4 Unusually Effective Techniques to Convert Visitors into Leads

Solomon Thimothy - April 18, 2016

How would you like to double, triple, or even quadruple your revenue?

This might sound like an exaggeration, but you can do exactly that by turning more of your visitors into leads.

Think of it this way: on average, roughly 1-3% of your traffic gives you their contact information. If you could increase this to a measly 5%, you can potentially make twice or thrice the money.

The question now is: how can you actually turn more of your visitors into leads?

In this post, I’m going to show you 4 actual tactics used by marketers to capture more leads, increase conversion rates and grow revenues.

1. “Upgrade” Your Existing Content

So you’ve written a great blog post, spent hours on outreach, and even paid Facebook hundreds of dollars to promote it.

At the bottom of the post, you have a generic opt-in form asking readers to share their emails in exchange for a free eBook or newsletter.

In theory, this sounds like a great offer. What reader wouldn’t love to get access to a chunky eBook or an informative newsletter?

In truth, an opt-in form with a generic content offer lacks two things:

  • Relevance: Since the content offer is generic, it might not be relevant to the actual blog post at all. For example, if the blog post is about social media but your eBook offer is about search engine optimization, not enough readers would be interested in the content offer.
  • Context: Even a highly relevant content offer might not convert well because it lacks proper context in relation to the blog post. For example, a 3,000 word blog post followed by a 30,000 word eBook offer might be too overwhelming for most readers.

This is why most opt-in forms have abysmal conversion rates.

The solution to this problem is to offer a highly targeted piece of content that is contextually relevant to the blog post.

This offer essentially upgrades the blog post’s content. Hence, it is called a “content upgrade”.

Content Marketing for Business

Take a look at this example from Backlinko.com:

Instead of offering a generic eBook or guide, Backlinko offers readers a free checklist on on-page SEO in exchange for an email address..

This works for two reasons:

  1. The checklist fits into the article’s context since it essentially condenses a lengthy blog post into a one-page PDF.
  2. The checklist is relevant to the post topic. Instead of an off-topic eBook or guide, it is on the exact same topic as the blog post.

Here’s another example from Bryan Harris of Videofruit:

Bryan knows that many of his readers prefer to watch videos to reading. So he offers a “video version” of his blog post in exchange for an email.

How to Create Content for a “Content Upgrade”

A content upgrade is essentially a short, punchy “upgrade” to an existing piece of content. Think of it as an extension to a blog post, rather than as standalone content.

This means that for most blog posts, it should take you less than 2 hours to make a content upgrade.

Some content types that do very well when offered as an upgrade are:

  • Printable PDFs of the blog post for readers who like to save files for reading later.
  • Checklists that summarize the blog post in a single page.
  • Videos that summarize the blog post.
  • “Exclusive” content such as a little-known tactic referenced in the blog post.

To actually create and offer these content upgrades, you will need a lead capture tool such as LeadPages.net, and an email marketing tool like Aweber or Mailchimp.

With a high quality content upgrade, it isn’t impossible to get conversion rates as high as 20-30%.

High Quality Video Content for Marketing

2. Convert Abandoning Visitors with Exit-Intent Pop-ups

Once a reader leaves your website, you can’t really do much to bring them back (without remarketing).

You can, however, grab their attention just when they’re about to leave with an “exit-intent pop-up”.

You’ve seen them on some of your favorite sites. Here’s how SocialTriggers uses them:

The idea is simple enough: exit-intent pop-ups track your visitors and use a complex algorithm to figure out when they’re about to leave your site. As soon as their cursors swing towards the ‘close’ button, the pop-up swings out with an offer.

If the offer is compelling enough, at least some of your readers will stick around (and enter their contact information). As for the rest, they were going to leave your site anyway, so no harm done.

As an example, take a look at this pop-up from BounceExchange:

Such pop-ups can increase your visitor-to-lead conversion rate for two reasons:

  • Targeted: Instead of trying to appeal to everyone who lands on your site, such exit-intent pop-ups focus only on high-risk abandoning visitors. This way, you can create highly targeted offers (such as coupon codes) to convince them to stay.
  • Opt-Out Instead of Opt-In: While a conventional form offers a single choice (such as “Download an eBook”), these pop-ups give users a Yes/No choice. This means that by selecting the negative choice, visitors actively opt-out of the content offer – something fewer visitors are willing to do since people are usually more averse to losing something than gaining something.

Here’s another example from CopyHackers.com:

The negative choice here means that users opt-out of receiving help. For good measure, this pop-up also uses an animated stickman to highlight the positive choice (“Yes, get my free eBook”).

There are several tools you can use to create such exit-intent offers. Some of these are Bounce-Exchange, Picreel.com and OptinMonster.com.

3. Use “Gated” Content

This tactic involves hiding or locking a part of your content from users until they perform a certain action (such as paying for the content, subscribing for a newsletter or sharing contact information).

In theory, this sounds like a terrible idea – what kind of reader would actually give up his email address just to read an article?

In practice, however, gated content can greatly increase the number of leads you capture if you do it right.

For example, Quora has been blocking off its content to non-users for years. Initially, it used to block out just the answers:

Now they fade the content in the background and don’t let users read until they sign in.

