One of the mistakes that a lot of business owners make when they’re new to internet marketing is not thinking critically enough about their website. They think that as long as the site exists, they’re good to go. They give hardly any thought at all as to whether the design of the website and the rest of their marketing strategy actually supports how they intend to use it. Then, months down the road, they wonder why they’re not getting any results.

The thing is, there are significant differences that go into the planning and strategy behind a website depending on how you intend to use it. The way that marketers and developers approach e-commerce sites is entirely different than lead generation sites. How you spend your time, effort, and marketing budget all depends on how you plan to use your website. Let us explain.

Lead Generation Vs. E-Commerce

The type of website that you need depends entirely on your business model. That means that the website for a plumbing business is going to be designed and used in an entirely different manner than a website for a t-shirt company.

Do you want customers to reach out to you for a service or a custom product, or do you want them to buy your products online? If you want your customers to contact you, you need a lead generation website. If you want your customers to make an immediate purchase, you need an ecommerce website.

Using a Website to Generate Leads

When you use a website to generate leads, you don’t need to worry as much about things like design and aesthetics. So long as your website looks decent enough and ranks well for your search terms, it will get the job done. Spending significant amounts of time and money to improve the aesthetic won’t do much to help you generate more leads.

55% of visitors spend less than 15 seconds on a website. And after about 0.05 seconds, they’ve already formed an opinion. Therefore, for an ecommerce site, time, energy, and effort are better spent on increasing the footprint of the website. This includes building links, creating social media content, and focusing on the content and keywords on the website itself.

Using a Website to Sell Products Online

With all that being said, ecommerce websites are an entirely different story. If you’re using your website to sell your products online, then design matters a great deal.

Certainly, seo is still important because your website needs to be able to found on the search engines. But there is also significant value in improving functionalities and content. For ecommerce sites, how the shopping experience occurs and the information provided about a product matters a great deal in the site’s ability to generate sales.

For example, one of our clients, Scottish Stained Glass, recently launched a website called Custom Stained Glass. Up until this point, since all of their products were custom designed, they used their website to generate leads. However, this new website would allow them to sell their products online.

So essentially, we had to transform a lead generation website into an ecommerce website. In the course of doing this, we really stopped to look at things like design and functionality. We paid close attention to how all of the windows popped up, the images we used for the products, the product descriptions, the number of clicks required to get to check out, etc.

As we’ve done AB testing, it’s amazing what we discovered. Some of the processes we believed would be straightforward and easy for any consumer to understand actually weren’t. We really had to focus on anything that could possibly result in shopping cart abandonment.

Another good example an ecommerce site done well is a paper bag website we came across recently for a business called JAM Paper & Envelope. We were amazed at how much time and effort this business spent on improving the functionality of their website. You can zoom in and see every detail of their paper envelops on their product pages. They even made a video to showcase their envelops. Keep in mind, this is all for something as simple as a paper bag. If you’re selling a product where aesthetics matter a great deal, you can imagine that how much time you spend on improving your ecommerce site makes a huge difference.

The Bottom Line

The lesson here is that regardless of how many people get to an ecommerce website, if they don’t have a good user experience, it’s not going to produce sales. But for a lead generation site, design doesn’t matter much at all and the real priority is driving traffic. It’s really important that businesses understand this. That way, they don’t make the mistake of spending money on the wrong things. Instead, they can devote their marketing budget to the items that will actually help their business generate profit.

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