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Turning your website leads into customers

Turning your website leads into customers: 10 tips from science

A good content marketing strategy will have measurable goals for users at different stages of the sales funnel. That allows you to generate leads from people in a number of ways, from subscribing to your emails to downloading your gated assets. Whether they’re discovering your brand for the first time or starting to consider giving you their business, there are useful actions they can take. But how do you turn these sales prospects into paying customers?

Convincing users to take the most valuable actions on your site is the ultimate inbound marketing goal. One of the ways you can achieve this goal more regularly is by putting users at the heart of your strategy.

Walking a mile in the shoes of the people you want to become customers can make the content you create and how to present and promote it more in tune with their needs and more likely to get you the outcome you want.

To help, we’ve put together 10 tips from scientific studies on human behaviour that can turn more of your website prospects into sales.

1. Remove uncertainty

People don’t like surprises. Research by Google revealed that people planning what to do in their free time are prepared to research meticulously. They wanted to make sure that they knew everything about the venue or event they would be attending to avoid disappointment.

Restaurant-goers, for example, are all over the restaurant’s website, popular review sites and social media before and even after making a booking. Google said searches for “wait times” had increased by 120 per cent in the past two years, as a result of this trend.

So, if you want more of your website leads turning into customers, invest in your content. Create rich, informative pages about your products and services and engage with feedback on review sites. This will give you a voice when customers and prospects are doing their research.

2. Check the weather

An increasingly large share of online activity – from searches to sales – is taking place on mobile devices. This makes mobile-friendly ads to promote your best content an essential part of your content marketing strategy.

But before you press go on your latest round of promoted tweets or Instagram ads you might want to stick your head out the window or open the weather app on your smartphone. A recent study featured in the journal Marketing Science revealed that response to mobile promotions can depend a lot on the weather.

It turns out people are 1.2 times more likely to respond – and respond 73 per cent faster –  if the sun is shining. It also helps if the weather is better than expected. So the optimal time to be spending your ad dollars could be when everyone is braced for rain, but gets sunshine instead.

3. Smile but not too much

There are lots of variables you can tweak on your conversion landing pages. A big one is your choice of images. A:B testing different photos and graphics can help you optimise your digital marketing campaigns and discover what it is that really resonates with your audience.

A lot of brands use photos of their employees to put a human face on their landing pages. This can be an effective way to build trust. It shows there are real people behind the marketing spin. But next time you’re doing a company photoshoot make sure your people don’t overdo their smiles.

Researchers at the University of Kansas discovered that big smiles are perceived as warm but less competent. That means you could leave people visiting your website with the impression your business is staffed by friendly idiots. Not a great way to convert more prospects into sales.

4. Feed the narcissism

Whether or not social media has turned us all into shallow, self-obsessed prima donnas is a debate for another time and another place. But there apparently is a link between narcissism and spending money.

A study published in the Journal of Retailing found that advertising taglines that put people in a narcissistic state led to them buying more customisable add-ons. Brands that offer optional extras might find that making their content all about their prospects could lead to them adding more items to their basket and boosting your sales.

5. Get your calls-to-action moving

Calls-to-action (CTAs) can take various forms. From simple clickable buttons and forms to gifs and videos. They are what you ultimately want people to click on when they visit your site.

But how can you make your CTAs more noticeable, enticing and clickable? One way is to get them moving. According to a study by the Buffalo School of Management products that changed direction as they moved across the screen were considered “atypical and innovative”.

“Innovative” is the sort of tag you want on your products and services. It tends to lead to quicker adoption and higher returns. However, the researchers found the novelty wore off quite quickly. So, people who had just seen lots of dynamic content on another site would be much less receptive to your animated CTAs.

6. Find social media influencers who aren’t social media influencers

Influencer marketing is enjoying a moment in the sun right now. Brands are approaching everyone from people with celebrity-grade Instagram followings to people with just a few thousands followers in the right niche.