Harvard Business Review gives readers up to 5 free articles a month:

Once you’ve read your share, you’ll be greeted with a page asking you to either register for a free account, or opt for a paid subscription.

Wall Street does it old school by only showing the first paragraph and blurring the rest of high quality content. The idea is to grab enough user’s attention for him to complete an action before reading more.

For HBR, WSJ and Quora, this gated content strategy works for three reasons:

  • Exclusivity: In its early years, Quora attracted some of the leading writers, thinkers and entrepreneurs on its platform. Similarly, HBR attracts some of the world’s leading management experts. This gives the content published on these platforms an air of “exclusivity”. Since people can’t get this content elsewhere, they have an incentive to register for an account.
  • Quality: By all measures, the content on HBR and WSJ is worth signing up for. This is one of the first rules of gated content – if your content is not good enough, it doesn’t make much sense to put it behind a paywall.
  • Incentives: On HBR, you can read 5 articles before you’re asked to sign-up. This not only gives readers a taste of the content, but also ensures that the only people clicking on the ‘register’ button are invested enough to sign-up. Similarly, Quora shows its content lock for people who come in through search engines. Since these people are actively looking for answers to their queries, they have a real incentive to sign-up to read Quora answers.

Gated Content

How to Use Gated Content Effectively

If you’re thinking of gating your own content, here are some ideas to help you get started:

  1. Follow the 80/20 Rule: Gate only 20% of your content. Leave the remaining 80% ungated. You want readers to get a sample of what your content actually looks before you ask them to sign-up, share or buy.
  2. Experiment with different “payments”: A “payment” is what users have to do in order to read your gated content. This might be actual cash, a share, or an account sign-up.

Not all of these are perceived the same. A tweet might be considered a very small “payment” for a high quality article, while a paid account will invite significant resistance.

Experiment with different payment types to see what converts best.

  1. Gate off-site assets: Gating your content won’t make you very popular with your readers (but it will get you leads). One way to avoid this heat is to gate content only on third-party websites.

On Slideshare, for example, you can add a content lock to limit access to certain slides. You can repurpose your best content into a presentation, upload it on Slideshare, and throw in a content lock to capture more leads.

  1. Experiment with partial content locks: A partial content lock gates only a portion of your content, such as a specific paragraph, image or video.

Something like this:

Partial content locks are a great way to experiment with gated content without alienating your readers. You can lock off the most significant part of your article and still give readers a lot of value.

  1. Always keep testing: As with most things marketing, it is crucial to split test your gated content to maximize visitor-to-lead conversion rate.

A few tools you can use to create content gates are the Before and After WordPress plugi. For partial content locks, check out this list of WordPress plugins.

4. Run “Social Contests”

Running contests to get more traffic and leads is old hat in the marketing world. However, with a simple twist, you can turn these contests into a powerful lead capturing machine.

This a two step process:

  1. Come up with an innovative prize
  2. Give people an incentive to share the contest to make it go “viral”

Let’s take a look at both of these below:

  1. Finding a prize people actually want

Obviously, you can’t run a contest without a prize. However, most people resort to generic prizes like iPhones or movie tickets.

This doesn’t work because the prize is neither relevant to the audience, nor is it innovative enough to stand out.

For a social contest to work, you ideally want to select a prize that:

  • Resonates with your audience’s hopes and desires.
  • Has a large enough monetary value for readers to actually care about it
  • Is innovative enough to attract attention of non-readers.

For example, last year, Tim Ferriss ran a contest where the offered participants a trip around the world.

This contest had thousands of participants because Tim offered a prize people cared about: traveling the world (one of the most popular articles on his site is about traveling to 20+ countries). It also helped that the monetary value of the prize was significantly high ($3.5k+).

Pick a similarly valuable prize and you’ll find that it’s very easy to get people to participate in your contests.

  1. Give participants an incentive to invite their friends

Picking a prize is just one half of the problem. You now need to give people an incentive to share the contest and help it go viral.

The best way to do this is to use a format where the more people participants invite in, the higher their chances of winning.

This essentially gamifies the contest/giveaway and gives people an incentive to participate more.

For example, with the Gleam.io competitions app, every time a participant refers a friend, he gets an “extra entry”, thus increasing his chances of winning.

Gleam also gives participants multiple methods to enter the competition, from creating an account to liking a page on Facebook.

This is a great way to make your contest go viral and capture more leads from incoming visitors.

A few tools you can use to create such social contests include KingSumo’s Giveaway, Wishpond social contest, and Gleam.io competitions.

Social Media Contests

Over to You

Turning traffic into leads is vital for the success of any business. Even a small increase in your visitor-to-lead conversion rate can turn into a multifold jump in revenues.

Offering content upgrades, running social contests, setting up exit-intent pop-ups, etc. are some internet marketing tactics proven to work across industries. As shown above, setting these up is relatively easy with all the tools at your disposal today.

Before we leave, here’s a quick recap of what you should takeaway from this post:

  • Offering a content upgrade is one of the best ways to turn blog readers into leads.
  • Gated content works exceptionally well, but only when used right.
  • Exit-intent pop-ups with content offers are a great way to turn abandoning visitors into valuable leads.
  • Social contests can dramatically improve brand recognition, get your more social followers and help you capture more leads.
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