Every week, I talk to a handful of professional service firm teams and owners who are on the cusp of taking the plunge on a new website project. Their pain points are usually all there, the teams understand why they need to build a new hub for their online presence, and they’ve got Google-stars in their eyes and whispers of “build it and they will come” in their ears. Unfortunately, a new website is not a “Field of Dreams” (great movie, poor website strategy) and requires a healthy dose of promotion to get the machine working for you.
Start with goals and outcomes
If you’ve read any of Hinge’s research or website related material, you’ll know that we don’t advocate building a website just for curb-appeal or as a virtual business card. First of all, it’s connected to and should align with your marketing initiatives and strategy. It should be built from the ground up to attract and help engage potential prospects and connect to the rest of your firm’s marketing efforts.
What are the typical pain points?
The most common reasons I hear on a regular basis are:
- It’s hard to update and manage.
- Information is out of date. Or we’re missing new services/projects/news.
- It looks bad/dated.
- It’s difficult to navigate/find what you need.
- Its our [insert number] year anniversary and we’ve outgrown our website.
All of these justify building a new website but none of them consider how to promote your website. Hinge’s research verifies that a professional services firm’s website is a critical component of its business development process.
Past client or fan of your firm: “You need to talk to Sally at [insert your firm name here].”
Your referred prospect: “Thanks, that sounds like a great fit!”
Your referred prospect walks away and immediately pulls up your firm’s website on his phone.
Hinge’s research confirms that 80% of buyers check out your website at some point in the buying process, but 52% of the time, that prospect never reaches out to your firm because your website did not confirm what they’d heard.
Figure 1. How Buyers Check Out AEC Firms
What to expect when your expecting… a new website
Potential new business is not going to magically materialize on your amazing new website on day one, no matter how incredible it is. Your firm’s website needs to integrate with broader marketing efforts to really have an impact and maximize your online presence.
Have you heard these gems before?
“If we build this thing right, our traffic and leads will increase X-fold.”
While there’s some truth to this (depending on what kind of website your firm is starting with) – the effect is less important than how the website is supported and promoted through other channels.
“Slick navigation will make us special and make us more engaging.”
Effective design and structure is important, but understanding what works and addressing your different audiences with relevant content in a clear and understandable way is more critical. What is popular today will be dated tomorrow, so it’s important to keep things fresh, but consider clarity and flexibility as a priority. Too-clever navigation and too- and over-designed formats increase user bounce rates.
“We’ve got to wow prospects/clients, they don’t know how great we are.”
Our research does show that the “team leadership” pages are one of the most popular sections on professional services sites (right after “about us”). But more importantly, individual viewers consider different elements “most relevant.” It is important to prioritize these validating elements with your primary content, but some will be validated by how users find your site and what external online sources have to say about your firm.
Your website is not a standalone asset
Use your social media
Clear connection between your website and your social media presence helps increase online visibility and promotes greater engagement with your audiences. With your new website, make sure that it’s easy to share valuable content that lives on your website. An example is the social sharing tool we use right here on this post.
Consider going beyond “social media icons” in your website’s header or footer by creating and using an editorial calendar that includes posting content on a range of social media platforms and groups. Link back to your website on those platforms and take advantage of embedded media like YouTube to increase opportunities for engagement. With some careful planning in your analytics and CRM setup, you can connect the dots between social media driven traffic and leads for new business or recruiting.
Bring in traditional offline marketing and business development efforts
What about all of the things we do in the real world? Networking events, speaking engagements, participation in panels, direct mail, or even more hand-to-hand tactics like lunch-and-learns? All of these initiatives can be augmented and measured by connecting your firm’s website with a smidge of logistics.
For example: your firm is sponsoring an industry event. You have keynote speakers, panel participants and a giant difficult-to-assemble booth. That takes a lot of effort and coordination, so you want to make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck. Any way you can measure success is valuable. If you have the opportunity to distribute collateral or display signage, are you providing a way for the event attendees to connect with your firm through targeted landing pages or social initiatives? Think hashtags or presentation download pages. These can be great ways to introduce content to new audiences and measure engagement beyond relying on your attendees to provide updates. To get even more value from your event participation, plan on capturing video and photography to promote your website and social channels.
Email is your friend
Email is often forgotten or underutilized as a tool to nurture and bring audiences back to your website. It can also help drive your audiences to engage with connected social media initiatives and real-world events.
As part of your firm’s editorial calendar, consider how email is used to remind your audience about your brand and valuable content. Coordinating segmentation with your CRM and content will improve your click through rate and drive more qualified traffic to your website and social media campaigns.
Bring it all together
This is just the start of your new website adventure! The key to continued growth is constant accountability. Measure, adjust, test, rinse, repeat. But that’s a whole post on it’s own (I’ll save it for next time). Think of all the ways your website will be stronger once you connect the dots. That incredible Ferrari of a website in your driveway is not going to go anywhere without gas! Plan to build today and promote tomorrow.
- Explore how successful firms are using online marketing to grow faster and be more profitable, download the Online Marketing for Professional Services book.
- Hinge University also offers a practical, research-based Visible Expert®course that will help you find out how you can rise to a higher level of prominence, success and income.
How Hinge Can Help:
Your B2B website should be one of your firm’s greatest assets. Our High Performance Website Program helps firms drive online engagement and leads through valuable content. Hinge can create the right website strategy and design to take your firm to the next level.