During a recent Discovery kick-off meeting, we asked the question,

“What’s the primary goal of your new website?” The CEO, responded, “We need more leads.”

Red8 Interactive builds custom WordPress themes for the clients of advertising and design agencies. It’s an interesting process. They do the design and we’re the construction crew, the developers who build the site. Generally there is much hand wringing over design and budget, but we’ve observed that there is very little thought put into how the website will be used, how the site owner will generate an ROI. This is unfortunate because it’s not hard to do. It takes two things, a little planning to ensure the site is built with this in mind, and some effort once it’s built.

It starts with the objective – have one

The website’s objective might be informational: this is what we sell or do, this is where we’re located, etc., a brochure site. Nothing wrong with this but if this is the plan, then don’t spend a lot on design and build. Generally speaking, a website is not a branding tool, it’s a practical destination for consumers who already know what you stand for. They want information and confirmation, or they want to do or buy something, give them what they need quickly and easily.

Websites that are useful are successful

Consider the five second rule – you have five seconds to do three things: tell them that they are in the right place, give them a good reason to stay, and make it crystal clear what they should do next. And five seconds is likely generous. Bottom line, to quote Steve Krug,

“Don’t make me think.”

For our purposes, using your WordPress site for marketing, we’re going to assume that your objective is conversion, that you want users to do something specific and/or buy something.

The goal is to convert website traffic–whether it’s generic inbound traffic generated by SEO and Social Media, or traffic generated by marketing activity like paid media or emails.

Two kinds of traffic

As mentioned above, these are two distinct sources of traffic, generic inbound traffic and traffic from marketing, and each has unique needs and interests. Keep this in mind as you plan your website.

Generic inbound traffic is usually higher in the purchase / interest funnel. They are interested in what you have to offer and are generally knowledgeable about your product, but want more information. They are, generally speaking, willing to investigate, to search around your website a bit. But if they decide to take action, make it easy for them.

The other traffic source, visitors who are there as a result of marketing activity, are generally much lower in the purchase / interest funnel. They know that they’ve responded to marketing, they made this choice because they are looking for something specific and your ad piqued their interest. If it’s an inquiry generated by marketing, then give them what they are looking for immediately, make it easy for them to convert. This group has no interest in or patience for searching around your website, they won’t do it, give them immediate gratification or they are gone.

Step one – more traffic

In order to convert traffic, you need traffic, so the first step is to improve your SEO rank. This is an ever moving target, thank you Google, and way beyond the scope of this article, but the key is to do something. In reality, most don’t. We launch upwards to two site a month and most have put zero effort into SEO prior to launch. When we check back in future months, we see the same thing, the SEO tools we installed aren’t being used. So if you make even the smallest effort to improve your rank using tools like the Yoast SEO plugin, you will be ahead of the game. The effort required is small, the return can be significant.

Generating traffic from Social Media, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc., is possible, but it’s more difficult to obtain, it requires a lot more effort to generate traffic from Social Media. Bt the traffic you do generate is likely higher quality than organic search traffic. If you are going to use Social Media, use the Google URL builder to create trackable links, so that you can measure the results. Treat this group as a hybrid, assume the traffic’s interest level is halfway between generic traffic and traffic that’s responded to marketing.

Marketing Automation – tactical tools

There are three tactical tools you can use to maximize the value of the traffic that lands on your website: on-site ads, landing pages and lead management.

On-Site Ads

Once this generic traffic has arrived, use targeted ads to let them take action, to convert visitors into customers. There are plugins that allow you to manage these onsite ads easily. Some also allow you to test offers, to determine which message most effectively converts generic traffic. These ads can be site wide, the same ad appears on all pages, and/or they can be location specific, a targeted offer that appears at a specific location, a product page for example. Just don’t give them too many choices, remember the five second rule, if they decide to take action,

“…make it crystal clear what they should do next.”

Landing Pages

Traffic that arrives as a result of marketing activity should be handled differently. These are visitors with specific needs, it’s best if they land on pages that have been crafted to address these needs. If they are responding to an ad about left hand widgets, then the landing page should allow them to buy, you guessed it, left hand widgets. Sending them to the home page and asking them to find what they want just won’t work. These visitors are much lower in the purchase funnel and not as willing to search around your site.

The implication here is that there should be many landing pages, each crafted to respond to the offer that’s delivering the traffic. WordPress helps with this. There are landing page plugins and themes often have landing page templates that make publishing landing pages straight forward. Click a few buttons, add content, and publish. You can also test the landing pages, which headline is most effective, which offer has the best return. Does a video help or hurt conversion. You can and should also use landing pages as destinations for the in-site ads described above. By selecting one of these ads, these consumers have signaled that they are ready to buy. Make it easy, send them to a landing page that’s been crafted to satisfy their interest.

Lead Management

Finally, what do you do with the leads you generate? A tenant of direct marketing is that the most important sale isn’t the first sale, it’s the second. Lead management tools exist that make managing and remarketing leads simple. Email marketing isn’t spam if it’s targeted, it’s a great way to remind customers of your offer, cross sell related products or services, and upsell premium features. Is there a sell in your confirmation email? There should be.

“Do you want fries with that?”

Have a plan, send emails on a specific schedule based on most recent purchase. Use landing pages for email links to convert efficiently. Place tracking in the links to separate the traffic within Google Analytics, and measure how effective your emails and landing pages are.

Your Website Can be a Marketing Engine

This isn’t complex, at least it shouldn’t be. Put some effort into getting traffic to your site, then make it easy for them to respond. This might be an on-site ad or a well crafted landing page. Capture leads and do something with them. Doing these few simple things will put you ahead of most, if not all your competition. And WordPress helps with this. WordPress plugins make it easy to create and test onsite ads and landing pages. There are also plugins that support lead management and integration with email systems.