Communicating your brand is great; yes of course you should do that. But a website is a platform for you to do things beyond just explaining your brand. What things should it do? Those activities that can’t be achieved or properly controlled through other channels. Here are just a couple of examples, one specific to service businesses, and one to product businesses.
Part 1: For a service business:
If you run a professional service business, the process of acquiring new clients is likely to be relationship-driven and high-touch. Barriers to inbound contact from prospects are high. If there is stigma around the service or if prospects typically feel apprehension, that barrier becomes even higher. In these cases, there’s much work to be done before a client can be comfortable enough to move forward.
A ’stress-test’ example scenario could be a psychotherapy practice. One of the largest hurdles in new prospect acquisition is the first step of the prospect reaching out to the team.
Once inbound contact happens, most questions are immediately answered and it’s much easier for the client to decide whether to move forward or not. But just getting to that step, for many reasons, can be very difficult for the prospect, and it is very easy for inertia to take hold.
Before doing this, many unspoken concerns about the provider dominate the mind of the prospect, such as:
- ‘Will this provider have empathy?
- Are they qualified?
- Are they competent?
- Are they engaging and warm?
- Can they communicate to non-experts?
- Will they be results- and outcomes-oriented?’
[Note that you could substitute other professional services for ‘psychotherapy’ above. However by way of this example, these client concerns become particularly distinct.]
I recently re-designed some pages for a client’s psychotherapy practice to address this particular use case. In the case of a relationship-driven business like this, putting a face, a voice, and an idea or two behind a name moves the conversation forward for the prospect. Our intent was to answer as many of the questions above as possible via interactive video on the website, so prospects have the time and resources to become more informed, confident and comfortable with a provider in the comfort of their own privacy, before reaching out.
The goal here is not new client sign-up; that is a ‘lag indicator’. if we focused on that for the website, we wouldn’t be able to directly correlate user behavior on the website with client sign-up, because there are other steps, and a time lag before client sign-up usually happens.
Instead, our goal here is to take prospects from ‘cold lead’ to ‘warm lead’. It may only be one small step in the prospects’s journey, but without it, we are leaving prospects out ‘in the cold’, to decide on their own.
When prospects engage with something we produce long before buying a service is on the radar, we can keep track of these engagements as ‘lead indicators’. As we drive more of these engagements, we will also see a corresponding rise in the number of ‘lag indicators’, but after some time offset.
The important idea here is the we can control the ideas, products and services that we share, and these engagements are called 'lead indicators'. We can't directly control sales or new client acquisitions; if we only measured those, we’d never understand what things were working. But these 'lag indicators' are influenced by the 'lead indicators' that we can control, and this is what websites are great for.