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Designing a website for B2B lead generation is a daunting task not to mention huge source of frustration. As always everyone (owners, executives, custodial engineers, etc.) has an opinion about marketing.  Most insight comes from their opinion and what they don’t like visually.  Few can provide clear direction about what they do. As a result, more time is spent choosing colors and images that no one hates, than focusing on how the site will attract and acquire prospects and generate new leads.

Unfortunately, things seldom get easier after your new site is launched. Familiarity and impatience often cause companies to make “minor” tweaks to their design and functionality until your once attractive website design more closely resembles a ransom note or a third grader’s interpretation of a Picasso.

For those of you in need of a website or considering overhauling your existing site, rest easy; developing a website for B2B lead generation doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. With a clear plan for what you want to communicate and how you will attract and acquire new prospects, developing a website that generates leads can even be easy. Here are 10 tips to help you get the most from your website.

10 Tips for Developing a Website for B2B Lead Generation

1) Focus on Your Content
Your content is the most important aspect of your website. People are coming to your site to learn about your products and solutions, not to check out your cool navigation or see a flash introduction with pictures of your dog. Pictures and multimedia should be utilized to support the understanding of your products and solutions. They shouldn’t be the main focus of your site. Write your content to work without your images and then spice it up with diagrams and pictures that enhance its value.

2) Map Out Your Prospects Desired Behavior
Before you build your site, spend time collecting, assembling and evaluating your content to determine what is going to be most valuable to your target audience. Once you’ve determined what they will be looking for, build your navigation to make this information easy to find. This includes eliminating unwanted distractions and links to pages that might not be as useful. Use your primary navigation to drive people to these pages, then link to other pages with drop down menus and subsequent links. The easier your site is to use, the longer prospects will stay and the more likely they are to become a new lead.

3) Make it Easy for Prospects to Identify Themselves
The most important and difficult aspect of developing a website for B2B lead generation is encouraging visitors request sales action by calling your 800# or completing a form. Presenting these options on every page in a prominent place is often the difference between getting a new lead and losing a potential customer. Additionally, don’t rely on the same incentives and calls-to-action on every page. Develop a few and present them to users in rotation.

4) Simplify Your Forms
How companies use forms to capture new leads is the easiest way to measure the health of their lead generation processes. A long form that asks lots of profiling questions places an unnecessary burden on the user. In most cases, requiring a website visitor to enter more than four input fields will result in a lower response rate.

outsource_your_marketing_automationIf your goal is to capture more prospects, minimizing the amount of information you are requesting is critical. Start with the basics; first name, last name and email address. With this information, you can normally identify the company and gather a phone number from other sources. And if a person uses a generic email address (Hotmail, Gmail, AOL, etc.) odds are, they aren’t really that good of a prospect to begin with. You may even want to specify that the email needs to be a valid corporate address to help alleviate this issue.

More sophisticated solutions allow you to use progressive profiling which asks for different information based on what you already know about each visitor. Once you have basic contact information, you can start building a profile of that user with each subsequent visit.

5) Build a Keyword Linking Strategy
When initially developing your content, strategically plan out and develop a list of core pages that are important to your search engine strategy and write pages specifically for this content. These pages should highlight a very specific set of keywords. Then, each time you reference these topics within your website, link back to these pages. Not only will this be helpful to driving visitors to your key content, it will also help improve your search engine rankings for these keywords.

6) Standardize Your Use of Images
Images play an important role in creating interest and excitement. Be consistent in the way you use images by standardizing the size of your featured images and subsequent images for each page. This practice makes it easier to reuse images in other ways. You’ll find you can more quickly and easily apply templates and other rules for how to present images without worrying about their appearance.

7) Use an Open Source Content Management System
Effectively managing your content, links, menus and images requires a Content Management System (CMS). A CMS makes it easy to add new pages, manage blogs and organize media. There are plenty of options to choose from. A common mistake made by companies who work with a website vendor is agreeing to use a proprietary CMS solution developed by that vendor. While this may seem like a great value-add during your website development, it can become an issue if you decide to change vendors or want to manage the system yourself later.

8) Think Before You Invest in SEO Support
The goal of every website is to attract prospects to your company and search engines are the primary source of traffic. Search engine optimization plays an important role in generating traffic. If your site is poorly designed and lacks valuable content, no amount of traffic will deliver the results you are looking for. For that reason, don’t invest in expensive search engine optimization programs until you have the basics of content and navigation complete. Do your research on how SEO works. Use free tools whenever possible and build a long-term strategy to achieve success. Remember, there are no SEO silver bullets and any vendor that promises immediate results should be kept at arm’s length.

9) Consider Your Social Integration Strategy
A day doesn’t go by without hearing about the importance of social integration and the web. Knowing how you are going to interact with people using blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites will help you build a plan for how each of these elements should be used. For example, allowing people to comment on your blog articles is a good way to capture registrations. Be mindful that without the regular review and moderating of comments, you’ll most likely end up with spam. Think about each option and consider how it will help generate a new prospect. If you don’t have a clear path, then it’s probably not something you need to include right now.

10) Evaluate if a Blog is Right for You
Time is a commodity that is always in short supply. A blog takes a lot of time to write, manage and keep up-to-date. When developing a website for B2B lead generation, consider your long-term content strategy and determine if you’ll be able to consistently add content when things get busy. If not, consider outsourcing to a specialized vendor or removing your blog altogether. An outdated blog can hurt a well-designed website more than by not having one at all. If you have one, keep it active, and be quick to pull the cord if it gets out of date.