An effective website integrates attractive design, powerful content, and strategic SEO to draw traffic and boost online visibility. Once users have found your website, though, what motivates them to convert from a visiting prospect to a qualified lead?
To inspire action, your website needs to do more than demonstrate the value of your brand. It must also provide a clear, easy way for prospects to experience that value—and at the same time, begin the nurturing process that will ultimately encourage them to make a purchase. That process is accomplished (among other things) through the use of calls-to-action, landing pages, forms, and thank-you pages.
The path to conversion begins with an effective call-to-action (CTA) – a button, display ad, or other link that encourages visitors to take the next step in engaging with your brand. To be effective, your CTAs should be clearly defined and irresistible to your prospects.
- Grab your visitors’ attention. If your CTA stands out and is attractive, website users will be more likely to click on it. Make your CTA big, bold, and colorful (though always complimentary to the rest of your website’s color scheme, of course). It should look enticingly clickable, too—so try adding a button, an image, or even a unique visual effect.
- Keep the message simple and relevant. CTAs need to be specific about the value visitors can expect to receive by clicking on them. Use strong action verbs, and if possible, include precise keywords that tie in with your content. Don’t be afraid to get creative, either—as long as you’re clear about exactly what you’re offering. “Book your reservation today,” for example, is more compelling than just “Contact us.”
- Place calls-to-action strategically. Each page on your website should include only 1-2 CTAs to avoid overwhelming visitors—but be careful to put those CTAs where visitors will find them, and make sure they’re relevant to the surrounding content. CTAs can appear above or below the fold on your page, to the right or to the left of your content, or even within the content itself. The best locations will vary depending on the content and your intended audience on each page, so you may have to test different options before you find the right one.
While the CTAs on your website guide visitors to take that logical next step, your landing pages provide the mechanism for them to further engage with your brand (and for you to capture their information). Basic landing pages contain a few key elements:
- A strong, active headline that entices visitors to learn more about your offer
- A brief description of your offer, telling users exactly what they’re getting
- A short, bulleted list of your offer’sspecific benefits (the value it provides, not the features)
- A supporting image that breaks up your content and shows users what they’re getting
- A short, simple form to capture information
Building on these core components, your landing page should be simple, straightforward, and free of distractions. Keep your content brief and engaging; don’t make viewers work too hard to gather information. Be clear about what you’re offering and why your visitors should want it. Make sure your landing page is consistent with the rest of your website (both in design and tone—avoid a jarring transition from your website to your offer), and more importantly, with the CTA your visitors clicked to access that page. And remember: visitors access your landing page solely to provide information in exchange for your offer. It’s often helpful to remove your primary navigation menus from your landing page so that visitors will be more likely to complete the form.
Since the whole purpose of your landing page is to capture leads, your form is one of its most important components – and like the rest of the page, your form should be brief and straightforward. Ask only for as much information as you absolutely need, and keep your request proportional to the value of your offer and your visitor’s stage in the conversion cycle. A new prospect downloading a whitepaper, for instance, might only give their email address and a few other pieces of information, while a returning lead scheduling a consultation may be willing to provide more. It’s also a good idea to include a privacy statement on your form to reduce concerns about spam. Finally, when visitors are ready to submit their information, make sure your form buttons use friendly, creative prompts, like “Make my reservation!” or “Download our whitepaper now,” rather than the generic and uninspiring “Submit.”
In general, remember: visitors decide in a matter of seconds whether or not they’re interested in your offer – so don’t make them work too hard to get it!
Once your visitors complete and submit your form, they should be taken to a thank-you page. Aside from doing what the title suggests – thanking your new leads for their interest in your brand – thank-you pages also serve a few other purposes, all of which are crucial parts of the conversion process:
- They deliver the offer you promised on your landing page. The thank-you page can provide a direct link to the offer (for instance, a website article), or it can provide instructions on when, where, and how your prospect can expect to access the offer (for instance, explaining that a link will be sent to their email).
- They restore regular navigation so that prospects can continue browsing your website.
- They suggest additional resources, downloads, areas of interest, ways to connect with your brand, or other direction based on what the prospect has just requested. Thank-you pages can even include additional CTAs to move prospects further along the engagement cycle.
A thank-you page may seem like a formality, but it’s just as crucial as any other component of the conversion cycle. Without that confirmation of their investment, your prospects won’t perceive as much value from your offer, and they’ll be less likely to engage any further with your brand.
Inspiring action is essential to transform your website from a simple promotion of your brand to an effective sales tool. It’s also important to understand that while each stage in the lead-capturing process should include certain key elements, there’s no one-size-fits-all magic formula. To get the best conversion rates from your website, you’ll need to test, analyze, and re-test every component until you’ve found the right combination.