The most important key to converting website visitors into leads is to have what marketers call a "strong call to action" or a particularly convincing offer that asks people to give their contact information (so they become a lead for your business) in exchange for something. People are on your website, viewing your company information, and they are looking for clues as to what they are supposed to do next. A strong call to action is a clear, simple and compelling offer that persuades them to take the action you want.
What always surprises me is how most small business websites don't even have a "call to action". Just having a "Contact Us" form on your website is not very appealing to your website visitors and is barely counts as a call to action. What's in it for them? Not much. So why should they use it? Most people won't. Sure, some people will use it. And the people who do use it will sometimes buy your services since they gave you their contact information in exchange for nothing - just the hope that you will call them and sell them something. But, if you really want to increase your website conversion rate beyond 1% to an above average 4% or 5%, you need a stronger call to action.
Here are some tips on creating a strong call to action:
1) Keep it Simple. People don't like to think too much, especially when surfing the web. The more confusing the call to action, the fewer people who will respond. Use fewer words. Make the offer clear. Don't have any conditions or special rules. Don't force people to click through to too many pages to complete the action. The harder it is to complete, the fewer people who will complete it.
2) Make it Obvious. Don't bury your call to action at the bottom of a page. Make it clear and upfront and obvious. Believe me, some portion of your website visitors are looking for a call to action. Just by making yours more obvious you can get more of the to find it an complete it.
3) Most important: Make it Valuable. You always want the offer (what you are giving people) to be appealing and valuable to your target audience. One way to do this is by adding a gift, like a USB drive or an iPod. But a better way is to give useful information that is targeted to your audience (and therefore will attract them but not the other people you don't want to talk to). Usually, you can repackage existing materials to make something more valuable. For example, maybe you are a small consulting group that works with companies to implement better management and organizational behavior practices to lower their turnover rates. You want the HR managers that are viewing your website to complete a form to give you their contact information so you can follow up with them and sell them on your standard 5 day consulting engagement. You probably already have a 2 page PDF document that describes the services your company provides. You also have a couple customer case studies in PDF that show how you have helped other customers reduce their turnover. And you might even have a short document that you leave with clients that contains the 10 most common mistakes or the 5 best ways to reduce turnover, or maybe you even have reprints of some articles you have written for an industry magazine. Well, combine all these materials, and now you have a "Free Expert Guide to Reducing Employee Turnover". What HR Manager would not want a copy of that? Another great thing about these electronic guides is that they are downloadable - your prospect gets instant gratification and you don't pay more than a couple pennies for bandwidth. If you have even more content, you can create a "whitepaper", which is usually also very appealing to business prospects.