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FutureNow Article
Friday, Apr. 25, 2008

3 Reasons Your Visitors Don’t Convert to Leads

By Bryan Eisenberg
April 25th, 2008

lead generation conversion ratesWant to ramp up the conversion rate on your lead generation site?

Lead generation sites fail to convert for three basic reasons:

1. Visitors don’t understand the value they get in exchange for giving their information.

2. They are informationally challenged and collect too little, too much, or incorrect information.

3. You haven’t established trust and set proper expectations of what to expect when doing business with you.

Obviously, each is interrelated and flow from one to the other. There might be a few more reasons, but for now, these three culprits are enough to start you identifying specific problems on your site and determining action items for optimization.

Keep in mind, more leads may not be what you need. You may need more qualified leads, and a properly planned Web site should help the visitor qualify herself.

We’ve worked with several companies that have seen a decrease in the number of leads, but increased sales and optimized the sales team time and closing ratios because the quality of their leads was improved.

Exchanging Value: My Name for Your Service

Many sites offering “free” whitepapers, case studies, or resources in exchange for some visitor information do a poor job of merchandising their downloads. Your downloads contain valuable information. Treat them as such.

Stop thinking of these downloads as free. You’re asking for something extremely valuable to both you and the visitor, their contact information. To get this valuable information “merchandise” your downloads better. Show the visitor the value of what they’re downloading. So when they fill out the lead form, they feel they’re making a good exchange, valuable information for valuable information.

  • Include thumbnails of documents.
  • Let them know what they’ll learn from the download.
  • Let them know what they can do with the information.
  • List everything what’s “in it for them” in the download.
  • Let them know what will happen with their information. Will you be calling them? (More on this, below, under “Establishing Trust and Expectations”.)

If you offer a free trial or demo period, provide clear information about what they are getting. Is it a fully functional trial with a time limit? What happens when the demo runs out? Will you offer them support during the trial? (Sounds like a good way to win over a potential customer doesn’t it?) Disclose system requirements before they begin the sign up process.

Track the number of “bogus” e-mails you get, either bad e-mail addresses or e-mails from Hotmail, Yahoo, or Gmail. If you get too many emails from or elvisp@hotmail, rest assured that visitors don’t see value in the offer and the exchange.

Beware, sometimes these tactics will cause a drop in the number of leads, but rid you of junk leads. You have to determine if this is an acceptable trade off (it almost always is).

Help for the Informationally Challenged

Information, information, information is all around us. Some is useful, sometimes it’s hard to find what’s useful, and some information is just plain not helpful at all.

One approach to determine if you have info problems is to examine time spent on page. Often times I work with sites that have low time spent on main content pages but their FAQ page gets more visitor time. This may indicate that visitors aren’t finding information they need elsewhere. If a visitor relies on your FAQ to get information, it reduces trust. Why aren’t these frequent questions answered frequently (or linked to) on key pages like home and service/product pages?

Often sites put up so much information that visitors cannot find the piece of info they seek. This occasionally indicates an information architecture problem, but more often indicates that the visitors’ needs and motivations aren’t addressed in the content.

Another key issue often neglected is that often the person doing the research on the Web site isn’t the decision maker. She’s trying to gather, sort, and print (you do make it easy to do that, right?) information to give to the person making the decision. Are you making your site easy to understand for this person as well?

There really are no easy solutions to get your information in order. First begin to establish a persuasive framework, building personas then planning each persona’s interaction or persuasion scenarios with your site, and determining what information they need and when and where they need it on the site.

Establishing Trust and Expectations

Visitors must trust you. If they don’t, they don’t become leads or often they become bad leads. Visitors may even fill out a lead form if they mistrust you. Sometimes they are just going through the motion of getting proposals and pricing and are planning on buying from your competitor. You might have the better solution for them but the site or the lead process doesn’t instill enough confidence to take you seriously.

Most visitors who aren’t confident simply won’t contact you. They fear harassment from the sales team. Or sometimes your site is ineffective in communicating the values of the visitor and they bail. Again, this is a tragedy especially when you consider they could be in the market to buy what you sell.

Other times, visitors are in early stages of the buying process and an overly aggressive lead form will cause them to tighten up, assuming you’ll push them somewhere they don’t feel ready to go. Here are some things you can do to help instill trust.

  • Include information about what it’s like to work with your company. Let them know when you will contact them. Assure them that you will only help them determine their needs and not pressure them.
  • Ramp up your About Us page.
  • Ask as few questions as possible in your lead form. Don’t force them to give you all types information or endure a stack of intimidating drop downs.
  • Include short, friendly lead forms in several places on the site (not just your contact page). This will help you track where they filled out the form and better inform you what they might be interested in.
  • Tell them exactly what will happen when they send their info, tell them how soon they will be hearing from you. If possible give them a choice of how and when they prefer to be contacted.
  • Some visitors like to be prepared for the call. Provide a checklist of information they might need to have handy when they speak with you.
  • Some visitors prefer to call. Provide the phone number near the lead form.

Now go get some leads.

. .

Originally seen on ClickZ.

Editor’s Note: Want more tips on lead-generation? Join Bryan on June 3rd in Manhattan at the Call to Action seminar.

