Is your website generating the quantity and quality of leads you expect? If not, there may be a simple explanation.
The problem with many websites today is that they are built around an advertising model – but the wrong kind.
You see, there are two types of advertising, but only one kind of website. As a result, marketing professionals may be spending more money than necessary to pull in lots of qualified, interested prospects and customers.
Let’s examine the 2 primary types of advertising.
In the traditional advertising world, branding advertising is the kind you normally see on TV and in magazines. The company shows a picture (hopefully something cute that gets attention) and tells something about the product. Then, the next time you are in the store, you are supposed to remember this product among all its competitors because of the more favorable impression in your mind about this particular brand.
“There are 2 types of advertising, but only 1 type of web site.
This is the kind of advertising for big companies with big advertising budgets and money to burn. Ad agencies love this kind of advertising for three reasons.
First, there is zero accountability for the ad creators. Usually, there is no way of knowing if the advertising ‘worked.”
Second, these ads are great (for the ad agency, not the business owner) because if they don’t work, the answer is usually to “run more ads.” After all, they say, a person needs to be exposed to your ad seven times in order to create an impression. Since agencies get paid based on the amount of media bought, this works out well for them.
Finally, these are the kinds of ads that win awards. Ad agencies don’t win their industry awards based on how well the ad works, but how creative and original it is. Unfortunately, ad agency awards don’t bring in new customers or pay your bills.
The other type of advertising is direct response advertising. Direct response ads are completely different. First, they are 100% measurable. The ad always asks the prospect to take a specific direct action, either to buy or to request more information (and therefore become a lead). In all cases, the results of each individual ad are tracked and you know with certainty how well the ads are working.
““…the purpose of a web site is one thing and one thing only: To capture as many high-quality leads as possible as a percentage of all site visitors.”
Second, direct response ads are designed to compel action on the part of the prospect. Whether the intended action is to make a purchase, request more information, buy an entry-level product, or otherwise become a lead, the only thing that matters is how many ad viewers respond.
This is exactly the same thing with a web site. In other words, the purpose of a web site is one thing and one thing only: To capture as many high-quality leads as possible as a percentage of all site visitors.
Unfortunately, too many web sites look like they are competing for a design award – at the expense of making sales. The rest of this article will help you improve the successful response rate of your web site by looking at it from the perspective of a direct response marketer. As a result, you can start capturing more leads and making more sales – without spending another dime.
In fact, more than half the battle is in understanding the right questions to ask. “How can I make my web site better?” is not the right question. Neither is “How can I improve my design?”
On the contrary, once you start asking the right questions, you’re halfway there. We could spend a week on the fine points of headlines and calls to action and the placement of the offer on the web page. But all that is secondary to the basic philosophy of what you are trying to accomplish. Once you know what you’re trying to do, you’ll spend more time thinking about how to do it – and measuring everything you try. And your results will keep getting better and better.
““How can I make my web site better?” is not the right question. Neither is “How can I improve my design?”
The correct question is: “How can I capture more high-quality leads from my existing web site?”.
So, given that question, what direct response techniques can you quickly implement to make that happen? Now you may think there are 14 million different things you can do on a web site that could make a difference (and you’re right). So what do you focus on to make the most difference as quickly as possible?
Simple. Focus on the 5 characteristics of an effective direct response ad. As we go through each one, be thinking of what changes you can make on your web site to improve each one of these areas. And remember, one of the keys to direct response marketing is to test. You don’t have to guess perfectly every time. But as you continually test one improvement against another, you’re measured results will continually get better and better.
With far too many web sites, you can just look at them and know they are not capturing as many leads as possible. How? Because the web site does not even invite a response – at all. In other words, many web site owners seem to want to limit themselves to only talking to people who absolutely, positively want to buy from them right then.
“Are you ready to buy now? If not, forget it; I’m busy.”
On the contrary, the web site should invite the prospect to take a small step to get more information and begin a new relationship.
The good news is that many people are using the web to research products and services. But they may be very early in their buying cycle. The problem is that if they make it to your web site and they are “just researching,” there’s no guarantee they will ever be back. Indeed, most of them won’t remember your web site at all a few days later.
“…many web site owners seem to want to limit themselves to only talking to people who absolutely, positively want to buy from them right then.
Sure, some web site visitors will pick up the phone and call right then, or fill in a form, or send an email. But many of them are not ready for that step just yet. They need more information first – don’t make them leave your web site to go get it!
So your challenge is to capture their contact information (especially their email address) while they are on your web site the first time, and get permission to send them more information. Then you can (automatically) follow-up with them by email (for free), providing more information and building a relationship over time – until they are ready to buy.
This seems obvious when you think about it, so why do so many web sites blow it and not even try to capture email addresses? Probably because they are used to traditional “branding advertising,” and they build their web site to match this model.
It’s probably worth noting that many web designers are from graphic design and traditional ad agency backgrounds. So this kind of design is what the web designers are generally used to making – a nice looking ad with a cute picture to capture attention, and a “contact us” form that rarely works. If they’re interested, they’ll contact us.
