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Friday, Aug. 15, 2008 at 7:16 am

5 Simple Tips for Lead-Generation Sites

By Bryan Eisenberg
August 15th, 2008

Several of my recent columns have dealt with testing and optimization. Today, I’ll focus on the other half of the online marketing world, those who must drive leads through their site.

1. Review Your Lead Generation Forms

Typically lead-gen site forms fail in two major areas:

  • Many lead-gen sites simply copy forms from a site they like, giving little thought to the nuances and the difference between their business goals and the site they copied. The result can lead to a slew of unqualified leads, or low conversion to lead.
  • Some companies make their complex lead scoring requirements the visitor’s job. We worked with a client with a highly complex lead scoring system that, in turn, created an intimidating lead form with a dozen intrusive questions and several drop downs with more than 20 choices. Only the most determined of leads would actually complete the entire form. The obvious result was an offensively high form abandonment rate.

The obvious advantage to collecting information from potential prospects in a lead form is that it can help a business convert more qualified leads. To solve both of the above problems, there’s one successful approach: use a two-part lead form.

On the first page, ask the minimum amount of questions possible for a visitor to become a lead, where each field is a required field. Ask for the contact information and little else.

On the second page, ask several more optional questions that will help the company better qualify the lead. Above the form, explain that the more information they provide, the better you can prepare for a conversation with them. With this technique, even if little (or no) information is provided on the second page, you at least have contact information that the sales team can follow up on.

2. Develop More Than One Lead Form

Many sites still link to one lead form on the site. Consider placing lead forms in several places on the site. Providing lead forms on each product/service pages and on other key pages allows you to track where the lead form was filled out and provides a helpful nugget of data for the sales team as they contact that lead.

3. Avoid Asking for the Lead Too Early

While recently shopping some demand-gen companies, I did a Google search for Eloqua. The second paid listing for Marketo caught my interest, so I clicked through.

marketo landing page

Someone on my staff ended up on a landing a page that successfully enticed them to learn more — specifically this person wanted to see the video demo. Unfortunately, one couldn’t watch the video without filling out the lead form.

Many visitors in this situation aren’t ready to begin the sales process by filling out a lead form with only a promise to watch a demo. My colleague was one of those visitors and bailed. Ironically, another member of my team noticed that the logo on top of the page was a link to the Marketo home page and was able to watch a demo video without filling out a form.

While it may be a “best practice” to limit visitor choices on landing pages, this certainly isn’t a persuasive practice, especially for someone in the early stages of the buying process. My colleague didn’t know what Marketo was, and certainly wasn’t ready to give up personal information at this stage to find out. Marketo is losing conversion opportunities by not providing more actions on this page for visitors who aren’t ready to give out personal info until they know more.

4. How to Do Lead Gen the Right Way

latifah landing page
Our partner and marketing to women guru, Michele Miller recently blogged about Jenny Craig’s successful persona-based marketing plan. Whether on purpose or by intuition, Jenny Craig’s celebrity spokeswomen appeal to specific personas and buying types. As we dug further, we were even more impressed. We Googled both Queen Latifah and Valerie Bertinelli and were surprised to find that Jenny Craig had purchased some AdWords ads on those two terms.

Even better, as we clicked through the ads to their landing pages, we noticed that each landing page was crafted and had elements for the persona type that would be attracted to each celebrity.

We extrapolated that Latifah appealed to a more humanistic persona. The page was filled with relational language giving the overall impression to the humanistic persona that becoming a lead for Jenny Craig meant starting a relationship — a key motivator for a humanistic buyer. Take a look at the page and see if you can see the strategy at work.

valerie landing pageBertinelli’s page reflects her methodical style, thereby making it easier for a methodical prospect to get more information. Elements on this page are more information focused and allow for the methodical persona to take action their way. Can you see the difference a persona-based page makes?

5. Aggressively Optimize Your Lead-Gen Process

Many e-commerce sites pour resources and time into improving their checkout process. Lead-gen sites don’t seem to have the same commitment to testing and optimizing their lead generation process. If you’re a lead gen site, your lead-generation process is your checkout process — it’s just as critical to your business as a shopping cart is to an e-commerce site.

What have you done lately to improve your lead-gen efforts? Let me know in the comments below.

*Cross-posted on ClickZ.

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Comments (32)

  1. An A/B test (Google website optimizer) can be a very useful tool to compare the performance of different webforms.

  2. A great article Bryan, and in response to your call for comments…

    For one of our clients we have helped deliver exceptional ROI by providing 2 lead generation forms on the primary lead generation page.

    Form 1 asks the visitor for minimal information, so that they can get back to doing their job quickly, whilst our client receives just enough information to begin the sales process with them.

