When we talk with business owners, we hear a common complaint. They have a trendy website with all the best features, but it doesn’t create any sales.
What was supposed to be a marketing asset is just… sitting there.
This complaint is so common that we can predict the problem before we ever see the site. Undoubtedly, the website is attractive, but it focuses on the business, not the value web users expect. Essentially, it’s just an online brochure.
Powerful marketing websites that support your business goals are built around the customer. They’re packed with value and optimized for lead generation.
Powerful marketing websites that support your goals are built around the customer.
In this post, I’m going to outline the differences between brochure websites and lead generation websites. I challenge you to examine your own site to determine which category it falls into.
Essentially, brochure websites are like expanded business cards. They were popular in the early 2000s when just having a five page, business-focused site. The Internet was young, so we were still building websites like phonebook entries.
A brochure website’s only purpose is to provide legitimacy and basic information about a business. It doesn’t serve any goals because it doesn’t play a role in the marketing strategy.
A brochure site typically has a handful of pages, all of which can be accessed through the top menu or footer. The only information found on the site focuses entirely on the business (not the customers), and is typically limited to these pages.
About Us (company history, values, mission, team etc.)
Contact Us (phone number, email address, and contact form)
Locations (physical addresses and maps)
How it Works (for businesses with processes or systems)
Pricing (if pricing isn’t straightforward)
Portfolio (samples or external links)
This limited, self-centered nature means the website has a few problems for any company that expects their site to assist in marketing.
Google has made it abundantly clear that consistent, quality content is important to their algorithm. If you want to rank well for the right keywords, you have to regularly publish keyword-optimized pages that appeals to web users. Great content also secures backlinks, which is another important component of the algorithm.
A brochure website that isn’t supported by a content strategy doesn’t come close to meeting Google’s standards. If the website has only a few pages, there just isn’t enough “meat” for search engines to evaluate. And since the pages only relate to the business (“About Us,” “Portfolio,” etc.), there’s little reason for other websites to link back.
A website is a marketing asset that should play a role in a bigger strategy, usually to collect leads. Naturally, you would want to evaluate its effectiveness.
A brochure website can’t calculate the return on its investment. It doesn’t drive traffic to a particular conversion, so there’s nothing to measure. (Most brochure site owners typically fail to install a measurement tool anyway.)
Web users are looking for solutions to their problems. They want information and guidance, not advertisements. The only people who find a brochure site organically are people who were already looking for it.
Brochure websites rarely provide the type of information people seek because they aren’t created with an audience in mind. They fail to engage and educate the user. The site’s pages are mostly self-promotion. Brochures serve the business, not the customer.
A funnel is a representation of how users interact with your business. Web users (the top, wide end of the funnel) visit your website, but only a fraction become customers (the narrow, bottom of the funnel). Each page should nudge visitors toward your goals.
A brochure website doesn’t funnel users anywhere. Even if brochure sites received a ton of traffic (they don’t), that traffic wouldn’t know where to go. Users might poke around aimlessly, but if they don’t find solutions to their problems, they’ll abandon your site.
If your brochure website is struggling to perform, you can overcome these challenges by building a value-focused lead generation website
A lead generation website is about the customer. It’s not about you or your business.
“The difference between a lead generation website and a brochure website is a matter of attitude,” says content marketing specialist Charlotte Jenkins. “It is the difference between putting your customers at the centre of your business or yourselves.”
A lead generation website plays an active role in encouraging users to move through your marketing funnel to become customers. It has lots of pages that attract new users (often done through a blog) and elements that drive users down the funnel.
To build your own funnel, consider the actions you want your users to take. Each page should push users in that direction. For example, you would want a blog reader to give you their email address. So each blog page should offer something free in exchange for their subscription.
A lead generation website doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be attractive to be effective (but a nice conversion focused design helps). But it should have these important elements.