You on the other hand, should work with your web designer to create a direct response model web site that focuses solely on capturing leads for the sales team. Capturing more leads when you have the chance will drive future sales.
Here’s a few web sites we’ve designed that have a killer response rate. We know that early stage enterprise buyers need budgetary pricing when starting a new project. Why not give the customer what they really want and get there contact info in return?
In direct response marketing, the headline is always the most important part of the ad. It’s called “the ad for the ad,” because this is what gets more or fewer people to actually read your offer. In most direct response ads, 80 percent of all the people who see the headline will not even read the ad. So the headline has to be as strong as possible – and it makes all the difference. Even with tiny Google AdWords, changing the title can affect the click-thru rate by 100% or more.
Like any direct response ad (an ad that wants someone to do something), the headline on your web page is key. You want the site visitor to stop surfing and take action by giving you their email address.
Without getting into an entire book on copy writing, here are a few points to keep in mind to convert more site visitors into leads on their first visit. First, think of your web site copy as a 24/7 sales person sitting right in front of your prospect whenever they want to listen.
Like any good sales presentation, you need to talk about the prospect and the benefits of your product for her. Not about yourself, your company, or your features. They only care about their needs and how you can help them. Use the word “you” a lot, not “we.”
Talk about benefits, not features.
Most marketers today are getting this right. They understand the value of good content in driving traffic. One unintended consequence, however, is that many customers are now reacting to “Content Shock”, or more content than they can consume. Creating content just for contents sake will not work, it may actually dilute your messaging.
One thing that direct response copywriters understand is the power of testimonials. When people don’t know you, and you’re trying to get them to do something, there’s nothing better than third-party endorsements to do your selling for you, increase your credibility, and make the prospect feel like they’ll be in good company by doing business with you.
So include a “Testimonials” page on your web site. But don’t make the same mistake I saw on a large software company’s web site last week. Where they were talking about the features and benefits of their product, they had a link that said “Testimonials.” It’s good that they had them, but remember Step Three, above. Don’t make them click around to see them. Put at least some of them right there on the same page so the prospect can read them and get the full effect without having to jump through another hoop.
And put some on the home page. For getting strangers to take action, showing testimonials from other customers just like them is one of the most important things you can do. Don’t hide them! At least show one or two on the home page, and then have a link to see more.
This is perhaps the biggest issue with most web sites. The most important thing is getting a prospect to take action, whether it’s to request budgetary pricing or subscribe to an email list. You have to ask. Every sales person learns this in Sales 101 and it applies just as much to web site marketing copy.
Copywriters who want their prospects to take action always, always, always tell them exactly what to do every step of the way. Listing your phone number (or your email address) is not enough. Check out this list:
Get a Quote via Email (our favorite because it works so well)
Call us right now at 555-1234.
Call us 24 hours a day at 555-1234 – operators are waiting for your call right now.
The first 50 callers get a free ____. Call us right now at 555-1234.
You get the idea. But for something that’s as proven as the concept of the importance of strong calls to action, apparently few web site owners believe it. On most web sites, the best you have is a tab that says “Contact Us.” And you’re lucky if you don’t have to search too hard for it.
The whole idea is to capture their email address now so sales can qualify them quickly, ahead of the competition. Marketing can follow-up over an extended period of time until they become hot down the road. Then, you’ll be right there to help them. But only if you captured their contact information way back when they were only mildly interested.
In order to get them to give you their email address, you have to give them something – a quid pro quo. And it’s important to think about who we’re talking about. Often, it’s prospects in the early stages of research, so what do they want? Information. Research. Knowledge. Examples include:
Self-Service Budgetary Pricing – our favorite!
Critical check lists
Quick start guides
Conclusion: Think like an infomercial, not a beer ad
If you need to get a return on every marketing dollar invested, there’s no better place to start than the Web. Through search engines, you can find prospects who are not only in your target market, but are actively researching what you sell.
But the key word is “researching.” They’re not always ready to buy right now. However, if you can get them to take action and provide their contact information now, and follow-up, you will be right there when they become a hot prospect down the road. And unlike your competitors, you’ll already have developed a relationship.
In order to get in the door first, be there early and think like a direct response marketer. You’re spending a certain amount driving traffic to your web site. Is it paying for itself or not?
Track everything. Test everything. And use proven direct response principles to convert as many web site visitors as possible into qualified, interested, red hot prospects.
About the author
Dale Underwood is the Founder of LeadLifter (powered by EchoQuote). As a former Storage Technology VAR owner, Mr. Underwood has personally generated and sold over $100 Million of enterprise hardware and software technology. Identifying the changing buyer journey early in 2005, Mr. Underwood created EchoQuote, an early stage lead generation platform to capture serious buyers. As of the date of this article, EchoQuote has captured more than 120,000 early stage B2B buyers of technology valued at more than $10 Billion.