But you don’t have to have social media power-users sharing your content to boost your conversion stats. Research published in the Journal of Management Science revealed that people are influenced not just by A-list YouTube personalities, but also their regular peers.

What old classmates and friends from work post on social media can be just as important for driving purchase decisions. So if you want more website leads turning into sales it would be a good move to give your existing customers a reason to talk about their experience on their favourite social media site.

7. Blog about celebrities but only the right ones

Blogging about celebrities and other public figures can be slightly risky territory from a legal standpoint. If you give the impression Justin Bieber endorses your products when he’s never heard of you or your business then you might get an unwelcome written introduction to his lawyers.

But, when it’s done right, newsjacking – that’s creating content driven by people and events in the news – can be a good way to get your brand into relevant conversations. You should however be careful which trending stories you try to piggyback on.

A study published in the Journal of Marketing Research discovered that seeing a celebrity they like increased the chances of people making a purchase, even if that celebrity had nothing to do with the product in question. So, if you like Taylor Swift and you see a picture of her next to some pencils, there’s more chance you’ll buy a pencil.

But, the opposite is also true. If people see a celebrity they don’t like then they’re less likely to buy something right afterwards. Again that held true even if the celebrity and product were unrelated.

8. Don’t expect too much from early adopters

This is another one about newsjacking. As well as picking the wrong stories, you can also be too quick for your own good.

Researchers at the London Business School, Cass Business School and MIT found that early adopters were less responsive to social media ads from brands trying to tap into a new trending topic. Using promoted tweets, the study revealed that people coming to popular topics later were much more likely to engage with branded content.

Taking a little time to find the right way into a social media conversation is a good opportunity for brands to pick the right trends and the right tactics. The internet is full of tales of clumsy and mis-timed attempts backfiring spectacularly.

9. Do some good

Plenty has been said about the commercial benefits of good corporate social responsibility. Businesses that do good, do better.

A study published in the Journal of Marketing revealed that e-commerce conversion rates could be improved if people thought it might benefit a good cause. Just offering the option to make a charitable donation as part of a purchase can increase the likelihood of people buying your products.

So, as well as supporting a good cause, supporting a charity can help you turn more prospects into sales.

10. Gratify instantly

This last one isn’t ours. It’s our favourite from this lovely HubSpot infographic. You read a lot these days about millennials needing instant gratification. But we’re all susceptible to the promise of our problems being solved quickly.

It turns out offers like “next day delivery” and “30-second quote” light up all the right parts of our brains. So brands should push these selling points on their conversion pages as it will increase the chances of people taking that valuable next step.

Turning website leads into customers: the wrap-up

Thank you for reading this far. We hope you picked up some useful, actionable ideas. Here is a summary of what we covered:

  1. People like to know what they’re buying so create content that removes uncertainty to improve your chances of winning their business
  2. Environmental factors can have a big influence over how people respond to your content. Think about everything from the weather to what’s happening in the news before launching your paid promotions
  3. Staff photos can humanise your brand, but be careful to strike a balance. You want warm but also competent
  4. People buy more when they’re in a narcissistic state, so make your content all about your customers
  5. Products that move on the page are seen as atypical and more innovative. Both good for making sales
  6. Regular users can influence their social media connections as well as established social media influencers
  7. Blogging about people and events in the news can get your brand into useful online conversations, but celebrities your audience dislikes could hurt your sales
  8. Early adopters might be less responsive to social media promotions from brands trying to get in on a new trend, so take some time to get your approach right
  9. People are more likely to buy something if they think it might support a good cause so consider offering charitable donations as part of the sales process
  10. Light up the right parts of your audience’s brains by pushing the selling points that solve their problems quickly


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Adam Barber
Adam Barber About the author

Adam is one of Castleford's founders and remains actively involved in the day-to-day running of the business. He started out as a writer and still contributes regularly to our blog, covering SEO, CRO, social media and digital strategy.

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