Lead Capture Optimization (LCO)
Lead Capture and The Goal
Up to this point, everything we have detailed is the groundwork for the lead capture event. As we have discussed ad nauseam, the Goal is maximizing profit. Lead Capture (form inquiry, call, email, online chat, eNewsletter sign-up, or any other contact instigated by visitor to the site) is the defining process that enables the sale to become a possibility. Lead capture (and, of course, eCommerce sales) thus becomes an unequivocal standard to evaluate the success of your website and marketing efforts. With the exception of a direct e-Commerce system, lead capture is ultimately the goal of your marketing efforts: your website and all the campaigns combined. In the next chapter, we will provide very useful insight into how to effectively deal with Internet leads, but the purpose of this book is not to train or manage your sales team. Our focus is to get them the leads they need to close the sales ; it’s up to them to make that transition from a lead to a sale.
How is lead captured? Essentially, there are two possibilities: through a form or a phone call. A phone call is self explanatory; there are, however, many different kinds of forms. When most people think of a website form, they inevitably think of their “Contact Us” page. As we have mentioned, these are necessary, but are perhaps the least effective method, at least in a traditional sense. We say this because your typical contact us page is not user friendly, asks far too many questions, and is ineffectual at traffic conversion.
Now that we have some background in what it takes to create an effective online presence, we can begin to appreciate that there are many different user types that will come to your site. Each of them is looking for something different. Additionally, the same person may come back to your site throughout the research process and each time be looking for different information based upon what stage of the purchase process they are in. From a practical standpoint, this means that your ability to capture leads and have an impressive traffic conversion ratio will depend upon your ability to meet their needs and expectations expeditiously.
This is the essence of the book, “Don’t Make Me Think,” where it has been definitively proven that the equation we are presenting here works. If you confuse the audience, they are left with a bad impression of your company and will not provide their contact info, unless they are desperate or have no other options. This is a sorry state to leave your potential clients in. Your website is your corporate brand, its face to the entire world, and it is critical to utilize all the strategies we have presented in order to drive conversions.
It is a simple fact that most of your visitors will never contact you. That’s not the problem; the problem is when the structure, calls-to-action, presentation of offerings, design and/or your inability to effectively communicate with your anonymous traffic prevents you from making sales with people who are ready to buy. In other words, when visitors leave your site unimpressed and go to the competition because of a negative first impression/confusion/dissatisfaction, perception is more influential than fact. Regardless of the state of your company, you are evaluated by your ability to communicate. We mention all of this again, because Lead Capture is not about a form or a phone number; it’s about communication, about setting the table for a conversation. The eProfitability cycle is a map to build effective online communication.
Forms do play an essential role in the traffic to lead conversion process. Brand and self-promotion is what gets your audience interested in you as a company. Your forms are what facilitate their impulse to communicate with you directly. Depending upon your product, there are many ways to enhance this channel between audience and provider. The more you can do to facilitate this bridge, the more people will use it.
We all have been trained by the Internet to expect instant gratification. This includes the lead communication event. The single biggest mistake online, with regard to lead capture, is to ask for too much information upfront. Do not force your potential client to bear the burden of responsibility for effective communication.
For example, what’s worse than calling a company, and having some degenerate, bored-out-of-their-mind operator pick up the phone, who proceeds to make you feel like a schmuck for even calling? Clearly, you are wasting their time, and consequently yours. We would propose that a poorly executed form is no different.
Therefore, if the sale of your product requires a phone conversation, why ask for more information than you need to initiate that phone call? All you need is a phone number and a name– period. Not only is that effortless for the web user, it’s easy for your sales team. It has been proven that on average less than 5% of general web traffic will click on a “contact us” page, and of that 5%, less than 5% will actually complete the form. There are two serious mistakes here:
- Why make someone click on a link to a contact us page in the first place?
- If everyone is abandoning your form before it’s complete, you’re asking for way too much information.
There are plenty of times that forms are required, just be sure you are using them effectively. Keep in mind that different forms should be used to target different user types. Up to this point, everything we have detailed is the groundwork for the lead capture event.
