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How to Convert Website Visitors into Leads

How to Convert Website Visitors into Leads

Today we’re going to dive into how to convert website visitors into leads -- lead generation, essentially how to convert website visitors into leads. This is the convert phase of the inbound marketing methodology:

We are going to be focusing on the second part of inbound marketing methodology in today's episode.

Conversion Path Building Blocks

When it comes to getting more of your website visitors to become leads, I like to think of building blocks that are essentially used for putting together conversion paths. 

Conversion paths take website visitors and convert them into leads. 

Most of the action, most of the good, stuff happens on your landing pages. But a landing page by itself is just not going to cut it. It can't work on its own. There are too many interconnected things that have to happen for your landing page to be successful, for a landing page in isolation to be the only thing that matters. 

When it comes to people that are relatively new to inbound marketing, inbound sales, and using HubSpot, there are so many people that have dysfunctional landing pages that aren't even remotely following any of the best practices. And we're going to talk about those in a few moments. 

But I I first want to outline what needs to be in your conversion paths, the five building blocks that are essential to nailing it -- for taking more of your website visitors and converting them into leads:

1. Call to Action (CTA)

First and foremost, you need a call to action -- what's often referred to as a CTA. The job of a call to action is to take a visitor that’s somewhere, a certain kind of person or buyer persona in a certain kind of frame of mind, and redirect them to a landing page on your website, that's capable of doing lead generation and converting that person from a visitor into a lead. The call to action does a lot of that heavy lifting. 

You can have calls to action that are embedded in blog posts, on website pages, in email messages, or social media posts. 

You can have a graphical call to action, like a JPEG or PNG file, as well as a text-based call to action. 

While it's not usually referred to as a call to action in this context, when you're advertising with paid search or paid social (for example Google AdWords, Bing Ads, LinkedIn advertising, or Facebook advertising), you’re largely doing the same thing. 

You're taking someone that's in some kind of context -- they've done a search for something, read a website page, or looked at their Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn stream -- and you're trying to catch their attention. And persuade them that you have something that's valuable enough that it's worth clicking through and ultimately converting to a lead on, which is what starts the whole process. 

The call to action is what starts the whole lead generation process.

2. Landing Page 

Next up is what most people think first and foremost of for lead generation and conversion paths. 

A landing page is a specialized website page whose entire purpose is all about converting a website visitor into a lead. Anything else that's on that page, that's extraneous to that goal, that doesn't help to convert a website visitor into a lead, just simply needs to go because it's getting in the way

3. Form

A landing page by itself will not be effective without a form. 

The form is critical for gathering information from that visitor who's trading it in return for what's on the other side of that landing page. 

So when you're thinking about putting together the form and gathering information, there's a certain amount of fields, and contact properties, that are appropriate for a buyer’s journey stage -- and are appropriate for the value proposition. 

In other words, if somebody is signing up for a free consultation where it's delivered one-on-one, there's a tremendous amount of value. And if it's something that someone could see themselves paying $100 or $200 for that kind of consultation, you can ask for considerably more information than if you're giving somebody a free downloadable eBook or inviting them to a webinar. 

And if you're giving somebody a free downloadable eBook or inviting them to a webinar, you can ask for considerably more information than if you're promising a one-page downloadable checklist. 

So it’s the perceived value of the premium content that entitles you to ask for more information from the website visitor, within reason. 

The amount of data that you're collecting is like a currency value; it’s a value for value exchange. 

Generally the more that you're asking, it’s usually something that you’d ask of somebody who’s a little further along in the buyer’s journey -- when you’ve done more education and build up some trust already. 

A big advanced tip to think about, if you're looking to convert more of your website visitors into leads: Think about using custom fields, also referred to as custom contact properties, to get the data that you really need. 

Sometimes out of the box, your email service provider, marketing automation platform, or CRM has a lot of good default fields that are in there. 

But sometimes there are things that are unique to your business that need to be set up to help you capture the right information on your landing page forms -- to help you better segment and figure out what buyer persona they’re part of and what buyer’s journey stage they’re in. So you can appropriately segment, nurture them, and accelerate them along on the sales cycle. 

So we talked about CTAs, landing pages, and forms.

4. Confirmation Page

Next up, item number four in the building blocks for conversion paths, are your confirmation pages. 

The purpose of your confirmation pages: this is what somebody sees after they hit the button that's on your landing page form, to get what's on the other side of the landing page. 

By default, most of the time that form button has the word “Submit.” 

“Submit” almost never proves to be the highest converting word to put in that box. Usually, you want to align, or match up, with what they're getting:

  • “Download”
  • “Register”
  • “Attend”
  • “Get” 

Just about anything is better than “Submit.” 

If you go back five or ten years ago, and look at landing page best practices, a lot of these tools put a “Reset” button or “Clear” button next to the “Submit” button. 

So if “Submit” isn’t insulting or stupid enough to put there, right next to there is a button that if somebody accidentally clicked on would erase all of the information they just typed into your form. Talk about a user experience and conversion rate killer! 

