No two snowflakes are alike, and the same goes for business websites. As a web design and development agency, we build custom sites for businesses of all sizes and industries — and the strategy varies for every design. But we’ve found that most projects fall into two bigger strategic categories: inbound marketing websites and referral business websites.
If your overall goal is to drive leads and sales while increasing business growth, you want an inbound marketing website.
If a referral business website sounds more like your company, check out our other post in this strategic web design set!
What’s an Inbound Marketing Website?
Inbound marketing is your complete digital strategy to bring in new traffic with the potential to convert. An inbound marketing program has lots of moving pieces, and all of them need to integrate with your website.
An inbound marketing website all about growth. It’s driven by the traditional digital marketing funnel: driving traffic (acquisition/attraction), engaging through targeted content (consideration), and churning sales or leads (conversion).
How is an Inbound Marketing Website Designed?
An inbound marketing website intends to facilitate content discovery through featured content, prominent lateral navigation opportunities to related content, clear next steps, and enticing CTAs. It’s this content discovery that moves visitors into consideration and, eventually, conversion.
In order to achieve those funnel goals, the website needs to have specific elements included in the information architecture, design, and web development.
Inbound marketing is all about getting people to come in — discovering your business online and visiting your digital presence. If you want that organic traffic, you need a regular source of new content. A blog area on your website is the most efficient way to do it.
A business blog is central to content marketing, giving you a platform to regularly publish relevant, helpful content that your target customer would want to read. That content can then be amplified in emails, social media posts, ads, and more.
Content marketing is a huge part of a solid inbound marketing strategy. Producing targeted content has too many benefits to count, but here are a few:
- Attract your target customers’ attention in search results and social media
- Provide an ongoing source of SEO opportunities
- Improve your position in search results
- Demonstrate your subject matter expertise
- Elevate your brand storytelling to create an emotional connection
- Engage with potential customers about real problems they have
- Increase your website size and authority
- Increase brand awareness
One of the main reasons we love WordPress so much is because it’s incredibly easy to regularly add new content.
Not sure if your blog is working for you? Read 7 Ways to Tell if Your Content Marketing is Working (and What to Do If It’s Not).
Blog posts can only help your search ranking and effectively drive traffic if they’re optimized. An SEO strategy is essential to your website’s success. But what does it have to do with web design?
From the earliest stages of a web design or redesign project, SEO should be a part of the work:
- Identify a keyword strategy to reach the target audience through search terms and search intent
- Conduct a content audit, create the information architecture and sitemap, optimize all retained existing content that meets content strategy goals, and plan to remove content that doesn’t meet growth goals following proper SEO practices
- Perform technical SEO throughout the web design and development processes to ensure a successful launch
- Optimize all new content: page titles, slugs, images, videos, meta descriptions, image alt text, copy, etc.
Email and contact collection
While email marketing is outbound, it’s important to recognize that it’s the most effective marketing technique, with a reported 4400% ROI and delivers $44 for every $1 spent. To drive growth, the inbound traffic that you acquired with your awesome content needs to be converting into leads so you can send out those emails.
That’s achieved with strategically designed custom forms.
- Prominent placement of lead gen opportunities in the web design: email newsletter sign-up, contact form, gated content downloads
- Enticing, on-point microcopy to elicit form engagement
- Optimal user experience in all forms, including the number and layout of fields
- Use of heat maps and/or Google Analytics tracking to tweak forms and address drop-offs
- Clear and prominent availability of all lead gen opportunities in page design, menus, footer, etc.
A big part of an inbound marketing website design is integrating all necessary technology to drive those leads and build your contact database.
Custom WordPress sites make it straightforward to integrate your existing email, CRM, e-commerce, and other technology during design and development — but the big reason we recommend WordPress is because of how easy it is to add these components down the road, when your business grows and your marketing needs change.
One of the key elements of a great marketing strategy is social media, which makes social integration crucial for your inbound marketing website.
Social media allows you to get found by your target audience through their peers and through social search. Social platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest report a huge volume of search queries per month.
Did you know that YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine? Learn more in Everything You Need to Know About Social Media SEO.
Including prominent social sharing links in all of your content is a great way to encourage shares, and get your brand out there on social media.
As an added bonus, WordPress plugins like YOAST SEO have social sharing tools to help ensure your content appears exactly how you want it when shared on social media.
Custom landing pages
Whether it’s for your social media bios, digital ads, or content offerings — custom landing pages can be a great tool to deliver a personalized experience for specific audiences.
A custom page is different from your primary landing pages, like your homepage, services, or contact page. They’re designed to be linked to a specific location or action, and use copy, imagery, and CTAs directly related to exactly where, how, and why people found your content. This is what gives them a higher conversion rate.
Many custom landing pages are hidden through specific coding that blocks search engines, and only appear to a person after an action is taken. For example, you might design a ‘thank you’ page for those who submit their email address to download an eBook. The page would clearly tell the person what to expect, and encourage next steps like reading related content.
Inbound marketing and referral business websites have different primary goals, but at the end of the day good content is good content and they’ll both use the same things. What’s different is the UX and UI design. You want each website’s page design, menus, lateral navigation opportunities, and optimization to reflect that bigger business goal.
Case studies, careers, and company stories may not be the most critical content for visitors to an inbound marketing website, but there’s no arguing that they’re still highly effective and important to complete your digital strategy.
Measuring Inbound Marketing Website Success
Everyone should be measuring their website’s performance, using the data to inform sales and marketing strategies while consistently adjusting content to improve the performance data.
Which metrics matter most for inbound marketing websites?
In Google Analytics, these are a few of the dashboard areas where you’d focus:
- Audience overview — are your sessions increasing? How are your engagement metrics (bounce rate, time on site, pages per session)? Are you getting enough new visitors?
- Channels report — which sources are sending traffic? Which traffic has the highest conversion rate?
- Goals — are people filling out forms, downloading content, and viewing custom landing pages?
We can talk for hours about what goes into a great inbound site design. Reach out! Don’t miss the other post in this set, Strategic Web Design: Referral Business Websites.