Various Types of Forms
- Chat now/live chat
- Quick Contact
- Contact Us
- Feedback form
- Incentive based combo forms
- Content download forms
- RSS Feed sign-ups
In the final analysis, your lead capture ratio to traffic is the defining determinant of your online success, even if search engines don’t take your lead capture ratio into consideration. If you have been effective, you will get leads, and hopefully see a double-digit increase from your previous baseline. If you are not getting leads, but have seen a significant increase in site traffic due to your marketing efforts, then something is most likely wrong with your presentation.
Forms Optimization – Converting Traffic
Everybody hates forms, but they are here to stay. That’s a good thing too, as they are critical to your online success. You are permitted to continue to hate them, of course, whether you are a publisher or consumer, but you can’t do without them. Forms are where buyers and sellers intersect online. Forms represent the virtual version of a retail counter. Forms are where conversations are started, transactions are performed, and where deals are won or lost. Literally.
Take the following example: a consumer comes to your site, researches your offerings, finds what he/she is looking for, is ready to make a purchase today, clicks on “buy this item.” If they become confused or overwhelmed (or both) by the form or process they are presented with, they’re gone.
It might even be something that’s absolutely critical to them, but they would rather not be bothered with figuring out what actions need to be taken to get that critical something. Another search, and they’ll find someone else.
How about this one? Consumer comes to your site, likes what he/she sees and decides to contact your firm. The deal is in hand, but your contact us form is awful; requiring First Name, Last Name, City, State, Zip, email address, and Telephone Number, and, maybe, even requires they leave a comment of some kind. All they want to do is to establish contact with the appropriate party within your organization, and most likely they don’t like being asked for so much personal data. In this case, you can blame spammers and scammers. They’ve made people gun-shy about giving too much information away, for fear that they’ll be getting telemarketing calls, junk emails, and flyers to their home, just because they wanted to talk to someone at your firm.
These scenarios may seem far-fetched, but they are very common. In fact, we encounter awful (and sometimes downright criminally awful) forms nearly every day, even on websites for businesses that only exist online. Worse, you can find bad formson websites that web technology, marketing professionals, and executive-level professionals use: absolutely stunning and unforgivable. Some of the worst offenders are the larger, publicly-traded companies [read Fortune 500], whom one might think have the resources to see to this type of stuff.
When it comes to forms (whether simple or complex, whether one or multiple pages) if you don’t optimize them, if you don’t show them the love they deserve, you will suffer for your negligence. In virtually all cases, as we will see below, there is a significant improvement to be gained in this arena. We are confident that following the practices outlined below will afford instant benefits. So much so, that if no other good comes of this book other than getting you to review and (if needed) optimize your forms, our mission to increase your web ROI will have succeeded. I f, on the other hand, you do everything we suggest in this book, yet fail to optimize your forms, you have only yourself to blame!
When it comes to optimizing forms, modest changes can yield an outsized benefit. Your online marketing efforts and website themselves really exist for no other reason than to get people to contact/converse/transact with you. No matter how excellent your pitch, no matter how beautifully convincing your online argument is, a crappy form can kill the deal in a heartbeat.
Forms – Rules to Follow
Of course, what people always ask us is this: “What are the best practices when it comes to forms?” And normally, web professionals like to say something safe like, “Well, it depends.” And while it would be safer for us to say that, we aren’t going to.
Audience Considerations: there is much to be said of considering one’s intended audience (end user) when designing a form. We can imagine an unlimited amount of scenarios–for instance, language barriers, fluency, literacy, colloquialisms, the unintended consequences of choosing colors that carry negative connotations in a given foreign culture, numbers that may do the same, etc. So, yes, we agree that the end user for whom one form is intended is not the same as the end user for which another form is intended. We also agree that it is very important to consider these factors when building a form (or, for that matter an entire interactive marketing plan).
Contextual Considerations: Context is also an incredibly important aspect of designing an excellent form. For instance, if we already have the user’s information on hand (i.e. the user is already logged into the website), it would be unnecessary to ask for parts of that information again.
Let’s say a user wants to upgrade from a standard subscription (which they pay $5/month for) to the premium subscription (which costs them $20/month). Let’s say they are already logged into their account when they decide to do so. Asking them for their email address and first name would be unnecessary and annoying, as we already have it on record. Asking them to verify their password before processing their order would be more tolerable, as the user would understand it as an additional layer of security. The point is this, the number of contexts within which forms are used is nearly infinite–as distinct as audiences can be from one site to the next.
