According to organic SEO services company, Straight North, 84 percent of sales leads come on the first website visit. This data point makes for a strong argument in favor of pulling out all the stops for conversion optimization on lead generation websites. If the visitor does not submit a form or place a phone call the first time, the odds of capturing that conversion fall off a cliff.

Why is the first-visit conversion percentage so high? This is hard to pinpoint, but several reasons come to mind:

  • Visitors are far along in their decision-making process and are reviewing the company website as a last phase of their vetting process.

  • Visitors have complicated requirements, and as soon as they see a company with a potential answer, they feel it necessary to make contact and explain their needs in more detail.

  • Visitors have not been able to find a company with products/services that meet their needs, and when they see a potential fit, they are eager to get more information rather than continue their laborious search.

  • Unlike e-commerce websites, lead generation websites, if designed correctly, offer a low-risk/high-reward incentive for submitting a form or placing a phone call. Visitors have nothing to lose by inquiring other than committing a bit of time when the company follows up.

How to Make a Website a Conversion Powerhouse

If marketers are encountering internal resistance for building a powerful lead generation website, the first-visit data makes a strong supporting argument. Once the decision is made, here are 10 areas on which to concentrate to improve the website’s ability to attract first-visit conversions:

1. Content must be persuasive, short enough to encourage reading, and yet detailed enough to convey value — not an easy task, but one on which conversions stand or fall.

2. Navigation must be intuitive, as streamlined as possible, and yet redundant where necessary. When visitors are frustrated in their attempts to find the information they need, they almost always click away, never to return.

3. Imagery must be attention getting and convey key selling points. User preference for visual information consumption is growing by leaps and bounds; text alone is insufficient for maximizing first-visit conversions.

4. Credibility elements frequently speak more powerfully than anything a company says on its behalf. Social proof, customer testimonials, customer reviews, independent media references and the like convince prospects that a company is competent and trustworthy.

5. Personal touches matter more than ever. Adding a human dimension to the company by highlighting company events, using photos of personnel, describing corporate community activities, etc., strongly influence many visitors to reach out.

6. Calls to action must be powerful and relevant. Going through the motions with bland messages like, “Call now for more information” will only keep your Internet marketing efforts moving sideways or backward.

7. User-friendly forms are vital, vital, vital. Too many required fields, confusing form layouts and mobile-unfriendly design are the conversion kiss of death. Companies must avoid the temptation to gather data with inquiry forms. Remember, the goal is to get visitors to raise their hands, not hand over their information.

8. Phone number display is a simple yet commonly mishandled element of the website design. Mobile website phone number display should have click-to-call functionality, and the phone number should always be prominently displayed on every site page. Moreover, phone numbers must be tracked so marketers can determine which campaigns generated each phone inquiry.

9. Continuous testing of website components is crucial, and must be based on visitor site data and campaign conversion tracking rather than “feel.” Important website elements to test are offers, calls to action, imagery and functionality. The last point, functionality, is easy to overlook when sites are put on autopilot — but when links don’t work, page loading speeds drag on and forms freeze, leads go cold.

10. Mobile-friendly design, something that’s been mentioned already, is essential, given that mobile Internet access now exceeds desktop access. In addition, Google is putting a great deal more emphasis on mobile-friendliness; mobile unfriendly designs could have a serious, negative impact on organic search visibility.

The average company with a lead generation website does an excellent job handling three or four of these ten areas — and as a result, receives an average number of average leads. To outperform the competition and earn the lion’s share of online leads, a company needs to excel in all ten areas. It doesn’t need to be accomplished overnight; but this is a blueprint for lead generation success that can be implemented over time, at a pace that is reasonable for a company’s internal resources and budget.

The above post was written by Brad Shorr, the Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, an Internet marketing company specializing in search engine optimization and pay per click.