    Form 2 asks for much more detailed information from the visitor about their requirements. This provides benefits to both visitor and client – the visitor gains full confidence that the company they are contacting have taken full consideration of the type of order information they would like to provide, and the company get much more qualified leads which drastically speed up the sales process.

    By presenting these 2 alternatives to the visitor they simply need to choose which form fits their time constraints and general requirements, and away they go. Even if they choose the basic form, they are aware of the type of detail that the company is looking for in the more in-depth form, which again
    reflects positively on our clients understanding of their customers wants and needs.

    In wrapping up, your post has prompted me to plan in an article on this very subject on our usability blog – thanks Bryan!

  3. Excellent article, Bryan. Thanks for pointing out that landing pages for paid listings on Google should offer options other than filling out a form. “If they clicked on my ad, they’re ready to buy” is quite often the wrong assumption and can substantially harm conversion rates and may even anger users into never wanting to do business with you. (That’s the effect it has on me, anyway!)

  4. Brian,
    Your thought leadership in persuasive architecture has been instrumental in the development some of our guiding principles for Sales 2.0 prospecting automation. I’m a huge fan and have purchased every book you and your brothers have written. (Are you buttered up yet? Good, here’s the bad news.)

    That is why I continue to be disappointed when you touch on areas related to B2B revenue generation. I realize that your community is primarily web design professionals; however, they need to be aware of best practices in companies selling complex solutions to other businesses.

    Nothing in your post was necessarily wrong – it was just inefficient and outdated. May I respectfully submit the following?

    1. Statistically, B2B salespeople generate 50% to 70% of the prospects that result in contracts. They are much more productive than marketing because they execute “prospecting and prospect development” as opposed to “lead generation”. Prospect development is a 1-to-1 relationship building exercise, lead generation is a mass marketing, advertising based, skimming of potential customers. 30% to 40% of your ideal prospects are trashed because they are not ready to engage with a salesperson. FORGET LEADS AND LEAD FORMS – THINK RELATIONSHIPS AND DIALOGS.

    2. The problem with your approach, and the approach of 95% of B2B marketers, is that the business prospect now performs much of his buying process on the web, long before he is willing to engage with a salesperson. Therefore, your website is involved in the SELLING PROCESS. How many of your community members have ever “carried a bag” or even attended a formal sales training class? IT’S ABOUT SELLING.

    3. And what does research tell us are the key elements to highly productive selling?
    a. Relationship building (Customer perceptions and emotions)
    b. Dynamic formal sales process (Strategic dynamic multi-step dialogs based on listening to your customer)
    c. The Science of Persuasion (What actions should your prospect take?)
    d. Activity Level (Touches)
    IF YOU ARE NOT INTERACTING AND LISTENING TO YOUR PROSPECT YOU CAN’T SELL.

    4. And what is the web equivalent to interacting and listening? Its analytics driven dynamic multi-step web interactions, i.e. Sales 2.0. All of your suggestions are the poor (or ignorant) man’s answer to dynamic multi-step interactions. Why? Don’t your community members have marketing budgets? These on-demand services are inexpensive. It’s the persuasive design that’s expensive. Perhaps you should spend less time critiquing Marketo’s persuasive architecture, and more time understanding the positive impact their technology delivers for improved prospecting activity, sales process and relationship-building. IF ALL YOU OWN IS A HAMMER EVERYTHING LOOKS LIKE A NAIL.

    5. What do you mean by “Aggressively Optimize Your Lead-Gen Process”? In aggressive B2B sales companies, improvements in conversion rates and leads generated are the fast lane to unemployment. Ask the CEO what is important in marketing, prospecting and sales and he will tell you. IF IT DOESN’T IMPROVE SALES PIPELINE, REVENUE OR MARGIN – WHY DO IT?

    Brain, I sincerely thank you for your insight and your willingness to entertain different views and perspectives. I offer these comments to stir controversy and discussion. I will entertain any polite, scientific, data-driven discussion on the opinions I have offered here. Anyone who wishes to take this offline can reach me at bbutler@moredemand.com. Also, our company has a placeholder website that we threw up (good choice of words) when we started our prospecting productivity research. Ignore it. http://www.DigitalSalesAssistant.com will be the new blog/web site.

    Brock Butler, CEO
    MoreDemand LLC

  5. Brock,

    The columns Bryan writes for ClickZ demand brevity and are geared to a specific audience as you recognize. You’ve read “Waiting For Your Cat To Bark?” and our other work so you know that we’re mostly in agreement with you. You’re welcome to air your ideas here, especially since they are good ones. However, please don’t present your ideas as controversial at our expense. Your buttering up convinced me you know we’re not at odds with you.

