Every great salesperson feeds on the feeling of conversion: that magical moment when someone’s passing glance becomes genuine interest. It’s more than an “aha” moment – it’s a “tell me more” moment when a potential customer suddenly welcomes your pitch with open arms.
For businesses of all kinds, lead conversion is what turns strangers into paying customers. It’s the critical turning point in the 4-part inbound marketing methodology of attract – convert – close – delight. If conversion doesn’t occur, it means the attraction didn’t take hold. All that wooing was wasted.
So how do you ensure that your marketing efforts yield maximum conversion? If we could bottle that magic and sell it to you, we would, but here’s the next best thing: a solid lead conversion plan.
Aaaaaand … Action!
All lead conversion is about getting your audience to take action. That’s why you’ll often see this stage in the inbound marketing process simply labeled as the CTA, or call to action. It’s about deciding what you want people to do next.
If you’re thinking, “Buy our products!” – Well, we hear you. But that’s a bit too simplistic and definitely too far down the line in the process. Strangers can’t jump straight from attraction to sealing the deal. Something has to happen in-between, and that’s the conversion-action part of the buying experience – the CTA.
Develop good CTAs by asking questions from the customer’s point of view. Think about their pain points and what’s holding them back.
- What if I still feel skeptical?
- Where can I find detailed product specs?
- Is there a warranty or guarantee?
- Are there pricing options that fit my budget?
- Do other people feel satisfied with this product/service?
- What if I’m too busy right now, but I’d look at it later?
- How can I share this with my boss?
- Would I get a discount if I decide right now?
The answers to these questions will inform your choices of specific CTAs. For example, if your research shows your B2B customers scan for certain product specs before purchase, offer a landing page with the gritty details they need to make the decision.
At this stage, it’s important to keep in mind that people are likely very time-pressed when they encounter your offer. Don’t let them slip away purely because they don’t have time to be converted right now. If they’re interested in hearing more later, you can suggest they sign up for your emails or use a form to request a callback from customer service.
Now that the idea of the CTA is more clear, let’s take a deeper dive into some best practices for lead conversion.
Give Them Somewhere to Land
Landing pages, or standalone web pages with promotional or product details, should be a cornerstone of your lead conversion plan. In fact, all other types of CTA can work in tandem with landing pages to enhance the customer experience.
A landing page works like an old-fashioned paper “one sheet” about a product or service. It’s a summary. Instead of making the customer wade through a swamp of text on your website to find what they need, you direct them to a clean, reader-friendly format.
For your products, services, promotions, pricing plans, and more, landing pages serve as tidy little packages for customers to open and keep on hand. If they need time to think about the offer, they can jump back to the landing page later for another look.
They can even share the landing page with someone else, like their spouse, friends, followers, boss, or company CEO. The URLs for your landing pages should be easily forwarded and shared on social media.
Make an Irresistible Offer
Offers are another type of CTA that supports customers in the conversion process. While most people feel like they don’t want to be “sold to,” they also have an innate curiosity about what’s being offered.
Of course, deciding what kind of offers to make is one of the most challenging aspects of any business. If you walked into a cocktail party right now and asked the room, “What should my company offer?” people would have all kind of crazy answers: Free money! World peace! More cocktails!
A balance must be struck between customers’ desires and your own. The specific offers your company makes should be customer-focused, within the bounds of financial management. Offers should be both profitable for your company and relevant to your customers’ needs.
Discounts are a common type of offer. Take your most expensive, most popular, or newest product and offer a discount for ordering right away.
For customers, a 90% discount on all new orders sounds terrific, but yikes – it would sink your ship in terms of profitability. On the flip side, a 5% discount might seem like a great deal to you, but most people aren’t motivated by small discounts.
When creating offers, the key is to find something that psychologically feels like a good deal. Research shows that when an offer simply sounds better, it does better with customers, no matter the actual dollar savings. Here’s an example.
An outdoor gear company tested an email offer where half of their previous customers received a coupon for 15% off and half received a coupon for $50 off. Customers vastly preferred the $50 off coupon, which brought in 170% more revenue than the other offer. Its conversion rate was 72% higher.