Fortunately, that's gone away. You hardly ever see a “Reset” button or “Clear” button anymore unless somebody set up like a landing page and form five or ten ago, and didn’t go back and adjust, update, or optimize it. But if you have a form on your website where somebody could be ridiculously frustrated by typing something and accidentally clearing it all, get rid of that like yesterday. 

Your confirmation page delivers the promised offer and presents suggested next steps to accelerate the sales cycle and move someone further along in the buyer’s journey. 

At that point in the inbound marketing methodology, you're moving them from Convert into Close.; the Close phase of the inbound marketing methodology -- which is all about helping your leads accelerate into sales opportunities, and ultimately into new customers and clients.

5. Email Confirmation/Workflow

The final building, the fifth building block, has to do with email and getting a piece of email real estate into the inbox -- the email confirmation, the workflow message or messages that go out to somebody’s the filled out a form. 

And it gets to their email inbox if you're doing all of the email deliverability best practices right hopefully most of the time. 

That email confirmation reinforces the information that was on the confirmation page. And it reinforces the suggested next steps to help accelerate the sales cycle. 

Just like with the confirmation page, your email confirmation and workflow messages in that context will help with the Close phase of the inbound marketing methodology. 

So just recapping the conversion path building blocks:

  1. Call to action
  2. Landing page
  3. Form (that goes within the landing page)
  4. Confirmation page
  5. Email message (that goes along with that email confirmation or workflow message)

Don’t Be Lazy: Inline Confirmation Messages Suck

Every once in a while, with some marketing automation programs, there's a lazy default that should almost never be used -- where there’s just some kind of inline confirmation message, that someone has filled out a form. 

The reason not to use that:

  1. It looks lazy -- like you’re doing the whole thing half-assed
  2. It cannot accelerate the sales cycle. It doesn't do any of the good, heavy lifting with delivering the offer, suggesting next steps, and things like that. 

So if you think about getting a fair amount of traffic going through these conversion paths for lead generation purposes, don't skip that step with the confirmation page. It's so important.

Landing Page Best Practices

Next, I want to take a few minutes to make sure that you're up to speed on landing page best practices. 

Like I said, at the beginning of this episode, when most people think of the Convert phase of the inbound marketing methodology, or website conversion paths and lead generation, first and foremost, people think of landing pages. 

But a lot of times, they’re not doing a great job with the landing pages. They’re simply not following best practices. 

Yes, you're always going to be testing. You're always going to be trying to improve your control over time. 

But there are some things that just shouldn't be done if you're trying to start out with a good, successful baseline.

Target a 20% Landing Page Conversion Rate as a Starting Benchmark (1 Out of 5) 

For starters, when it comes to landing page best practices, the benchmark conversion rate that you should be shooting for, out of the gate, is to get to at least 20% -- where 20% of your visitors that see that landing page (one out of five) convert to a lead. 

Naturally, if your traffic quality is incredibly high, you’re self-biasing and can hopefully get a conversion rate that’s significantly higher than 20%. 

If you’re traffic quality sucks, if you’re buying a bunch of junk traffic or poorly configured, half-baked retargeting traffic, and you’re spamming people, expect that your conversion rate is going to be much worse than 20%. 

But if you're doing most of the things right, most of the time, 20% is a good number to shoot for.

Write a Simple, Action-Oriented Headline That Tells Exactly What You’ll Get 

Your headline needs to tells exactly what somebody is going to get by filling out that landing page form. 

Sometimes the headline includes the Title of that premium content. 

But make sure it includes an action verb. Don’t make people guess what action they should take. No one has a lot of time to try to figure out cryptic instructions or what you're trying to make them guess. 

Tell them exactly what they should do:

  • Download
  • Register
  • Get
  • Sign up
  • Subscribe 

Whatever it is, make sure that you’re very clear in your headline. 

And just have one headline. 

Sometimes people put layers and layers of headlines. Not a good idea. 

Maybe there's a subhead below it. But just one headline. 

If you have two things, that are in the same font and size, it just confuses the heck out of people.

Add a Few Short Paragraphs and Bullet Points Explaining Value

On that landing page, add a few short paragraphs -- especially some bullet points -- to explain the value of what somebody's going to get by completing your landing page, by converting.

Use a Visual Element: Cover image, Photo of Author, or Video

The brain processes images visually so much faster than it can process text, by order of magnitude of tens of thousands -- I think 60,000 times faster is the number that’s often thrown around. 

But even if it was just hundreds of times faster, people can process and convert faster by seeing something visual on the page, and you’ll lift the overall conversion rate on the page. 

A cover image of your premium content offer. A photo of the author or the person that’s speaking at your event. 

If you have a video available, other things being equal video tends to do even better than static images. But use something visual.

Take Away Extraneous Navigation Menus and Links

Do not distract people with all kinds of nonsense and junk. I mentioned this earlier. 

Take away any extraneous navigation menus and any extraneous links. 

The entire purpose of a landing page is to take a website visitor and convert that visitor into a lead. 

Anything else is getting in the way. 

