Creating a website for any company can be a challenging task. Every site is a direct window into the business, and like a storefront, needs to be attractive enough to encourage visitors to come inside. In order for Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) to entice prospective buyers and generate inbound leads via their website, some essential elements need to be present. Here are the top 10 must-haves:
#1. Know Who’s Buying
Understanding your buyer personas is the first key to any good website. Targeted messaging that resonates with your audience will help engage them with your content and your brand. One-size-fits-all messages fall flat, and functional business decision-makers are not going to be interested in the technical details about how your solutions works, (just how it will make their lives easier). It is crucial that you know who’s buying and that your website is geared specifically towards that audience.
#2. Communicate a Clear Value Proposition
Value propositions should not be comprised of “marketing mumbo jumbo” (well-crafted marketing messages that are hard to decipher). An ISV’s value proposition should be communicated in a clear way so that your edge (and legitimacy) is obvious at first glance. People often look at websites quickly—blame the digital age for our lack of attention span—so the value you bring needs to pop-out at the visitor.
#3. Emphasize the Strength of Your Crew
Most ISVs (and especially start-ups) are small shops, and because of this, it is important to emphasize the depth of your expertise. Impersonal websites that don’t show the people behind the solution often lack inspiration. People buy from people, which means it is absolutely necessary to show the faces of those that worked to make the product possible.
#4. Sales Drive Sales
People buy software from brands that they trust, which makes it that much harder for newcomers to break onto the scene. Getting your first early adopter is the first step to creating a sales-snowball effect; creating case studies, success stories, and highlighting customer references will help add credibility to your promises (which should encourage more companies to give your solution a try).
#5. Localize Content
Having good content is the best way to educate potential customers about your offer. In fact, this is the first traffic driver to any website. Creating content around keywords and optimizing for SEO can help get your content in the hands of those that are looking for a solution. But if your ISV wants to be present across the globe, localizing content can drastically increase traffic to your site.
#6. Be Social
Having an integrated social media activity prior to launching your website can help boost the visibility of your brand. Using social “teasers” to create buzz around a product launch can help create anticipation for the big day. Designing a robust social media strategy and outreach plan to increase your following is a must in order to lay the ground work for success. Buyers expect ISVs to be social and at the forefront of digital marketing strategies just because of the nature of their (tech) business. Tapping into online communities and making your website content easily sharable on social media channels will help more people spread the word.
#7. Define the Call-to-Action
A website is an ISV’s top marketing and sales engagement tool. It is important to keep in mind that the goal of the site is not to sell the product, however, but to provoke a specific call-to-action on the customer side. Think of it like applying for a job: the goal of your resume is not to get you an employment contract; it’s to secure a job interview. Knowing the call-to-action you are looking for will help drive visitors in that direction. Maybe you want them to sign-up for a newsletter, download a free-trial offer/valuable gated content, sign-up for a webinar, register for an event, or contact you to schedule a sales demonstration. All of these actions will help you to push prospects down the sales funnel so that they will eventually go through with a purchase (when they’re ready, which certainly will not be the first time they visit your site).
#8. Keep it Fresh
People go back and revisit sites that change. If your website remains the same and you don’t give visitors access to new content on a recurring basis, people will stop going back. In order to keep your website fresh, it needs to be updated regularly. That doesn’t mean you need a full overhaul every few months, but it does mean that you should highlight what’s new in a spot that is easy for visitors to notice. An easy way to do this is to create a company blog. This is also the perfect forum to make your brand more approachable.
#9. Highlight your Partner Ecosystem
Having an established value-added network of partners/collaborators can help an ISV gain an important competitive advantage. Third-party vendors, API or plug-in providers that revolve around the ISV’s core technology or product offerings, OEM relationships, reseller channels, or sales and marketing partners have all become an essential part of an ISV’s growth plan. By boasting your partner ecosystem, you can give added credibility to your solution—all the more reason for potential buyers to trust your brand and opt for your solution.
#10. Optimized Landing Pages
Product recommendations and word-of-mouth marketing are great ways to create buzz about your solution, but when people do this, they’re not going to send their friends and colleagues a link to your home page. Optimized landing pages should contain content that’s good enough to convince visitors that your solution is worth having a closer look at because it addresses a specific pain point. Landing pages should contain keywords that are likely to be used in search engines; they should use language that is easy to understand by a first-time visitor.
Effective landing pages will contain:
- Product features/benefits that are clearly explained
- Relevant keywords that support your search strategy
- Videos that give a quick snapshot view of the product
- Customer testimonials
- Strong call-to-action so that visitors convert into qualified leads
Think of optimized landing pages like condensed snapshots of key areas you want to highlight about your business.
An ISV’s website is probably the most important asset it has in order to showcase its offer. Promoting content both on and offline will help drive traffic to your website, which should help you better understand who you are attracting and why. Continuing to refine your marketing messages in consequence will help you to optimize your outreach, engage with your key target audience, and (eventually) increase sales as a result.