When most talk about next generation data centers, you hear discussion about topics like cloud, cooling, density, data center infrastructure management (DCIM), modular data centers, power efficiency, software-defined data centers (SDDCs), storage, and virtualization.
While data center operators obsess about the efficiency of their facilities, it’s rare for senior management to pay much attention to the efficiency of its own website.
However mid-market and enterprise IT evaluators and decision makers now research data center services very differently than they did as recently as five years ago. Today so much research is being done online with search and social before they reach out to any data centers, 57% to 70% of their mind is already made up.
So with this drastic change in shopping and buying behaviors, how do you make sure that your data center is at least in the consideration set at this critical early stage of the buyer’s journey?
In this post, which is excerpted from Lead Generation Best Practices for Colocation Data Centers, you’ll learn about six best practices that next generation data centers need to be mindful of when planning how they generate leads and accelerate the sales cycle with their website landing pages.
BUILD EFFICIENT LANDING PAGES FOR EACH PERSONA AND BUYER’S JOURNEY STAGE
Landing Pages Defined
While most owners and executives of data center operators come from technical backgrounds, and have likely tinkered with some HTML or CSS at some point in their careers, just because I can read an article on how to perform a surgery on WebMD doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for me to perform that surgery on someone, without any professional training.
So what exactly are website landing pages? And why am I devoting an entire blog post to their importance to next generation data center operators?
Landing pages work like round-the-clock employees. Once they’re launched with sound best practices, website landing pages sit there days, nights, weekends, and even national holidays -- and generate leads. No vacation days. No national holidays. No sick days. No office politics. No scuffles with co-workers.
1. Use Landing Pages As a Very Powerful Supplement to Your Sales Team
Each content offer needs its own landing page – regardless of whether you’re creating and promoting eBooks, white papers, checklists, templates, calculators, webinar recordings, tours, or consultation requests.
Often, you’ll want at least two landing pages for each premium content offer if you’re A/B testing or personalizing content by ideal buyer persona.
In the same way that well-trained sales professionals know to personalize the conversation to the buyer persona and where a lead is in your buyer’s journey, by having different premium content and landing pages for each buyer persona, as well as each stage of the buyer’s journey, you can be sure that your hardest working 24/7 landing pages deliver a highly-relevant experience to each website visitor, lead, and client of your next generation data center.
2. Feed Different Parts of The Sales Funnel With Different Kinds of Landing Pages
Now, different kinds of premium content and different kinds of landing pages need to be applied depending on where a particular lead is in relation to your sales funnel.
For example, a landing page for subscribing to a newsletter would usually be created as a top of the funnel offer for those currently researching problems.
Landing pages for downloading white papers are another popular option for the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey, early on in the sales process, at the top of the sales funnel.
Now, moving more to the middle of the sales funnel, the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey, where decision makers are establishing their buying criteria, you’ll often find something like a landing page for registering for a live or on-demand webinar.
While the subject matter (content) and buyer’s journey targeting (context) can vary quite a bit with webinars, webinars are most often used as a sales cycle accelerant. Why? Because webinars demand more of a time commitment -- often one hour -- and help to simultaneously educate and build trust.
Towards the bottom of the sales funnel, at the end of the sales cycle, in the decision making stage of the buyer’s journey, you’ll often find a landing page offering some kind of free consultation, free needs assessment, or tour.
If your data center is relatively new to lead generation best practices, and you only have a landing page or two on your website, there’s a pretty good chance you have some way for sales-ready leads to raise their hands.
But often, with under-developed websites, this particular page or two is the only place where a website visitor can convert to a lead -- again as mentioned earlier in this guide, ignoring the overwhelming majority of website visitors who are a good fit for your next generation data center, but simply aren’t ready for a sales conversation today.
Think about the last time you bought or leased a car. How would you have felt if the first time you went into the dealer’s showroom to test-drive a car, no one would talk to you because you weren’t going to buy or lease that day, on the spot?
That’s what most data center websites are doing that don’t have website landing pages and premium content offers for those just starting to research problems.
Remember, your best opportunity to achieve trusted advisor status and attract more value-conscious buyers, rather than cheapskates, is to get found early enough to have the ability to educate your prospects and build up trust on the issues that most impact their research, consideration, and decision making stages of their buyer’s journey.
3. Optimize Your Data Center’s Landing Pages for Best Practices
Again, just as with forms, there are a number of really basic, but really important landing page best practices to optimize:
- Start with a benefits-focused, simple headline
- Focus on value and benefits, not features.
- Use bulleted lists. Most people don’t read full paragraphs anymore. Cater to the skimmers.
- Embed a form that has about a handful of fields that are commensurate with the relative value of the offer. If you ask too little, leads won’t be qualified. If you ask for too much, you’ll kill your conversion rate.
