We live in the age of the Google search. As an MSP, you’ll be well aware of the importance of your website in terms of channelling leads into your sales pipeline. From email campaigns and social media, to content marketing and pay-per-click advertising, you also know of the tactics you should be using to generate interest in your brand and offering. Now comes the more nuanced part: how do you hold a lead’s attention once they have clicked through to your website?
In this article, we’ll look at some of the most potent features and techniques you should use on your MSP website to sustain longer conversations, and drive higher conversion rates for your website.
We understand that as a B2B service provider, your website might be the only customer-facing portal into your brand, so you naturally want to inject it with your aesthetics and business ethos. That’s totally fine, we’re not here to prescribe a specific design language. Instead, this guide seeks to serve as an introduction to website design practices and concepts shown to foster meaningful conversations and progress leads through sales pipelines. Let’s begin…
First, some definitions
Let’s clarify what we mean by the terms ‘lead,’’prospect’ and ‘opportunity.’
A lead is someone who is aware of your business, and has perhaps engaged with your marketing efforts, but hasn’t thus far indicated clear interest or intent to purchase. Many of your leads could be in the market for your offering. Creating an effective website will hold the lead’s interest and help you distinguish those with genuine interest from those who aren’t a suitable fit for your service.
A prospect is someone you’ve determined fits the profile of your target customer. They’ve engaged with your marketing material on multiple occasions and may have queried your offering in the past. The term ‘prospect’ is sometimes used interchangeably with the phrase ‘marketing qualified lead,’ denoting someone who has been assessed through marketing outreach efforts to be a possible future customer.
An opportunity or ‘sales opportunity,’ describes someone with a high chance of becoming a paying customer. They might have an urgent need for your offering, or show a keen interest in what you’re selling. Unlike leads and prospects, a sales opportunity has a high chance of responding warmly to sales outreach efforts.
When you’re considering the design of your MSP website, it’s beneficial to think about the experience from the perspectives of leads, prospects, and sales opportunities concurrently, rather than one category in isolation. That way, you’ll funnel the maximum number of leads and prospects through your sales pipeline for the greatest chance of securing new customers.
1. Get your ‘above the fold’ right
First impressions count. ‘Above the fold’ refers to the visuals a visitor to your site encounters before they start scrolling. The phrase originates from the world of print media, to refer to the portion of a newspaper’s front page that was traditionally visible to customers on a newsstand.
Getting this element of your website right is crucial, as most site visitors will decide whether to stay on your site or not within the first 7 seconds. It’s even been suggested that it takes just 0.05 seconds for users to make a snap judgement about an MSP website based on that initial cursory glance.
So how do you build an impactful ‘above the fold?’ Here are some key pointers:
Tell the visitor what you do
Your above the fold should contain bold, impactful text that explains your offering. This should distil your product into as few words as possible, immediately conveying what you can offer in one or two lines. Remember how little time you have to grab the visitor’s attention! Alternatively, you could appeal to the visitor’s pain points by asking a pertinent question. That’s the approach we’ve taken on the Wingman site shown below.
Support your initial statement
After you’ve told the visitor what your business does, you want to create sub-text that evidences, supports or adds credibility the claim you’ve just made. Here’s an example of the dynamic that should exist between the initial statement and this supporting line:
IT Support that Speaks the Language of Business
Supporting the success of Yorkshire businesses since 1993, through growth-enabling IT support and managed services
Here the supporting statement elaborates on the initial statement by including more detail. ‘Yorkshire’ provides a geographic reference point that will capture the attention of site visitors in that locale, ‘since 1993’ aids credibility as long-serving businesses are often viewed as more trustworthy (use this to your advantage if you can), and the second clause succinctly emphasizes that the MSP operates with commercial value in mind.
On the Wingman site we’ve backed up our initial statement with statistical evidence as seen below.
Include ‘social proof’
Boost credibility further by presenting some form of social proof. This might be a quote from a review or recommendation that demonstrates the value your service has provided a current or past client.
Social proof works due to the natural inclination most people have to be influenced by the behaviour and experience of their peers. In other words, a fellow customer saying nice things about your business will almost always be more persuasive than YOU saying those things. In common with everything else in the above the fold, your social proof should be concise and punchy, delivering an endorsement of your service in a sentence or two.
Incorporate impactful imagery
Your above the fold should feature website copy (text) sparingly, and aim to deliver as much information in as few words as possible. However, additional information can be delivered using well-chosen visuals, which could serve to further enhance credibility or give an insight into the personality and values of your brand.
Additional social proof for example could be delivered in the form of a logo carousel. This could display the logos of current/previous clients to help build trust, or perhaps those of your industry partners to add depth and sophistication to the way you present your services. We’ve chose to display client logos in ours as shown below.
