Your website needs to be attractive; there's no doubt about that. But even the prettiest website can't hold visitors' attention if they can't find what they're looking for. Make your web design more than beautiful—make it effective by focusing on website ROI.
A happy medium between beautiful design and functionality does exist. When you’re using your website as a marketing tool, it needs to:
- Clearly state who you are and what you do
- Speak directly to your buyer persona
- Be visually appealing in a way that fits your brand
- Use calls to action (CTAs) to guide visitors and capture leads
One of the benefits of online marketing is that you can easily target your buyer persona. If you’ve done a good job with your SEO, PPC, and content marketing you will have attracted the correct demographic. Once you capture their attention visually with each element of your site, you can guide them down the conversion path. This is what the most effective websites do well.
So what is your buyer persona? Your buyer persona describes your perfect customer: one who already needs, wants, and can buy your stuff. But once you've attracted the right customers and held their attention, you need to create pathways that can result in sales (a.k.a. ROI). The signposts along these pathways are your CTAs.
CTAs help visitors navigate your site by directing them to the things they're looking for, like your services page. CTAs also help guide people to the places you want them to visit, like a special promotion or lead-capturing offer.
CTA Placement and the Buyer's Journey
Earning web design ROI is largely about placing CTAs to guide visitors to the next logical step along the buyer's journey. Visitors are on your site for a reason. If you've done a good job of targeting your buyer persona, that reason is that they're interested in what you're selling, and the "next logical step" takes them closer to that purchase.
Let's start with the home page. This is often how visitors first view your site, and it's your best chance to make a good impression. There are so many questions to ask when you design your home page. What brought them here? What are they looking for? Are they trying to find specific information? Are they familiar enough with my brand to take advantage of a promotion? What is the meaning of life?
This is where your buyer persona comes in handy. These questions should help you decide which CTAs to create and where to put them on your home page, such as in a showcase, header area, or secondary attracts. Which CTAs you put on the home page depends on your business, but they often direct visitors to a contact page, portfolio, products/services page, or even the About Us page.
Internal page CTAs often direct visitors to take an action, such as subscribing to your blog, filling out a form, or downloading an ebook. You can nurture each new lead with email workflows and other content offers (all with their consent, of course). You or your agency can use your marketing and analytic tools to asses which of your CTAs are performing well, and tweak as necessary.
CTAs redirect visitors to take action through a landing page, but you can also use short forms to convert visitors into leads without leaving the page. One common example would be single-field "Subscribe to Our Blog" forms that often appear in sidebars or at the bottom of blog posts.
Say you have a visitor who found one of your blog posts through a social media platform, and now they're digging through your blog because they want more. You have them hooked! This is where the form comes in handy. They can subscribe to your blog without ever leaving the page, and go right back to reading your blog posts. Just make sure forms like this are placed logically on your site and are clearly labeled so visitors know exactly what they're getting in exchange for their information.
You can have a website that is functional as well as attractive. Having both is paramount to a successful website marketing strategy. Use web design to boost your ROI with strategically-placed CTAs and forms that convert visitors into leads.
In short, use your site's visual appearance to draw them in, and use CTAs and forms to take them on a journey.
*** Think it might be time to consider redesigning your website? Don't fall prey to the most common mistakes. In this free resource, our web design team shares how to avoid the biggest pitfalls in the website design process.
Editor's Note: This post has been updated for content. The original version of this post was published on 4/21/15 and authored by Melanie Chandler.