It would be great if prospects decided to hire you within a few minutes of first landing on your site, but that is not how these sorts of decisions are made. The modern marketing website is built around attracting prospects who are in the researching stage of the buying cycle, bringing them into your lead-nurturing system, and keeping in close but unobtrusive contact with them until they approach you with an intent to buy.
Because your most potent opportunity lies in attracting prospects in the researching stage, you should acquire two things from them when they first visit your site: their information and their attention.
Both of these things are acquired through your site’s calls to action. The prospect who finds your site through a Google search and then identifies it as a valuable educational resource should see a clear, concise, and compelling call to action on the site to receive your content for free on a regular basis. If they land on one of your newsletter pages, for example, they should see a call to action in the righthand sidebar, above the fold, that invites them to sign up to receive your newsletter through email. The ideal transaction is a simple and equitable one: they give you their name and email (and that’s about it), and you promise to send them an email every time you add a newsletter to your site—no more, no less. Once prospects identify your site as an educational resource, they are usually happy to volunteer their names and emails in exchange for the convenience of being notified about your content, as opposed to having to remember to go to your site on a regular basis. If they do not identify your site as a valuable resource, there is not a thing you can do to entice them to sign up for anything—iPad giveaways be damned.
When this transaction occurs, they think (if they even take the time to think about it at all) that the most valuable thing they gave you was their information, but this is wrong. When someone subscribes to receive updates about your content, that person actually gives you a portion of their attention for months—and probably even years—to come. Getting your prospects’ information can be valuable (and in this case, it is better to obtain a few details about many people than many details about a few), but gaining a portion of their attention for the next few years is invaluable. Even if they only read a portion of one out of every ten newsletters you publish, they will be reminded of your firm, your expertise, and that fact that you can answer the questions they have, every time they glance at the newsletters that arrive in their inbox. This regular, subtle, and helpful reminder helps to keep you at the top of their minds when the need to hire a firm like yours arises. If your site succeeds in creating this sort of dynamic among your general prospect base, then it has succeeded as a marketing resource.
This post is an excerpt from my book, "A Website That Works."