Generating leads for your small business can yield great results, but only if you can turn potential buyers into actual customers. If you can’t, any leads gained through lead generation services, top direct mailing services or any other marketing campaigns won’t add up to much. Audience research helps you generate leads and create a conversion plan to turn those leads into paying customers. To better understand how to convert leads into sales, we spoke with experts to find actionable tips that you can apply to your small business’s lead generation strategies.
What is lead conversion?
Learning the ins and outs of lead conversion can be your business’s greatest weapon.
“Lead conversion is a marketing process of engaging and converting prospect leads into paying customers,” said Juwairiya Kembo, team lead and content marketing coordinator at seoplus+. “This process prompts customers to buy products or services and push them towards a purchasing decision.”
Within this process, your marketing and sales teams are key, because it is up to them to push potential customers to sales opportunities. Their goal is to build a relationship with them to move them along their buyer journey, which makes it easier for them to convert leads and sell to them.
[Learn More: You’ve Got Leads, But Why Aren’t They Converting?]
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9 ways to convert your leads
We asked experts to share their proven tactics for turning potential buyers into customers. Here are nine ways to convert your leads.
1. Offer a freebie or discount.
Getting something for free always feels good, regardless of whether there are conditions attached. Giveaways are a solid way to get people interested enough in your business to potentially make a purchase. The free item doesn’t have to be particularly lavish or expensive, but it should remind people of your business.
Along with turning your leads into sales, giveaways can help your business zero in on what gets the most brand engagement from customers, said Ronald D’Souza, a content marketer at fjackets.com. Once you have that information, you can personalize future communications and deals to convert your existing leads into more sales.
“Personalize your email and make it appear as if the discount is only available for them,” D’Souza said. “You can do this by generating a unique coupon code only for your email subscribers.”
Offering giveaways is an easy way to generate interest in your business and encourage customers to make future purchases. Make sure the giveaway item you choose reminds people of your business so they will return.
2. Research your audience.
Knowledge of what your customers want and how they like to engage with companies can be a powerful lead conversion tool.
Pedro Campos, a native-advertising consultant at Advertongue, said both generating and converting leads rely on similar sets of “core fundamentals.”
“Oftentimes, when I see entrepreneurs having a hard time converting strangers into leads or leads into customers, it all comes down to the quality of their offers,” he said. “If you have a bad offer, what that tells me is that you don’t know your ideal client well enough.”
The solution? Research your target audience, and get to know them. Once you have the appropriate data, create offers that lead to sales.
“Remember that nobody has ever succeeded in business selling something that people don’t want,” Campos said.
3. Always follow up.
This may seem obvious, but following up with a potential client is extremely important. Just a simple email or call asking a prospect if they have any questions can often kick-start a sale.
Just one follow-up likely won’t be enough, though. According to a study by Propeller, 44% of salespeople stop after just one follow-up, although 80% of sales need four more after the initial contact to close.
“Follow-up is the best way to make your prospects feel important,” said Hima Pujara, a digital marketing specialist at Seasia Infotech. “Regular emails related to your service will leave a brand impression in their mind, and later, when they need a related product, they will surely consider your business.”
If you call your leads for follow-ups but they don’t pick up the phone, try leaving a 15-minute gap between calls, which often results in people answering, said Anthony Martin, owner of Choice Mutual.
“Lots of people won’t answer phone numbers they don’t know,” he said. “However, when they see you call back again, they’ll suspect that you’re calling for something important. You would be amazed at how regularly people answer when you call back 15 minutes later.”
4. Use calls to action.
Sometimes, all it takes for people to act is a slight nudge in the right direction. A definitive call to action in your marketing efforts encourages potential clients to make a decision.
Without a decisive call to action, new visitors to your website “don’t know what the next step to take is and have to guess on their own,” said Thomas Griffin, co-founder and president of OptinMonster. Regardless of your end goal, interesting calls to action that use certain verbs or phrases can lead to a higher conversion rate.
“We don’t just place verbs like ‘Download now,’ ‘Act now’ or ‘Get free’ – you must admit that sounds like an order,” said John Breese, founder and CEO of HappySleepyHead. “We use a combination of idioms and call-to-action verbs – for example, ‘First come, first served,’ ‘Contact us today’ or ‘Buy it off the shelf’ – and we use this combination on every page of our site.”
5. Optimize your web experience.
Pay attention to more than just the content on your business’s website. SEO, keywords and calls to action often point leads in the direction of a sale. If your business has a website, it’s imperative that you employ good keywords and SEO best practices to convert your online leads. If you know your most effective keywords, it is easier to cluster your point-per-click campaigns and manage your Google Analytics score, said David Reischer, CEO of LegalAdvice.com.
