Lead Generation: Website Best Practices

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Andy Crestodina
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A visitor takes action, a contact form is submitted, a lead is born.

It happens millions of times each day. It’s common, but not simple. There are dozens of little factors involved in lead generation. When it works, a stranger who needs help finds a webpage offering a product, service or advice. They learn, they trust and they take action.

Some websites do it well and generate leads all day long …but most don’t.

A lead generation website has a specific set of pages, each with specific elements. Each element aligns with the expectations and psychology of the visitor and the marketing program of the business.

Let’s break it down. The flow often looks something like this:

The website is gently guiding the visitor through a series of steps: awareness, interest, trust, then action. That’s a classic “conversion funnel.” Notice how the pages align with steps in the funnel:

This only works if each page in the process is built specifically for the purpose. Each page needs a set of elements that keep the process moving and the visitor flowing. Here is a breakdown of the best practices for each page on a lead generation website.

Blog Post: How Can I Help You?

It all starts before the visitor arrives. They received an email you sent them. They notice your content in a social stream. Or even more likely, they typed something into a search engine.

Your audience is constantly looking for useful information. To attract them, it’s important is to write many helpful blog posts and align those articles with keyphrases. The better you are at getting the expertise out of your brain and into search-friendly blog posts, the more visitors you’ll attract.

These articles should be so useful that the readers will be thrilled to have found you. And during that visit, they’ll find fast, easy ways to get more of your helpful advice through your email program (a prominent signup form), social media (icons let them follow you) or more content (internal links to related content).

A great blog post is the first step in the lead generation process. It should include all of the following elements:

1. Keyword-focused header

Use the target keyphrase once in the <h1> header. Along with the <title>, this is one of the most important places indicate relevance and use the phrase. Very specific pages generate more qualified leads.

2. Featured Image

Every great post has a great image. This makes the post more attractive, both on your site and in the social streams when it gets shared. This is your chance to explain concepts visually with informative charts or diagrams. It’s also your chance to use cat pictures.

3. Prominent email signup form with descriptive call to action

A great signup form tells people what they’re going to get and gives some evidence that it’s good. Make sure to follow the Three P’s of email signup forms.

4. Social sharing buttons

Make it easy to spread the word. Share buttons can appear at both the top and bottom of the post, or even as a “sticky” element that follows them as they scroll down the page. If you get a lot of shares, use share widgets with counters to show the number of shares. If shares are low, don’t show a counter. Those zeros are negative social proof!

5. Helpful, detailed article

It’s the deep, how-to content that positions you as the expert. These posts are also more likely to rank in search engines and get shared by readers. So go big. The more useful, the better.

Tip: Don’t limit yourself to a certain length. Use as many words as necessary to make it a great article and not one word more!

6. Multiple compelling images or charts

Your readers are scanning. You can slow them down and keep them engaged by adding visuals. Don’t stop at just one image. More bloggers are adding more visuals to every blog post.

Source: Blogging Statistics, 2017

7. Internal links to other blog posts and service pages

Guide the visitor down the funnel through internal links. Each blog post should have at least two links within the body text:

  • Link to a relevant service page
  • Link to another blog post

8. Call to action for comments, more information

Most visitors come to get answers and information and then leave. Great blog posts have extremely high bounce rates.

You can improve the chances that they’ll stick around by ending each post with an invitation to get more information: Download the complete guide or talk to an expert. You can also end with a question that triggers comments.

Warning! The vast majority of these visitors will never become leads.

This is the dirty little secret of content marketing. Most of your blog readers will never hire you for anything. But you want them anyway. The blog creates huge, indirect benefits for your marketing…

Skip down to the end of the post to learn the misunderstood but super powerful connection between blogging and lead generation.

 

Service Page: Simply What You Do

Here’s where you sell. Like the blog post, information here is helpful, but now it describes how you do the work for the prospect. The goal is to state the value you provide in simple terms, answer the visitors’ questions, provide evidence to support those answers and offer clear calls to action. This is the structure for high conversion rates.

9. Contact link or phone number

The top right corner is the standard place for contact information. Visitors will look for it here. Use either a button to your contact page, your phone number or both.

10. Descriptive header

The header should simply say what you do. Call your services what your visitors would call them. Avoid vague benefits statements such as “Experience Excellence” or “Humanizing Technology.” A descriptive header is good for visitors and good for search rankings.

11. Clear answers to top questions

The visitor has questions and concerns. The better you answer those questions and address those concerns, the more likely they will get in touch and become a lead. Every question you leave unanswered increases the chances they will leave and look for answers on other websites.

