How To Turn Website Leads Into Paying Customers


John Ring


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Search engine optimisation is all about bringing traffic to your website. But traffic, in itself, is not particularly valuable. You can pay to boost a blog post on Facebook, or attract 100,000 visitors with the promise of free beer, but the traffic will be wasted if you aren’t picking up new clients. And you’ll soon run out of beer.

Inbound marketing is all about encouraging actions: a click, an enquiry, a chat. You need to turn those visitors into leads, and then into paying customers. Sounds simple enough, but it can be an exercise in patience – testing and tweaking to figure out what works. If you don’t capitalise on these actions, you could lose the opportunity to engage.

By tweaking your approach, and rethinking your funnel, you can convert more leads and increase your return on investment (ROI). Often, thinking like your customer can make a big difference.

Focus on Conversions

Once you have someone’s details, you’re in a more powerful position because you can engage with them directly. A lead is someone who wants to keep in touch, but isn’t yet motivated to spend. The fact they’ve shown interest is a good starting point but you still have to convert them.

To sell to these leads, you need to figure out what makes them tick. Or to put it another way, you need to find out what’s stopping them from making that purchase and remedy the situation ASAP. Up to 80 per cent of leads are gone before they make a purchase. That’s a startling percentage to lose.

The key thing is to figure out their pain points and work backwards to remove them. If you lose a lead, you can also develop ways to bring them back.

What’s Stopping Them?

Your website isn’t just a menu or a catalogue. It needs to push buttons and sell. To convert, you need to find emotional triggers and offer the answers your customer is looking for.

If you’re losing leads, here are three things they might be thinking:

1. You’re not credible enough

Your website is your virtual storefront, and your prospect needs to have confidence in you. Promoting yourself as an authentic, reliable and experienced professional plays a big part in converting a lead.

If they’ve signed up to your email marketing list, they’re interested. But they may not yet think you are perfect match.

Breaking it down, there are four really good tools you can use to build your credibility:

  • Website content that offers solutions. Prospective customers want to know you can solve their problem. Make sure your website content describes your client’s problem and offers a specific response
  • Testimonials and reviews from existing customers. There are lots of fake testimonials on business websites so you need to go the extra mile to make yours authentic. Testimonials turn website content into credible, unbiased recommendations; almost 63 per cent of Americans say they are more likely to purchase if they see reviews or testimonials. Only post genuine quotes, using real names rather than initials and give as much detail as your customer will allow. Ask the customer if you can use their photo, or a video, next to the quote. You could offer a discount or a link in exchange
  • Case studies to prove you know your stuff. People want to know what your claims mean in practice. Create a detailed case study for every job you’re proud of (with client consent), and elaborate on how you solved their problem. Spell out the what, when, why and how. Include photos of the job where appropriate. If case studies don’t work in your niche, build an online portfolio with plenty of details about the brief and process
  • Blogs that prove your authority. Business blogs are best when they reinforce your skills and experience without being ‘salesy’. If your blog proves that you know your stuff, prospective customers will consider you an authoritative voice, and that can be enough to convert them. We’re not talking 300-word blogs about something you saw on Twitter; we’re talking long, detailed, high-quality articles that demonstrate your capability to do a great job.

Remember: All four components help to build confidence. Prove that you are ready to impress them. Prove that they won’t be disappointed.

2. You’re making it difficult to get started

Imagine that you walk into your local grocery tomorrow. Before you can shop, you need to sign a waiver agreement in case you trip. You need to pre-pay for the items you want. And you need to queue for 15 minutes because there’s only one cashier.

Would you jump through these hoops just to buy a handful of items?

Supermarkets are experts in making shopping pleasurable. If you want people to buy something, you need to make it easy, fast and rewarding.

Tactics to consider:

  • Shorten your forms. Fewer fields result in more conversions; it’s been proven time and again. If you present a new customer with a long sign-up form, they’ll likely ditch their cart and leave. That’s why so many businesses save the lengthy form-filling (name, address) until the very last page, when the customer is already emotionally engaged
  • Remove purchasing barriers. Creating an account can be seen as a hurdle in the purchase process. Smart merchants let people check out without an account, then offer them the opportunity to quickly set up a login at the end of the checkout process. ProFlowers successfully uses this technique on its website.
  • Diversify payment methods. Use as many payment types as you can. Services such as PayPal are not for everyone but they arguably make the checkout process faster and more convenient. Verified by Visa’s 3D Secure is known to reduce conversions, which could be why companies such as Amazon refuse to implement it
  • Make contact really easy. Offer live chat on your website and throughout the checkout stage. Let people reach out for a helping hand instead of abandoning their purchase
  • Test your site speed. Slow-loading pages are a turn-off when it comes to checking out. Google’s PageSpeed offers a measurement of site speed as viewed by its search engine crawler. Diversify with another tool such as Pingdom to get the complete picture.

Remember: Not every lead is poised with their credit card, eager to buy what you’re offering. People who are not ready to buy are checking out the way you work. Make it your mission to be simple, open and quick.

3. You aren’t going anywhere, so I can delay

If you’ve given your lead an offer that’s too good to refuse, push them to convert within a time limit.

Try these approaches:

  • Loyalty schemes. Offer a points bonus with a deadline. Supermarkets and pharmacies are experts in leveraging loyalty schemes to encourage seasonal spending habits
  • Free trials. Give people all the features of your service for free, then sign them up when they’re habitually using your product (this takes about three weeks, on average)
  • Send coupons. Your email marketing list is a golden opportunity for conversions, and probably contains lots of people just waiting for a price break before they buy. Send a time-limited coupon with a compelling call to action, and encourage that vital conversion.

Remember: There will always be something else to spend money on. You need to give your lead a sense of urgency. What’s in it for them? What will they lose if they wait?

Bonus Tip: Rethinking the Sales Funnel

There’s nothing worse than losing a lead that’s ready to make a purchase. If you’re consistently losing leads half-way down your funnel, you might be wondering what’s going wrong.

Maybe you need to look at the funnel as a two-way process.

Leads don’t always flow from top to bottom. Sometimes they move back up, or enter the funnel half-way down. Buyers are savvy and socially engaged. People fall out of the process, or come in at the bottom of the funnel and move up as they research. The funnel might be converting people at a lower spend than it previously did, which can be just as damaging to ROI.

You need to track people’s behaviour and make decisions based on visible patterns. The marketing department cannot pass leads to sales and forget them; it must recognise opportunities for leads to flow in both directions. Use your content to appeal to different personas. Segment and target, then repurpose content in new formats. If you don’t flex your approach, you will never find your black hole – the point where leads disappear and are never recovered.

Take Action

If you fail to convert qualified leads into paying customers, your entire marketing strategy falls flat.

Resolve pain points, target your key personas, and allow yourself to follow leads up, down, in and out of the funnel – not just straight down the line. Create offers that your leads can’t refuse, coupled with authoritative content and credible evidence.

If you don’t, you’ll end up with plenty of leads but a huge amount of wasted effort. Don’t let this happen – and don’t allow your business throw good money after bad.

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John Ring


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Over the past 15 years, I've helped many international companies like Ebay, Intel, Burberry, The AA, Suzuki, Calor Gas, and Lexis Nexis as well as local Irish companies like SSE, Irish Rail and many others with their digital marketing. My role is to lead the Tinderpoint team to deliver outstanding results continuously for our clients.