Friday, January 4, 2013

Less is more or less

Conversion optimization for an e-commerce website is pretty straight forward.  The entire process happens online and can easily be measured and reported.  The primary goal is to get visitors to buy the product(s).

Online lead generation for professional services, publications, and online software is a little different.  The goal of the website is to get a visitor to submit a contact form or sign up for a free trial, but neither of these goals generates revenue for the company.  The real goal of the website is to get someone who is interested in your service, motivated to find a solution to his/her problem, and willing to paying you, to fill out the contact form or sign up for a free trial.  

Sales leads who are just curious, magazine subscribers who don't read, and software triers who never log in are just a waste of resources.

It is important to look at your overall conversion rate, not the number of leads your site generates but the number of paying customers.  For companies that close the deal offline, this can be harder to measure because of the inherit desire to attribute sales to the salesperson who closed the deal.  Rest assured that when your website does a better job of bringing in highly qualified leads, all of your sales people will perform better.

Optimize your site for high quality leads.

  • Start with traffic.  If you need to increase your return on investment, work to weed out low quality leads early on.  If your leads are deterred by the price of your service, don't be afraid to address pricing in your ads.  The clicks you loose wouldn't have purchased anyway.  Don't pay for low quality traffic.
  • Make your landing page longer.  Make sure your leads understand exactly what they are signing up for.  When you call a lead on the phone, they should be asking questions like, "What is your availability for next week?" not, "How much is the monthly fee after the trial?"
  • Add form fields to your contact form.  This is the opposite of most conversion optimization advice. Don't add random fields, but add any field that is pertinent to the conversation.  Do beware of sticky fields that require a great deal of trust, ex: birthday, social security number, credit card, etc.
Determined customers will complete the process no matter how hard it is.  A customer or lead that has had to jump through a few hoops won't be easily scared off by high prices or a long sales process.  These same customers are more likely to read your publication and actually use your software.

Every company is different and as such it is important to strike the right balance of leads and hoops that works for your company.  If your leads don't convert well enough, consider adding more hoops.  If you need more leads, consider increasing traffic or reducing form and page size.

Sometimes, conversion optimization starts with less conversions.