Considerations for Learned Conventions – These are very, very important. Sometimes learned conventions are counter-intuitive. Sometimes they are relics from the dawn of the Internet. And sometimes they just don’t make any sense whatsoever to those of us who work in the web sphere. Nonetheless, learned conventions are what they are. And there is no use fighting them. The simple fact is that it behooves us to put each element of each form in precisely the place the user expects it, because we don’t want the user to have to give a moment’s pause for any reason whatsoever. So, don’t fight learned conventions, even if you are tempted to.
Even with all of these considerations, the “what-if” scenarios, the infinite variability in audiences, and infinitely variable contexts, we can nonetheless provide some safe Best Practices which when applied will help you to avoid common pitfalls we find day in and day out. Are these hard, fast rules that can be applied across the board with reckless abandon? No, they are not. Do they apply to 99% of all forms found online (at least relating to languages read left-to-right, top-to-bottom)? Yes, they do.
Better than Acceptable
|Label Placement||Above the Field||Right-aligned with Field||Left-Aligned in column||Below or to the right of field|
|Label Font Size||14||12||10||<10|
|Required Field Notation||Asterisk – Red, to the right of Label, but to the left of field||Asterisk to the right of field||Exclamation point or color-coded field by default||Other|
|Examples of expected input||Below the field in smaller font size than label and italicized or embedded in the input field||Following label in same row, in parentheses and in smaller font size than label size||To the right of field||A legend|
|Help||Use only when absolutely necessary. And if used, use a “?” icon to the right of the field.||Use Sparingly|
Better than Acceptable
|Section Headers||When the form is “long” and the information being requested lends itself to being neatly partitioned||Even when form is not “long” per se, but the info being requested is more easily understood with partitions||Even short forms can be sectioned tastefully. Be careful of overkill.||Section header which is unnecessary, makes the form more confusing than it need be, or otherwise impedes the User from completing it|
|Steps/Subsequent Pages||When a form is in danger of being obscenely long. Or when it makes sense to capture one portion of user data before another set of data. When it is likely the user will not be able to complete the desired transaction in one sitting.||When failure to split the form into steps or pages causes people to run in the other direction.||Making people fill out a massive, never-ending form in one sitting. Or displaying a form that would reach to Shanghai if not for scrolling.|
|Progress Bars||Anytime there are multiple steps and/or subsequent form pages to be filled out, include Progress Bar or Step Chart.||Not giving the User visibility into how many steps/pages are required or remaining in the process.|
|Expectations||Always be honest about what the user’s time commitment is likely to be when it comes to filling out a longer form or a process that includes multiple steps/pages. Additionally, never purposefully obscure the process or requirement. If the user needs to collect documents or information he/she is not likely to have on-hand, say so up front.||Understating the time required for the benefit promised. For instance, stating “Registration only takes 2 minutes!” when in fact said registration takes 15 minutes.Misleading the user – for instance, Intimating that a service is free – until the final page of a registration process.|
Forms – Things to Avoid
computerjobs.com – form review
1 – Too Much verbiage! Too much selling! – Not only is a large amount of text copy off-putting (on a form in particular), the fact that the user has made it to this form indicates that the user has already been convinced of the benefits (unless he’s writing a book having to do with Best Practices as it relates to web forms). In this case, the publisher seems hell-bent on continuing to pitch the service/product offered rather than “closing the deal.” Forms are not the appropriate place to sell; they are the place to close!
2 – Unfamiliar/Confusing Label – You must put yourself in the shoes of the target audience. Look for constraints/obstacles that impede or cause the user to pause on a form. In this case, what is meant by “Role(s)?” Is it the Role I currently have? Or is it the Role I am looking to fill within an organization? Additionally, the (s) implies I should or might have several different Roles in mind (if I assume it is the Role I am looking to fill within an organization). What if I don’t have more than one in mind? What do I do if I do, in fact, have several roles in mind? Am I supposed to separate each Role by a comma? In any event, making the user pause this early in a form is unforgivable. The first thing to do is clarify what is being asked. We would, in this case, recommend a label that reads “Desired Title” or something along those lines. Likewise, the “Location” label is equally bemusing. Is this the location the user is currently located in? Or is it the geographic location the user desires to eventually work in? If the latter, why is there no (s) added to the end of the label? Some clarification is in order here.
