5 Tips to Turn Your Website Into a Lead Generation Machine

Hello fellow marketer, I bet I know why you’re here. You’ve got a big marketing number and you want your website to pull its weight–to bring in a bunch of leads, generate more pipeline than anyone ever imagined was possible, and make your marketing numbers look amazing. But, before we get to that I have a question for you…

Do you remember the classic 80’s movie “Field of Dreams”? (I bet that isn’t where you thought this was gonna go). Kevin Costner is a small town farmer who hears a voice in a cornfield telling him the now famous, and oft-misquoted line:

“If you build it, they will come.” – A disembodied voice to Kevin Costner

That was a big moment in that movie and began a journey that led to a really compelling, and honestly, tear-jerking finale. You’re probably asking yourself, “how does this have anything to do with getting more leads from our website?” That’s a fair question.

As marketers that’s how many of us have approached our lead generation websites. We build them, make them look pretty, put information all over them and… hope they bring in leads. I think at some point we’ve all begun to realize an important fact: That disembodied voice lied to us!

It’s Going to Take Some Work

The truth of the matter is that just having a website isn’t enough to make it successful. It’s important to think strategically about your site to make sure it’s built to drive conversions and generate leads.

This is the kind of conversation I used to have in my past life working at an agency that would take months of planning and strategy sessions. This blog post just isn’t the same as that. But, in lieu of having a face-to-face consultation let’s talk about five tips to begin turning your website into the lead generation machine you’ve always dreamed of.

Story Matters

The first piece of the puzzle is that we have to deliver information that interests our users, draws them in, and makes them want to learn more. We need to build a story. Features are important, but they aren’t exciting. If your website is only a list of features your users are going to check out and likely go find something more interesting.

When I was working on redesigning Pardot.com we knew that our users needed a compelling story to hook them and make them want to dive deeper and convert.

For a long time armchair UX theorists led us to believe that people do not scroll on longer pages and won’t engage with content below the fold. Frankly, I’ve never bought into the “Above the Fold” myth and research shows that users will engage with compelling content that is placed below the fold.

I decided to buck the trend and built out our solution pages as a longer, story driven page with 3x more content that went beyond just plain features. By doing this we were able to see some pretty exciting results! By creating a story with more compelling content (that ended up being 3x longer) we were able to see a decrease in bounce rate by 14.5% and an increase in conversions of 27% on these pages.

Tl;dr: when users came to our longer, story-driven solutions pages more people stayed on the page and converted on a form.

Give them a Call (to Action)

Now that you’ve developed a compelling story to engage the audience on your website it’s time to move to the next step in the process–giving that audience something to do!

To start this step you need to do some research. If you don’t already know, find out and make a list of your most valuable CTAs. For us they are our Demo Video, Guided Tour, ROI Calculator, and Request a Demo offers. We have a lot more offers, but those are our most effective ones that lead to the most pipeline and closed deals. (Feel free to click on them and fill out some forms!)

Now that you have your list look at each step of your story and match your CTAs to your story steps. By doing this you will be delivering relevant, contextual opportunities for your users to engage with you. Sometimes that’s going to be your highest value CTAs, other times it’ll be an offer to expand on the topic you’re discussing.

The idea here is you need to make sure to develop varied CTAs and to position them in places that make sense for where your users are in their journey and to make sure they further the story you’re telling.

No More Dead Ends

Have you ever been on a site and were interested in learning more, but you didn’t know what to do next? Dead ends are a real problem for a lot of lead generation websites.

A dead end is anywhere in your web experience where a user doesn’t have a next step to take. Honestly, once you know to look out for dead ends it’s pretty easy to fix the problem. Here are the words to live by to fix your dead end problem: Always give users something to do.

While we’re on the conversation of always giving users something to do, let me give you an extra pro-tip. Another dead end that people often forget about is what happens after a user converts. Some of the most common dead ends you find on the web are after a form completion with a message that says, “Thanks for filling out our form!” and then nothing else.

Think of your thank you content as an opportunity to drive the user deeper down their path of discovery. Curious what this looks like and what kind of impact it can have?

After a user on Pardot.com fills out a form they are shown a thank you message, but then shown additional resources to help them learn more (pictured below). You see that ROI Calculator and Guided Tour CTAs in the thank you content? Those 2 CTAs make up 10% of our pipeline generated in Q3.

Let me say that a different way. 2 offers added after a user fills out another form make up 10% of all the pipeline Pardot.com generated in Q3. That’s a lot of cash money!

How Are You Capturing Leads?

I think at this point it’s safe to assume that every lead generation website utilizes forms in one way or another to capture leads. Now is the time when we start talking about conversation rates vs. lead quality. When’s the last time you thought about the information you’re capturing?

