• Remove unnecessary fields. Are your online lead generation forms as long and daunting as a tax return? If so,
shorten them. The more fields your forms include, the less
likely prospects will be to fill them out. Ask only for basic
contact information and product interests that your salespeople will need to make an intelligent follow-up (e.g.,
name, company, phone, email and product interest).
• Fix your buttons. No one wants to “submit.” Label your
buttons so they represent the action the prospect wants
to take. Use phrases like Order Now, Sign Up, Get Started,
Begin Free Trial, Request a Quote, Please Contact Me,
etc. Also, use large buttons with contrasting colors so the
button pops off the page.
• Get creative – use the “Mad Libs” approach. Try
offering your lead generation form in a narrative
format, presenting input fields to people as blanks
within sentences. It is a fun and interesting way for
prospects to take the next step.
• Get creative – ask a question. Replace your field labels
with complete questions, such as “How much do you
want to buy?” instead of “Quantity.” It makes your form
friendlier and easier to understand.
• Shorten your checkout process. If you sell products online,
look for opportunities to simplify your checkout process.
Cut the number of clicks required to complete the sale.
Communicate shipping costs early. Offer a progress meter
to let people know where they are in the process. In
addition, offer alternative (offline) ways to order.
• Provide a nurturing offer on your “Thank You” pages.
After someone completes an online form, they should be
presented with a “Thank You” confirmation page. These
pages offer a great opportunity to nurture prospects further through the pipeline. According to MarketingSher-pa, 39 percent of prospects accept offers on “Thank You”
pages, so this is a great time to offer your e-newsletter,
social media follows or discounts on a future purchase.
Prominently Display Your Phone Number
In my experience, more than 50 percent of people prefer
to pick up the phone and call when they are on a website.
To boost the number of inquiries you receive, don’t make
your visitors hunt for your phone number. Make your
phone number one of the prominent calls to action on
every page of your website and encourage prospects to call
you. Since they can use the website as a presentation tool,
there is no better time for your salespeople to be speaking
I recommend using a unique toll-free number on your
website so you can accurately track the number of calls you
receive from website visitors. This will help you close the
loop in terms of tracking inbound leads from your website.
Offer Online Chat as an Alternative to
Phone & Forms
My clients are having great success offering online chat
as an alternative to a phone number and online forms. In
fact, many are receiving 10 times more chats than online
form completions. By calling you on the phone, a prospect
will get an immediate response. But not everyone is ready
to engage in a sales conversation. By using an online
form, prospects can remain somewhat anonymous, but
they assume it will take hours or days before they get
a response. Online chat offers the best of both worlds.
Prospects can get an immediate response, while still
remaining somewhat anonymous.
It’s very easy to integrate online chat into your website. Hosted chat services like LivePerson offer an intuitive
toolset for integrating chat buttons onto your site, as well
as a Web-based interface for managing chat conversations.
Most business leaders mistakenly assume online chat is a
24 hours per day, 365 days per year proposition. It’s not.
You can offer online chat only during your normal business
hours and still be effective.
Have a Process in Place to Shorten the
Whatever method you use to generate leads, make sure
you have a process in place to shorten the follow-up time.
How long does it currently take for your salespeople to
follow up on online lead inquiries? If the follow-up is not
immediate, you are leaving money on the table.
It is absolutely shocking how many companies hurt
their online lead generation efforts because they have a
poor follow-up process. According to a study performed by
Harvard Business Review:
• 37 percent of companies respond to their leads within
• 16 percent respond within one to 24 hours
• 24 percent of companies take more than 24 hours
• 23 percent of companies never respond at all to their
Really?!?! Almost one-quarter of companies never respond to online leads! Another quarter is taking more than
a day to respond to an interested prospect. All of the money and time invested in generating the lead is completely
wasted due to poor or lacking follow-up. Disgraceful!
Don’t make this vital mistake. Assign salespeople to follow up on online leads and make sure the inquiries get to
them as soon as possible. Also, don’t let leads languish in
someone’s inbox – look for technology solutions to shorten
the follow-up time. Tie your website forms into a customer
relationship management (CRM) system like SalesForce.com,
SugarCRM or Infusionsoft to streamline your lead management and follow-up process. You can also take a low-tech
route and direct online and phone-in leads to a salesperson’s smartphone. The goal is to make sure your salespeople
talk to the prospect when they are still on your website, so
they can use your website as a presentation tool.
Bob DeStefano, president of SVM E-Marketing Solutions, is a B2B online marketing strategist and professional
speaker with more than 20 years of experience helping distributors and manufacturers leverage online marketing to
produce bottom-line results. Connect with Bob on the Web
at www.svmsolutions.com and www.bobdestefano.com.