3 – Labels in General—It is desirable that they (again, in general) be right aligned to the input/select box. Additionally, in general, it is better to have the “*” or other character denoting “Required Field” come after the label.
4 – Gratuitous “help” information – In this case, the statement made below the “Password” input box should go without saying. That is, people understand why they are asked for a password. . . if not for security purposes, what in the world would a password be used for?
5 – Asterisk Use—This is a good use of defining what the asterisks stand for, but the “Finish” button should also be left-aligned and immediately below it. Instead, the architects of this form have placed it off to the right, below a horizontal rule. Additionally, while it may appear more aesthetically pleasing to demarcate the form labels in one column (white) and the remainder of the form in blue, it is needless. And, if it is needless, it should be removed. Remember, ask yourself “does this help, hinder, clarify or confuse? Is it useful or useless?” for each element on a given form. If the element is not helpful, does not clarify, or is not useful, remove it from the form.
Best Practices Applied
JustTechJobs.com – form review
1 – Too Much verbiage! Too much selling! – Again, the goal here is to close, not to sell. On the plus side, this form does have a page title (unlike the previous form we reviewed), confirming to the user that he/she is in the right place. “Register and Post Resume” is pretty straightforward and leaves little room for confusion.
2 – Left-Alignment, Asterisks Risk, and Gaps! – While having the labels left-aligned isn’t the best way to go about formatting a form, it is acceptable nonetheless. The bigger problem here is having the asterisks to the left of the labels. It would be better to have them to the right of the labels themselves, not only because they cause the user to pause (which is a no-no), but also because when lined up as they are, they take precedence over the labels themselves. Worse yet, they make this involved form appear a bit more formidable (unpleasant) than need be. Another issue here is the space between the labels and their commensurate input boxes. Additional concerns: a) the colon following each label is unnecessary at best, and b) through the magic of web technology, the Zip Code field should be restricted to accept only 5 digits (thus making the 5 digit concern moot).
3 – Terminology and Jargon – The term “W2” is best reserved for HR professionals. One wonders what the point of including this level of detail is. Reviewing the values, one notes that the values “Employee” and “Contractor” and “Employee or Contractor” would remove the possibility of chasing someone away who might not know what a “W2” is.
4 – Nicely partitioned – Given that this is a very long form, the architects of this form have made it less overwhelming by dividing the required information into reasonable sections with decent section headers.
5 – Distractions – The advertisements to the right of the form not only offer a distraction to the user, but also might actual result in users abandoning the process altogether. An apt anecdote here would be this: You’ve got your client signing the paperwork for a new car and on your desk you have brochures for competing brands. Not real smart.
6 – Consider 2 steps instead of 1 huge form – This form is mighty long. A good way to make the process less painful might be to split this process into 2 distinct pages, one for account creation and one for building resume details. In this manner, the account is created and the user can feel as if they’ve accomplished something concrete. Abandonment rates are likely to go way down, and the user can choose whether to continue completing his/her profile or to return at a later time to add work history details.
7 – Action Button Use—While the placement of the “Save Resume” button is excellent, we would suggest renaming the button to read “Post Resume” or “Create Account” instead. “Save Resume” is a bit passive and does not convey any degree of accomplishment.
Best Practices Applied
- Labels have been right aligned
- Asterisks have been moved to the right of the labels
- Input fields have been moved in closer proximity to the labels
- (5 digit) has been removed
Dice.com – form review
1 – Land of Confusion – “Step 1:” seems to indicate there are multiple steps. But if so, how many are there? Likewise, “Step 1: Create your account / login” intimates that there may be multiple steps to the process of logging in, which is not what we believe the publisher is trying at all to convey.
2 – Form Explanation — While the previous 2 examples we reviewed were absolutely guilty of overwhelming text and continuing to sell when the object by the time a user gets to the form is to close, Dice does a decent job of subtly reminding users what they are getting in return for signing up. Sure beats a paragraph (or two) of unwanted content. Nonetheless, we would recommend removing the bullet points entirely.
