A 5-point plan for making your website a powerful B2G tool
- By Elizabeth Harr
- Sep 15, 2016
Of all the visibility assets business-to-government firms can leverage, one in particular is too often overlooked but is very much a critical piece of business growth: your website.
Websites are the front line of tools that convey whether a firm is a serious contender for new business, partner/teaming opportunities, or a place of employment for top talent.
In fact, our research shows that when looking for firms to hire, eight out of 10 professional services buyers check out those firms’ websites before they do anything else and make judgment calls right then and there – which is why your website can—and should—be considered one of your firm’s highest performing B2G marketing assets.
A 5-Point Plan
To attract the attention of your audience and convince them that your firm is the right choice, your website must be designed and built with these five core components:
- Clear messaging and impactful imagery
- Responsive design
- Educational content
- Search engine optimization
- Engagement tools
Incorporate these, and you have what we call a high-performance website – one that literally performs on your behalf. Let’s now take closer look the five essentials of a high-performance website.
Clear Messaging and Impactful Imagery
Consider this: our research shows that nearly half of all referrals rule you out because they can’t understand how you can help them. Tight, effective messaging should immediately answer three questions:
- What do you do?
- Who do you do it for?
- Why should buyers choose you?
Imagery, the other half of clear messaging, offers visual clues and subtle subtexts about the quality of your brand. Avoid the eagles, government buildings, American flags —while technically relevant, these tired images convey a tired brand. And they do nothing to help your firm stand out from the sea of sameness.
One of the biggest components of a high-performance website is responsive design – design that ensure pages and content display in a user-friendly manner. The numbers speak for themselves – as the chart below from comScore shows, websites are being accessed through mobile devices with greater frequency than through traditional desktops.
User experience aside, there’s another reason to make your website responsive. Google’s current algorithm actually penalizes websites that don’t employ responsive design by directing less traffic to them.
Bottom line: if you’re not responsive, you don’t exist.
Prove Your Expertise with Educational Content
As a government contractor, you likely rely on some of the more common B2G marketing tools such as capabilities decks or case stories. Both are important, but sit on the spectrum of promotional (they’re all about you after all) versus purely educational. And they don’t necessarily prove your expertise.
Enter thought leadership. To build real, sustained visibility, firms need to go far beyond making promotional statements about their expertise. Buyers need to be convinced that you truly are the experts your past performance suggests you are. And through consistent, relevant thought leadership, you’ll prove what you can bring to the table.
There are two kinds of educational content firms should aim to produce:
Stock content: Think of this as premium content for people who already know your firm – you’ve already earned their trust through other means, and they’re willing to invest more time in digesting your expertise. Examples of stock content include executive guides, books, technical white papers and webinars.
Flow content: You’ll also need to have an arsenal of thought leadership written to capture the attention of folks not yet familiar with your firm. This content should offer regular, fresh, expert opinions on how you address their priority issues. Examples include videos, written blogs and video blogs.
Above all else, don’t mix your thought leadership with announcements about your firm’s awards, events, or recent hires. While valuable, this type of content is purely promotional. When it comes to educational content, proving your firm’s expertise should be your goal, 100 percent of the time.
Solid SEO Strategy
Can enough be said about SEO? The short answer is, no. Search engine optimization is a technique designed to make your content easily accessible to the right audience and help your website stack up in Google page rankings. A couple of considerations:
Use relevant keywords: Perform keyword research to be sure you understand what terms your audience is searching for – and your firm’s capacity for ranking for those keywords. You can use Google’s Keyword Planner with a tool like Moz to compare volume with difficulty – all for free.
Page vs. Content Optimization: Optimizing web pages is a different process than optimizing content. While neither is a “one and done” scenario, your team will be researching and selecting new keywords every time a piece of thought leadership is produced. Keywords for your web pages and the copy that resides on them have more longevity.
Effective Engagement Tools
Finally, the last piece of a high-performance website is to employ effective engagement tools. Sometimes referred to as ‘calls to action’ or ‘offers’, engagement tools help take potential prospects to the next level.
Some engagement tools simply carry on high-level exposure of your firm and your expertise, such as social media posts. Others, such as premium content, move buyers further along down the funnel towards contract. And for serious decision makers, who already know and trust you, engagement tools give them a way to do just that: create a formal engagement with your firm.
It’s time to think outside the federal box. When you build a high-performance website with these five core components, your firm will be positioned for not only true visibility, but as the expert to those who matter most: your buyers.
Elizabeth Harr is a partner with Hinge Marketing and leads the firm’s technology and consulting practice. She is the co-author of two books, the Visible Expert and the Buyer’s Brain.