A More Complete View Of The Customer And Their Success

Your website also serves as a central online “hub” for your digital brand and serves as the cornerstone for your entire digital experience.

Successful organizations leverage this to create and deliver seamless digital experiences and centralize links to important information for all website visitors.

In regards to lead generation—your website primarily serves marketing and sales purposes (attracting and qualifying potential customers). However, your website is also your best opportunity to serve existing customers, potential partners, distributors, and others that interact with your brand.

This is depicted in the following diagram:

Website Digital Experience Hub

As identified—your website can (and should) be a central location for links to:

  • Social media accounts, community forums, etc.
  • Success/support portals, knowledge bases, self-service ticketing tools
  • Affiliates, partners, vendors, distributors, etc.
  • Other helpful resources including marketing and sales collateral

In this way, your organization can develop a “digital watering hole” of high value resources all available from a central location—making it easy for customers, employees, partners/distributors, and even potential investors to find what they’re looking for.

Of course, this still requires careful consideration and organization to make it useful.

Must Have Tools & Functionality For Lead Generation Websites.

That covers the primary concepts and strategies of a lead generation website. But let’s go a step further and break down the specific features and functionality needed for success.

Today, business owners have a multitude of options and services to choose from.

In this section, rather than discuss specific technologies/offerings or attempt to identify which you should choose—we’ll just identify the features and functionality that contributes to successful lead generation online.

Content Management

Do you have a product or service that just sells itself—no human intervention needed? Yes? Congratulations! (Honestly, we’re jealous.)

For the rest of us—we’re likely to need some sort of system that helps manage a growing body of content on our website. You’re familiar with companies that have blogs, press releases, news articles, podcasts, and case studies that demonstrate how they’ve helped others and carved out a niche in the modern economy. These are all examples of content—and the most effective way to maintain control over a growing body of online content is with a content management system—or CMS.

You’ve probably heard of WordPress—a CMS framework that accounts for over 30% of websites on the internet. First and foremost, WordPress is a content management system that helps website administrators, authors, editors, and contributors all work together to create, publish, and manage web content.

Now, WordPress may not be the best choice for your growing business—but you will likely want a CMS to effectively manage your web presence and empower your authors and content creators to share your message. You’ll want to choose a CMS that’s easy for you and your team to use so that technical challenges don’t get in the way of you generating and sharing content.

The best solution for you may be WordPress—or perhaps Squarespace, Kajabi, HubSpot, Contentful, or any of the dozens of other services and frameworks available that offer CMS tools. The right choice will depend on your budget, team size, in-house skills,

Search Engine Optimization

If you’re already going through the effort of producing content—do yourself and your business a favor and optimize it for search engine results pages (SERPs). Search engine optimization (SEO) infrastructure will give your content the best possible chance of ranking for search keywords.

Higher ranks mean more traffic. More traffic means more potential for leads.

SEO is not something that you just do once and forget about—it’s a practice that goes into the production of every webpage, blog, news articles, etc. However, the infrastructure and plan you put in place early on will make a huge difference in generating traffic (and momentum) for your website and business.

Tailoring every piece of content (text, images, pages, metadata) is a MUST in order to drive organic traffic from searchers who are interested and looking for that type of content.

Your SEO infrastructure and the keywords you choose play a major factor in:

  • Web Page URLs
  • Page Titles
  • Headings
  • Page Descriptions
  • Image Titles and Descriptions
  • And more…

For more information on how to get started on the right foot with SEO, see:

Digital Asset Management (Repository)

You’re also going to want a tool (or system) that helps manage your digital materials—or assets. It’s good to have a safe and secure cloud storage location for the pitch decks, sales materials, ebooks, guides, and other resources you create to help deliver value to customers and sell your products or services.

Successful websites nurture relationships and generate leads using Attract > Engage > Convert which relies on being able to product, organize, and share information.

The most successful lead generation websites and strategies take this to the next level with solutions that provide automation, digital tracking, and analytics.