“The keywords selected for each ad group should be based on a narrow category to be targeted so that the campaign can more easily be monitored,” he said. “We carefully monitor all campaigns and either tweak or discontinue those keywords that do not convert.”
Other things to keep in mind are your website’s bounce rate (how many website visitors leave after visiting only one page), session duration and average number of pages visited. The longer a user is on your website, the more likely it is that they have reasons to make a purchase from your business.
“Organic traffic is heavily influenced by user site experience,” said Earl White, co-founder of House Heroes.
If you’re using paid traffic to generate leads on your site, direct paid and organic traffic to different landing pages, White suggested. “You can then optimize SEO pages and pay-per-click pages without the purposes of each page competing against each other,” he said.
6. Utilize social media.
Regardless of how proud you are of your business’s website, it’s not the be-all and end-all of your online presence. Customers of all walks of life turn to social media to get their news and keep up with trends, so your business should be there, too.
To that end, Iryna Shevchenko, a Facebook Groups expert, said creating a social aspect of your business can easily turn leads into customers. “I usually encourage leads to join my private Facebook group, where I share deals and free information of high value to select members,” she said. “It is there I can get instant feedback from customers to help me better serve them, and it’s also a much better converter of sales when given the opportunity to buy. Once someone has converted, they will also usually share their positive experience in the group in real time, thereby encouraging other leads to convert.”
It’s important to consider which social networks are the best fit for your brand. For example, if your company sells boutique stationery, Instagram may be a major conversion driver for you.
“You don’t have to market on every platform out there – just carefully select a few channels that your audience uses,” said Logan Allec, a CPA and founder of Choice Tax Relief Inc. “The most efficient way to do this is to build buyer personas based on your target audience. Identify their age, gender, the type of content they prefer and the networks they use most.”
An effective social media presence can turn leads into customers. Establish a quality presence on the social media platforms that the majority of your buyers frequent. Refer to your buyer persona when you’re choosing the optimal social media platforms for your business.
7. Use CRM methods.
For many businesses, superior customer relationship management (CRM) solutions often help turn leads into clients. Implementing CRM software that allows you to automate your text and email communications can streamline the entire conversion process.
“Some people respond to texts, some to phone calls and some to emails,” Martin said. “Hitting prospects with all three mediums gives you the best chance possible to get them to respond. You cannot do all of this manually, because your employees will never 100% follow through. They are only human.”
Although setting the logic in a CRM automation platform can make it easier for your sales team to reach potential customers, automation can sometimes work against you, cautioned Joe Goldstein, director of SEO and operations at Contractor Calls.
“One of my favorite ways to boost lead conversion is to ditch marketing automation as soon as the prospect requests a free consultation,” he said. “By cutting out most forms of marketing automation from our mid- and lower funnel, we’re able to connect with leads on a more personal level, qualify good leads faster, convert them more often and keep them longer.”
8. Write quality content.
The key to a long-lasting relationship is trust. Producing quality content for your customers will give them confidence that your company will deliver solutions to their problems. It will also boost your brand’s reputation as an expert in your field and the go-to source for industry knowledge. If you continue to apply solid knowledge on your website and social media platforms, this will generate recurring revenue for your business.
To keep your audience engaged, your website should have quality content that includes catchy website copy. Engaging copy will keep your audience more interested in your website and, by extension, your company. Additionally, the content on your website should be informative and educational. This type of content includes e-books, blogs, whitepapers and product demos. Your customers will feel confident in the quality of your company if they learn valuable information from your website.
9. Segregate your leads.
While your business could generate tens, or even hundreds, of leads monthly, this doesn’t mean they are all quality leads. To efficiently drive your conversions, segregate the leads you believe are most likely to buy your products or services.
Once you’ve established good leads, do your research. Determine what their objective is when they go to your website. What do they do once they are on your platform? Discern their latest sales activities from your website’s data, and establish contact with your leads. Your team can then spend more time chasing promising leads.
Lead conversion metrics
There are many kinds of lead conversion metrics that you can use to analyze and measure your sales and marketing reach and boost customer engagement with your marketing materials. Here are a few you should track:
- Lead conversion rate: A lead conversion rate shows the number of people who visit or interact with your website’s landing pages. This is a good measure of how many new customers you’re gaining. According to Sid Berry, founder of 71Three, the lead conversion rate allows you to answer these questions:
- How well were you able to retain their attention?
- What actions did they take?
- Cost per conversion: This metric shows you the cost of gaining a customer who will become a buyer.
- Traffic sources: Lead generation metrics analyze where your consumer traffic is coming from. It’s a great way to see where your company should be allocating marketing dollars. It also allows you to answer these questions:
- Where are the customers coming from?
- Where did they hear about you?
These metrics can help you nurture your leads, learn more about your company’s buyer personas and get customers moving through your sales pipeline.
Sean Peek contributed to the reporting and writing in this article. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.