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How Defense Contractors Can Hook More Leads From Website Traffic

Armed with a content marketing strategy, defense contractors can convert more of their website traffic into business development opportunities.



When I talk to defense contractors about their marketing, a paradox about lead generation comes up.

  • On the one hand, defense contractors have mixed emotions about trade shows. They question whether they are getting value (i.e. business development leads) from them. They also express concern about the increasing costs and decreasing attendance of many trade shows.
  • On the other hand, a lot of defense contractors are not using their websites to generate quality leads. Many of the websites are essentially static, online brochures which don't generate much traffic, and even less returning traffic.

So how can defense contractors get more leads from their website traffic?

The first step to increased website traffic from the right audiences is to have remarkable content that is helpful and informative. A content marketing strategy that offers compelling, useful copy can have a dramatically positive impact on website traffic.

The next step is to get your website visitors to convert from prospects into leads. If your website visitors leave without providing contact information, you will lose the opportunity to nurture them until they are ready to buy.

Here are the basics of converting more website visitors into leads.

Effective Calls-to-Action – A successful call-to-action (CTA) drives a visitor to take a desired action. Generally, CTAs are placed “above the fold” on a website or in clear sight so visitors will know what action to take. CTAs are key to lead generation. Here are some best practices:

  • Make CTAs big and bold. But don’t overdo it.
  • Make CTAs look so good people will want to click them. Think about colors that will help them stand out.
  • Offer value like tip sheets, how-to guides, white papers. “Contact Us” does not offer value and should not be the only option offered for conversion.
  • Make CTAs look clickable. Make them look like a button, add a shadow or a hover effect.
  • Keep simple and clear what is offered.
  • Test when possible. Try testing different colors, words and placement (using A/B testing) to see which CTAs get more clicks and leads.

CTA Positioning – You don’t want to scatter CTAs everywhere on your site. That will give visitors too many options or not the right options at the right time.

  • Related to your sales funnel, segment your top-of-the-funnel and middle-of-the-funnel offers. Place your top-of-the-funnel offers (informational downloads like white papers and e-books) on top-level pages. Put your middle-of-the-funnel offers (request a quote, demo, consultation) on lower level pages as your prospect is digging deeper and learning more about what you offer.
  • Put your CTAs above the fold, at the bottom of your pages and within content as appropriate.
  • Put the CTAs on the right. Most studies suggest CTAs on the right work better, but make sure to test it.
  • Put more CTAs on thank-you pages. Once someone completes a form, he gets a message on another page, called a thank-you page. There’s usually lots of real estate there to offer another download, this time without having to complete another form.
  • Test which placements drive the most conversions.

Landing Pages – Once your visitors have clicked on a CTA, you need to drive them to a landing page. Also known as “lead capture pages,” landing pages turn visitors into leads by collecting information from them.

A landing page typically includes a headline, a brief description of the offer, a supporting image and, most importantly, a form to capture information.

Landing pages are absolutely necessary for lead generation and serve only one purpose – to capture lead information. Good landing pages can turn your website into a lead generation machine. For an effective landing page:

  • Never use your homepage as a landing page.
  • Remove the main site navigation so visitors can focus on completing the form and not continue to search your site.
  • Make it clear what the offer is. And make it irresistible.
  • Make sure the content on the landing page matches the CTA. If there’s a disconnect between the two, you’re less likely to capture the lead.
  • Don’t make visitors think too much or work too hard (e.g., reading).
  • Only collect information you absolutely need. Use as few form fields as possible.

Forms – The fewer the fields in your forms, the higher will be your conversions, so ask only for the information you really need (beyond an email address). A few other considerations:

  • The value of the offer. If it’s a newsletter subscription, an email address and name is enough. If it’s a more valuable piece of content like a research report, you should ask for more lead-qualifying information.
  • Privacy. People are wary of spam and are increasingly concerned about their privacy. Include a privacy message that their email address will not be sold or shared.
  • Don’t use the word “SUBMIT” on form buttons. Instead, use language like “download e-book” or “subscribe to our newsletter.”
  • Act immediately. If you advertise a downloadable offer, fulfill it on the thank-you page. This is better than an auto-responder email containing a link where the leads will have to go into their email to find the download link.

What do you think? Please join the conversation below. And if you found this helpful, please consider sharing it with your network.

The Principal and Founder of Artillery, Douglas Burdett is a former artillery officer and Madison Avenue ad man. He also hosts The Marketing Book Podcast, where he interviews authors every week about the latest in modern marketing and sales.

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