3 – Field Length — May be the longest input box we have ever seen . . . and that’s not a good thing. While we are sure someone on the planet has an inordinately long email or some hieroglyphic password, we’re not sure what the rationale at work here is. It sticks out like a sore thumb, so to speak, and in so doing is nothing but a distraction.
4 – The Login button is fine as is for returning site subscribers.
On-click of the Sign-Up Now! Button (which, by the way, was entirely missing from the homepage at the first pre-edited version of this book), the user is taken to the following form:
1 – Setting Expectations Step-by-Step – Here, Dice uses a nice 3-Step indicator, setting proper expectations for the user. In this case, Step 1 is highlighted in maroon, while the following steps (yet to be completed) are in grey. We might suggest also including something to the effect of “3 minutes to change your future” or “3 Easy Steps”
2 – Is that a check box? – The legend indicating that beige input boxes are required form elements looks at first glance to be a checkbox.
3 – Gigantism – Wow. Someone at Dice loves really long input boxes. Better to keep these more conventional. On the plus side, they do have their labels right-aligned.
4 – Security? Really? – This section has nothing to do with security. What it does relate to is making sure that people (not robots) are creating accounts. Better to call it what it is: “Human Verification”
5 – Gratuitous use of Horizontal Rule — Is only one nitpicky issue we have here. Also note that the “Cancel” button does nothing here but increase the likelihood that someone will inadvertently click it. Likewise, because it is to the left of the “Next >>” button, it appears pre-eminent. But we don’t want people to cancel! We want them to complete the process of signing up. And finally, the Next button should be left aligned.
MilwaukeeJobs.com – form review
1 – Where to begin – It appears that this is a dual-purpose form: One purpose seems to be to serve as a login area for people with an existing account. However, it appears that the form is also for people who are looking to create a new account. In fact, we navigated to this page by clicking on a link that said “Register,” only to find that we seem to have been routed to a form which assumes we already have an account (the page is entitled “Login to your MilwaukeeJobs.com Account”).
On the positive side, we are not offended by the conversationally (ad libbed?) styled “My Email Address is:” label, as it is clear and very much to the point. One may argue that it is redundant, however, as the label appears immediately below a section header which reads “What is your Email Address?” There truly is something to keeping it simple.
2 – More Problems – Again, because this form seems to be an attempt to merge two distinct forms (namely, Login and Create New Account functionalities), the form gets clunky here.
3 – Even More Problems – We stand corrected. This form is attempting to perform the function of 3 forms! Now, the user is being asked to delineate whether he/she is an employer or a “Job Seeker.”
4 – Page Centered Form—The entire form (except, strangely enough, the two section titles in orange) is centered. Therefore, so is the “Register” button. Of course, we are best served not centering the form elements at all, much less portions of the form elements. An additional annoyance is the icon to the left of the “Register” on the button itself. What purpose does it serve?
Here is what we would suggest with regard to this registration form:
Best Practices Applied
Are we serious? Well, only partially, because on further inspection, when we indicated for a second time that we were interested in registering for a new account (should never make the user ask twice, by the way) and clicked on the “Register” button, it turns out we hadn’t registered at all. The registration process had just begun!
Best Practices Applied
Wait just a second! Big word of caution: TOO MUCH RED is BAD! Better to make all of the text black…………………………………..
Best Practices Applied x2
theLadders.com – form review
1 – Page Title Excellence – This is the perfect use of a powerful call to action that seeks to set an expectation that the process of joining will take only 30 Seconds. For people making 100k plus, per annum, the marketing team for The Ladders seems to be applying the old adage “time is money” here. But, does the process really take only 30 seconds? Or, will a User be asked for his/her credit card info on the subsequent page before his/her account is activated?
2 – Alignment and Font Size – Again, the labels should be right-aligned. Oddly, there is an example of an email below the email label. Additionally, given that this site is geared toward an audience of high earning professionals, one can assume a high percentage of the users at this site are over the age of forty. Why is this significant? Well, the font size selected here is way too small for that target audience. It would be awful if users simply did not complete the form because of an inability to read the copy easily.
