As much as we wish that a beautiful, engaging website were enough to attract new leads and generate tons of business, that’s simply not the case in today’s competitive online landscape.

In fact, there’s a pervasive myth in the digital marketing world about lead generation that far too many entrepreneurs assume is true. It goes something like this: a beautifully designed website with lots of information about a product or company will attract new leads simply by virtue of it being a great website. Ah, if only.

Let’s bust this myth right now. Although a smart, professionally-designed website definitely helps establish your brand, it is not enough to generate new leads for your business. Why?

Take a step back and look at the origins of business websites. Before the internet made it easy for businesses to showcase their products and services online, many companies relied on printed brochures. These glossy publications helped customers make buying decisions by giving them heaps of information about the product or service as well as supplying them with the company’s contact info. Follow-up interaction took place only if the customer decided to pick up the phone or visit the business in person.

The first generation of websites emulated these printed brochures. They were viewed simply as publications that enabled customers to do their own research about a company. Many of these “brochure” sites still exist today.

Brochure sites just don’t work anymore

The brochure format may have worked in 2005, but there are many reasons why these sites are no longer competitive in the modern digital world.

They don’t offer a way to measure your marketing ROI

Brochure sites make it nearly impossible to measure the return on your marketing investment because you cannot tell how many leads were converted into customers solely by visiting your site. Even if your website played a role in their decision, you wouldn’t know about it unless you surveyed all your new customers to find out.

They do little to improve your SEO

Brochure sites are also terrible for SEO because they usually don’t include a plan to add and integrate new content, which means you miss out on opportunities to optimize for trending keywords that potential customers would use to search for solutions to their challenges.

They don’t leave the visitor wanting more

Your prospects and/or customers will have little reason to return to your brochure site — which is crucial for nurturing them into loyal customers over time — because these sites are essentially static and can’t function as a hub for new valuable information.

They don’t offer an opportunity to follow up with your leads

The biggest problem with brochure sites, however, is that they don’t provide a way for you to turn web visitors into actual customers. Curious, potential customers visit your site, read about your product and are interested but may not be ready to buy. Then what happens? Unless they decide to call or email you, you lose their business. Even though they expressed interest, there’s no way you can begin nurturing those leads because you have no way of contacting them. All you can do is cross your fingers and hope they remember you.

The alternative: landing pages

While brochure websites focus on you, interactive and engaging landing pages focus on your customer and greet them wherever they are on their buying journey. If you want to convert web visitors into customers, you must focus on solving the problems your potential customers are facing. Creating an interactive experience with a landing page is the perfect way to do this.

When customers land on your page, you don’t want to leave them guessing about what to do next. Make the most of your opportunity, and invite them to take action. The most important factor making a landing page different from a traditional website is that it focuses on a single, powerful call to action. While a website offers dozens of navigational options and includes general information on your company, a landing page motivates readers to take the next step toward further interaction with your brand. When this happens, you’ve generated a lead.

Three reasons to focus on landing page lead generation

1. Measuring marketing ROI is much easier

Marketing is expensive. Landing pages that capture leads are a smart strategy to generate a return on your investment. When your focus is on lead generation, you have a reliable, concrete way to measure the outcome of your efforts in advertisements and other channels for driving traffic.

2. You can stay in touch with visitors who are interested

Instead of losing customers who aren’t ready to buy, you can either direct them to your website or collect contact information so you can follow up and send free content. As a bonus, because each of your landing pages is focused on one specific problem and solution, you can use retargeting ads to continue showing related content and offers to people who visit your page but don’t opt in.

3. Your potential customers are more receptive to future offers

According to Dr. Robert B. Cialdini’s highly regarded Six Principles of Influence, people have a strong desire to be consistent with their past behaviors. Think about how the need for consistency might work to your advantage in your lead generation strategy. For example, if someone subscribes to your blog or opts in to receive a free piece of content (a relatively small commitment), they are more likely to take further actions because, in a way, they already see themselves as your customer and want to remain consistent with that.

