Some websites are essentially online brochures. Others have grown into proven growth machines that consistently deliver great sales leads. The distance between them is bridged when you decide to begin a website update process with some very specific elements that allow a website to do more than just present static business or product information. These websites are reaching real buyers and engaging them in ways that exceed the competition.
How to plan a website update that will have a direct sales impact
These key steps will take an organization that has in lived with a brochure website into the growth process that leads to a high-performing website. The ultimate test of high performance is always how it delivers on sales goals.
1. Website Performance Appraisal
In the same way that you would evaluate a 24/7 business development rep, your website's performance is the first step for a website update plan. Some of the elements are based upon standard measurements for internet activity balanced against the performance metrics and KPIs that matter to your growth.
Google Analytics and Other Data
Starting with the data from objective measures will help you see where your website doesn’t do the work of bringing in the leads that you need.
The first step is to identify the number of visitors and distinct users that you are receiving on a regular basis, and how this number stacks up against your competition. Different industries have different levels of traffic that range broadly. By comparing your traffic against competitors of similar size you’ll get a sense of how well your website is performing.
Some of the key measures in your google analytics data are:
- Bounce Rate - How many people are visiting and leaving without any action?
- Exit Rate - Do people stay on your website when they look at key pages or do they exit?
- Landing Pages - Which pages are the first stop for visitors?
- Time on page - How long do people dwell on the page and the site?
Technical measures that determine traffic:
Google serves up search listings based upon a complex and secret algorithm. Within this evaluation are some technical elements that are measures that Google believes impact the quality of the user experience. These factors are summarized in Google's latest measurement called, “core web vitals”. Core Web Vitals are made up of three specific page speed and user interaction measurements.
2. Plan for practical ways to boost website traffic
Beyond the technical elements, there are tested practical ways to increase website traffic. These all revolved around the value that visitors discover on a website. The content and resources that a website provides result in return visits (which Google measures), longer time on the website, and links coming to the website from other sources (backlinks).
The biggest focus for increasing traffic should always be on the quality of content. The way to evaluate this content in Google Analytics is to view content performance Look at Behavior/ Site Content/ All Pages in Google Analytics. You’ll be able to see which pages have the highest traffic, lowest bounce rates, and longest times on page. This is a content value signal that you need to evaluate.
Higher and more qualified web traffic is a key step toward better sales.
If you have content with high traffic but it has high bounce rates and low time on page, then it’s not working. People are coming to the page and immediately leaving - the website isn’t serving their needs. In fact you are attracting the wrong kind of people to the site, or you have meta descriptions that don't line up with actual content.
3. Where does social media fit into the growth picture for a website update?
Unless you are an eCommerce-driven company or a headhunter in staffing, social media is a way to build a community around your business, not a place to acquire leads. It will only lead directly to sales if social interactions lead people to your online assets, in other words, your website.
For companies that do social selling via their sales teams, the website serves as the content hub and the response capture location because it delivers value and provides the opportunity for prospects to take the next steps. Sales teams should be able to rely upon the website as a source of valuable content they can share, and as a way to convert interested visitors into conversations.
A good starting point is asking sales what elements of the website they are currently using to share with prospects. They may not be using anything from the website, which can be simply because they have not made this a habit, or it might be a lack of appropriate content on the website.
4. Keywords and Content Planning
Evaluating the keywords on your website is a normal part of improving traffic. It can become a simplistic way of looking at the value of a website and is not the place to start your web update. Instead, ask yourself what your buyers want and need to discover on your website. Put these ideas into a Google search and see what other websites come up and what they offer to their visitors.
A list of the top content elements that your buyers want is more important than the keywords they may contain. If you are writing well, you will naturally include the words that normally fit into the conversation that you want to have with your prospective customers.
Google has shifted its focus to this reality by capturing the entire body of related content in a piece of web content to more approximate human speech. This is called the Latent Semantic Index or LSI, and when you provide quality content you will naturally include large portions of it.
Sales teams should be key contributors to this process. What information do their prospects want and need? What competitors are they bringing up in the conversation and what do they offer?
5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in the Update Plan
The optimization of content on the website, and fostering off-page links is one strategy for boosting website traffic. It is often sold as a magic bullet that will fix all the problems. Appropriate traffic is what you need consisting of people who are actually interested in what you offer. Rather than make this the primary focus, delivering value to the prospect is a better choice.
To ensure that your website update addresses the requirements of on-page and off-page SEO then use this approach:
- Use an SEO friendly website system that is built for modern requirements
- Run a website scan to identify the broader issues that may be reducing your website visits
- Plan to address any SEO flags after re-launch and then quarterly
- Focus on delivering quality content as the primary SEO strategy
6. Web Design in the update process
What often prompts a review of websites is an out-of-date appearance. If a website looks out-of-date it does have a negative impact on the sales outcome. However, design has to serve bigger purposes - the buyer experience and delivering your message.
Website design can become a misnomer when the process for redesign is focused primarily on the way the website appears. Design always has to serve buyer experience and messaging, and that is where the website update has to begin.
It’s typical for web designers to ask you for a list of other websites that you like, but that is actually the wrong question. The real question should be, “what competitors are winning the customers that you want to win, and what are they doing on their websites?” This is one of the important elements that should be included as you develop a website update plan.
7. The contact form is not the goal- what about CTAs?
While most websites have a contact form, it should never be the goal for a high-performing website. A contact form should be considered the generic response option, not one that is designed to serve a prospect's desire to take the next step.
People need to know exactly why they are completing a form, or signing up for something you offer. The more specific the form and the more closely connected to a simple and direct need of your prospect, the more form fills you will have - leading to a greater number of leads.
Throughout the website, calls to action (CTAs) should lead visitors to valuable content and opportunities to explore resources and services. They should be natural - fitting into the content. Don’t allow your CTAs to serve as internal ads that interrupt what the visitor is doing, make them a helpful way to learn more or get additional information.
8. A sales enabled website is one of the first steps in the sales enablement process
Sales enablement is one big difference between a brochure and high performing website. The website should serve as a 24/7 business development representative and have both direct and supporting roles with sales.
A website update that will boost sales should ensure that you get the following benefits when you refresh your website:
- Prospect Education
- Address sales objections
- Sales Content to Share
Where most websites fall short is the fact that they serve only as a product or service information repository. While that is important, it does not help the buyer move from evaluation to decision. That is the role of an embedded buyer journey in the web.