An entire book could be written on optimizing your website for lead generation. In fact, many have, and for good reason. Optimizing for lead generation is the most important responsibility for modern marketers; for many, it pretty much serves as their job description.
There's no end to the things you can do to optimize lead generation, but sometimes, companies aren't even getting the basics right. And I think it's because they're not even sure where to start. So, to get you going with lead generation for your website, I wanted to share are a few strategies that have been really helpful to our team at Contently, the company where I serve as Editor in Chief, over the past few months.
1) Create gated premium content and associated landing pages.
In addition to our three daily stories on The Content Strategist, we also create an in-depth, premium content every 1-2 weeks, such as our State of Content Marketing series. (Note: You don't necessarily have to create premium content that often -- start with one or two premium content assets and create more over time.) We essentially paywall this content with a download form that lives on a landing page. The price? An email address.
The key here is creating content that is actually worth your readers "paying" the minor inconvenience of filling out a lead form. It needs to be a mutually beneficial transaction. But if you're creating high-quality, in-depth content, "paywalling" it -- creating a landing page with a form behind which that content lives -- can be an extremely effective way to increase your lead gen.
2) Add calls-to-action (CTAs) to the end of blog posts.
In recent months, our team at Contently has seen The Content Strategist's audience grow to over 100,000 monthly readers; we're big believers in brands being transparent and proudly telling readers who created the content they're reading. That's in part because it just makes good business sense. One way we do this is by putting a quick, explanatory CTA in italics at the end of each of the three stories we publish each day. The Content Strategist was already our primary lead driver, but this simple tactic made it an even more lead-gen powerful channel.
See below. The key here is to be quick, straight-forward, and to the point. You can also make these calls-to-action more visual -- creating actual buttons (like the one you'll see at the bottom of this very blog post) that lead to a landing page. If you need help creating visual call-to-action buttons, download these free PowerPoint templates that will get you started.
3) Make your gated content shareable.
Oh share buttons, how I love you so. They turn the rest of the internet into a volunteer street team for your premium content. By including social media sharing buttons on your landing pages, you may see an increase in lead generation from those landing pages because your site visitors share that content with their social networks. (Just be sure to only include those buttons on landing pages -- not thank-you pages, or you'll be giving away that gated content for free!)
We usually see our paywalled content shared at least a couple hundred times, and hey, we'll take that.
4) Feature your gated content prominently.
You want as many people as possible to come into contact with your gated content -- that means featuring it prominently. For example, we always feature our gated ebooks and reports in our email to our large weekly mailing list, and we also give them a home on the right rail of the Content Strategist homepage.
5) Make your lead forms fun.
Okay, this isn't a requirement -- but once you've created your first few landing pages, it would be a fantastic initial A/B test to see if you can improve conversions by making the process of filling out forms more delightful.
Making our lead forms fun isn't actually something we've done yet at Contently, but it's something we want to do. Our friends at Chango do a great job of this. For example, when you fill out a lead form to get their Cards Against Marketing party game, it asks you to choose your favorite robot. It made me smile. It may sound hippie dippie, but I firmly believe that making people smile is important for lead generation.
You better believe that we have a list of Wizards going on our marketing wall in the office right now.
6) Perform A/B tests.
Should the first thing people see when they visit your site be your gated content? Or should it be a product video? While it may be tempting to slap lead generation calls-to-action all over your site, we must practice some restraint, because a lot of factors go into deciding whether that's a smart idea. The best way to settle that debate is through data -- and A/B tests can provide that.
You should take that same decision-making process to your landing pages themselves, especially when you're just getting started. If you haven't decided on what an optimized landing page looks like for your business yet, use the early days to try out several different layouts so you can learn what yields the most leads possible.
7) Invest in an SEO audit.
When you work at a small, fast-moving company, things get built fast. And in those lean, early days, things don't get made as perfectly as you would like. One of the smartest investments we've made the past few months is an SEO audit by an independent specialist of Contently.com and our magazine, The Content Strategist. Social traffic may be all the rage, but search visitors remain incredibly valuable; after all, their visit is driven by intent.
The audit yielded tons of things we could be doing better. We weren't able to tackle everything immediately, but there were a dozen quick wins we were able to implement right away. (And if quick wins aren't music to your ears, just wait til you see how they make you look when you report them to your boss.) This doesn't have to be an expensive, exhaustive audit -- you want to ensure that your site is set up properly so search engines can crawl it, your blog is set up on the right domain, you're targeting good keywords, that sort of thing.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out generating leads from their website? Share your tips in the comments.
Originally published May 19, 2014 12:30:00 PM, updated July 28 2017