5 Keys to a More Powerful and Effective B2G Website
By Elizabeth Harr, Partner, Hinge | September 20, 2019
Across professional services, one of the most effective tools for generating meaningful visibility is all too often hiding in plain sight: the corporate website.
Websites are essential vehicles for conveying whether a firm is capable of solving the problem their audiences are trying to solve – whereby “audience” can be a prospective customer, prospective teaming partner, or even prospective employee. And if that seems like an overstatement, consider some data from our recent research into how professional services buyers find firms to hire. In our survey, eight out of 10 buyers said they check out a firm’s website before they do anything else. In fact, these buyers told us they generally make their assessment right then and there.
To attract your audience’s attention and persuade them that you are their best choice, your website must include these five core components:
1. Clear Messaging and Imagery with Impact
This aspect is not merely “nice-to-have.” Our research shows that almost one-half of all referrals rule out firms because they can’t understand how the firm can help them. Focused, effective messaging should quickly answer three questions in a prospect’s mind:
- What does your firm do?
- Who do you do it for?
- Why should organizations decide to hire you?
Imagery plays a central role in clear messaging as well, by offering visual clues and subtext about your brand and its quality. We generally advise government contractors to avoid expected visual elements (you know what they are). While such images may be technically relevant, the images are tired — and convey a tired brand. What’s more, they do nothing to help your firm stand out from the crowd of lookalike competitors.
Bottom line: tired, undifferentiated messaging and imagery sends the subliminal message that working with you might be the same.
2. Use Responsive Design
One of the most important elements of a high-performing website is responsive design, meaning design that ensures that pages and content will display in a user-friendly manner, regardless of the device. If you’re thinking this doesn’t really matter for your firm, consider data collected by comScore (Figure 1), which shows that we are well past the trajectory of time where people are accessing websites through mobile devices with greater frequency than through traditional desktops.
Figure 1. Total Internet Users, Worldwide (Millions)
Even setting user experience aside, there’s another compelling reason to make your website responsive. Google’s algorithm currently penalizes websites that don’t feature responsive design — by directing less traffic to them.
3. Demonstrate Your Expertise with Educational Content
While standard go-to B2G marketing tools like capabilities decks or case stories are still important, at the end of the day, they are promotional in nature.
To convince buyers that you’re truly the experts your past performance suggests you are, you need to go beyond making promotional claims. By creating and sharing consistent, relevant thought leadership, you’ll prove your expertise is real. You should create two kinds of educational content:
- Stock content: This is premium content you create for people who already know and trust your firm. Since you’ve already earned their trust, they’re generally willing to invest more time to sample your expertise. Examples include executive guides, books, technical white papers and webinars.
- Flow content: Think of this as your thought leadership arsenal, written to capture the attention of people who are not yet familiar with you. This content should include regular, fresh, expert opinions on how you address clients’ priority issues. Examples include both videos as well as written and video blogs.
In your website’s navigation, keep your thought leadership material separate from promotional: announcements about firm awards, events, even case stories. For educational content to be effective, its sole focus should be on proving your firm’s expertise.
4. Solid SEO Strategy
Search engine optimization is how you make your content easily accessible to the right audience — and also help your website rank higher in Google search results. A couple of points to consider:
- Find your keywords, and use them. Conduct research on which keywords and terms your audience is searching for, and then use those keywords on the relevant pages of your site. (There’s an art and science to choosing your keywords, so if you need guidance, check out this article.) One effective approach is to use Google’s Keyword Planner with a tool like Moz to compare search volume with difficulty – tools that all happen to be free.
- Page vs. Content Optimization: Optimizing web pages and optimizing content are two different processes. Ideally, your team will research and select new keywords each time your firm produces a new piece of thought leadership. Keywords for your web pages, in contrast, have more longevity.
5. Effective Engagement Tools
The final element of a high-performance website is the use of effective engagement tools. All too often, visitors who want to learn more or explore services on a B2G website are left without a clear idea of what they should do to proceed. If they can’t tell how to do whatever they seek to do easily, they will simply move on.
This is why it’s essential to include clear, attractive calls-to-action that usher visitors forward to a particular task, explaining what to do next. As you plan your website (or website upgrade), you should create an offer strategy that highlights which calls-to-action will be placed on a given page, and why. Think of this as setting forth a roadmap for the target personas your website seeks to connect with.
Wherever they reside, calls-to-action should stand out from the rest of the page and should be easy to understand. Their text should be descriptive, specific, and active – “Get my free evaluation” rather than “Submit.”
At their most effective, calls-to-action are part of a detailed science. Use A/B testing to compare visitors’ responses to variations on your calls-to-action experimenting with different text, colors, etc. to increase click and conversion rates.
Thought leadership that visitors can download (often referred to as “premium content”) is an excellent asset to offer in your calls-to-action. Whitepapers, executive guides and such are more effective at moving buyers further along the sales funnel (as shown in Figure 2).
Figure 2. The Role of High-performance Website Features in the Sales Funnel
If you’re seeking to expand your federal customer list, it’s time to step up your game. By building a high-performance website with the five components listed above, your firm will position itself for not only better visibility, but also as the source of expertise your buyers need.
About the Author
Elizabeth Harr, Partner at Hinge, is an accomplished entrepreneur and experienced executive with a background in strategic planning, branding and growth for professional services. Elizabeth co-founded a Microsoft solutions provider company and grew it into a thriving organization that became known for its expertise in Microsoft customer relationship management. In her role as Partner at Hinge, she leads the advisory provided to technology consulting and government services firms.