If you’ve had your website for any time at all, you know that customers (and leads) don’t necessarily just come because you built it. Even a few strategically-placed call-to-action buttons aren’t likely enough, even though they can help. Ultimately, it takes strategic planning to optimize your site into a lead generation machine.

What are the mechanics of lead generation? The shortest path is when a website visitor clicks a call-to-action (CTA) which takes them to a form page. When they complete the form and see a thank-you message (or separate thank-you page), they become your lead to follow up with—and hopefully convert. So how do you optimize your site to capture more of these leads?

Evaluation

The only way to determine if growth is occurring in your marketing efforts is to set a benchmark based on current results. Evaluate your traffic, CTA clickthrough rates, lead rates, and other marketing results using tools like Google Analytics. You can also compare different form pages on your site for performance, and even the CTAs placed on different pages that lead to a single form page. Which calls-to-action were most effective (driving the most traffic to the form)? What are the characteristics of those placements?

There are also a number of online tools you can use to evaluate your site for SEO (search engine optimization) and other usability factors you can then address and fix to improve your web visibility:

Fixing glaring SEO problems, and optimizing what it’s at 100%, can improve lead generation even without making any other changes—just by improving your visitors’ experience on the site.

Test and Improve Each Step in Capturing Leads

“Guessing” while making changes to your website to generate leads is like playing whack-a-mole with your eyes closed. But there are a number of tools to help you carefully test elements of your website lead process so you can continually improve your results.

A/B split testing (comparing the performance of two variations of a landing page) can be set up and run with tools like Google Analytics Experiments (or Optimize), Unbounce, Instapage, or Leadpages.

Lead Generation Elements to Test

  • Calls-to-Action (CTAs): test colors (high contrast for visibility is a good place to start), text, shape, etc.
  • Landing Page Layout: remove barriers for visitors by testing the flow of the page, visibility of CTAs, providing the right amount and type of content before requesting an action, etc.
  • Thank-You Pages: after a lead has completed your form, do you make the most of the opportunity, and—most importantly—provide them with anything you promised (like a download)? Test layout, features, new CTAs (like social or email sharing), etc. Email confirmations should get similar treatment.

Personalization

Tailor content to returning leads/customers by dynamically adding their name and other uniquely personalized content to titles, calls-to-action, images, forms, etc. Personalization can boost response more than 40%, so it’s clear users find it helpful and motivating, rather than “creepy.” Make returning guests feel like they belong—and matter.

Nurturing

Generating a lead isn’t the final step in securing a customer. In fact, it may be only the first step past brand awareness, and you now need to prove to the prospect that your services meet their needs, and that they should want to work with you. Follow up with relevant emails and other contacts, personalized to the customer. Be careful to not overstep or hound leads; strike the right balance so that you nurture, but don’t nag.

The Road to Lead Generation Optimization

Sometimes small, and even unexpected, changes can have massive effects on your lead rate. If you ignore optimization opportunities, you’re sure to “fail” at improving. But the answer isn’t guessing; it’s testing—and there are many resources to help you try new things and get the data to prove what works. Optimizing your lead generation is a win for everyone!