Implementing just a few simple best practices in conversion can make a huge difference in your bottom line. If you can increase your website’s conversion from 1 to 2 percent, you will have doubled your number of qualified leads!
A landing page is the first page of your website that a visitor arrives or “lands” on. Initially used in the PPC (pay-per-click) world, landing pages are designed for one thing: to get visitors to take specific action, whether buying a product, downloading an ebook, or “opting in” by joining an email list or filling out a lead form
The art and science of designing and optimizing landing pages has evolved into an industry of its own, known as Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). In order to achieve improved conversion rates, high paid CRO consultants and agencies use advanced software and tools to test and tweak every aspect of a landing page, from the copy, headline color, and font, to the shape and test of the call-to-action button. As you can imagine, improving the conversion rate by just .5 percent on a site that gets millions of unique visitors per month can result in a significant increase in sales revenue.
An example of a landing page on my site fletchermethod.com
Treat Every Page As a Landing Page
A huge mistake often made by small business website designers is putting all their eggs in one basket, placing all the trust building, engagement, and conversion elements on the home page only. This costly oversight can easily be prevented if website owners and designers are made aware of one simple fact: Most first-time visitors to your site do not land on your home page.
The next time you look at your Google Analytics reports, check out the “Content > Landing Pages” report. This shows which specific pages on your site visitors landed on, ranked from most to least popular. Although your home page may be the most popular, it gets only a small percentage of your total traffic. This means that most of your visitors are entering your site on your content pages, which is why we must treat every page as a landing page. Each blog post you write must contain as many engagement and conversion elements as possible. Each page must stand alone in its ability to build trust with the reader, steering him or her toward action.
How to Make Your Web Pages Like Your Landing Page
According to businessdictionary.com, a call to action (CTA) is defined as
“Words that urge the reader, listener, or viewer of a sales promotion message to take an immediate action, such as ‘Write Now,’ ‘Call Now,’ or (on Internet) ‘Click Here.’ A retail advertisement or commercial without a call-to-action is considered incomplete and ineffective,” – dictionary.com
To the layperson, the call to action may seem unnecessary, intrusive, or even cheesy. No one wants to pressure their audience and risk being seen in a negative, infomercial-esque light. But every blog post you write, ad you place, or postcard you send must have a clear and compelling call to action. Otherwise, you are entering a sword fight with a spatula. An effective call to action adds a competitive edge to everything you print, post, or publish.
There exists no greater tragedy in online marketing than the all-too-frequent occurrence of a small business owner taking the time to write epic content that engages and builds trust with readers, only to have the visitors leave your site and find your competitor.
Elements of an Effective Call to Action
A call to action must incorporate the following elements:
Use Your Calls to Action Everywhere You Can
Your target customers will encounter your business through many channels, including your website. Because you can never predict exactly how or where this “first contact” may occur, it’s critical to include a strong call to action on every page of your website and elsewhere where your business is listed, online or otherwise.
Social media profiles and multimedia sites: Whether consumers find you on YouTube, FaceBook, Twitter, or any other social media community, they should be prompted to contact your business right then and there.
A Web form, or “lead form,” is nothing more than a small area on a Web page containing fields. After users enter information into these fields, the information gets sent to a server for processing. Simply put, Web forms provide an easy way for visitors to contact you, much simpler than sending you an email or even picking up the phone.
Lead forms and their proper placement are a critical component of your conversion strategy. Remember, you have one singular goal when it comes to conversion: to measurably increase the percentage of your website visitors who convert into leads (which, again, means they contact you and express interest in your products or services).
Take a look at a few small business websites and the number of steps needed to get in touch with the corresponding businesses. On most sites, you’ll see some form of a “contact us” page that may or may not have a contact form. This is bad for two reasons:
Lead forms are one of the most valuable tools in your conversion arsenal for several reasons:
Types of Online Lead Forms
Before you bang your head against the wall or sell off your Facebook stock to hire a Web designer, hold your horses. If you can copy and paste, you possess all the technical skills required to add beautiful, powerful Web forms to your site. There are dozens of reputable products and entire companies dedicated to “drag and drop” Web forms and lead management.
Virtually all of these solutions work the same way, with two basic steps:
The one decision you’ll need to make is what type of form you want to use, in terms of what happens to the information once a form has been filled out. There are two main categories to choose from:
1. Simple email posted forms: As the name implies, these forms simply capture the information gathered from form users and email this data to you and/or any other folks you specify. The pros of these forms is that they are very easy to use, and with off-the-shelf plugins available for many CMS systems, they’re usually free.
If you’re using WordPress, you can install plugins right from your website. See this link for further details: http://codex.wordpress.org/Managing_Plugins
For the copy and paste method, use one of the following Web form providers:
2. Database-driven forms: These forms have the same front-end functions as simple email forms, with the added functionality of posting respondents’ data directly into a lead nurturing database or email marketing system, both of which store your “Web leads” in one organized place, making it super-easy to build and follow up with your growing list of contacts via email marketing campaigns. These email marketing platforms are very useful:
How to Use Lead Forms for Maximum Conversions
Be sure your forms are designed for maximum lead-generating effectiveness by following these Web form tips:
Make sure your lead forms gather the minimum amount of information you need to be able to follow up with your prospects. You can always ask more questions once you make contact.