HubSpot’s platform, for instance, provides a centralized location to store all of your marketing, sales, and service documents and materials. Essentially, everything you would need to nurture customers throughout their entire buying and adoption journey with your organization. That includes ebooks and guides, pricing sheets, sales presentations, onboarding materials, support tools, and more.

With only a few button clicks, HubSpot allows you to share documents and assets with a broad audience (anyone visiting your website) or send them specifically to individuals who are engaged, showing interest, or who have reached a particular milestone in their buying journey.

Which brings us to lead capture and storage.

Lead Capture & Storage (Database & Smart Forms)

How are you going to capture, store, and organize your leads?

As we discussed earlier regarding conversion strategy—effective websites have a consistent and measurable communication and lead capture process.

If you want to grow—you absolutely need a lightweight CRM or contact database to help you organize leads and track communication with customers. Without a central repository for contact records, you’ll struggle to stay on top of active leads—not to mention nurture existing leads through their buying journey to become customers.

Lead Nurturing (aka Lead Management or Sales Funnel)

Keeping track of engaged visitors and leads is just the beginning. Building a lead management pipeline that helps you automate processes as well as glean powerful insights into your performance is another entirely. Getting a lead, or conversion, is typically just the first step in a multi-phase process to acquire a new customer.

Beyond purely capture—you’ll need to identify how you will qualify and track leads as various members of your team interact with them. Individual emails, spreadsheets, and sticky notes simply cannot properly support and communicate the necessary information for multiple team members and departments to engage with leads at different stages of the journey.

Lucky for you—there are easy-to-use and affordable platforms available that can help you with all of your marketing, conversion, and lead management needs. Solutions like HubSpot provide a FREE lightweight CRM and basic sales funnel tools to help you get started. Additional and more powerful features and functionalities are available on paid tiers—all built into a platform designed to grow with your business.

Start lean with an easy-to-use, low cost platform—then graduate to more advanced tools as you gather momentum and grow your business.

Analytics, Measurement, & Tracking

Staples for any website—analytics, measurement, and tracking tools enable you to see and understand how visitors are engaging with your content online. You guess it, so that you can continue to improve.

The combined power of website analytics, heatmaps that track mouse movement and individual page experiences, as well as aggregated feedback gathered by visitors enable your organization to make better decisions based on data and empirical evidence.

In this way, you’ll be able to form a more complete understanding of customer behavior and refine each page and your approach to be increasingly effective.

Whatever platform or infrastructure your website is built on—start by measuring as much of your online experience as possible. Once you have these capabilities, you’ll want to move on to consolidating data to measure how effective individual experiences are (aka pages or funnels, etc.)

Some must have analytics and measurement tools include:

TL;DR – The Value of a Lead Generation Website

Lead Generation Websites Are The Foundation of Successful Digital Strategies

These website foundations can be found on tens of thousands of successful websites online.

Whether you’re planning a new website for a startup or small business OR you’re redesigning and refining an existing website for a larger organization—these concepts will help you improve your digital experience to engage more customers and convert more leads.

Remember, an effective lead generation website is an investment that will power your business and generate revenue potential for years to come.

As a quick recap—your lead generation website needs to:

  1. Look great, be easy-to-use, scalable, and support critical business functionality as well as help you share your message.
  2. Attract, Engage, AND Convert—and be backed up by a content strategy that empowers customers to do so.
  3. Have an engagement strategy to drive traffic on social media and other channels.
  4. Be supported by an integrated CRM with a defined lead qualification, capture, and nurturing pipeline to help you manage incoming leads and turn more visitors into customers.
  5. Measure as much of the digital experience as possible so that you can use analytics to continuously refine and improve.
  6. And finally—support your greater vision and digital experience as the central spoke for your online operations, social hub, customer success and knowledge, etc.

Congratulations! That’s the masterclass on building a lead generating website. But of course, now you have to execute.

If you’re ready to take the next step and reach new heights with your digital experience and strategy—check out 5 Steps to Prepare For Your Website Design Project.

Website Planning Trail Map | SequoiaCX

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