- Use white space. Clutter hurts readability. Give your text room to breathe.
- Prioritize the most important content towards the top of the page. While mobile devices redefine what “above the fold” truly means, people’s attention has never been shorter.
- Say “no” to the navigation menu and be relentless about removing non-essential links. Make sure nothing interferes with or distracts from your goal to drive conversions from that landing page.
- Use a related image. Since peoples’ brain process images 60,000 times faster than text, include something like a cover page or title image, or the author’s headshot.
- Redirect the landing page automatically to the confirmation page after the form has been completed and submitted.
- Email the offer automatically.
4. Evaluate Landing Page Metrics And Performance
When it comes to your next generation data center, everything with your digital marketing and website landing pages needs to be 100% grounded in data.
That’s personally why SP Home Run loves full-funnel, persona-centric Inbound marketing and Inbound sales, and why you should too. And it’s also why we despise other forms of unaccountable marketing that depend on hunches and the HIPPO -- the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion. How do you judge the performance of your landing pages?
Conversion rate percentage is similar to baseball’s batting average. They’re both very popular, easy to understand stats.
The conversion rate of a website landing page is the number of visitors who completed an embedded form and became a lead, divided by the number of visitors who viewed that landing page.
For example, if 30 visitors to your website complete a form and become leads, out of 100 visitors who saw the form, the conversion rate of that landing page is 30% (30 form submissions divided by 100 website visitors who saw the form on that landing page).
While conversion rates of landing pages don’t tell the whole story, landing page conversion rates should be monitored.
What’s considered an “above average” conversion rate? That really all depends on the buyer persona and where that buyer is within the buyer’s journey.
When discussing landing page performance and metrics, many often wonder how to estimate the number of required landing pages.
The simplest estimation? You need a landing page for each buyer person and buyer’s journey stage combination.
But that’s really just the minimum starting point.
You can drive 12 times more leads by scaling to 40+ landing pages, as compared to companies with only a handful of landing pages (Source: HubSpot State of Inbound Marketing Report).
Let that sink in for a moment. If your data center currently has, for example, just two landing pages and you generate about 20 leads per month, by building out a few dozen more landing pages, your monthly leads generated may increase 12x or up to 240 leads generated monthly.
How would that dramatic growth in qualified leads impact your annual revenue? To really scale up your full-funnel digital marketing and website lead generation, keep these lead generation tipping points in mind.
5. Beware of The HIPPO
It’s very important that you don’t let the HIPPO’s personal use of and personal feelings about mobile, search, or social cloud your judgment about how to best reach your ideal buyer personas.
For example, while your CEO may not be a big fan of, or user of LinkedIn, nevertheless, if LinkedIn is a dominant channel for a particular buyer persona that you’re trying to reach, your next generation data center’s marketing and sales team simply must be growing its reach on LinkedIn and sharing remarkable content on LinkedIn. Period.
6. Remember That You Are Not Your Target Market
If you have any school-aged children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews, you may recall a popular animated children’s movie with a very relatable pro-environment storyline: Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
In the main storyline, the Once-ler character played by Ed Helms develops this product called the Thneed -- harvested from trees -- that he believes is a revolutionary new product with dozens of uses. The Lorax, played by Danny DeVito, as guardian of the forest is both adamantly against the harvesting of the trees and believes no one will buy a Thneed.
After hearing Helms’ planned sales pitch for the Thneed, DeVito fires back “But nobody is going to buy that thing.”
Helm’s sarcastic response is, “Good to know.” And then he adds, “Well, fortunately, you are not the target market, weirdo.”
It turns out that the Lorax was right. The Once-ler’s sales pitch for the Thneed was completely rejected. He was publicly ridiculed and even had tomatoes hurled at him on the stage in the center of town.
But like many product innovators, the Once-ler tried again. And he was rejected again.
And just when the Once-ler gives up on the Thneed and concedes that the Lorax was right, a mob of hundreds of buyers shows up at his door, chanting the song in unison, “Everybody Needs a Thneed,” showering the Once-ler with money and advanced orders for the Thneed.
It turned out that the Once-ler knew its buyer persona much better than the Lorax’s wishful thinking. Millions of Thneeds are sold. The Once-ler and his hillbilly family become filthy rich. The forest is completed ravaged and environmental apocalypse sets in.
And for the data center CEO, who’s scaling their company with climate change concerns and related regulatory incentives in both their rearview mirror and their road ahead, it’s worth checking out this film.
How does your next generation data center generate leads? What kinds of website landing pages are you currently using? Let us know in the Comments below.
And to learn how your website landing pages need to fit in with the rest of the lead generation and revenue generation strategy, be sure to download your free copy of the eBook on Lead Generation Best Practices for Colocation Data Centers.