Like any respectable geek, I’m a huge Star Wars fan, and the latest release is generating a lot of excitement in my household. I love the awesome spaceships and characters, and over the years I’ve gathered a nice collection of Star Wars memorabilia including Legos, light sabers and robots. For my kids, of course. Oh, who am I kidding?
What appeals to me most is the hero’s journey. I think what lies at the heart of any good story is when the little guy overcomes adversity. Maybe that’s why I love Star Wars so much, where a ragtag bunch of rebels takes on a giant, galactic empire.
What does that have to do with websites? Thanks to inbound marketing and automation tools like Hubspot, even small businesses can have big enterprise-level impact to engage users. Fortunately, it doesn’t require a Lucas Film or Disney-size budget to produce a visually compelling, functional and user-friendly result. Here are the top 5 essential elements that modern websites must include if they’re going to attract an audience.
1. Home Page
Got five seconds? If a visitor to your website can’t determine what your organization does within that timeframe, something needs to change. Make sure your site passes the five second test by using clear imagery, simple navigation and concise yet targeted headlines and content. Instead of static images, consider eye-catching video to instantly showcase your product or service.
When possible, customize your visitor experiences using smart content. With the right tools, your website can be configured to display different content to first-time visitors, for example. Those who’ve been to the site previously and accessed gated material by filling out a form can be shown personalized content based on their buyer personas and interests. This type of nurturing helps guide them on their buyer’s journey.
Strategic placement of featured CTAs on your home page can significantly boost lead conversions as well. Rather than placing a relevant content piece at the bottom of a home page, try keeping it above the fold and track its progress. We did this for one client and saw a whopping 900% increase in home page conversions! You get bonus points if your CTAs are personalized to fit various buyer journey paths that could be taken.
Arguably, at the heart of any effective inbound strategy is a company’s blog content. Consistent publishing of relevant, helpful content is what demonstrates your expertise and helps prospective customers find you in a sea of online competition. Once they do, make it easy for them to sign up to receive blog updates via email, and make your content easily shareable via social media by including strategically placed social share buttons. This sounds common sense, but make sure your social share buttons work! Many website templates automatically include these features, but many users fail to set them up properly.
Essential elements of a blog include targeted keywords and both external and internal links to help boost SEO. The CTA you include at the end should be relevant to the blog topic to increase conversions, and including a lead-in that references it will boost its performance even more.
As you populate your blog with more content, it’s critical to make that content searchable. You can also make content easier to find by categorizing it by topic, most popular, featured or most recent.
The Resources page of a website could be the most valuable page of all, and it’s ideally a page that someone returns to again and again. It starts, however, with creating those resources, including gated content such as eBooks, infographics, case studies, demonstration videos, tip sheets, checklists and more. Creating that content takes time, but it’s essential for an inbound strategy to be effective. Your prospective and current customers need to find these resources useful and be willing to exchange their contact information in order to get it.
Include brief and clear descriptions of each resource with concise headlines and visuals that draw attention. If you have a lot of resources, use filtering options to declutter the page and make it easier to sort. Also consider including links to blog posts that are relevant to a filtered topic to provide additional helpful content (which, of course, will include a CTA).
4. Landing Pages
When a visitor clicks on a resource description or CTA, they should be directed to a landing page that lets the reader learn more about the offer and what’s contained within the content piece. Include a clear outline of the benefits and what they can expect to learn once they download it. Keep it short and simple, yet intriguing enough to generate enough interest to fill out a contact form.
This contact form should ask for just the right amount of personal information in exchange for the content. If the download, for example, is an exhaustive eBook, it’s okay to request more information because the perceived value of the piece is higher. However, requesting lengthy and detailed information in exchange for a simple, one-page infographic may turn away potential contacts who deem the content not worth the effort.
It’s important for a landing page to a have singular focus: communicating the value of the offer in order to get the user to convert. Eliminate any distractions – including navigation, social icons or other links that could potentially lure them away. It’s still important to make sure the page includes keywords and is optimized for SEO, however.
5. Thank You Pages
Once a visitor (and prospective customer) fills out a contact form to receive one of your resources, they’ll be directed to a Thank You page. In addition to a short and sweet show of appreciation, make sure you include clear instructions on how to access the content they just requested. This should include a simple, straightforward button that tells them exactly what to do: “Download Now” or “Access Your Free eBook,” for example.
You may also choose to include an additional CTA such as another relevant content piece, a form to subscribe to your blog or a link to your contact page. Make it easy for them to keep exploring other areas of your website to increase the likelihood that they’ll stay engaged beyond the original offer.
If there’s one last piece of advice, it’s to heed the words of Yoda: “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” If you’re committed to an inbound approach to marketing, you need to be all-in. Check out our free eBook below to get started and, if you’re considering launching or revamping your website, make sure you work with a team of experts who have experience in your industry and know how to develop and implement an effective B2B inbound strategy. When you do, you’ll soon realize that inbound marketing truly is a force to be reckoned with.
Topics: Web Design and Development
An engineer by training, Jon focuses on the technical delivery of an effective inbound marketing program. He builds client website plans that solve for conversion potential and utilize smart user experiences. He is also responsible for analyzing and monitoring the success of inbound projects. Jon fits the definition of being a "whole brain marketer" because he is both a strong writer-designer and a deeply analytical thinker.