Before you obsess about finding more leads, fix your website

Mar. 2, 2021
Otto Pohl

Before you obsess about finding more leads, fix your website


TLDR; Step 1: think through your customer journey. Step 2: find more leads to send on that journey.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Founders come to me all the time because it’s time to get the word out. They want more customers. They’ve launched their business and are worried that it will be like the proverbial tree falling in the forest, with no one around to hear it dying a sad and lonesome death.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting more customers. But then I visit their website and it becomes clear that they haven’t thought through their customer journey yet.

And there’s definitely something wrong with that.

There’s no point sending more leads to a website that’s not giving your prospective customer the tools to move them towards a sale. Optimize your customer journey first and THEN worry about telling more people about your great product or service.

First, I want to distinguish between two kinds of funnels. One is the relatively technical series of steps a customer needs to go through to purchase your product or service: select item, enter shipping address, enter payment info etc. It’s important to optimize this funnel, of course, but it’s not what I’m talking about here. E-commerce sites have become pretty standardized and are often built on a platform like Shopify, which handles this funnel. I’m referring to the overall customer journey, from discovery through purchase. This is most relevant for B2B companies and more complicated B2C service offerings, not consumer goods.

Why am I focused on the website? Because for B2B and complicated B2C products/services, the website is almost always a crucial step in the customer journey:

Take a look at your website and pretend you’re just learning about your company for the first time. Ask yourself:
• Does the overall visual feel match the product or service you’re selling?
• Does the headline text directly address your optimal target customer and his/her most acute pain point or unmet need?
• Do the other words lower down further support the features you provide and address potential concerns?

Once your site passes that test, ask yourself, unless they’re ready to immediately purchase, what’s the most likely next step for your customer-to-be? Options include

• See the product/service in action
• See social validation
• Read a case study, white paper, or testimonial
• Talk to a sales rep for more info

Make sure that you provide them with that next step (or steps). Take a look at this one which addresses a narrow constituency with a very complex product and then offers a call to action that manages to be both vague and too forward:

It’s unlikely that anyone will be ready to “get started” with what is clearly a very expensive, niche piece of laboratory equipment in the first few seconds after seeing this website.

At the other end of the spectrum, I see early-stage websites that with vague brochure-ware content and no clear next step. You should be very deliberate and intentional about where your website fits into the customer journey, and it should deliberately be giving them the tools to move them one or more steps forward. Take a look at this one:

The key call to action shouldn’t be directing visitors to your About page—it should be telling them more about the service, inviting them to exchange their email address for a white paper, or whatever you think is the logical next step for a potential customer of this business.

So put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer, take a fresh look at your website, and ask yourself: Are you being provided the tools to sell yourself and gently lead you to the next step in your conversion from lead to customer?