If you’re in digital marketing, there’s probably one metric you’re more focused on than anything else: leads.
Your goal might be to get more leads, or maybe better leads, or leads that convert faster, or leads that give a higher value. But any way you cut it, it’s still all about lead generation.
The question is, how do you get those leads? There’s no shortage of lead generation tactics. But for this post, we’re going to focus on one channel you’re more likely to use than anything else: your website.
Your website is the hub of your marketing
Smart marketers already know their website is the hub of everything they do. All the social media work, all the email marketing, all the conference connections – they’re all designed to bring people to your website …
… where, of course, you have the opportunity convert them.
That means turning them into a lead. To get them to voluntarily raise their hand to ask for more information or to say they’re interested in your services.
That one action – usually completed through a form – is where the magic happens. For many marketers, it’s that one action that measures the success of everything else.
Of course, most of us are sophisticated enough to not just count conversions anymore. We measure by not only how many leads are created, but by how many convert (aka lead quality), how quickly they convert, and how valuable they are.
Your website can be a core tool in making all that happen. So if you’d really like to make 2017 the year your website becomes a lead generation machine, take a look at the suggestions below. Employing even a few of these can make a major difference.
1. Optimize your forms.
If you’re doing lead generation, you’re using forms. And as you probably know, most people don’t like forms very much.
Why? Forms slow people down. They’re a pain to fill out. And basically, they introduce a huge dump of friction into the conversion process.
“Friction” is that subtle feeling of resistance you get when you kinda want to do something, but it seems hard or inconvenient … or just forces you think more than you want.
Fortunately, there are ways to make your forms easier for people to fill out. Here are just a few tips.
- Keep forms short. The fewer fields you ask people to fill out, the more conversions you’ll get. (But: If you want to improve lead quality, adding a few carefully-chosen fields to a form is one of the best ways to do it).
- Make sure your forms are mobile friendly. Test them yourself. On more than one mobile device. Then be honest: Was it a seamless experience?
For more, see our ebook, Frictionless Forms.
2. Use landing pages.
If you’re not doing this already, the bad news is you’re losing a ton of leads. The good news is that if you create even a couple of landing pages, you’re going to see a significant jump in how many leads you generate.
Why? Because of another conversion principle: focus. Specifically, something called “Attention Ratio”.
Landing pages concentrate your visitors’ attention on the task at hand. As a result, guiding prospects to these pages tends to get radically higher conversion rates than, say, just dropping visitors onto your homepage and hoping they’ll notice the little call out about the offer they came for.
Even if someone is already on your site, having a landing page will improve how many leads you’ll get.
And if you’re already using landing pages, you’re testing them … right? That’s one of the top suggestions in our ebook, “Building Better Landing Pages”.
3. Add a “content upgrade” or a lead generation offer at the close of every blog post.
Never leave your readers hanging. Any time they get to the close of a blog post, there should be another related piece of content waiting for them. Maybe it’s a white paper or a research report. Maybe it’s a webinar on demand. Or another blog post.
But never leave them hanging. There should always be a next step.
Whatever that next step is, it should probably be “gated” (i.e., behind a form), which means users will have to hand over some of their information if they want to see the goodies. And that, of course, is where your lead is born.
This is lead gen 101. But while I was looking for live examples of this to show you (check out the one at the close of this post), it stunned me how many marketers and companies are not employing this tactic.
As always, the bad news here is how much business is being lost. The good news is it’s an easy fix: Get some gate-worthy content together ASAP, and add those lead gen boxes.
On the other hand, don’t go too crazy with gating your content.
Sometimes you’ll get more leads if you don’t require people to fill out a form. Your content (particularly your high-value content) may get more shares if you skip the lead gen form and let the content be accessed freely.
In fact, there’s evidence that not gating content sometimes creates more leads, or higher quality leads. But you have to do it just right. Balance is the key.
4. Make sure your tracking works.
“What gets measured, improves.” If you haven’t yet set up tracking on your website, the time is now. You need to know which pages are generating the most leads, and which pages aren’t performing well enough.
If you’ve got a nice CRM system set up already, great. But even a free Google Analytics account has a good basic tracking feature. Just set up a “goal” for each lead generation page you’ve got. Within a week, you’ll be amazed with the information. If you weren’t doing any tracking before, finding out your results is kind of like turning on the lights in a dark room.
Take note: This will show you which of your marketing efforts are working best. That alone can be extremely helpful. Once you’ve got the information on what’s actually driving your leads, do more of that … and consider backing off from the marketing efforts that aren’t actually working.
5. Archive your webinars for play on demand.
Webinars are a great way to generate leads. Every time you do another one, you get the contact information of hundreds (maybe even thousands) of people.
That’s a good start, but don’t stop there. Post your webinars on your website, too. Gate them … or consider not gating a few of the ones that are more introductory.
This will give your visitors a couple of webinars they can view without having to fill out a form (thus getting those webinars far more views than they’d otherwise get), but it still saves you some content to use for lead generation.
