The days of viewing your company website simply as an online brochure are over. A five-to-10-page “online brochure” was once effective – it gave you credibility when your competitors didn’t have their own website. This is just no longer the case with a majority of your competitors now having websites.
Consumer habits have changed considerably in the past five to 10 years. Homeowners and property managers aren’t answering their doors or phones like they once did. They don’t want to be bothered now that they have firm control of the buying process.
According to Google’s April 2011 Zero Moment of Truth study, “Shoppers today use twice as many sources to arrive at a decision and use each source almost twice as heavily as in the past.”
Herein lies the opportunity for your company: You can’t reach your prospects directly as easily as you once could, but these same prospects are in search of more information than ever before. And you can be the company they go to for that valuable information.
Helpful content on your company’s website can draw in your prospects and engage them on your site long enough to motivate them to take some sort of action, whether that be filling out a contact form or picking up the phone. We call this action a “conversion,” and in this article we’ll dive into the basics of creating a “conversion path” on your website that will turn interested visitors into qualified leads that you can follow up with.
Step 1: The offer and call-to-action
An offer, or call-to-action (CTA), invites visitors to perform an action on your website. The most common CTAs we see on green industry company sites are:
- Phone number prominently displayed
- A Contact Us page with a consultation and/or quote request form
- E-newsletter subscription form
- Links to company’s social media sites
If this is the extent of your offers and CTAs on your site, then your company is missing out on prospects. The phone number and Contact Us page (along with consultation and quote requests) only appeal to the very small number of visitors who are ready to take action right now. We call these bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) offers.
Typically, 75-90 percent of your website visitors are not ready to pick up the phone or request a consultation – they are simply in research mode. This is especially true for companies with long sales cycles and big ticket items like landscape design/build firms.
E-newsletter subscription forms are worthless. If your company is active on a variety of social networks, it’s best to include links to these from your website. I consider these to be very top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) CTAs. It’s nice that a website visitor may choose to become a fan of your Facebook page but that’s not as valuable as them filling out a quote request form (BOFU offer).
Your opportunity to spark action on your website lies in the middle. Your site needs to generate qualified leads from the large pool of visitors that are currently in research and fact-finding mode. This is the pool that 99.5 percent of green industry companies don’t understand how to fish from.
So I’m going to teach you how to fish.
Think about a visitor who may be lurking on your website right now. Let’s call this person Mrs. Jones. Mrs. Jones and her husband are building their new dream home. In fact, their architect just finalized the plans.
Mrs. Jones is on your site (and has visited your competitor’s sites) doing a little research. What you need to understand is that she is not yet ready to pick up the phone and call you. She’s not ready to email you or fill out a form to request a consultation. What are you going to do? The majority of companies do absolutely nothing, and Mrs. Jones bounces from your site, forgetting she ever visited in the first place.
Imagine if anonymous Mrs. Jones could access valuable content on your website that actually helped her with her research. It seems like such an obvious concept, yet most companies in our industry fail miserably at this.
This is where top-of-the-funnel and middle-of-the-funnel (MOFU) offers and CTAs come into play on your website. Valuable content like case studies, buying guides, hiring guides, tip sheets and infographics are used to educate your website visitors and position your company as the local expert. Oh by the way, if that’s not enough, these offers can generate all the leads you need to keep your sales pipeline flowing.
Step 2: Visitor-to-lead conversion with landing pages
Let’s imagine that Mrs. Jones lands on NeaveLandscaping.com (a division of Neave Group Outdoor Solutions and a client of my company, Landscape Leadership) while doing her preliminary research. Here, she’ll not only find the most common BOFU CTAs like local phone numbers and a consultation request form, she’ll also find a comprehensive, middle-of-the-funnel 32-page Landscape Planning Guide (essentially an e-book). Most likely, that's exactly what she needs to do her preliminary research.
In this case the conversion path begins when Mrs. Jones’ interest is piqued and she clicks on the graphic (the call-to-action button) found in the sidebar of Neave’s site promoting the helpful guide. From here, the CTA leads to a unique landing page where Mrs. Jones can download the Landscape Planning Guide in exchange for the contact information Neave requires. Content placed behind a simple web form like this is often called gated content and is considered a best practice for visitor-to-lead conversion.
Upon filling out the web form, Mrs. Jones has the helpful Landscape Planning Guide to continue her research and Neave has turned an anonymous visitor into a real prospect their sales team can follow up with and nurture through the sales process in a very subtle way.
Let’s take a step back and define what a landing page is. According to HubSpot, a true landing page is any page on your website on which one might land that has a form, and exists solely to capture a visitor's information through that form.
The majority of green industry websites have only a single true landing page – the Contact Us page. That’s it. It’s difficult to convert website visitors into new leads with only a single landing page, especially when it’s a BOFU-type landing page like a contact page.
We find that a typical green industry company with a single landing page, like the Contact Us page, will convert visitors into leads at around .03 percent, if they’re lucky. That’s three new leads for every 1,000 visitors. It can take many companies three months to hit 1,000 visitors, so we’re talking about one measly new lead each month from your website. I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty miserable to me.
The more landing pages you have on site, the more leads you generate. It’s as simple as that. Your conversion rate also increases because you have more relevant content on site that appeals to more visitors. The goal for our clients is to convert visitors into leads at around 1.5 percent to 3 percent.
Here’s a tip to keep in mind when creating landing pages. The more information you ask for in your web form, the lower your conversion rate will be. Because of this, only ask for the information you absolutely need to qualify and follow up with the prospect.
Step 3: The follow up
Upon filling out a web form on a landing page, the best practice is to send the visitor to a unique Thank You page where your new prospect can download the content you promised. This is the final stage of the conversion path.
Beyond making the content easily accessible on the Thank You page, you can also use this as an opportunity to direct your new prospect to other pages on your website or include another call-to-action or offer like a consultation or quote request.
Another best practice is to immediately send an automated follow up email to the prospect with a link pointing back to the Thank You page where they can download and access the content they requested whenever they choose.
Does this sound like a lot of work? That’s because it is. Welcome to marketing in 2014, where the name of the game is educating your potential customers with helpful and useful content – not harassing them by banging on doors and hammering the phones.
Chris Heiler is the founder and president of Landscape Leadership, a digital marketing agency for green industry companies. He’s a former landscape designer and frequent contributor to Lawn & Landscape.
Photos courtesy of Chris Heiler