Moreover, the click-through rates on the two emails were almost identical. People were opening both emails, but the $50 off coupon was converting them in a way that the 15% off coupon just couldn’t, regardless of the amount of a purchase.
This example shows the power of crafting your offers carefully. It’s also a reminder that your lead conversion plan should include A/B testing, or trials of similar offers to see which is more effective. Refine your offers over time, as you see which get the best results.
Although forms don’t seem like a very exciting part of lead conversion, they can actually be quite effective at connecting with people on a deeper level. A form is an exchange of valuable information for valuable content.
Take a moment to think about just a few of the personal things you share with companies through forms:
- Your name
- Your email address
- Where you live
- Whether you have children and pets
- What your hobbies and interests are
- Your questions about their products
Even people who are reluctant to share details like income, age, and ethnicity are often willing to share information that is, in a way, even more personal – their opinions, desires, and unfulfilled needs. Forms give your company a way to say, “We care about what you want.”
User experience expert Jared M. Spool wrote an article called “The $300 Million Button” after he helped a company change up their forms. Through language and design tweaks, they increased purchase conversions by 45%, resulting in $15 million in new revenue the first month and $300 million within a year.
The secret? Better conversion through better forms. Users were frustrated by encountering a required registration form immediately on the site. The form, which had 5 fields – email, password, login, register, and forgot password? – was viewed as too much of a hassle and too intrusive for people just seeking information.
Spool moved the form to a later point in the process and changed “register” to “continue,” removing the requirement to register in order to complete a transaction. Why? Because lots of people who skipped it ended up providing the same information anyway, through yet another form – the checkout cart form.
Give careful consideration to your forms, how they are designed, and where they appear in your customer journey. Used correctly, they can drive massive revenue; used incorrectly, they can drive customers away.
Meetings, Chats, Calls, and Other Interactions
In all this focus on web landing pages, forms, and other online activities, let’s not forget about good old fashioned human interaction – another cornerstone in your lead conversion plan.
The internet can’t be your only method of lead conversion. If it is, a certain percentage of your potential customers will never feel fully confident in making a purchase. Many people need a human voice, a personal touch.
Human interaction usually occurs through:
- Customer service phone calls
- Meetings/conference calls
- Live chat windows
- In-person visits
- Non-automated emails
Think about your company’s human interactions with customers. When someone needs to reach a human at your company right away, can they? Who do they reach? Is the information they receive consistent, on-brand, and persuasive in terms of lead conversion? Is the experience – and this is key – charming?
Charm is a tricky, hard-to-pin-down part of lead conversion. It’s the element of the experience that feels human, magnetic, and tempting – like a fun risk worth taking. Lots of people would rate their experiences with companies as “good,” but would they rate them as “charming”? Rarely.
Warby Parker, the online eyeglasses vendor, revolutionized the boring world of eye care by creating a charming customer experience that treads a careful line between human interactions and human-like automation.
For example, when Warby Parker site viewers abandon a free trial order, the site pops up a friendly note that says, “Oh no! Was it something we said? We’d love for you to stay and try on more frames. Click to continue your free home try-on order or give us a call to chat in person.”
It’s a very human message, delivered automatically. Users who choose to continue and complete the order receive a cheerful thank-you message that says, “Huzzah! Your first order! It’s time to celebrate.” And if you call Warby Parker’s phone number, a real human being answers by the second ring. It’s almost startling in its human-ness, and that feeling is the key to the company’s success.
Ironic, isn’t it? Automation and AI advancements are making human interactions even easier and more cost-effective than ever before. As technology assists more customers with their basic consumer needs – researching, price-comparison, ordering, reordering – humans are freed up to focus on higher-level problem solving that measurably improves the customer experience.
Conclusions About Conversion
We’re hoping that this deep dive into lead conversion has given you a lot to mull over for your company’s inbound marketing strategy. If you take anything away, let it be this: conversion is a fragile part of the process. It must be handled carefully.
Do it right, and you could be the next company making $300 million a year. Do it wrong, and all those dollars will slip straight through your fingers, into the pockets of your competitors.