3 – “Retype” is a nice way of saying “Confirm” and possibly more accurate.
4 – Note that this form deduces your state from the Zip Code you provide! No need to ask for both.
5 – While we would prefer this form be in one column rather than two (the form is short enough that one column would suffice), we do appreciate that the architects of this form have opted for using radio buttons for both the “Select your field” section as well as the “Select a subscription” section. This is not to say that radio buttons are better or even preferred to select boxes at all. What we are saying here is that it is always best to use the fewest number of different input types as is possible.
6 – The Red “JOIN NOW” button is overkill. It’s also in the wrong place (if you agree the form ought to be one column).
manpower.com – form review
1 – Excellent use of page title – this page title leaves no question as to what filling out this form promises the user.
2 – Excellent use of section headers/form partitions – This form’s creators knew what they were doing with respect to partitioning the form in “bite-sized pieces.” The section headers “Contact Information” and “My Manpower Account Credentials” are explicit. We would suggest changing the second section header to read “Account Credentials.” Shorter is better in this regard.
3 – A couple problems appear with the input boxes on this form. While the form is otherwise very strong, we are not sold on the horizontal layout of the “First name,” “Middle name” and “Last name” input boxes. If vertical length of the form were a concern, one could argue that laying these elements out in one row would make sense. However, given the short length of this particular form, we would urge stacking these elements vertically. An additional issue is the length of the “Middle name” field. We find it excessive. A lso, it is unusual to ask a user for anything beyond a middle initial. Unless there is a strong case for asking for the entire middle name, we would suggest avoiding that. We do, however, applaud this form for not asking for an email confirmation. Most people these days are fairly adept at providing their email properly with one try. Additionally, most browsers are capable of auto-suggesting the proper values for many of these fields.
4 – While we appreciate the words of caution relating to choosing a password, we are not convinced that bold is the proper way to go. Likewise, the text is poorly formatted and there seems to be some issue with extra space between the label and the field itself.
5 – We would suggest having the privacy notice defaulted to checked. Having it unchecked, however, is probably a lawyer’s suggestion. And we aren’t attorneys. You should usually listen to your attorneys.
6 – Perfect button placement and message. The user knows exactly what to expect and what clicking on the button will do. Nice!
jobster.com – form review
Now here is a form that applies all of the Best Practices in one.
1 – Perfect Label Placement – Above the input field.
2 – Perfect font size – Remember, not everyone can read 8 pt font. In fact, most people over the age of 40 can’t do so easily.
3 – “Human Test” – calling a spade a spade, Human Test is what this is.
4 – “Register” button is perfectly placed.
5 – Unlike some of the other forms we have reviewed, this form’s architect did not struggle with how to integrate a login area for users who already possess an account.
Whether you love or hate forms, optimizing a form (while not fun) is an easy place to start optimizing your lead-capture efforts.
With a boatload of experience in web-based promotions, we can state unequivocally that enticements do work. If you prefer to call them “incentives” instead of “enticements,” that’s fine.
Of course, incentive-based lead capture is an art form unto itself. And while you may not be able to remember the last time you provided your email and name for a chance to win this or that, you’ve likely provided that exact same information for a free whitepaper, seminar, or a 30-day product trial . . . maybe something as mundane as a motivational e-newsletter peppered with advertisements.
The point is this: people come in all flavors. While some drop their business cards into fishbowls every chance they get, knowing full well they are going to be marketed to, others cling to their email addresses as if a loved one’s life depended on it. The majority of us fall somewhere in between. So, what is hokey to one person is irresistible to another person.
When done tastefully and in a compelling manner, very substantial gains can be made in boosting our lead capture ratios.
This homepage features four of the most basic calls to action: 1) phone, 2) live chat, 3) e-newsletter sign-up, and 4) directions. Even though these four should almost always be present on every single homepage in the Free World and beyond, most people would say, “Hey, other than the free newsletter, I don’t see any sort of quid pro quo going on here.” And we would say, “Well, we see the point you’re trying to make, but we don’t cede your point at all. Give it some thought. Why are these simple best practice inclusions on the homepage worthy of being called enticements (while only one can really be called “incentive-based”), as mild as we concede these enticements are? Give it some thought. It’ll come to you.”