12. Evidence, examples, data and social proof

Anyone can claim to do something, but not everyone can prove it. Add evidence of your legitimacy and the value of your services. This may include examples, statistics and research. Better yet, add social proof in the form of testimonials, using the voice of your happy customers.

Source: How to Write Testimonials

13. Videos, demos and diagrams

Visuals are powerful. If your service requires a high degree of trust, videos are an excellent way to improve lead generation. They let the visitor see your face and hear your voice. If you offer a service that is hard to explain, use diagrams and demos to explain those complex ideas.

14. Calls to action

Services pages can either be a dead end, or they can have a quick, friendly call to action, such as “Contact us for more information about (service).” You can be more approachable and personal by adding a face of a sales associate next to that call to action.

About Page: Building Trust

Your visitors want to know who they might be working with. That’s why the “About” page is always one of the most popular pages on every lead generation website. Just check your Analytics! Here is where you put a face to the name, tell your story and explain your mission.


“Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” – Teddy Roosevelt, American President

15. Personality, values and your story

Here you’ll answer the big questions: Why are you in this business? How long have you been doing this? What motivates your team? Why does this service matter?

You are the only one with your story, so make this a page that sets you apart. Talk about your values, your origin and why this work is important.

16. Awards, certifications and credentials

Just like the service pages, this is a good place to add evidence of legitimacy. Anything that applies to the entire business and not just one service will work. That includes awards, certifications, ratings and association memberships, as well as quotes from customers.

17. Video

If at all possible, upgrade the format to video. Video is the most powerful format in marketing. Use it for your most powerful message: why you exist as a company.

18. Pictures of key team members with links to detailed profile pages

Don’t be a faceless corporation. Be a person. If you’re small, show the faces of your entire team. If you’re big, show the faces of your key leadership. You are the only company with your people, so feature them prominently.

Every lead generation website should have pictures of real people. Your visitors want to know who is involved in the service and in the company.

Contact Page: Where the Magic Happens

The trick here is to get out of the way. It should be as effortless as possible with no distractions. Just a simple form. The idea is to start a conversation, not interrogate your visitors.

19. Simple contact form

This is one of the best tips for converting visitors into leads: use a contact form with the minimum number of fields. Don’t make them answer 10 questions now. Don’t build a greedy form.

Of course, you’ll need a lot of information to qualify them as a legitimate leads, but get it later, during the sales process.

20. Phone number, address and directions

Not all visitors want to become a lead. Some want to call. Great. Put all of your contact information on this page, including a link to a map with directions. And If you have an attractive location, show a photo of it. It shows you’re legitimate.

What’s not here: Content, navigation, distractions.

They’re close to the goal, to keep them moving, remove everything but the form. This page doesn’t need any more content! Even the navigation should be kept to a minimum.

Thank You Page: Mission Accomplished

On many lead gen sites, this page is nothing more than two tiny words. That’s a missed opportunity. The thank you page is your first interaction with your newly generated lead. Make it a good one by setting expectations. You’ve also got an opportunity here to create an even stronger connection.

This page should be more than a dead end with two lonely little words: “thank you.”


21. A genuine thank you

Be sincere and use a personal tone. You should also explain what happens next. How soon will you be in touch? Who will make contact?

22. Email signup form

If they were ready to reach out, they may already really like you and your brand. Give them the option to subscribe for more of the content that impressed them the first time.

23. Links to recommended articles and additional content

If you don’t offer other options on this page, you might as well tell people to leave the site. Why not invite them back into your site for a bit more helpful advice?

24. Social media networks

Even if they don’t follow you, there’s still a chance to show them your latest thinking, to show them a bit of your personality. Include the social networks where you are legitimately active in sharing and in conversation. Don’t link to a dead social profile.

What they didn’t tell you: very few blog readers EVER become leads …and that’s ok!

If you consider a “lead” to be anyone enters an email address to download your ebook or guide, then yes, your blog readers will become leads.

But let’s be honest. These aren’t sales qualified leads. They want your ebook, not your help. Only a tiny percentage of them will ever become actual leads and customers. But the blog is critical anyway. Even if our conversion rate from blog readers is zero.

Why? The indirect benefits of blogging and content marketing are critical to attracting qualified visitors from search.

With no content, there is nothing on your website worth linking to.

With no links, your website will never have authority in search engines.

With no authority, you will never rank for those competitive “commercial intent” keyphrases.

With no rankings for those more valuable phrases, you’ll never attract the targeted visitors

With no targeted visitors, you’ll never convert visitors into qualified leads.