It’s a nice combo – you get great content to share with visitors, but you also get to do some lead generation. And you’ve got a way to balance the cost of all those webinars you’re doing.
Want to see an example of this in action? We have a whole page of webinars on demand.
6. Maximize “forward to a friend.”
Referral marketing, aka word of mouth marketing, is one of the most effective marketing strategies ever. It works because when a real person recommends your company to another person, that recommendation carries with it more trust than your marketing ever will. (Sorry…)
You can use this for lead generation, too. For instance, at the close of a blog post, instead of offering a content upgrade or a gated white paper, what if you showed a simple form with a call to action that says something like this:
“We hope you found this article helpful. If you know someone who needs this information, please send it to them via the form below.”
Often these are used for “Send to a friend” shares, where someone forwards an article to a colleague via email. Interestingly enough, that’s the most common way for executives to share content. And all that sharing, inevitably, can lead to … well, more leads.
You may want to run a couple of tests to see which copy gets the most referrals. It’s absolutely worth a try. This is an excellent sleeper tactic that can drive quite a bit of leads when it works.
7. Demonstrate how you’ve helped people.
Got a testimonials page on your site? If you don’t, you should. It might not result in leads directly from that page (unless you put a lead gen form on that page), but demonstrating how happy your past customers are is a great way to give your website visitors confidence. That confidence can translate into leads.
Testimonials aren’t the only way to show how you’ve helped your customers. Case studies are excellent, too. These “customer stories” don’t have to be much longer than a page or two. But that brevity packs a punch – case studies are one of the most effective content marketing formats.
8. Update your old content – and optimize it for lead generation.
We wrote an entire post about optimizing “older” content not too long ago. This is a super-effective way to get more leads, and for very little investment of money or time.
9. Create an assessment tool.
Or any other type of interactive content, like a quiz. Require that people complete your lead generation form to see the results.
These can be crazy-great for generating leads. Not only will you get people’s information, but if you create a small tool, you’ll also be able to craft your lead nurturing efforts based on how prospects answered the quiz or completed the assessment.
Want to see an example? Try our own assessment, “Are You Ready for Marketing Automation?”
Or here’s another example of an assessment, this time from a nonprofit.
As you can tell, by the time someone has finished the assessment, the company (or nonprofit) knows A LOT about them. There’s every reason to incorporate that knowledge into lead nurturing.
10. Create a “members only” section of your site.
Don’t like the sound of “members only”? No worries – call it whatever you want. But having a section of your site that hold super-valuable content, only available to registered users, is an ideal way to get more leads.
Blogging Wizard does this. The link to the gated section is in the header navigation, so visitors see it from every page. When they click on that navigation link, they’re brought to a landing page (of course) that sells the benefits of getting “free Lifetime Access” to the special section.
Does it work? You bet. In Ascend2’s 2015 Email List Growth Survey, website access was the most effective way to build an email list. I think it’ll work for lead gen, too.
11. Add a call to action to your top navigation links.
This is almost more of a website design recommendation, but once you start to notice it, you’ll see it everywhere. It’s a call to action button in the top right corner of a website, usually the last navigation link.
Something like this:
12. Use interstitials, overlays, pop-ups, and sliders – carefully.
These are one of the best lead generation tactics ever. Trouble is, they’re invasive (which is why they work), so many people don’t like them. Google doesn’t like them either and has recently begun to devalue sites that use interstitials too invasively.
This doesn’t mean you can’t use these tactics, though. Just avoid the following pitfalls. Do not:
- Show them immediately when someone lands on your site. Instead, wait at least 60 seconds, then show the lead gen offer.
- Grey out the rest of the screen so it’s unreadable. This is one of the flags Google is looking for.
- Take up the entire screen. Overly large overlays are a nightmare on mobile devices – often people have to back out of the site. So keep your opt-in offers small, and preferably in the top or bottom corner.
As you can tell, there are plenty of ways to squeeze more leads from your site.
Almost too many, in fact.
How can I say that? Because it is possible to over-optimize a site.
You’ve probably seen sites like this. They might be over-optimized for advertising (like Forbes did awhile back) or maybe they’re over-optimized for something else. The point is that they’ve put so many bells and whistles and widgets on their site that using it has become a drag. You can barely get through all the lead gen offers to find the content.
Don’t let that be you. Cherry pick your most effective lead generation tactics. Leave out the stuff that doesn’t work.
You see, typically there’s an 80/20 pattern with lead generation tactics. That is, about 20% of your lead generation tactics will generate 80% of your leads. The remaining 80% of your lead gen tactics will just bring in trickles. So don’t torture your visitors with all those lead gen tactics that don’t work as well.
The question is, of course … which tactics are going to be your top performers? The only way to know that is to try each one, and maybe test it in a couple of different presentations. Every site is different, and what works in the marketing research doesn’t necessarily work on every site.
Back to you
What’s your favorite way to get more leads from a website? Share it in the comments.