What Can Galileo Teach Us About Website Lead Generation?

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"Ideas that require people to reorganize their picture of the world provoke hostility"

—James Gleick, Chaos: The Making of a New Science

In business we strive to focus on actionable, measurable results — our concerns are mostly material. But in a world that emphasizes material value, it's remarkable what an impact a simple idea can have.

When we talk about paradigm shifts, dangerous ideas, and intellectual progress, we don't usually think of our web marketing strategy — we often think of historical events. Galileo's theory of heliocentrism is a great example.

For the folks who slept through history class, here's the Cliff's Notes.

  • Prior to Galileo (and for sometime after), the majority of educated people subscribed to a geocentric view of the universe. In this view, the Earth was at the center with all the heavenly bodies revolving around it.
  • Galileo came on the scene in 1615 and publicly defended heliocentrism, an alternate way of looking at the heavens in which the Earth and planets revolved around the Sun. He wasn't the first to suggest it — Ptolemy had proposed heliocentrism in Ancient Greece — but Galileo held that new evidence affirmed the truth of heliocentrism.

His views provoked outrage. There was an inquisitorial commission by the Church that unanimously declared heliocentrism to be "foolish and absurd in philosophy." Needless to say, we know which side emerged as the champion.

Fortunately, in business and marketing, the stakes are a little less intense. We're not dealing with the cosmos  our paradigm shifts center around productivity, profit, and growth. But while our issues are smaller in scope, there's significant business insight to be gained from Galileo's historical example: even when the evidence suggests that we need a new way of thinking, new ideas are bound to meet strong opposition from the status quo.

So how does this relate to Website Lead Generation?

When conventional wisdom held that the sun revolved around the earth, Galileo boldly suggested that the Earth revolves around the Sun. In sales and marketing, we often believe that the sale revolves around our company reputation. But effective digital lead generation must be centered on what our users want.

With respect to digital marketing, some marketing executives often view their sales cycle as an offline process. They recognize the value of digital with respect to their brand identity, but their broad belief is that their website is really just an informational piece. Many of our clients have come to us with this core belief firmly planted in their minds: "All of our valuable leads come from offline sources." For example:

  • Potential customers who already know about us
  • Distributors who move our products through retail stores or other channels
  • Referral-based networks that put our company reputation at the center of the sale

Our Company at the center of the sale

Belief is a powerful thing, but we've learned to ask for evidence. When we ask them how they currently measure their website ROI, here are some typical answers:

  • Our website doesn't generate leads
  • We'll never use our website to drum up new business
  • Ours is a much longer relationship

There's usually some truth in their beliefs. But in the spirit of Galileo we gently remind them that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. Put another way  just because you can’t see something doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Some organizations may never generate leads online, but the only way to be certain is through preliminary research into their site metrics, search keywords, and industry search volume.

The big difference between traditional, offline lead generation and digital lead generation is that the latter is user-focused. Whereas the traditional sales process puts company reputation and credibility at the center of the sale, digital lead generation starts with observable, measurable user data. Based on this data, we adjust our site and seek to influence user behavior.

In this way digital marketing is experiencing a paradigm shift from a company-centered approach to a user-centered method. Our whole sales process now revolves around the user and his or her specific needs. (Not unlike the planets revolve around the Sun. See what I did there?)

How can my company build a lead generation website?

If you want to participate in this important shift in digital marketing, a good place to start is by adopting a more user-centric approach to your website

The Buyers Journey:Study the buyer’s Purchasing Journey to determine how users search for your product or service

User AcquisitionReview your visitor acquisition to see what percentage of visits come to your site through organic search, AdWords, referrals, or email campaigns. Also, this will help you determine if you’re allocating resources appropriately

User BehaviorExamine user behavior and map out the user flow

BarriersUncover any barriers that may be preventing visitors from converting



Like it or not, there is an important shift happening in digital lead generation and customer acquisition. It might disrupt the status quo and even cause opposition within your organization. But that's no reason you can’t try something new, especially when it's measurable and evidence-based. Would you like to see how we do it? Let's make contact and we can set up a time to show you how we generate website leads.

Marty Vernon Digital Strategist

About the Author

Marty Vernon

Marty is Co-founder/Strategic Director at EDUCO. Connect with Marty on , LinkedIn or