    Best regards,

    Jeffrey

  6. Brock,
    I read Grokdotcom religiously most days and can remember your self promotion back on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2008 http://www.grokdotcom.com/2008/01/22/nauseating-web-copy/
    There I called you on the ineffectivness of your website that you promoted then and I’ll call you again on the ineffectivness of this new site you are self promoting “again” on this well seasoned blog. Sort it out mate and pull your head in.

  7. Nice article Bryan. Thank you

  8. the best way I have found to generate leads is though a blog with open comments. This allows prospects to ask questions in a manner which is not sales driven.

  9. A/B Testing is important for lead generation. Google Optimizer offers some obvious benefits. I liked the idea on personas for lead generation. Is there a best practice method for developing personas.

    Thank You,

  10. Hi,

    Nice article.

    We are a lead centric company.

    We used to have extensive forms but after testing out various forms we have arrived at forms that are simpler and convert better.

    Regards
    Ranjana

  11. I honestly think that if you ask for leads from people it’s kind of cheasy. If you do a good job and develop a relationship with your clients, you’ll develop leads naturally.

  12. ^Brother of him – I couldn’t disagree more. I used to be afraid to ask for the sale, and for the leads, but now I do, and it always works. One time I had a lady who was trying to talk me down on price, and I wouldn’t budge. I asked her if she knew anyone else who might be interested (almost like when you ask out someone you know you don’t have a chance with just because) and she said yeah – I haven’t closed yet on her friend, but he’ll be a good client.

  13. [...] Bryan Eisenberg התייחס לנושא במאמרו ובו התייחס ל- 5 טיפים להשגת לידים דרך האתר: [...]

  14. [...] Bryan Eisenberg התייחס לנושא במאמרו ובו התייחס ל- 5 טיפים להשגת לידים דרך האתר: [...]

  15. Great Article. Engageing a prospect with the web is a science. An engaged person who sees you as a solution becomes a lead. A good site sorts.

  16. Can a lead generation page be a blog?

  17. Hey I own a timeshare resale telemarketing room and i wanted to see if setting up a few forums would be worth the time as apposed to buying the leads and how would i go about getting set up

  18. I’ve got a new site I’ve been promoting, and mostly tinkering with the home page has been my priority. If a potential customer bounces before they even click a 2nd link then the home page didn’t do it’s job to attract their interest. I’m only a few months into it, and it seems to take months to get results, so we’ll see how this goes.

    From there we’re onto subpages, and I agree, placing multiple links to signup forms, and tracking where they came from is certainly important to capture.

  19. We always ask for the sale! Or conversion actually as we’re online soliciting insurance agents to enroll with us. And why not? They’re surfing looking for new opportunities or lead generation organizations and expect to take action – we direct them to Start Now!

    And they do :-)

    Dennis Foreman

  20. [...] Grok dot com has some good suggestions for improving your lead generation landing pages. In a nutshell: [...]

  21. Targeted sales leads are at the core of successful business development. If you are able to generate enough leads, business is sure to be on the way to growth.

  22. I just happened to come across your blog. Nice posts. I like this one very much. They are more content oriented than the usual ones you find these days. And the best part is the simplicity in your posts and the language you use in them. I have added you to my favorites. And I will continue to pay frequent visits to your blog. Expecting more such quality stuff from you. Carry on

  23. [...] this previous post; 5 simple tips for lead-generation sites, one of the tips is to “Avoid Asking For The Lead Too Early”! I have worked with hundreds of [...]

  24. [...] 5 simple tips for lead-generation sites [...]

  25. [...] you’re a lead generation site, you should use these tips to drive the improvements you make to your site and to help you decide what to test. They’re [...]

  26. if you don’t ask early you will probably never ask at all

  27. Found this page via Mellisa’s posting. These 5 tips are fantastic, the lead form guidance is right on the money. Many thanks, keep up the great work.

  28. A lead is a sign-up for an advertiser offer that includes contact information and in some cases, demographic information. There are many different kinds of leads such as debt, loan modification, tax, bankruptcy, education, and mortgage leads.

  29. Thanks for the post, I like point 4 specifically, it is the way I look at it now, to think about persoans who come to your site and making sure that landing page corresponds to the persona type.

  30. Customer trust is also a key to customers enquiring about a sevice. Customers are more unwilling to give over their data if they dont trust the brand/ website they are on

  31. I really found this article useful. As a small company looking more carefully at web based lead gen, I have picked up about 20-25 things to discuss with my SEO and web dev agency. Echoing Petr, (above,) point 4 was particularly pinpoint. Thanks again. Rob.

  32. Excellent post. I’ve been trying to sell this idea to clients for years and you totally nailed in a single succinct article. Will definitely Tweet this. Thanks for sharing your insights.

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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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