Somewhere along the line we’ve all heard the stat that you will increase your conversion rate by 26% for each field you remove from your forms. Here’s what I think about that. But even so, I think we need to balance getting more form completes vs. how much less qualified your leads are by removing a field.

Let’s take a walk in my world for a moment. The lead gen forms on Pardot.com have 8 fields. Eight! That seems like a lot, but we didn’t do that by accident. Upon working with our sales and ops teams we discovered that we are best able to qualify leads when we ask for each of those 8 fields. If we were to shorten our form further it would be more difficult for our sales teams to qualify leads, it would make it more difficult for us to route leads to the proper team, and the rules of engagement for our sales teams would break down.

We may be able to get more form completes by having less fields on our forms, but those additional leads would be more difficult for our sales teams to work.

The moral of the story here is that you need to figure out what fields you need in order to properly qualify leads and allow your sales teams to work them. If the leads you capture are hard to work or can’t be assigned you aren’t doing your business any favors by getting more of them.

Shorter Forms… Sometimes

The good news is there are still ways to continue to optimize your lead gen process even if you have a longer form. We use Pardot forms for all of our lead generation which allows us to use progressive profiling–the practice of asking for specific fields on the first form submission then asking different fields each additional time a prospect comes back. If you aren’t using progressive profiling, you should try it! By doing this, you can optimize for the fields you need up front then ask for different fields each time a prospect sees your forms.

The difference between a first submission and additional submissions can be drastically different with progressive profiling. Take our forms for instance:

By using progressive profiling and fitting our CTAs into our story we’ve been able to see a 27% form completion rate on our site. That ain’t too shabby.

Do Your Forms Even Work, bro?

You can have the most effective lead gen site in the world, have a 50% completion rate on your forms, and have a great CTR percentage, but if your forms don’t work and aren’t routing leads properly it’s all for naught.

If you were to take a look at our Pardot instance you’d see that my lead score was 76,835. Lead score is a measure of how engaged a prospect is with content, so for me to have a lead score that high means I’ve engaged with a ton of stuff.

The reason for that monstrous score is because I test all our forms. Every time we launch anything I fill it out. And, why is that? Because I want to make sure our forms work, are passing leads properly, and give our customers what they asked for.

Test your forms people! If they aren’t working you’ve got a serious problem on your hands.

A Little Bit of Pretend

But, that isn’t the end of my advice on testing your forms. One of the best pieces of success I’ve seen through testing is actually filling out a lead gen form as a fake prospect and having conversations with my sales team. That’s right! I will actually fill out forms with fake information, but using my phone number and an email address I have access to in order to see how our sales teams are handling new leads. The plus side is I can also see how long it takes sales to follow up and if the leads are getting routed properly.

By doing this we’ve been able to discover how our sales teams are pitching our product. Are they telling the right story? Are they properly hitting the best selling points for the product? Are they selling in a consultative manner?

By and large, yes! 95% of the conversations I’ve had have been spot on. The 5% that haven’t are great too because we’ve been able to partner with sales leadership and share best practices and enablement training to make sure our sales team is operating as a well-oiled machine. We’re aligned more closely with sales and are growing and succeeding together.

Plus, it’s kind of fun to fill out a form as Colonel Sanders from Chicken Hut and see if the sales rep will call me and say, “Can I please speak to Colonel Sanders?”

…It hasn’t happened yet because our sales team has gotten really good at de-duping bad leads, but a guy can dream.

Wrapping Things Up

So, here’s the tl;dr of where we’ve been today:

  1. Build your website into a story, not just a list of features, to engage your audience and connect them to your content.
  2. Discover your most effective CTAs and weave them into your story so they make sense contextually.
  3. Eliminate dead ends and make sure users always have something to do and somewhere to go.
  4. Find our what information you need to properly equip your sales team and gather that information on your lead gen forms. Longer forms aren’t always worse. Pro-tip: Utilize progressive profiling.
  5. Test your forms and “secret shop” your sales team to experience the selling process as a lead.

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this post, but we’ve really only scratching the surface. As marketers we need to constantly be testing and finding ways to improve our sites. I encourage you to take your website as an evengreen project that is always being iterated on.

To go back to the beginning of this post I’d update what the disembodied voice told us:

“If you build it, iterate on it, think about the user experience and tell a good story they will come.” – My disembodied voice to you

Let’s get out there and turn our websites into lead generation machines!

Interested in learning more about how to optimize your website for lead generation? Register for our upcoming webinar, New Year, New Leads: Transforming Your Website for More Leads in 2019.

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2 thoughts on “5 Tips to Turn Your Website Into a Lead Generation Machine

    • We use pop-ups on pardot.com, but try to do it in a smart way. If you spend more than 30 seconds on a page you get a “waterfall” pop-up. Then when a user closes it they won’t get it again for another 24 hours. If you are going to use pop-ups make sure to do it in a way that doesn’t ruin your users experience.

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