Turning Website Visitors into Customers

Providing your website’s visitors with a easy browsing experience is great. Having your website ranked #1 for high-traffic keywords is awesome. But the main idea of any business’s website is to help generate revenue. Even if you don’t have an e-commerce website, if your site doesn’t help you generate revenue in some way then, quite honestly, it is a waste of server space.

If you have a site that no one is visiting, then you have a traffic problem. If you have a site that is getting a lot of traffic but no one is buying or no one is calling or inquiring online about your products or services, then you have a conversion problem. The purpose of this blog post is to help you identify and correct any conversion problem your website may have.

Before we talk about how to get more of your website’s visitors to “convert,” let’s get some technical lingo out of way:

Conversion Rate – The rate at which your website’s visitors convert into leads or customers.

To give you a few examples of what this means, if you have an e-commerce site that gets 1,000 visits in one week, and you make 10 sales, then your conversion rate is 1%. If you sell your graphic design services, and you have 1,000 visits in one week and 5 people inquire about your services, then your conversion rate is 0.5%.

To give you an example of how critically important your conversion rate can be, consider this scenario:

You are the owner of an insurance lead generation website. You attract people to your site by providing information about how to lower their insurance premium on sports cars. You have a few banners throughout your site that ask visitors to inquire about getting three competing online insurance quotes. When someone completes the form they “convert” into a lead which you then sell to three different insurance companies for $2.50 each. In this scenario each lead is worth $7.50.

If you have 100,000 visitors per month and a 1% conversion rate then you generate $7,500 per month. If you could test and tune your design and/or create a more compelling banner ad to increase your conversion rate to 1.5% then you will increase your monthly revenue to $11,250. So you increase your monthly earnings by $3,750 per month without having to spend any more money on pay-per-click ads, search engine optimization, or anything else. The higher your traffic count, the greater the effect an increase in the conversion rate will have on your revenue. Imagine, for instance, if you had a website with 10,000,000 visitors per month. A 0.05% increase in your conversion rate could increase your monthly revenue by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

To get people to convert, your site requires two important elements: a conversion mechanism and a reason for converting.

Conversion Mechanism

A conversion mechanism for an e-commerce site would be a “Buy Now” button. For a consulting company’s website it could be a “Contact Us” form which captures a potential clint’s contact information. Here is a short list of these and other conversion mechanisms:

  •  Web Form
  • Email address
  • Buy Now button
  • Phone number
  • Mailing address

If you are trying to generate leads then the most important conversion element you need by far is a web form. If you aren’t sure what a web form is, it is the forms you see on many websites where they ask you to enter your name, phone number, email address, address, etc. Some people may call it a “Contact Form” but that is really just a type of web form. A contact form is just a web form whose pitch is to contact the company. For a political campaign it could be a “Make a Difference” form, a “Volunteer” form, or a “Get Involved” form. You can pitch it just about any way you’d like, as long as it makes sense.

Typically, on web forms you don’t want to ask for too much. In most cases the fewer text boxes a person has to complete on a form the more likely they are to actually contact you or your business. While it would be nice to know someone’s name, age, gender, mailing address, phone number, and email address, it usually isn’t all necessary. On your web forms, you only want to ask for the minimum information necessary to contact someone. That could just be their name and phone number. Most of my web forms have the following fields: name, phone, email address, and message/comments which I make optional.

The importance of form simplicity is a very important point that can’t be stressed enough. Sometimes you or your boss may really want to know additional information about leads that come in over your site. You must resist this tendency! The choice between a shorter form or a longer form is the same thing as choosing between more leads or fewer leads. You can’t have it both ways, longer forms will result in fewer leads. If you or your superiors absolutely must know the information, then just ask them when you follow up with them by phone or email.

An email address can also be considered a conversion mechanism. Some people I consult or create sites for would rather have an email address than a web form on their website because they think it is much easier for someone to send an email than to complete a form. There may be some truth to this, but you should never have just an email address as a conversion element. The reason is because many people, like me, don’t use a desktop email program like Microsoft Outlook. So if I were to click an email address on your web site, then it would try to install Outlook on my computer. I’m not going to do this just to email one person, but I could copy your email address, go to Gmail, and then send you an email there. But that could be a lot of work if I don’t already have Gmail open, so I’d have to be pretty motivated to go through all that trouble of going to Gmail, logging in, and then typing out an email. Take my advice: if you are going to have an email address as your conversion mechanism, then also have a web form.

A phone number can also be a conversion mechanism. Many of my clients like to have their phone number noticeably placed at the top of their website in case people come to their site and just want to call them.

Even a lowly mailing address can be a conversion mechanism. But, unless you are giving away something of significant value, most people aren’t going to contact you if all you leave is a mailing address. The friction that must be overcome – finding an envelope, typing or writing a letter, going to buy a stamp…you get the picture – is just too much for most people to bare.

To generate the maximum number of conversions from your website, you must work to reduce this friction as much as possible for as many people as possible. Have a prominent phone number on your site for people that just want to call you. Have an email address for people who thinks its easier to send a quick email. And have a web form for the majority of your site’s visitors who will rather use it than all the other options.

A reason for converting

The real kicker is the other requirement needed to get people to convert into a lead or a customer: the reason for converting. The better the reason you give people to convert, the more conversions you will have. But how can you motivate your site’s visitors?

Ideally, your entire website, every page, should make your site’s visitors want to contact you. If you are a consultant, then every page will hopefully make you look like you know what you are talking about – and that you have answers that can help your potential clients make more money, cut costs, or make their lives easier.

If you can, you also want to make some sort of offer for people to take advantage of. The better the offer the more conversions you will generate. But you have to be somewhat careful here to make sure that what you offer doesn’t lower the quality of your leads so much that it is more work trying to get leads to buy from you than it is worth. As an extreme example, you could offer $100 Visa gift cards for everyone that contacts your company, but would the people who do contact you really be interested in your services or would they be more interested in just getting a $100 gift card?

Whatever you offer, it has to make sense for your business. Here are a few different types of businesses and something that they could offer their site’s visitors:

Residential Real Estate: “Contact us for a free market analysis”

Security Systems: “Contact us today and get your first three months free!”

Lawyer: “Contact us for a free case evaluation and consultation”

SEO Consultant: “Contact us for a free report on common online marketing mistakes”

People like free stuff. Anytime you can give something away for free that doesn’t cost you anything or doesn’t cost you much, it can be a great way to motivate someone to contact you instead of your competition.

Don’t bury your conversion mechanism

Here’s one more tip to generate more conversions: don’t bury your conversion mechanism. By that I mean don’t make it difficult for people to figure out where your web form is or how to contact you. If possible, put a call to action and a conversion form on every page of your website where it makes sense. If you sell large industrial machinery and you have a page for each type of machine your company creates, consider putting a form on the sidebar or at the bottom of each page with an invitation to contact you that reads, “Contact us if you have a question about this machine.” Having a quick and easy form that allow people to contact you won’t do any good if people never see it.

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