Three Reasons Your Visitors Don't Convert to Leads

  |  April 25, 2008   |  Comments

Tips for identifying site problems and developing action items for lead-generation optimization.

Want to ramp up the conversion rate on your lead generation site?

Lead generation sites fail to convert for three basic reasons:

  1. Visitors don't understand what value they get in exchange for giving their information.

  2. They are informationally challenged and collect too little, too much, or incorrect information.

  3. You haven't established trust and set proper expectations of what to expect when doing business with you.

Obviously each is interrelated and flow from one to the other. There might be a few more reasons, but for now, these three gigantic culprits are enough to start you identifying specific problems on your site and determining action items for optimization.

Keep in mind, more leads may not be what you need. You may need more qualified leads, and a properly planned Web site should help the visitor qualify herself.

We've worked with several companies that have seen a decrease in the number of leads, but increased sales and optimized the sales team time and closing ratios because the quality of their leads was improved.

Exchanging Value: My Name for Your Service

Many sites offering "free" whitepapers, case studies, or resources in exchange for some visitor information do a poor job of merchandising their downloads. Your downloads contain valuable information. Treat them as such.

Stop thinking of these downloads as free. You're asking for something extremely valuable to both you and the visitor, their contact information. To get this valuable information "merchandise" your downloads better. Show the visitor the value of what they're downloading. So when they fill out the lead form, they feel they're making a good exchange, valuable information for valuable information.

  • Include thumbnails of documents.

  • Let them know what they'll learn from the download.

  • Let them know what they can do with the information.

  • List everything what's "in it for them" in the download.

  • Let them know what will happen with their information. Will you be calling them? (More on this, below, under "Establishing Trust and Expectations".)

If you offer a free trial or demo period, provide clear information about what they are getting. Is it a fully functional trial with a time limit? What happens when the demo runs out? Will you offer them support during the trial? (Sounds like a good way to win over a potential customer doesn't it?) Disclose system requirements before they begin the sign up process.

Track the number of "bogus" e-mails you get, either bad e-mail addresses or e-mails from Hotmail, Yahoo, or Gmail. If you get too many emails from or elvisp@hotmail, rest assured that visitors don't see value in the offer and the exchange.

Beware, sometimes these tactics will cause a drop in the number of leads, but rid you of junk leads. You have to determine if this is an acceptable trade off (it almost always is).

Help for the Informationally Challenged

Information, information, information is all around us. Some is useful, sometimes it's hard to find what's useful, and some information is just plain not helpful at all.

One approach to determine if you have info problems is to examine time spent on page. Often times I work with sites that have low time spent on main content pages but their FAQ page gets more visitor time. This may indicate that visitors aren't finding information they need elsewhere. If a visitor relies on your FAQ to get information, it reduces trust. Why aren't these frequent questions answered frequently (or linked to) on key pages like home and service/product pages?

Often sites put up so much information that visitors cannot find the piece of info they seek. This occasionally indicates an information architecture problem, but more often indicates that the visitors' needs and motivations aren't addressed in the content.

Another key issue often neglected is that often the person doing the research on the Web site isn't the decision maker. She's trying to gather, sort, and print (you do make it easy to do that, right?) information to give to the person making the decision. Are you making your site easy to understand for this person as well?

There really are no easy solutions to get your information in order. First begin to establish a persuasive framework, building personas then planning each persona's interaction or persuasion scenarios with your site, and determining what information they need and when and where they need it on the site.

Establishing Trust and Expectations

Visitors must trust you. If they don't, they don't become leads or often they become bad leads. Visitors may even fill out a lead form if they mistrust you. Sometimes they are just going through the motion of getting proposals and pricing and are planning on buying from your competitor. You might have the better solution for them but the site or the lead process doesn't instill enough confidence to take you seriously.

Most visitors who aren't confident simply won't contact you. They fear harassment from the sales team. Or sometimes your site is ineffective in communicating the values of the visitor and they bail. Again, this is a tragedy especially when you consider they could be in the market to buy what you sell.

Other times, visitors are in early stages of the buying process and an overly aggressive lead form will cause them to tighten up, assuming you'll push them somewhere they don't feel ready to go. Here are some things you can do to help instill trust.

  • Include information about what it's like to work with your company. Let them know when you will contact them. Assure them that you will only help them determine their needs and not pressure them.

  • Ramp up your About Us page.

  • Ask as few questions as possible in your lead form. Don't force them to give you all types information or endure a stack of intimidating drop downs.

  • Include short, friendly lead forms in several places on the site (not just your contact page). This will help you track where they filled out the form and better inform you what they might be interested in.

  • Tell them exactly what will happen when they send their info, tell them how soon they will be hearing from you. If possible give them a choice of how and when they prefer to be contacted.

  • Some visitors like to be prepared for the call. Provide a checklist of information they might need to have handy when they speak with you.

  • Some visitors prefer to call. Provide the phone number near the lead form.

Now go get some leads.

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Bryan Eisenberg

Bryan Eisenberg is co-founder and chief marketing officer (CMO) of IdealSpot. He is co-author of the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, BusinessWeek, and New York Times best-selling books Call to Action, Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?, and Always Be Testing, and Buyer Legends. Bryan is a keynote speaker and has keynoted conferences globally such as Gultaggen,, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, Econsultancy, Webcom, the Canadian Marketing Association, and others for the past 10 years. Bryan was named a winner of the Marketing Edge's Rising Stars Awards, recognized by eConsultancy members as one of the top 10 User Experience Gurus, selected as one of the inaugural iMedia Top 25 Marketers, and has been recognized as most influential in PPC, Social Selling, OmniChannel Retail. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of several venture capital backed companies such as Sightly, UserTesting, Monetate, ChatID, Nomi, and BazaarVoice. He works with his co-author and brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. You can find them at

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