When developing the company website a decision needs to be made on the focus. Is the goal brand or lead generation? We suggest it cannot be both.
The first step before embarking on any website development exercise (be it a new website or an upgrade to an existing site) is to define its primary purpose. It could be a corporate presence that builds credibility to aid client retention or it may be a lead generation tool.
The Importance of Branding
The corporate brand helps build long term customer and prospect relationships in manufacturing and a variety of other B2B markets. For businesses where most sales are repeat business from an existing client base carrying the brand through into the website content can be all important.
If the target is the existing customer base then most traffic to the website will be direct. Either the company name will be searched or the website address typed directly into a browser. Therefore, search engine marketing is not of great importance. What is important is delivering a consistent message, maximising credibility and delivering the information existing clients need.
Lead Generating Websites
If lead generation is the goal, a website that cannot be found when searching for appropriate keywords is a waste of time and money. Unlike a branded website search engine marketing will be essential. That leads to specific decisions on layout and navigation that can clash with the demands of the brand.
A lead generating website should concentrate on delivering content that engages prospects and provides value. That information should encourage prospects to return, it should be used to build relationships, gather Email addresses to facilitate ongoing communication and ultimately convert a visitor to a sales lead. The value of a lead generating website is not in graphics and layout but in content.
Best search engine marketing practice is required to drive traffic (visitors) to any lead generating website. This should combine traditional SEO with a solid content marketing strategy. Unlike branding, this approach is measurable in fine detail allowing appropriate improvements to be made on an ongoing basis.
Of course, a business website is no more than a marketing tool as part of an overall marketing mix. A lead generating website is a tool to deliver leads. Sales (initially) and the entire organisation are required to take that lead through to conversion to a customer. Brand builds relationships. It is the entire organisations responsibility to ensure the brand is protected and relationships are nurtured and maintained.