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Website Changes For Lead Generation: What’s Working Now

Website ChangesThinking of making website changes for lead generation? Well you've come to the right place.

In this post you'll find out what's working to convert today's visitors into tomorrows customers. And everything you read here are steps you can take now, like right now, to increase conversions on your site. If you're using WordPress you're in luck – it's going to be even easier and faster to make the small tweaks we'll be discussing.

Alright that's enough lead up let's get to the meat.

Change #1: Add More Opt-In Forms

This one comes first because if you don't do anything else, do this.

The bottom line is that if you want to convert more leads you need to capture more leads. In one sense you could call it a numbers game. Not everyone that becomes a lead is going to ultimately choose to become a paying customer. However, your changes are greatly increased if you can capture them in the first place and put them into a lead nurturing program.

So the question becomes where to put your opt-in forms.

Landing pages are the first place they belong, and there's no need to cover those as the purpose of a landing page is to capture leads (or make sales). However there are many other opportunities to capture leads, for instance:

  • On the home page of your blog
  • On the home page of your website
  • At the top of a single post page (ack WordPress terminology! A single post page is what you're looking at here, just a page with a single blog post)
  • At the bottom of a blog post
  • On the sidebar at the very top (if you have a sidebar that is)
  • In the footer
  • On the about page
  • On a resource page such as our How To Blog and How To SEO pages

Basically every page on your site can have an opt-in form unless it's a roadmap page, meaning a page that someone goes through to get to a destination page, such as a blog post. But even then, you can have opt-in forms.

Change #2: Remove The Sidebar

As Cathy Presland said in a retweet of my post on removing the sidebar from your blog, “too sidebar or not to sidebar,” that is the question.

Whether or not to have a sidebar on your blog is up for debate and I definitely recommend testing your site without one and seeing if engagement goes up or down. But regardless of which side of the fence you're on with this one it comes down to knowing what Steve Scott calls your most wanted response.

Simply put what is the number one goal on your site? Is it to educate people? Is it to capture leads? Is it to sell affiliate products? Is it to showcase your music and hope for a record gig?

How does removing the sidebar help with this? In a single column layout there's only a few actions someone can take once they are on a blog post:

  1. Share it – doesn't take them off the site
  2. Comment – doesn't take them off the site
  3. Take you up on your call to action
  4. Browse to another page using the navigation (if you have that)
  5. Leave

If you're in business you're going to want 1-4, sometimes in that exact order. Regardless though once you know your most wanted response restructure your entire site to focus on it while still providing a lot of value to your readers. Never forget about them – they keep your business going.

Change #3: Create Resource Pages

The SEO term for a “resource page” is a roadmap page. These pages consist of:

  • A headline
  • A few paragraphs of content
  • Links to resources you've created – blog posts, opt-in offers (ebooks, videos, etc.)
  • An opt-in form

Resource pages are great for a few reasons. First, they are fantastic for SEO. People are more likely to link to a large page of resources rather than a single blog post. And we're talking high-quality links. Second, these pages are a fantastic place to send people to as the offer a ton of information.

Here's an example of a roadmap page:

How To SEO resource page example

Click to see a larger version of the How To SEO resource page example

The key here is to build links to these pages and keep them up to date with the best resources you can provide.

Change #4: Clean Up Your Sidebar

If you're going to keep your sidebar definitely keep it clean. At one point my sidebar included:

  • A large opt-in form with an ebook graphic, later replaced by a single graphic served from our customized ad server
  • Links to every social network I'm on, which took up about two rows of six across
  • Popular posts via PostRank
  • Recent comments
  • Even more stuff I thankfully can't remember

The first thing your sidebar needs at the very top is an opt-in form. This could be for either a free ebook or guide, or updates via email for your blog.

The next thing you might add are banners to your main resource pages. Here's an example from the Social Triggers blog (which is awesome by the way):

Derek Halpern Social Triggers Sidebar

Click to see the image larger

After that Derek has his popular posts, which is something I'd definitely test against “recent posts.” Nope they aren't the same and terminology can make a big difference.

In all the above examples the goal is to keep the visitor on your site for a longer period of time. You work hard to get them there so why send them away so easily?

What Do You Think?

Have you tried any of these on your blog already? What kind of results did you see from the changes?

Let's talk about it in the comments below.

I'll see you there…

Comments

  1. oh yes kill pop ups – they are a massive turn off

  2. Thanks for the post. I am a strong believer in simplifying the experience for your customer – this starts at the seo stage and ensure you are optimising the right content for the appropriate search terms. Breakout your pages to and offer more opportunities for customers to share, comment or opt in to future communication – create a relationship

  3. Hi Robert,

    Great tips, do you ever use web visitor visibility tools like Jumplead http://www.jumplead.com to highlight and manage website leads?

    • Hi Matt – I use three analytics tools – Google Analytics, HitSniffer (real-time analytics) and ClickTale (reader engagement) – as the analytics tools and on the back end for CRM/Email Marketing/E-Commerce I use Infusionsoft.

      At the end of the day I have a complete record of everything going on on my website and once someone becomes a lead by filling out one of my forms can tie it all together.

      I’ll take a look at Jumplead as it appears to be proactive in gathering data on visitors. That could be interesting.

      Have you been using it?

      • Hi Robert,

        Sounds like you’re pretty close to what’s happening as regards analytics already…
        It’s actually our service, we originally built it for some of our existing clients, got some great results and decided to take it to market.

        I’d love to hook you up with a trial and see what you think! I think you’d have a great perspective on it…

  4. Like the tips Robert and I have always been a fan of simplicity in design. Although I should have done it by now I do need a resources page and become a little more single minded re design. One question for you is do you have any stats that these changes work better for certain websites and markets than others?

    • Hi Susan – you might not like this answer but it’s really a case-by-case basis. For instance removing the sidebar here has improved all of my stats (video coming later in the week) but I wouldn’t remove it from any of my client’s sites, yet.

      However I have found that regardless of industry resource pages work very well when used as primary navigation. I create these pages for ALL client sites I build. Additional opt-in forms vary though so I typically start with many and then remove the ones that get no opt-ins AFTER I test different call to action copy.

  5. Robert, nice post. On the opt-in discussion what are your thoughts on pop-ups? I’ve been hesitant to go there but I know lots of people who say it has helped raise sign-up rates quite a bit. As for the sidebar discussion, I’d be hesitant to do that. I personally don’t like going to sites with limited navigation so I’d hate to “trap” them inside a deep page on the site with limited options to explore.

    • Hi Tom – I’m not a fan of popups myself however as you say people have had success with them. Frankly there’s only one way to find out – test it. If you do be sure to take a snapshot of all your metrics before implementing the popup, for instance the Google Analytics overview data (with goals), run it for a few weeks and compare. If numbers start dropping off fast though kill it.

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