How to get started with landing pages

Any of the three strategies below are great ways to begin transforming your web presence from a static brochure site into a dynamic and engaging lead generation machine.

1. Offer free content

Think about how you can meet potential customers along their buying journey. What are their current needs? What might be valuable to them given their pain points (which you are ready to help them solve)? How can you provide the most value to your audience? By nurturing and educating your potential customers, you build trust and empower them to make a decision they can feel great about.

If you’re extremely knowledgeable in a certain area or have a particular expertise, try writing an ebook that teaches a specific skill your average buyer is interested in. You could even write an ebook that helps them better understand a concept closely related to your product, setting yourself up as an authority.

You can use a landing page to position your free content as a solution to the problem they are experiencing right now. Try building a page that explains what you’re offering and why your visitors need it, and encourage them to opt in.

2. Collect more information about your leads

For customers who are a bit further along in your buying cycle, use an online form to make it easier for them to share more information with you when they request a demo, a strategy call or a free trial of your product/service. To motivate them to fill out the form, explain what they will receive if they take advantage of your offer.

Create a page that walks visitors through the benefits of your offer and what is going to happen when they take the next step. If you want to collect more data by including several different form fields, consider using a lightbox pop-up form.

Creating a lightbox pop-up form supplies you with more information about your leads so you can provide potential customers with an experience specifically tailored to their needs. You can also segment them in your CRM based on the information they share with you and customize the follow-up communications they receive depending on their responses.

You’ll want to carefully consider what fields to add on your forms. Keep in mind that too many fields may turn off potential leads, while too few fields may not provide enough information to have a productive call or demo with them.

If you’re worried that your leads won’t be willing to give you all the info you need on the form, you can split the form into multiple steps by setting another lightbox as the “thank you” page that pops up right after they complete the first form. This helps to increase conversions by asking for only their basic info upfront and then asking for more later on following the diversion of the “thank you” page. Even if a lead doesn’t fill out step two, you’ll still get all the critical information from step one (such as contact info).

3. Improve your follow-up process

What happens to customers who respond to your calls to action? Do they get a prompt response from you? How easy is it for them to fall through the cracks?

The biggest pitfall of many websites is that they are not seamlessly integrated with the tools that entrepreneurs use to manage follow-ups. When a new lead is collected, that information might go to a number of different places — someone’s inbox, a CRM tool, or just into your email marketing platform’s subscriber list.

Some of those tools can automate the process for what happens next, but it often results in a complex system. With several different software tools relying on people to move information between them, the results are often inconsistent. When you or your team forget to do any of those tasks, you stand the chance of losing your new lead. If new leads are simply getting delivered to someone’s inbox without automatic follow-up, it’s time to set up a process to reliably touch base with them.

In Ontraport, you can trigger a response email message that is automatically sent as soon as the form is submitted. Regardless of the email service you’re using, make sure you’ve set up a thoughtful autoresponder. Receiving an immediate response after filling out a form reassures customers that you value their decision to interact with your site. Making sure that you don’t drop the ball on any incoming leads can tremendously boost your bottom line.

Any of these three strategies will help turn your landing pages into a stronger representation of your brand and dramatically improve user experience. Don’t forget that the key to a great page – one that moves your business forward by generating leads – is to focus on your customer. When customers find you online, you have the opportunity to solve their most pressing problems, no matter where they are on the buying journey. Embrace this focus, and you will create relationships with your prospects that benefit all parties involved.

About Megan Monroe
Associate Editor Megan Monroe is a graduate of Santa Barbara’s Westmont College where she studied Philosophy and Communications. After working for several local small businesses (where she gained firsthand experience with the frustration of manual segmentation and follow-up), Megan joined the Ontraport Growth Team. When she isn’t writing marketing copy, social media posts or educational guides for entrepreneurs, she enjoys taking advantage of the Central Coast's amazing wineries and cooking without following a recipe.