The advent of fax machines, computers, mobile phones, and tablets may have provided new methods of lead generation, but none of these techy devices have yet displaced the undisputed heavyweight champion of lead generation: the telephone!
In fact, most advertising models used for online and mobile platforms involve driving users to the phone (as opposed to using lead forms alone). In terms of engagement, getting a phone call from a potential customer is much better than receiving a Web form. You, or your staff, are much more able to qualify leads on the phone, converting a higher percentage of them into appointments and customers.
There are a handful of easy things you can do with your phone number that are proven to result in more phone calls from qualified leads. Many of these best practices are the same as the ones we just covered relating to lead forms.
How to Double Your Phone Bill in Ten Minutes (In a Good Way)
Aside from the staple tools of online lead conversion covered thus far, there are several ancillary elements, including online chat services, pop-up forms and Web toolbars, that, depending on your business goals and website design, may deserve a place in your lead-generation arsenal.
Popups and lightboxes: Most of us hate “popups,” especially those of us who were unfortunate enough to get attacked by the multiple simultaneous Christmas-light-adorned popups so common in the late ’90s, which often prevented any further action, as the computer would freeze completely and indefinitely. Luckily in our current era, those abrasive popups have been toned down and transformed into vehicles to communicate important information that people find useful. If you’re open to experimenting with this slightly more aggressive lead generation/conversion tactic, here’s a list of simple-to-use popup and lightbox plugins for your WordPress (or other CMS) site:
WARNING: Now Google Hates Popups Too!
Google’s quality score is a set criteria that the search engine uses for PPC (pay-per-click) customers to measure the quality of Web pages. Quality score factors in a number of elements including your site’s bounce rate, content quality, relevance, and a litany of other criteria. Using popups places a clear negative “ding” on your Google quality report card.
Web Toolbars: This is the much less aggressive cousin of popups. Web toolbars are small, colored banner-like blocks that slide into view from the top or bottom of the page. Web toolbars can be customized to your liking and include either a hyperlink to the Web page of your choice or a complete mini-contact form (see below).
Recommended Web toolbar solutions:
An online chat window is a small box that appears on a Web page, offering visitors on-the-spot customer service. In my opinion, online chat windows can be more helpful to your visitors than not, providing an easily accessible format for folks to have their basic questions answered in real time. You must evaluate whether this fits into your site design and supports your online marketing goals.
There are two categories of live chat services available: self-managed and outsourced. The only difference is who does the “chatting”—someone you manage or an outsourced, full-service provider. Start with the outsourced version, as you’re not in the live chat business and there’s no sense setting up such infrastructure (even a simple one) before you test the results from using live chat in the first place.
Self-managed live chat: With this option, your staff communicates with respondents via an “operator interface,” which is simple software that allows whomever you designate to communicate with visitors. When your staff is out of the office or you’re closed for business, your staff can simply “turn off” the live chat feature on your site. These services charge a modest monthly fee ($10-100), depending on the number of “operator” licenses you have.
All-in-one live chat solutions: Just as the name implies, these providers offer complete solutions, meaning their staff responds to chat requests as representatives of your business. The top turnkey live chat providers are extremely good at what they do. Reps are trained to capture the respondents’ contact information and redirect their questions to their meeting with you, either in-person or over the phone.
A conversion magnet is a tool—usually a piece of high-quality content—that’s designed to offer something of enough value that it influences visitors’ behavior.
In the context of your website, conversion magnets include e-books, downloads, tip sheets, white papers, videos, and coupons—anything that provides enough value to make your audience take action. Remember, Internet users are reluctant to give out personal details, so you have to offer something that’s very relevant and of exceptional value to your audience.
The potential benefit of taking the time to put together a high-quality traffic magnet is a measurable increase in qualified leads. Keep in mind that most of your site visitors won’t contact you—even if you have an incredible 5 percent conversion rate, ninety-five out of every one hundred visitors that come to your site will leave, usually never to return or contact you again. Conversion magnets are about reaching out to those folks who may be on the fence and grabbing them with an offer they can’t refuse.
For example, let’s say you’re checking out websites of local assisted living communities, doing research for an aging parent or family member. The first two sites you visit both have contact forms and calls to action in prominent places. So far so good. But the two contact forms differ in one regard—one has a conversion magnet and the other does not:
Which of the above offers do you think would generate a higher conversion rate? The second offer is much more compelling, because it promises something of value in return.
Types of Conversion Magnets
Regardless of format, the content of your conversion magnet should be focused on one thing: the top questions and concerns of your audience. All it takes is a quick look at your past several customer interactions to come up with a clear list of their most frequently asked questions. We’ll cover how to create each of the following types of media later, but for now, look at this list and start thinking about which would best suit your audience and business goals.
The end goal of your website, content, marketing, and advertising efforts is to generate qualified leads and customers. Once members of your target audience come into contact with your brand and message (Reach), and consume your copy and read your content (Engagement), it’s critical that you provide them with a well-lit path to the “next steps” (Conversion), while eliminating distractions that could lead them astray, never to return. Using the conversion strategies outlined in this chapter will go a long way toward a measurable increase in qualified leads and customers.
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