January 8, 2014
Five years ago I left the biggest job in marketing – Global Marketing Officer for Procter & Gamble – to start my own small company. My mission was, and still is, to help people and companies grow by activating a higher ideal in all they do. I worked with a large digital agency, Possible Worldwide, to create my first company website, and it worked well to represent my ideas and philosophy. It was not designed to actively create interest or leads; my business was just starting up, and I did not want to create demand and interest I could not respond to.
My business and team have grown significantly over the past several years. It was time to reach out, to show what we are doing, to help others benefit from our ideas and experience. So I turned to Paul Regensburg and his team at RainCastle Communications to create a new website from scratch. Paul and I collaborated on capturing the lessons we learned in creating a lead generation website in today’s world of mobility and a myriad of devices.
Here is our learning:
The client has a great deal to do with the success of any web project; the collaborative spirit between my team at The Jim Stengel Company and RainCastle was as good as it gets. The first sign of success was that the entire team at my company believed that a great website is of strategic importance to our business. I assigned dedicated resources to provide timely input and to work closely with RainCastle’s copywriter so that the site’s content was exactly as our team wished.
Lead Generation has become a soft, generic term but in a real lead generation website, every page has a distinct purpose. In creating our site’s information architecture (IA), RainCastle didn’t simply determine the top navigation categories and what pages were within. For every page in the entire website they asked, “What do you want people to do on this page? What is the end result you’re trying to achieve with this content?” This resulted in us defining a collection of “related links,” which change on each page, relative to that page’s content.
Flexible Calls-to-Action (CTA’s)
RainCastle created a library of “related link tiles,” a collection of the most common offers our team expects to have now, and into the future. These tiles include white papers, videos, speaking engagements, workshops, etc. Using this motif, a tile can be picked up, moved and replaced at any time, without needing design skills; we need only change the words within a tile and place them anywhere in the site.
Another benefit of the tile motif is its ease of adaptability for mobile devices. Responsive Design, the facility for a website to reconfigure itself depending on the viewing device, does not happen automatically. Much careful design consideration goes into crafting a user experience that works well on all mediums. Certain designs may work well on a desktop but not scale to a smartphone or tablet; the flexible design RainCastle employed for The Jim Stengel Company website is optimal on all devices.
Successful content marketing begins with an effective content structure for each section of the website. This structure is designed through a series of unique “page templates” representing different types of content. For each page template, we carefully consider the audience and the path on which we’d like to guide them. A bold headline is followed by a brief overview paragraph culminating in a bold Call-to Action (CTA). Each content structure and the content it houses is designed to optimize Search. Below this is a tabbed interface that represents the depth of content available, but presented in a user-friendly way that keeps the page light and accessible. The flexible CTA tiles always appear on the right and change from page to page.
Video and Imagery
In RainCastle’s October 15, 2013 blog post, The Power of Video and Images in Content Marketing, Paul cited statistics like “video attracts 300% more traffic and nurtures leads,” and other data. This lends credence to what we all instinctively feel, which is that people read less and respond more to image-based content. For the Stengel site, we used a lot of video, icons and pictures, both for improved usability and to reflect my people-focused business and brand persona.
Last but not least is the significance of brand image. The challenge that most companies face is that they try to say too much, particularly on the homepage. If you approach the navigation process in a purposeful way on every page, the homepage does not have to bear all the weight of the site. On our homepage, we combined expressive, custom black and white photography with an array of colorful CTA tiles to create a balance of warmth, curiosity and sound marketing principles, all hallmarks of the Jim Stengel brand. The homepage has six unique CTA’s in addition to the top navigation. This is a site designed to engage.
Take a look at your own website, are you using these lead generation principles to engage your audience?