December 14th, 2022
After building websites for the past 22 years for SMEs, they may be boiled down to 3 types: lead generation, thought leadership, or ecommerce. Of course, there are a myriad of other applications and business activities conducted online, such as vehicle routing or submitting applications, but this discussion is focused on business websites that are used for marketing.
The Lead Generation website is a “brochure” website that has specific user experiences that drive the visitor to contact, complete a form, or other wise convert. Note that the Lead Gen website is much more than a brochure presenting the company and their services. It has a mission to provide value to the user enough for them to, in turn, provide their contact information or otherwise convert. The conversion may be based on the user: downloading content, completing a contact form, calling you, making an appointment, etc. These websites often utilize local SEO, reviews, and targeted ads to drive traffic. The Lead Gen site is, of course, focused on measuring leads and conversions and all the user click activity before and after converting.
The Thought Leadership website establishes the organization as one of the most prominent entities in the industry, which could be just the simple deduction that they are seen everywhere on the internet. The Thought Leaders have very large websites with extensive subject matter content, some may be from high authority sources. The Thought Leadership website relies on organic SEO to drive traffic. Online ads are used for specific campaigns. If they have many locations, local SEO is also utilized. The Thought Leader may still focus on converting a visitor, but its metrics also focus on traffic, page views, time on page, and other measures of audience exposure.
Ecommerce websites’ primary purpose is to complete an online transaction. The user experience is focused on simplifying the process to find the product, adding more products, and completing the transaction. The goal is to convert, just like the Lead Gen, but they focus on a user experience of convenience and simplification, whereas the Lead gen tries to focus/restrict the user to follow the sales funnel. The metrics are based on sales, but also the user time and cart.
Why does this matter? Some businesses have trouble deciding between Lead Generation and Thought Leadership. If they are an older business that may be prominent in the industry, they have a lot of knowledge. They want to show it off. But, they are a small company with limited resources. Shouldn’t they focus on lead generation? This was especially evident in the early days of the internet. Every company wanted to be a “portal” of information. the had Resources pages with links to other websites, files to download, etc. It was not the best use of their resources.
When we start a website project, we want to understand what their brand is and what they want from the website. By identifying these three simple categories of Lead Generation, Thought Leadership, or Ecommerce, we can keep the project focused on building the most impactful website for our clients’ businesses.