An Interview with Jonathan Healey – NetConstruct MD
Everyone knows how fundamental lead generation is to the success of your business, but how can your website support lead generation? As the world of web continues to evolve at an unrelenting pace, it’s important to have really clear marketing objectives and understand how to get the most from your site to achieve these. We spoke to NetConstruct MD, Jonathan Healey, to address the topic of ‘lead generation and your website’.
What role does a website play in lead generation?
I think this depends on the nature of the business and their go-to-market strategy. For many companies, the website is their primary lead generation tool. In these cases, focusing on search visibility, traffic acquisition and site optimisation will be the go-to options for marketers. All of these need strong development support and even stronger content support.
The reality for most organisations is that their website performs multiple roles alongside lead generation. This could include providing a brand experience, disseminating useful information, creating transactional opportunities, meeting regulatory needs, supporting the sales process and so on. All these valuable requirements have potential to compete with the lead generation need for screen space and web development budget. As a result, it’s important for marketers to be clear in their own mind of what the primary and secondary objectives are for their website.
There are a couple of mistakes we regularly see crop up. Firstly, we hear clients and prospects claim that their site is primarily about lead gen. But when you visit the site, you discover it’s difficult to get in touch with their business through the website, or that the relevant form requires hunting down. Maybe it’s a British thing, but businesses can often be far too coy about trying to sell something.
Secondly, when a site is not meeting the client’s conversion expectations, the go-to resolution often becomes a redesign. A lot of businesses focus on style over substance. By prioritising the aesthetics and brand experience first, factors like UX, lead generation and essential functionalities come second. In fact, from what we have seen, there is far less correlation between what looks ‘nice’ and what works than many people would like to admit. We’ve seen redesigns that are highly effective in increasing leads, but we’ve seen others that have had an adverse effect. I believe the reason for this stems from the misplaced belief in the ‘silver bullet’ that will fix all problems and provide a quick solution. An experimental, iterative approach to improvement is almost always better.
How are changes in web development affecting lead generation?
For me there are two things: faster pages and guided user journeys. Let me explain…
We've all seen the stats that say, “If your home page takes longer than X number of seconds to load, you are losing X pounds worth of business.” The reality is, users are impatient, and they don't want to wait. There has been a rapid development in technologies that enable fast delivery of web pages which, in turn, has changed the notion of what a web page is.
A website used to be a series of individual flat pages that were pulled together by some kind of navigation strategy or hyperlinks. This flat page structure is, in our eyes, dead. Pretty much every content management system out there, however, including a lot of headless ones, are built around the notion of a series of static pages linked together. That's changing. We believe people need to see websites more like applications. You may have heard of single page applications (SPAs); this is just a fancy way of saying that a website has only one page but looks like it has lots of pages tied together. We build a number of our client solutions in this way already.
New technologies are also changing website design. For example, the three-click rule is now an idea from a bygone era. What it encouraged was bloated, hard to use navigation systems which we can now get rid of. From the point of view of a user browsing a site, there’s no reason why five or twelve clicks is a problem. As long as things are happening instantaneously, web pages are loading fast, and they’re not waiting for anything. As pages now load faster, we have a lot more flexibility in how we design.
Achieving simplicity in website design today is a much more reasonable task than it used to be. The drive to include short paths to everything in one place (homepage, navigation, site footer etc.) has gone. Site hierarchy and content hierarchy are more important than ever, we must make it easy for users to self-select what content category they require to embark on a user journey that meets their needs. There are a few challenges created from this. One is finding the technical skills and expertise to actually execute that. And second is selecting platforms that are capable of supporting this as many popular CMS’ do a poor job of facilitating this kind of new behaviour.
How does a solution, such as Kentico, support lead generation?
I think there are a handful of areas where it can make a difference. Firstly, we know a lot of lead generation happens off the back of paid media campaigns that drive traffic to highly targeted landing pages. The widget-based page builder in Kentico is absolutely ideal for allowing marketers to spin up new landing pages quickly.
Secondly, we know that creating an inbound lead often requires nurturing the user through multiple website visits and user journeys. This is where Kentico EMS features like personalisation of content and marketing automation have a role to play.
Thirdly, a lot of the time we don’t necessarily know what content is going to have the biggest impact on conversion rates, so the ability to run A/B tests from within the CMS can be hugely helpful to improve your conversion rates.
One year on, what impact has GDPR had on lead generation?
Well , first of all, it wasn't Armageddon. The whole world didn't fall apart. In the UK, I think we’re quite good at following the rules and we’re probably the world leader in terms of digital technology, so I think we were well equipped for dealing with GDPR.
An example, I've travelled to South Africa regularly and just seeing the difference over the South African brands compared to the European and UK brands I’m used to is massive. As a consumer, I have a far more pleasant experience working and engaging with UK brands. The brands that I'm engaged with are typically the brands I want to be engaged with. I’m not offended when something comes in from an outside perspective because I know if I don't want to receive this anymore, I've got the option.
I think marketers panicked that they would lose their whole databases, that they wouldn’t be able to speak to hundreds of thousands of people anymore and that would be a real problem for their lead generation. But in reality, only a small percentage of those hundreds of thousands of contacts actually wanted to be engaged with in the first place. So, if you lost 80 percent of your database, you've lost nothing. What you've lost is a management headache of curating content for that data and instead, you can target relevant and engaged audiences based on this clean data.
Some factors have changed. For marketers using tools that track user behaviour and journeys, a lot more upfront prep work is required in order to ensure that correct consents are obtained, and personal data is adequately protected. So, time to market for implementation of new tools has definitely increased.
On the whole, I would say that GDPR has given the UK a massive competitive advantage on the global scale as companies in Africa, Asia, Australasia, America, are yet to clean up their data because they haven't been forced to by regulation. I can only say very good things about the impact of GDPR. I think it's good for businesses, I think it's good for marketers and I think it's good for consumers.
If you want to find out more about lead generation on your website, contact our expert team.