Add Your Comments

Comments (17)

  1. Although a little dated, Stanford’s web site credibility project offers some excellent suggestions to build trust and credibility.

  2. Bryan,
    Our group is a huge fan of FutureNow and has successfully applied your principles to internet-based sales prospecting and pipeline development for business solution providers. May I offer a sales professional’s perspective on your post?

    Is it possible that the number one obstacle to conversion is the fact that our potential customer is not ready to be considered a “lead”, with all the intrusion that “lead” implies?

    In the B2B arena especially, our buyer may be early in his buying process and not ready to engage in a sales process. Conversely, we do not know enough about our suspect to determine whether they are a good prospect or not.

    Instead of an all or nothing approach, wouldn’t we achieve better sales results if we cultivated, or developed, our suspects into qualified sales prospects, with an identified area of need, who are ready to engage in an active sales process?

    Perhaps if we better align with our potential customer’s buying process we would vastly improve the only marketing metric that CEOs care about – How many active sales opportunities resulted from his marketing investment?

    Wouldn’t it be better to reach out, attract, identify and learn about a “prospect community” of potential customers? Our mission now becomes reaching out, attracting and capturing as large a prospect community as possible. Therefore, if we stop thinking of these people as sales leads, then we could set the bar for conversion as low as possible – perhaps just a name and valid email address.

    Then, if we follow web 2.0 and FutureNow best-practices, we should do our best to offer ongoing value to this prospect community, so they continue to interact with our company. That interaction gives us the opportunity to learn about their needs, buying stage and value to our company – and hopefully to develop the trust necessary for them to engage in our selling process.

    I urge your community, especially in B2B, to stop focusing on creating leads and start focusing on what matters – developing sales opportunities. Sales professionals hate raw leads. We however love qualified sales opportunities.

    Jeff Sexton had a good post on thinking of your website as a sales person. Would a sales person be focused on getting a name or teeing up a sales opportunity?

    Love your thought-leadership,

    Brock Butler

  3. Absolutely love your articles (and book), Bryan!

    Working with eCommerce, and not just lead generation, I usually start with the following 4 bullets when optimizing campaigns and landing pages:

    1) The visitor is really after something else. You’re bringing some wrong traffic, most likely from too broad PPC keywords. Make it absolutely clear what it is you’re offering, so you don’t waste the visitors time. Who knows, sometime in the future they might have a use for you. Better make them leave fast, but with a positive impression.

    2) The visitor is not ready to “convert” yet. You’re hitting them in a place in their buying cycle that you’re not expecting and not offering a conversion point for on your landing page and/or site.

    3) You’re not helping the visitor accomplish his/her “goal”. Look deeper into what it actually is your visitor is after. Don’t tell the visitor what it is you (think you) want them to know, but tell them how your product/service can help them accomplish their goal. And don’t confuse the message with all sorts of irrelevant information.

    4) You have trust issues. The Stanford Project Troy suggest is a good place to start to improve on this point.

    Disclaimer: This is just from the top of my head. It’s not an actual “model” set in stone, but rather random thoughts of the moment.

    Plus, Number 5: When in doubt, (re)read the book “Call-to-Action” :-)

  4. I get a lot of information i never noticed. I will first work on “About Us”. This is very important point that i was ignore

  5. Another consideration is the length of your lead generation page.

    A short (1 page) landing page will generate more leads, but they are less qualified.

    A longer (8 page) landing page will make it easier to establish value, trust and expectations. You get fewer leads but they will be highly qualified.

    Cyndi Smasal
    Internet Marketing Master Strategist

  6. Great thoughts. Thanks

  7. Your article, and the comments that follow, are extraordinary for the perspective they offer.

    I’m developing websites for an insurance company to attract and support agents in different markets, each a different demographic. Thinking of these as “communities of need” searching to fulfill their goals will be a very useful approach for me and for my clients.

    Thanks for your help.

    Dennis Foreman

  8. I find difficult to convince Management on spending more time on analyzing our landing pages to increase conversions. They are always thinking of driving more traffic to the site. We have a 75% bounce rate in our sites and my suggestion has been on increasing conversions from the visitors we already have, but there’s always the issued of budget and priorities. How to get Management to walk the road of increasing conversions?

  9. The ideas found in this post and others on the Future Now site have transformed my web development business. Using your techniques my latest site has a bounce rate under 20% and converts surfers at FIVE TIMES the rate Fireclick Metrics posts as an average for our market segment!

    You can be certain I’ll continue to read your articles :-)

  10. We have found the same topic and after doing some research we found that a visitor from Singapore (an English speaking country) may be looking for information on a topic in English but has no intention of really shopping at a website in the United States (most visitors have a good idea by simply scanning the content that the website is based in US or UK or Australia or India). That is why they are less likely to click on ads for websites based in US.

  11. Great ideas in this post and in the thoughtful comments that follow. The ones that resonate most with me are those dealing with ‘qualification’ versus lead volume. Most often I deal with marketing executives that don’t distinguish the two – hard to believe I know!

    The analogy that Brock Butler’s comment makes about thinking of your website as a salesman receiving either “raw leads” or “qualified sales opportunities” is spot on for countering this attitude.


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Bryan Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark and Always Be Testing. You can friend him on Facebook or Twitter.

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