Your copy should be optimized for people, then Google (in that order). Always use language for humans, but cleverly include keywords that your customers use to search for you. Those keywords need to be used in the right places so Google knows how to rank your site. (Backlinko has an excellent guide on that.)
If you overly optimize your website for SEO and stuff it with keywords, traffic won’t convert, no matter how much you attract. No one wants to read unintelligible copy that was written to exploit an algorithm.
Write for people first before optimizing for search engines. Google will reward you for it.
Your copy should also use emotionally, action-focused language that connects with your target audience. It’s critical that you understand your ideal customer so you can use words that resonate and motivate them to take action.
A call to action (CTA) directs a user to take the next step. You might have calls to action that instruct users to contact you, subscribe to your email list, download a lead magnet, follow you on social media, or visit a landing page. Which action you want them to take depends on how your funnel has been crafted.
Every page on your site should have a call to action telling visitors where to go next. Never leave your visitor wondering what to do after they finish reading.
A lead magnet is a way to attract subscribers. It’s something free (like premium content or a special promotion) in exchange for their email address.
Lead magnets can be big, like a free eBook or a coupon. These freebies can be offered through a sidebar banner or site-wide popup overlay.
They can also be small, like a free-to-download content upgrade offered within a blog post. Content upgrades are extremely effective because they relate closely to the article, which means the reader is likely to access it.
A landing page is a page with a specific purpose. It’s designed to get users to take a single action, like subscribing or purchasing. For instance, you might have a landing page that pushes users to enter their email address to receive your free ebook.
It’s smart to tailor a landing page specifically to your audience. It should have copy that appeals to that group with an appropriate call to action. For instance...
An attorney would have a page for each type of service they provide.
A software-as-a-service would have a page that compares it to each of its main competitors.
A consultant would have a page to download their latest eBook.
Here’s an example of an excellent landing page by Uber. Notice the easy-to-understand language (“Drive with Uber”), benefits-based copy (“Earn money on your schedule”), engaging image, and clear call to action (the signup form).
To build a lead generation site, you should start with a content management system like WordPress (it’s free) with a theme. Depending on your budget, you can opt for a custom-designed website, or use a commercial theme and make your own basic customizations for a fraction of the price.
We recommend getting your themes from one of these sources:
Thrive Themes - A comprehensive tool for all your lead generation needs.
Divi Themes - An excellent tool to build custom pages.
Themeforest - A marketplace for website themes.
StudioPress - Simple and lightweight themes (hosting too).
Themify - Popular and inexpensive themes.
Finally, you need an email service provider to manage your leads and send content.
Active Campaign - An excellent email marketing tool for new and power users. We recommend this service above others because of its wide range of features and affordable pricing.
Drip - Perfect for simple, text-based emails and elaborate sequences.
MailChimp - A good email marketing application for new users.
Like we said, your website is only the beginning of your marketing funnel. Leads collected on your site should be captured by a customer relationship management tool, email marketing tool, or marketing funnel application.
The leads you collect on your website probably aren’t ready to buy right away, so you have to nurture them with additional content. Educate and engage your list. You might send a five-part email sequence on a relevant topic, or segment your leads into groups based on the content they consume.
Eventually you need a process to approach those leads for sales. Set qualifications for a warm lead. For instance, you might decide that anyone who clicked a link to your product demonstration is warm. Once “warmed up,” that lead should receive a sales-focused automated email sequence or a personal message from a salesmen.
We know what you’re thinking: “This is a lot of work!” It seems laborious, but only to set up. Once you put your lead generating funnel in place, your only job is to create more magnetic content. The whole system scales seamlessly as you attract more users.
Remember: A brochure is advertising. Nobody seeks advertising. If you want your website to play a role in your marketing strategy, it has to be customer-focused and ready to collect leads.
Joel Widmer is the Founder & CEO of Fluxe Digital Marketing—a content marketing shop that helps smart businesses create, produce and promote their content through a unique one-on-one interview process. When he’s not working, Joel can be found trying new restaurants with his wife and son.