This is a very common problem. The point of this article is to explain the
benefits of adding an opt-in section to your Web site and show proof in the form
of a measured experiment the Conversion Chronicles ran with for 3 months that
the technique works. Adding opt-in is designed to help instill trust in the
visitor and trust ultimately is the key to improving online lead generation and
eventually closing the deal.
Don’t get mad just ask yourself why?
One recent subscriber to our Web site was furious with his design team
because the Web site they designed didn’t deliver any qualified leads or
customers. The problem was not the design or structure. The problem was the
copy, content and, most important of all, the total absence of any reason for a
visitor to become a qualified lead or prospect.
This is the main failing with most Web sites today. They can have good
service offerings or products, nice looking, up-to-date and functional Web
sites, but they expect the visitor to be instantly interested in the product or
service. So why is this expectation a bad thing? Isn’t that what a business Web
site is for, to showcase products and services?
Let’s take a moment to think about that.
When you are about to make a major purchase and visit a store, a supermarket,
see an advert, or hear one on the radio, do you instantly get your cash out? Or
do you, like most sensible purchasers, shop around, look for the best deal,
scour the dailies, list all the alternatives from the yellow pages, and so on?
So why do you think it will be any different on the Web? In fact, it is often
more difficult to sell products and services on the Web than on any other media
because inherently people simply don’t trust you. And why should they? You could
be anyone who knows how to code HTML. Why should they trust you? On the Web
people are looking for information, it’s that simple. They want something that
will tell them how to solve their problem, whatever that may be. To turn their
problem into your opportunity, you need to help your visitors trust that you can
solve their problem. Most importantly, you need to get something in return such
as a name and an email address, so that you can begin to build a relationship
Direct online sales might work for a trusted source like Amazon or an online
pizza company with home delivery, but a Web site selling substantially priced
products or services will have great difficulty in making an instant sale.
So how do you combat this lack of trust?
It’s done by enticing your visitors to give you their email address and is a
technique The Conversion Chronicles has come to call Opt-in. It means that in
addition to having a professional looking and functional website, you provide a
powerful reason for visitors to give you their information. The information
could take the form of free reports, e-books which help to solve a problem, or
other useful information in audio or video format. Remember that you have to
work to get information from people in the real world, so why should it be any
different online? You have to produce quality information that qualifies them as
interested in your product or service and be something that people will want in
order for them to give you their details in return.
The proof is in the testing.
Over three months, The Conversion Chronicles ran an opt-in experiment in
order to prove to ourselves that it was worth the effort of producing this kind
of material and then give it away for free.
For the purposes of the experiment, we measured the conversion rate, which is
the number of subscriptions as a percentage of total visitors. The experiment
consisted of the following components.
- The PDF file
Essential to the test was the Adobe PDF
file. We wrote a short workbook to get people thinking about a Web site goal
and objective. It gave readers a checklist to follow to make sure they had
done the right things and, indeed, to raise awareness of what the right things
- An Online Form
In order to get the PDF file the
visitor was required to give us very limited information via a Web form. We
only required a name and a valid e-mail address. Additional personal
information (like phone number and Web address) was optional.
- A Link Test Cycle
Whoa! Now it’s getting complicated!
For the purposes of the test, we wrote a Web page that varied when and how the
link to the form would appear and how it looked. The first version showed a
blue link to the subscription form which said “Contact us for more
information.” For the second version, instead of the contact message, we had a
blue link to the form saying “Subscribe to receive our free Web Operations
Management Guide.” For the third, we had an attractive, large graphic that
said “Subscribe to receive our free Web Operations Management Guide” and had a
picture of what the guide looked like. We then had the Web page cycle through
each of these three links, one per week, consecutively over three months. Each
of the links was displayed for a total of one month out of the three. This was
designed to test the consistency of the conversion rate.
- Version one: average 0% conversion.
- Version two: average 5.1% conversion.
- Version three: average 9.2% conversion.
For version one, zero, nil, nada conversions. Not one query in any of the 4
cycles from a total of 572 visitors.
For the second version, over the three month test we got only a few more
visitors, 601, but managed to entice 30 subscribers.
For version three, we got fewer total visitors, only 258, but managed to
entice more of them, 24 of 258 in fact. That was almost as many as we got from
less than half of the total visitors for version two.