The Conversion Chronicles, resources for improving your online conversion rates

Can This Tested Technique Improve Poor Web Lead Generation Rates?


Forward to a friend      
We respect your friends privacy

Are you getting visitors to your Web site but not converting enough of them into qualified leads, customers or subscribers? This is a very common problem. The point of this article is to explain the benefits of adding an opt-in section to your Web site and show proof in the form of a measured experiment the Conversion Chronicles ran with for 3 months that the technique works. Adding opt-in is designed to help instill trust in the visitor and trust ultimately is the key to improving online lead generation and eventually closing the deal.

Don't get mad get just ask yourself why?

One recent subscriber to our Web site was furious with his
design team because the Web site they designed didn't deliver any qualified leads or customers. The problem was not the design or structure. The problem was the copy, content and, most important of all, the total absence of any reason for a visitor to become a qualified lead or prospect.

This is the main failing with most Web sites today. They can have good service offerings or products, nice looking, up-to-date and functional Web sites, but they expect the visitor to be instantly interested in the product or service. So why is this expectation a bad thing? Isn´t that what a business Web site is for, to showcase products and services?

Let's take a moment to think about that.

When you are about to make a major purchase and visit a store, a supermarket, see an advert, or hear one on the radio, do you instantly get your cash out? Or do you, like most sensible purchasers, shop around, look for the best deal, scour the dailies, list all the alternatives from the yellow pages, and so on?

So why do you think it will be any different on the Web? In fact, it is often more difficult to sell products and services on the Web than on any other media because inherently people simply don't trust you. And why should they? You could be anyone who knows how to code HTML. Why should they trust you? On the Web people are looking for information, it´s that simple. They want something that will tell them how to solve their problem, whatever that may be. To turn their problem into your opportunity, you need to help your visitors trust that you can solve their problem. Most importantly, you need to get something in return such as a name and an email address, so that you can begin to build a relationship with them.

Direct online sales might work for a trusted source like Amazon or an online pizza company with home delivery, but a Web site selling substantially priced products or services will have great difficulty in making an instant sale.

So how do you combat this lack of trust?

It´s done by enticing your visitors to give you their email address and is a technique The Conversion Chronicles has come to call Opt-in. It means that in addition to having a professional looking and functional website, you provide a powerful reason for visitors to give you their information. The information could take the form of free reports, e-books which help to solve a problem, or other useful information in audio or video format. Remember that you have to work to get information from people in the real world, so why should it be any different online? You have to produce quality information that qualifies them as interested in your product or service and be something that people will want in order for them to give you their details in return.

The proof is in the testing

Over three months, The Conversion Chronicles ran an opt-in experiment in order to prove to ourselves that it was worth the effort of producing this kind of material and then give it away for free.

For the purposes of the experiment, we measured the conversion rate, in this case the number of subscriptions as a percentage of total visitors. The experiment consisted of the following components.

1) The PDF file: Essential to the test was the Adobe PDF file. We wrote a short workbook to get people thinking about a Web site goal and objective. It gave readers a checklist to follow to make sure they had done the right things and, indeed, to raise awareness of what the right things are.

2) An Online Form: In order to get the PDF file the visitor was required to give us very limited information via a Web form. We only required a name and a valid e-mail address. Additional personal information (like phone number and Web address) was optional.

3) A Link Test Cycle: Whoa! Now it's getting complicated! For the purposes of the test, we wrote a Web page that varied when and how the link to the form would appear and how it looked. The first version showed a blue link to the subscription form which said ´Contact us for more information.´ For the second version, instead of the contact message, we had a blue link to the form saying ´Subscribe to receive our free Web Operations Management Guide.´ For the third, we had an attractive, large graphic that said ´Subscribe to receive our free Web Operations Management Guide´ and had a picture of what the guide looked like. We then had the Web page cycle through each of these three links, one per week, consecutively over three months. Each of the links was displayed for a total of one month out of the three. This was designed to test the consistency of the conversion rate.

The results

Version one: average 0% conversion.
Version two: average 5.1% conversion.
Version three: average 9.2% conversion.

For version one, zero, nil, nada conversions. Not one query in any of the 4 cycles from a total of 572 visitors.

For the second version, over the three month test we got only a few more visitors, 601, but managed to entice 30 subscribers.

For version three, we got fewer total visitors, only 258, but managed to entice more of them, 24 of 258 in fact. That was almost as many as we got from less than half of the total visitors for version two.

The test shows three very important things:

First, that copy alone can make a great deal of difference. The links in the first and second versions took visitors to exactly the same form and did exactly the same thing. However, because one simply said "Contact us for more information" and the other was an offer "Subscribe now and receive our free Web Operations Guide," the second was clicked through at a much higher rate.

Second, that if you steer and persuade people, more of them will respond. By being direct and using images which display the value of your offer, and by asking them to do something specific, you improve the chances of getting visitors to give you their information

Third and most important, that offering something of perceived value to your visitor produces significantly more qualified leads than offering only a way to get more information.

The important point to remember is that your visitor has to find the free content useful to remain a subscriber.

In summary, offering an opt-in is a tested method of generating qualified leads or prospects but offering it alone is not enough. You have to be persuasive with your copy or better still use persuasive images, and the information has to be valuable to your visitor. Using the opt-in method will help you to turn more of your visitors into prospects and leads by improving your conversion rate .
More from this months issue | Archived chronicles | More from this author
Steve JacksonAuthor: Steve Jackson, Editor - Conversion Chronicles

Steve Jackson is the Editor of the Conversion Chronicles, a website conversion rate marketing newsletter dedicated to improving website conversion rates. In 2003 he co-founded Aboavista the first web analytics consultancy in Finland and now a wholly owned subsidiary of Satama Interactive. Satama Analytics unit is a web conversion and web analytics consultancy based in Finland with offices across northern europe. You can get a free copy of his e-book sent to you upon subscription to the Conversion Chronicles web site.