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E-Commerce Versus Lead Generation Marketing: What's The Difference?

Adam Binder

Adam Binder is the Founder and Creative Director of Creative Click Media,a full-service digital marketing agency headquartered in New Jersey

One of the primary objectives for businesses of all industries is to — you guessed it — generate business. The methodology by which companies handle their customer acquisition, however, depends greatly on whether their marketing strategy is centered around an e-commerce or lead generation business model. Regardless of whether your business’s sales funnel trends toward immediate action or is built around a slow trickle of nurturing relationships over time, the language, design and user experience you provide on your website will be the clincher that converts if handled strategically.

How Are E-Commerce And Lead Generation Marketing Different?

The goal of e-commerce marketing is predominantly focused on driving consumer action toward making a purchase — ideally on the spot. E-commerce marketing strategies are generally centered around speed and creating a sense of urgency before potential customers have enough time to lose interest.

While lead generation marketing also has the eventual goal of ending in a sale, the customer journey is typically a much slower process. Lead generation marketing often involves demonstrating value in exchange for consumer data, such as sending gated premium content to users who provide their email addresses. This allows potential customers to develop trust and familiarity with your business over time prior to committing to a purchase.

Why Do These Differences Matter?

The differences between e-commerce and lead generation marketing are important because different marketing objectives require different marketing strategies.

Lead generation marketing is centered around prequalifying potential customers in order to drive only the highest-quality leads toward the bottom of the sales funnel. For example, a potential customer who provides their email address in exchange for gated content is demonstrating that they have an interest in your business. Going further, filling out a contact form on your website shows that they're actively motivated to move toward a sale.

Lead generation marketing almost always involves a larger investment, such as purchasing another business’s services. Because closing a sale through this type of marketing upon the first website visit is unlikely, make sure that your marketing and design strategy prioritizes building relationships and establishing your business as a reliable authority.

When it comes to e-commerce marketing, on the other hand, the only real qualification a potential customer needs is being able to purchase the product being sold. With this in mind, ensure that your marketing and design strategy prioritizes making the sales process as quick, seamless and user-friendly as possible.

How To Design For E-Commerce

Your product pages may be the cornerstone of your e-commerce website, but it’s crucial that each landing page is designed intentionally and intelligently to provide a seamless buyer journey. From the initial homepage to the final checkout page, successful e-commerce design will guide users through the entirety of the sales funnel.

Online retail giants like Amazon have redefined the way consumers have come to expect convenience in their shopping experience. With this in mind, e-commerce marketers may need to follow suit to bring their own websites up to this higher standard. Consider integrating these e-commerce design elements into your website in order to engage your visitors from the beginning to the end of their shopping experience:

• Captivating photos: Include branded photos, a variety of product shots and photos of your product being used by real customers.

• Clear calls to action: Guide your customers toward taking a desired action using clearly labeled buttons like “Add to Cart” and “Proceed to Checkout.”

• On-brand copy: Showcase your business’s personality using language that appeals to your target buyer persona.

• A user-friendly interface: Cut the clutter, and optimize for mobile. Simplify your checkout process to create a seamless shopping experience across devices.

How To Design For Lead Generation

In comparison to the rapid pace on an e-commerce website, lead generation websites are typically designed with a significantly lengthier customer journey in mind. The majority of first-time — and even second-, third- or fourth-time — visitors on a lead generation website aren't there to make a purchase; they’re there to learn more about a business and its services before making a financial commitment.

The most successful lead generation websites are those that focus on demonstrating value to their visitors, whether that be through thought leadership articles, unique content and/or endorsements from clients and professional colleagues. Consider integrating these elements into your lead generation website design in order to entice visitors to make the leap toward contacting your business for more information:

• Authoritative content: Establish your business as an authority in your industry by consistently publishing informative and educational content on your website.

• Customer testimonials: As much as you believe in your business’s services, providing success stories from actual clients adds credibility to your claims.

• Lead capture forms: Present a number of opportunities, such as a live chat feature or newsletter sign-up pop-ups, for your website visitors to provide their contact information.

• Clear navigation paths: Guide your audience through your website by interlinking your pages, such as integrating links to a service page or related blog posts in an article about a particular service.

Whether your business is centered on e-commerce or lead generation, a beautiful website serves little purpose if it's not designed as a marketing tool to help you achieve an overarching goal. While obstacles may arise during your marketing campaign, it's important to consistently ask yourself what your customer base wants in order to guide them with ease from the top to the bottom of your sales funnel.

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