Businesses are focused on using their websites as a source of new customers. 47% of B2B buyers reported that the most likely way they find sales information was to go directly to a supplier website (Tweet This!). And because of this, companies have invested in site optimization to make sure they have user-focused content designed specifically to convert visitors into inbound sales leads.
Powerful content might include benefits of what you offer, use cases of your products & services, customer testimonials, and plenty of answers to the very-important question of "Why you?".
Assume that a potential customer has gone through the entirety of your website content, and you've now gotten them excited about starting a sales dialogue with you. How do you translate that excitement into action? This article explores seven simple guidelines on maximizing your inbound lead opportunities via your website.
1. Effective Lead Capturing Requires a Proactive Mindset
Take the first step in translating customer interest on your website into action. Most marketers running direct response campaigns design campaign landing pages to have a focused attention on the conversion goal. The same principle should appear on your company homepage. Don't force your visitors to initiate contact. If you were operating a retail store, you'd surely be training your sales staff to make the first engagement with the shoppers walking in the door. On your website this mindset still applies. Make the first move, as incorporated in some of the ideas below.
2. More than Your "Contact Us" Page
Some commercial websites don't have effective paths for customer prospects to start the dialogue. By default, it's often the "Contact Us" page. Without the marketer's focus, the "Contact Us" page is largely reactive and usually inadequate as a customer acquisition path. Most often on Contact Us pages, you'll see commercial websites include some uninviting combination of a generic contact form, a list of phone numbers and an address. If you have generic action prompts, you'll receive generic inquiries. And more importantly, you may miss out on customer prospects who would have engaged with you if there were an easier way to do so.
If you're looking to generate more inbound leads, you might want to consider adding more navigation links to your "Contact Us" page, as well as strategically placing call-to-actions and contact options on sales-focused content pages (like your "Products & Services", "Pricing" or "Our Customers" pages).
3. Give Visitors a Reason to Contact You
If the only inbound leads you are getting from your website are from the "Contact Us" page, you might want to consider offering more contact paths. Follow the path of experienced online marketers who employ call-to-actions as part of their lead generation strategy. Examples of lead-generation call-to-actions include: "Download a white paper or eBook," "Schedule a sales demo," "Join a webinar," "Get a quote" and "Signup for special offers" (for retailers).
Each of these events can and should be turned into a lead generation path. In addition, you can experiment with different call-to-actions to find what works best. For example, the marketing automation company HubSpot found that their own call-to-actions promoting eBooks got twice the click-through rate as emails promoting webinars.
If you have the resources, experiment with call-to-actions to track which ones are 1) more effective at generating interest, 2) more likely to turn into qualified leads, and 3) most frequently converting into sales.
Related:3 Words to Instantly Boost Call-to-Action Conversion Rates
4. Don't Rely on Form Submissions Only. Try Live Chat.
Adding live chat on website can be very effective in generating incremental leads. According to a LivePerson survey, 21% of buyers cited live chat on a website as a reason for choosing one website over another (Tweet This). It can be a source of competitive advantage for visitors to have another contact option and be assured that "the lights are on" for your website.
Used for customer acquisition, chat provides visitors with immediacy and a human touch in converting interest into lead information. It's not just a customer service tool.
5. Capture, Segment and Prioritize
In capturing inbound website leads, make sure you're asking enough information for your sales team. According to TechTarget, 43% of buyers said they were somewhat willing and 42% were very willing to share their contact information when they are ready to make a purchase (Tweet This!). For those still in the middle stages of the purchasing cycle, 71% of B2B buyers will offer more detailed information to access a white paper, and 11% would share basic information, such as email, name and company (Tweet This!). At a minimum, make sure your lead capture form is capturing enough information to qualify the interest and estimate the size of the opportunity. Remember that even when a lead submission is captured, you're still in the early stages of your online sale conversion funnel. Your sales team will be more efficient if they have the necessary data fields to segment and prioritize the leads coming in from your site.
6. Respond Promptly
Once customer interest has been sparked and they've given you permission to contact them, it's up to you to respond and satisfy the initial itch. If you don't, then a competitor eventually will. Your odds of successfully contacting your new lead drops quickly as the time lag between lead capture and response increases. A recent study by InsideSales.com concluded that the odds of contacting a lead if called in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drop 100 times (Tweet This!).
Related: 3 Big Shifts in B2B Marketing: How Marketers Are Reacting [Infographic]
7. Track What's Working, and Do More of It
It's important to have your leads provide some level of attribution back to marketing channels, thus closing the loop between marketing and sales. The importance of marketing attribution is directly proportional to your resources and your amount of spend. Each lead submission has the potential to append rich meta-data that gets transmitted along with lead and contact information. Leads can capture date markers such as time of day, day of week, geography, browsing history, campaign identifiers and Google Analytics UTM codes.
Your inbound website leads are like gold, and there are simple projects you can take on to 1) make sure you are utilizing every ounce of your existing traffic in maximizing the lead-generation opportunity of your website, and 2) make sure you're enabling your sales team to capitalize on the incremental inbound leads you're generating.
Author Bio: Howard Yeh is co-founder of ContactUs.com, a software-as-a-service platform providing advanced contact forms, live chat, lead capture and lead management solutions for businesses. Howard Yeh has been in the online lead generation business for over a decade, as a venture capital investor, entrepreneur and performance marketer. He co-founded ContactUs.com in 2012. He was previously co-founder and COO of BrokersWeb, an insurance-focused performance marketing company which was twice named to the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing US companies in 2010 and 2011 until a successful acquisition. He started his career as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch and a venture capital investor at VantagePoint Capital Partners.