So what should you do with the remaining real estate on you above the fold? We decided to use an image that encapsulates the tone and spirit of Wingman in ours. Another option is to feature an image or video of your team at work, something that will immediately personalise your landing page. Alternatively, you could simply choose an image that’s relevant to what you do or where you are in the world: just make sure the image you use contributes to a cohesive narrative – don’t choose an image just because it ‘looks cool.’
2. Avoid clichéd Stock imagery
When using imagery throughout your site it’s important to be mindful of the customer journey many of your site’s visitors will have been on. Those that are in the investigation stage, who are beginning to scout out their options, might have browsed tens or hundreds of MSP websites, so it’s vital that yours leaves an impression.
One thing that can be counterproductive in this regard is the use of unoriginal, overused and clichéd stock images. By that I’m referring to what I liked to call the ‘white-toothed people’-those stock image depicting shiny-toothed, airbrushed-to-perfection employees assembled in unlikely, inauthentic scenarios. See below for an example…
You may think you’ve stumbled across a convincing, captivating stock image like the one shown here, but I guarantee your prospects will be able to discern the phony from the legitimate almost instantly. Knowing that the image doesn’t depict your team, such an image will add no value to your. It won’t help communicate your brand values, it won’t convince the prospect of your value proposition, it won’t add credibility, and perhaps most crucially, its inauthenticity could even erode trust.
So what should you do to set your MSP website visuals apart from the competition?
Infuse your site with your brand’s identity and personality by including photos of your MSP team or premises where this is workable. Take high-quality photos, or if you’re not confident in your photography skills, hire a professional to take them for you. Ensure that your MSP website showcases the real people and environment behind your services.
Where you do use stock images, make sure they appear modern and relevant to the MSP industry, achieving a consistent aesthetic across your MSP website. Where possible, relate them back to your business’s origin or identity in some way. Location-based images featuring your MSP’s local presence are always a safe bet, and these will help pique the interest of local prospects who immediately identify with the landmarks shown. The image below shows how such photos can be incorporated into your MSP website in an unforced way, enhancing its authenticity and resonance with your audience.
We’re strong advocates of using digital visual asset libraries like envato elements and unsplash.com to source contemporary and eye-catching photos, videos, animations, sounds and other creative digital assets. These sites offer content to purchase, hire, download for free or access via a subscription plan, but the costs are relatively minor relative to the impact the assets could have on your digital presence.
3. Get your calls to action right
Broadly speaking, a ‘call to action’ (CTA) is a prompt that urges an audience or site visitor to perform a desired action.
The exact purpose of a call to action varies. In the context of email marketing, the purpose might be to qualify leads by urging the audience to ‘subscribe to our newsletter.’ In the context of social media marketing, the CTA might exist mainly to direct traffic to your website, with a prompt like ‘learn more by visiting our blog.’
On your website however, the CTA should be linked to a clear, precise offering. Often when we review websites, we see directionless CTAs that link to a contact form, leaving the site user in doubt as to what the next step is. Occasionally we encounter multiple CTAs which leads to confusion and ambiguity around the content of the offer, and sometimes there is no CTA present at all. Above all your website CTAs must be clear, consistent and enticing. Here’s our three-step process to creating compelling CTAs:
1. Craft a clear, coherent offer.
Urge leads to continue the engagement by proposing an offer that offers real, communicable value. Common examples include ‘IT infrastructure audits’ or ‘IT strategy reviews.’ When these phrases alone sound a little vague, be sure to include some detail to communicate what the potential client will leave the experience with: the value they’ll gain from the exercise.
2. Route the prospect to a dedicated CTA landing page.
All your CTA buttons should route the prospect to a dedicated landing page that reiterates the offer in greater detail. Reinforce your proficiency and credibility with quotes from satisfied clients, and use the page as another opportunity to foster a personal connection by including a photo of you or your team. At this point you want trust in your business to reach its crescendo, so do what you can to convince the prospect of the value on offer and stress that they have nothing to lose by continuing the conversation. The offer presented on the Wingman CTA showcases how value can be demonstrated and trust further bolstered in this final appeal to prospects…
3. Embed CTAs Throughout Your Website.
Your prospects should never have to look hard to find your CTA. Duplicate the CTA across your site, ensuring that the visitor never has to scroll far to find it. There are no hard-and-fast rules in this regard, but 3 CTAs per page is often adequate, with one above the fold, another roughly mid-page and one towards the end. Make sure your CTA is visually arresting. Using a bold colour or a dynamic animation in your CTA button will help it stand apart from the rest of the page’s content.
Transform Your Website into Your MSP’s Growth Catalyst
Is poor website design putting the brakes on the growth of your MSP? Putting your name out there is only one piece of the marketing puzzle. You need a compelling offer, and an attractive online presence that inspires confidence in your business and encourages prospects to continue the conversation.
Claim your free website review today and let Wingman’s Mark Copeman shine a light on the successes and shortcomings of your MSP’s Website.
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