This page is going to focus a little more on lead generation since we have another guide specifically for e-commerce at Ecommerce Advice
While there are many different types of websites with different goals, the two big ones on the internet are lead generation and ecommerce. With a lead generation page, all you want to do is get people to call or fill out a form to get more information so that a sales person can follow up with them later. The more expensive your product, the more important this is, because its a lot to ask someone to make a major purchase from the internet without at least some personal contact. In an ecommerce site like amazon.com or millions of smaller similar sites you want people to go to a shopping cart, and make it successfully through the checkout process.
Lead generation sites are used also as a “front end” of the sales process where you want to capture the visitors information to either put them on your list or follow up with later, and then get them to the next step in the sales process. Either way what you need is some results from your website in terms of lead generation.
If you want your website to start performing better, here are the general steps you need to take:
1) Do some competitive analysis and competition research to get some ideas of what your competitors are doing in the marketplace. Make sure your offer is competitive, or you’ve carved out the correct niche and positioning for your product or service. Its ok to be more expensive, if you are taking the “cadillac” or “lear jet” position as opposed to the “Wal Mart” position.
The most dangerous place to be is the middle, because you are squeezed on price yet don’t have the value in the minds of your prospects that the more expensive companies do. Either way you choose is fine. You don’t see Apple getting squeezed on their iphone and other products do you? They are more expensive but are percieved as better. Wal Mart isn’t having any problems either. Enough said about that.
2) Obviously if you have some major problem with your product or service compared to your competitors you found in step 1 you have to fix that first, because while optimizing web pages will still help you, its only a temporary fix. If your product is truly both better and more expensive you need to get the word out related to that, and get some good public relations done.
For the sake of this guide we are going to assume that you know what your competitors are doing, you’ve got your value proposition clear and are not trying to be all things to everyone. Looking at your competitors offers and webpages and signing up for their lists, will give you some ideas already on different offers and designs to try. You can also check out the web archive at http://archive.org and search for your competitors websites. If you are lucky, you will be able to see how their website evolved over time, which is a great resource.
3) The first thing to realize is that web pages are not set in stone. They can and should be updated and redesigned regularly. Because we see so many webpages all the time we can pretty much look at any website and say “yep, vintage 2003″ or “holy moly, this is a 1998 site”. This also means that if you can get 2-3 different designs to start with and use the Google website optimizer to rotate between them, you can rapidly see which design is going to work best.
4) Consider separating your lead generation efforts from your corporate branding. We work with companies all the time that have a fixed idea of how they want to present themselves to the world, which would be fine, except they also aren’t getting the lead generation results they really want. Since you can’t have it both ways in most cases we’ve found it easier to just build a new website specifically for pay per click or other traffic sources, and let the bigwigs at corporate be happy with their very pretty but ineffective corporate site. We give them the results the sales team needs, they get to show people their big pretty site, and everybody’s happy. At the very least you should consider building specific landing pages for different advertising campaigns, and make results be the determining factor of design.
If you don’t make this leap, your marketing will be greatly hampered and you will end up being literally years behind your competitors.
Lets move onto the design of the page itself. What should it look like? How do you maximize the leads and inbound calls?
1) Buttons, graphics, and forms
It kind of goes without saying that whatever you want people to do, should take up prominent real estate in the page. We’ve seen people come to us with sites that they
want people to call or email from the site, without even the number or a contact form on their target page! Dom’t make people have to go to your contact us page to get ahold of you. Its a whole extra step both your prospect and you don’t need. So if you want people to call, make a big graphic that tells people to call now, and ideally get something free besides a “consultation”.
Right next to your form you should have a big arrow that says “Start Here”, or
something similar. Make the phone number and the contact form prominently placed if that is what you want people to do.
2) The headline
The headline of your page is probably the single most important element of the page. Just a different headline alone can more
than double the number of contact forms submitted and even phone calls. If you don’t have a lot of time, slap in a new headline and see how the page performs for a while. If you can split test several headlines at once using Google website optimizer or some other split testing software, so much the better, but do it.
What are some good headline angles to test? The most important thing in making a headline is to look at it from your prospects point of view, not your point of view. From your point of view, “xyz is the most sophisticated, cost effective product in the market”, but from their point of view, they are not always experts and just want to know “will this solve my problem?” If that chief benefit is not in the headline, they are gone before even reading the rest of your amazing sales copy. The science of making headlines that get results is quite old, and we can borrow quite a bit from direct mail here, but in a nutshell, you have to answer the question (Whats in it for me?) for the prospect. What’s the benefit? What do they get? Why should they read further?.
Answer these questions, play with different benefits, and always try to keep at least 1 split test going on the headline at all times. Eventually you will get one headline that really works well, which is your control, and you can hire different people to come up with a better headline to beat your control.
3) Number of fields that must be filled out in the form.
99% of the time, the less fields you require, the greater the response. This usually creates a problem with salespeople, who want to further qualify prospects so that they don’t waste their time. This can be difficult to balance for whoever is supposed to be generating leads. So, if in doubt, reduce the number of fields they fill out. The more hoops you make people jump through, the less people will make it through to the other end. Do you really need their address? Fax number? If not, just lose it. For things like insurance lead generation where you legitimately need more information to see if you can even do any business with them at all, keep the first form people have to fill out small, and then take people to a second page where you then ask for more, and pre fill out the second page with the info that people have given you from filling out the first form. This is a bit of programming, but at least you have the basic info stored if people don’t make it further.
4) Placement of the form
There are no hard and fast rules here, but for your offer if you have the form on the left side of the page, flip it and test the form on the right side, or visa versa. Just changing this element has boosted conversions by 30% or more.
5) Sales copy
There are many many copywriting courses on the internet, and we don’t have the space here to go into everything, but you should definately test two versions of the page, one with short to the point copy and one with copy a bit longer. If all you want is to get somebody to download a free ebook or call you, and you hit them with a gigantic 14 page amazing sales letter, sometimes it gets the opposite effect than you wanted and leads go down instead of up. Depending on your market, you should emphasize benefits and what it does for people rather than all the technical aspects and features.
Summary and take aways:
We’re all busy, and especially on the internet have to juggle speed of implementation, cost of implementation, and potential benefits in order to figure out how to maximize results. So since this is a real world guide for busy people, here’s our two cents on what gets you the biggest bang for the buck:
1) Don’t skimp on the competition research, you might just get a million dollar idea from looking at what your competitors are doing or not doing.
2) whatever you want people to do on your page such as call or fill out a form, look at the page and make sure that it is emphasized, very clear, and simple. Make sure the phone number is so big that its super easy to read. Its ok to even be a bit bombastic with bigger graphics that lead the eye to exactly what you want them to do.
3) If you page isn’t performing the way you’d like and you don’t have a lot of time, just change the headline. If you have more time to do a proper split test, try 4-5 different headlines and let them all fight it out.
4) Reduce the number of fields that people have to fill out to the absolute minimum. If you’ve already done that try a different location of the form.
5) Don’t be afraid to have your web designer try a short and a long version of your target page. There can be a big difference in performance depending on your offer.
1) Call us at 800-920-1985 and let us worry about all this!