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Boring brochure-ware or lead generation powerhouse? Optimising your web site will drive customer engagement and demand

More often than not, your web site is the first form of contact prospects will have with your business, so are you putting your best face forward?

For some businesses, they’re powerful assets while for others they’re little more than a stake in the electronic sod.

Having one of the latter variety can be a liability. A sub-par web site may leave potential customers feeling lukewarm about moving into purchasing mode. Conversely, a user experience which provides them with the information and motivation they need to advance the relationship can be a powerful asset.

High value content is critical. Demonstrating an understanding of customer challenges and providing the right resources at every stage of the buying journey is the key to turning interest into action, online.

It pays to get it right. According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing generates three times more leads than paid search marketing per dollar spent. And that’s not all…it also has a conversion rate six times higher than other marketing methods.

Here are some tips for optimising your web site experience and turning browsers into buyers.

With them all the way – creating content that counts

A relationship with customers shouldn’t begin and end at the Point of Sale. Striving to provide them with high quality, relevant content at every stage of the buying journey will up the odds of their filtering through the sales funnel towards conversion – and the cash register.

Posting interesting blog articles can be an effective means of capturing interest in the initial stages, while white papers, e-books, infographics and case studies may provide the detail and reassurance prospects need to progress towards assessment, trial and purchase.

Sound like some serious effort is required to commission or create content that fits the bill at every juncture of the journey? It may be worth your while making it – research suggests more than 50 per cent of business buyers now rely on content to research their buying decisions. Most buyers viewed three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales agent.

Who are you, anyway?

According to marketing lore, the customer has always been king but in the digital era they really want to be made to feel like one. Companies which don’t give buyers the respectful, personalised attention they demand may find themselves whistling for business – according to one PwC report, a third of customers will ditch a favourite brand after just one bad experience.

Getting to know customers more deeply – their needs, wants, likes and dislikes and business pain points – is the key to effective engagement that will keep them coming back.

It can be helpful to create buyer personas – detailed profiles of the ideal or typical customer. Tailoring personalised journeys to reflect the market segments these personas represent and crafting content to match ups the chances of converting interest into action and one-time purchasers into loyal customers.

Some of the requisite data is already to hand – users leave a digital trail every time they visit a web site and this intelligence can be used to inform decisions around the type of content most likely to appeal.

Going with the flow – it pays to organise your content carefully

Fancy tucking in to a four-course spread where the dessert is wheeled out first? Thought not. When it comes to executing a successful content marketing strategy, serving your material up to customers in the optimum order is every bit as important as creating killer content.

Shorter formats and narrative story techniques which evoke an emotional response typically work well early in the buying cycle, while white papers, webinars and case studies are best introduced later on, to provide factual justification that reinforces the urge to purchase.

Magic metrics – why the best always test

You can’t manage what you can’t measure – and you can’t improve it either. Generating customer demand via your web site isn’t a one-off event; it’s a process and one which can be optimised by testing the effectiveness of offers and campaigns and tweaking them accordingly. Defining your strategy at the outset and the Key Performance Indicators you’ll use to measure success will help ensure your efforts stay on track.

All aboard now

Bringing more business into the company isn’t just the responsibility of the sales department or the content marketing crew. It’s everyone’s business. Closer collaboration between those responsible for branding, marketing, demand generation and sales can result in the creation of richer customer journeys and a web site experience that’s comprehensive and compelling.

Seizing the opportunity to shine

In today’s hyper-connected digital world, almost every buying journey begins online; more often than not on the company web site.

Whether business or consumer focused, Australian companies can ill afford to neglect this powerful channel for connecting with potential customers and commencing the conversations that lead to new and repeat business.

About the author

Nicole Stirling, Director of Marketing Asia Pacific and Japan, Acquia

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Nicole Stirling

Nicole Stirling

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