Being tasteful is crucial. That is to say, the incentive (in the case of incentive-based lead capture) needs to be appealing, “of value,” and plausible. Alternatively, the “hook” has to fit the overall context of the site, the business, the branding, et cetera. Most of us can cite instances of even the most conservative companies running seasonal promotions during the holidays. Because, in the context of the season, conservative brands can “push the envelope.”
It goes without saying that certain industries, as off-color as they may be, are much more effective in terms of enticing transactions than others. One in particular comes to mind. But say what you will about that particular industry, theirs is one that is really at the leading edge of effective enticement, not just in the images they use, but in the mechanics employed as well. We’ll leave the research to you, dear reader, as there is one industry that is nearly as good at lead capture enticement which does not involve such . . . erm . . .controversial content: namely, automotive (and in particular retail automotive). After retail automotive, we would suggest travel sites, Las Vegas hotels and casino sites. Also of note are those sites that sell virtual products, such as eBooks.
Here is an example from asamanthinketh.net that uses a “shadow-box” offer form. Hard to represent in text form, but when a visitor hits the site, the site fades and a this call-to-action enters the frame from the top. Hard to avoid this sort of pitch. And it is, regardless of what you might think, effective. Keep in mind that people aren’t just stumbling onto this site. They are “in the market,” searching the web for this sort of product. Of course, you’ll immediately note that the offer is for something FREE. Presumably something of value. You’ll also see that the publisher is only asking for First Name and Email. This publisher understands that enticing this information– giving something “of value” in exchange for something (the most basic lead contact info) is crucial to establishing an conversation with his target consumer. He is growing his own home-spun email list, which likely has an open ratio of somewhere between 40-65% and per “eblast” an unsubscribe rate of under 3.5%. That is, each time he sends out an emailer to people whose info he has captured in this manner, some 45-60% actually open the email newsletter, while fewer than 3.5% choose to unsubscribe. Now that is profit-focused marketing.
[note: higher opt-out and bounce rates can be expected if the list owner abuses the list by sending too frequently, providing awful content, or using the list too infrequently]
Again, the key is to make sure that your incentive or enticement-based lead capture initiatives are proper, tasteful, and in context. For instance, the following example is one designed for a Harley Motorcycle Retailer. So, while it is appropriate for a motorcycle dealer, one can’t imagine the same approach being appropriate for, say, a financial management firm or a doctor’s office.
We liked this approach very much, as it had all the hallmarks of an highly-effective lead capture methodology. Again, it is hard to represent in text, but when a visitor comes to the site, a neat “transparent flash overlay” of a motorcycle comes from the center of the screen approaching the visitor, becoming “closer and closer” while dragging the promotional call-out (1). The promotional call-out is not too obnoxious, but it is impossible to avoid. Additionally, the enticement is appropriate and attractive. Who couldn’t use 3 days and 3 nights in Vegas? Further, the promotion promises that “Every Player Wins a Prize.” Of course, the prizes are things like 10% off merchandise, 2 tickets to an entertainment event, and even a free oil change (which is interesting, as most Harley dealerships will do an oil change for free as a matter of course when a client purchases the oil at their location).
There are many forms out there for auto dealerships in particular which have simple forms into which you type your info and then print, and bring into the service department for service specials. What was neat about the example here is that it takes this process of lead capture a step further, including a cool flash game (2, a roulette game in this case. And the promise of every player winning a prize and the rest of the promo is included (3). Once the visitor supplies First Name, Zip, and Email, they click the Continue button. Upon so doing, the game advances a little further, the visitor is asked a couple multiple choice questions, clicks continue and the game progresses even further still–until eventually the ball settles on a number and the outcome is presented in a printable form and an email to the same effect is sent to the dealer as well as the registrant. Very well-done.
We have all seen sites which have to take a more subtle approach to lead capture, such as exchange for a white paper, article(s), the ability to post comments, get coupons, et cetera.
The point is, it is imperative to do something. If you don’t ask, you shouldn’t expect to have much success. So whether you call it incentive-based or enticement-based lead capture doesn’t matter. Just do something! A home-spun emailing list is immensely valuable, not to mention practically free to amass.