Do not become like the Cheesecake Factory menu of landing pages. You don’t need to or want to give people 60 pages of choices. 

One choice, and one choice only: Convert or don’t. Yes or no.

Keep Form Length Proportional to the Value of the Offer

Most of the time, people don't ask too much, although that does sometimes happen. Sometimes they're asking what would many would consider inappropriate information -- like they're asking for a business phone number or something like that, as a mandatory field, on a very early stage offer. 

Does somebody really want to get a phone call from your sales rep, 20 business days in a row, when downloading a white paper? 

Your sales rep can send an email and use other techniques. 

But the question is: do you want to make that a mandatory field? 

However later, if the person is arranging for a consultation, a conversation that has to take place, obviously then you’ll need to ask for a business phone number. 

Make sure that you keep the form length and the kind of information you’re asking for proportional to the value of the offer.

(Optional) Make Social Sharing Icons Available

As an optional best practice, if your buyer personas are big on a social media platform or two, make sure you include social sharing icons. The icons will make it easier for somebody to share your premium content offer -- basically that landing page -- with their network of friends, colleagues, and co-workers. That helps spread the message and attract more strangers that can get into the Convert phase of your inbound marketing methodology.

Always Be Converting Website Visitors Into Leads (and Even Reconverting)

The goal with all of this: 

Always be converting visitors into leads. 

Look for opportunities to convert more visitors into leads. 

A lot of times, people don’t think about how valuable it is to reconvert visitors into leads, to requalify them --  to continue to educate and build trust. 

Lead generation can and should be going on at all stages of the buyer’s journey:

  • Awareness -- when people are early on; just looking for answers, solutions to their problems, and advice on their challenges
  • Consideration -- when people start to narrow down their options and put a name to the problem
  • Decision -- when people are ready for one-on-one interaction with you 

Always be thinking about creative ways to convert more of your website visitors into leads.

Two Biggest Mistakes When Converting Website Visitors into Leads

Two of the biggest mistakes that I tend to see when people are trying to convert website visitors into leads when they're relatively new to inbound marketing, inbound sales, and HubSpot:

  1. Not having enough educational, premium content that's valuable enough to persuade a significant percentage of visitors to trade their contact information for what's on the other side of that landing page. All value is subjective. All value is relative, and it all depends on what's important to your buyer personas. By having detailed, really well fleshed-out buyer personas, it becomes a lot easier to develop landing pages and premium content that resonate with them enough for you get a decent conversion rate. You need to align with the things that are important to your buyer persona, typically one buyer persona at a time.
  2. Assuming that everyone that visits your website is immediately ready for a sales conversation. You almost always see a Contact Us page. But many times, the Contact Us page is the only place on the entire website where somebody can raise their hand and convert from a visitor to a lead. And if that scenario describes that state of your company’s website, it’s not a good place to be. Make sure that you have lots of different opportunities for people that are hot prospects to raise their hands. Request a Quote,  Schedule a Tour, or Book a Demo are a little better than Contact Us. But they’re all Decision stage offers. Make sure that you have lead generation conversion paths and premium educational content that are appropriate for people that are in the earlier stages of their buyer’s journey -- in the Awareness and Consideration stage. 

With all of this premium content, to convert more visitors into  leads you are looking for a two-pronged deep, emotional, visceral reaction from that particular buyer persona, where this person drops everything and says:

  1. “Wow! This is really good stuff. I've been looking for hours for something like this. I can't believe I finally found it.” (That prevents them from back-buttoning out of your website and leaving to never come back -- and sending a bad signal to Google that your stuff isn't worth very much. So it's really important that they have that first emotional reaction.)
  2. “What else do they have to say? “That's where your lead generation and your conversion path opportunities come up.

Estimating How Many Landing Pages to Build

Another big question that we tend to hear a lot from people that are relatively new to converting visitors into leads, lead generation, and conversion paths: 

How many landing pages should you have? 

A lot of that depends on just how aggressive your lead generation, opportunity generation, and revenue generation goals are. 

Typically, the first set of tipping points --- where you start to see hockey stick growth on lead generation -- happens somewhere between 15 and 30 landing pages. 

So for example, if you have three main buyer personas (a primary buyer persona and two secondary buyer personas) and you have three stages of the buyer's journey, think about three by three matrix. 

At the absolute minimum, you need to have nine landing pages. 

Over time,  your more important buyer persona -- that's where you're probably going to prioritize -- you end up building even more premium content and more landing pages. 

But over time, try to get that number to an absolute minimum of somewhere between 15 and 30 different, distinct, premium content offers that are behind your landing pages. 

And again, it's going to depend on how aggressive your SMART goals are (specific,  measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound).

The Bottom Line on Converting Your Website Visitors into Leads

Overall though, the goal with converting your visitors into website leads, lead generation, and conversion paths -- all of this is about keeping your funnel filled, keeping your pipeline filled for your sales team and making your sales team look like rockstars. 

So we've been talking today all about how to convert your website visitors into leads.


Topics: Inbound Sunshine Podcast

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