For professional service firms and others engaged in complex sales processes, pushing users toward a shopping cart isn’t the primary goal. The main objective is to persuade visitors to contact you to generate leads for your sales team, to nurture those prospects and convert them into new and repeat business.
One of the best ways to ensure websites are producing the most possible leads is to evaluate your site from a visitor’s perspective. Follow these steps for numerous, qualified leads.
1) Establish credibility
Just as you would in person, start building rapport with website visitors as soon as they arrive. Instead of a crude “welcome to our website” headline, create a positive feeling that reassures visitors: “You’ve come to the right place.” This encourages them to stay on your site, read a blurb or click a link. Now you have the opportunity to establish your credibility and earn their trust.
Initial impressions have a lasting impact known as the “halo effect” — what they first see influences their perception of the rest of your site and your brand, assuming they stick around.
2) Respond to inquiries quickly
Whether the inquiry comes by email, phone, Twitter or any other method, a quick response on your part (ideally within an hour) builds confidence and trust. It’s also the best way to capture a lead before they change their mind or find another vendor.
3) Give facts, but promote the benefits
Provide succinct descriptions of your services. Note your customers’ common questions and develop a FAQ with the answers. Above all, look for the emotional components that reveal the benefits of your solution and eliminate your prospects pain points. By creating this emotional connection you encourage them to continue interacting with you.
4) Provide information during each phase of the buying cycle
Relevant content guides prospects from one phase to the next. In the research phase, they gather information. Be a resource. Tell them what then need to know. Offer a how-to video. Capture their contact info by encouraging them to sign-up for a newsletter or register for an event or webinar. In the comparison phase, they evaluate your company relative to your competitors. Highlight content like success stories and case studies, checklists and guides. In the decision phase, value added offers and guarantees provide reassurance and help them feel good about making their decision.
5) Address the pricing question
Prospects need to know if your offerings are within their budget. They don’t expect to see a final price on your website, but look for budget ranges to qualify your company as a viable option. With this information upfront, both parties can avoid wasting time and energy.
6) Include images of your people
It is especially important for service businesses to include photos of key staff members on the “About Us” page to literally give your company a human face. Steer clear of high school yearbook or deer-in-theheadlights photos and avoid stock photography that comes across as generic. You might even consider a short video with a message from the CEO welcoming visitors to explore your business.
7) Make it easy for prospects to contact you
Phone numbers should be prominent on every page, along with a link to your contact page. Visitors should not have to scroll to see them. And repeat your contact information in the footer of each page. Consider including short forms on key pages of your site, not just your contact page.
8) Make action steps obvious
When visitors arrive at a page they should be greeted with a clear page title. The copy should be brief and easy to scan. Whether it’s “contact us for a free consultation” or “tell a friend,” there should be an obvious call-to-action. Use the color, style, and position of your call-to-action so visitors have no doubt where they’re supposed to click.
Also, minimize elements that detract from the action steps. Is every element on your page essential? Each word, image, button, and graphic on a page adds to the level of visual noise and competes for attention. A clear hierarchy helps visitors focus on the most important things.
9) Link actions with benefits
A “submit” button is never a good idea. It isn’t enough to say: “Contact us for more information.” Every call-to-action should be joined with a benefit. What will the visitor gain by taking the action? The Futurenowinc.com site offers a great example: “Let Us Help You Achieve Better Results” is paired with a “Please Contact Me” button.
10) Keep forms brief
Require only the contact information you need to respond and don’t ask for much more. If you must have additional information to qualify leads, consider a two part form. Ask if they prefer a phone or email reply. Periodically test your forms, make sure they work, and send an auto-reply message acknowledging receipt of every inquiry.
Even if you’re really good at what you do, it can be a struggle to generate enough leads in tough economic times. Make sure your website is working for you. Take the time to evaluate how it builds credibility, delivers useful content, and motivates visitors to take action and you will ignite your lead generation process.
By Barry Harrison, Resolve Digital
About the Author: Barry Harrison founded Resolve Digital, a San Francisco-based Web design and optimization company, in 2001. Trained as an architect, he turned to the Web in 1995 and never looked back.