The high-quality blog post, combined with a strong network of content creators and a collaborative approach to content marketing, is what drives the SEO. The goal is to rank for those phrases that attract visitors who really need your help, unlike your typical blog reader. This is especially true in B2B marketing

Example: B2B Service Provider

I’ve seen this in action on dozens of websites, digital marketing programs and Analytics accounts. But here’s an example from our own marketing and lead generation program.

This website gets over one million visits per year (yay!). Around 91% of those visitors land on a blog post.

But do these people ever really turn into leads? Nope!

It’s just rare for someone who drops by for a bit of advice to convert into a lead. It happens just .03% of the time. But don’t panic. In a moment you’ll see how we drive hundreds of legitimate leads each year.

Obviously, if we had no blog, we’d have no subscribers, no followers and 930,000 fewer visitors per year. That’s a lot less brand awareness. More importantly, no one would ever link to us.

According to Ahrefs, 3700 websites link to orbitmedia.com. 87% of those links are to blog posts. Except for the home page, the top 217 linked to pages are blog posts.

Almost no one links to sales pages or brochure websites. But people link to useful articles every day.

So without these pages, we’d have no authority …and no ranking for the “money phrases.” Here are the search results for “Chicago web design” with MozBar turned on. You can see the Authority for all the top ranking pages.

So if you want to attract visitors who have strong intent, who actually may need your services, who actually may become a lead, you have to have a lot of content, links and authority. Otherwise, you’ll never rank for the phrase.

So let’s tweak that first chart. Here you see how the blog posts attract the authority that drives the rankings, and how that rankings attract the more qualified visitors.

This is what most people don’t understand about content marketing and lead generation. Blog readers don’t really need your services. But if you understand search, the benefits of blogging are very powerful. Indirect, but powerful.

Yes, lead generation is complex…

Visitors don’t necessarily follow a specific flow and there are a ton of little factors in marketing and one websites. Together, they combine to directly and indirectly impact your results. But these in place for your website, and you notice the difference in your pipeline.

Related:15 Simple Questions to Ask Your Homepage (and every other page on your website)

Take a look at your website. Anything missing? Are you using all 24 best practices?

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Comments (16)
  • Another great post Andy! I love how you explain the lead gen process using easy to understand images. It’s also great to see confirmation that brand awareness is the key with blog posts. Thanks!

  • Great explanation here of ways to improve your website and lead conversions 😉
    Thanks!

  • Hi Andy,
    As always, a gem my friend. Happy to put this article into my Edgar feed.
    Hope all is well,
    Cheers.

    • Thank you, Mark! Nice to see you, if only here in the comments. I’ll be coming your way in September of course!

  • Outstanding post, Andy. I have just finished reviewing 15 client websites to make suggestions from a sales and marketing point of view. Based partially what I have learned from you, I have made many of these same suggestions. I’m forwarding this link to them all because you have explained lead gen optimization so visually, clearly and thoroughly. Thanks much.

    • I’m glad to hear this was useful, Peg! If any of them suggest changes or improvements to this article, please let me know…

  • Great article Andy. I always find the explanation of why we blog and how leads relate to blogging a struggle for many clients to understand since it isn’t a 1:1 relation of blogging = blogging leads. This article provides great context for this discussion. Thanks for the great resource.

  • Very Comprehensive list of page design elements and function. The SEO benefit of a blog is making it a necessity for all businesses, regardless of industry. Thanks!

  • I really like the simplicity and clarity of your messages and graphics in this article. I’m going to show my wife – seriously. She writes great content for our website and then expects me to attract readers and therefore business leads. I can see a workshop happening soon on lead generation.

  • Your content is very simple. thank you

  • Consumers shopping for a Lexus RX 450h will be pleasantly surprised with a $45,695 base price for the 2018 model year. That represents a $7,340 decrease from 2017 to give the Lexus hybrid crossover SUV a much more affordable entry point.

    • Andy, I recommend that you delete this spam.

  • Consumers shopping for a Lexus RX 450h will be pleasantly surprised with a $45,695 base price for the 2018 model year. That represents a $7,340 decrease from 2017 to give the Lexus hybrid crossover SUV a much more affordable entry point.
    Website: http://www.lexus.com/models/RX-hybrid

  • Thank you so much for this very long post. Very well explained. We are using only 12 of the methods you layed out. Gotta send this to my colleagues over http://reachlocalclients.com . We need to start implementing as much as we can soon.

  • Hey Andy,

    Nicely explained article. The funnel you have explained in starting is very good. Also, take a look on http://www.techsite.io/p/771628

  • Andy, this is the most simple (but thorough) post I’ve read on this stuff. Thank you! As someone who makes his living taking complex problems and developing messaging that delivers clarity… you nailed it. Thanks again!

 
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