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Project 10K: Increasing Website Conversions

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Getting More OptinsAKA Getting more people to subscribe to your emails

Project 10K is my goal to get to 10,000 engaged email subscribers by the end of the year. In my previous P10K blog post I reviewed my website traffic and identified how I was going to increase the right sort of traffic to get more subscribers.

In this post I’m going to look at how to get more of your website visitors to “convert” – in other words to subscribe to receiving emails from you.

Now this is not a “how to tweak every last detail on a landing page” guide. Instead I’m going to focus on the big, broad strategies you can use to get more of your website visitors to opt in.

So first off, let’s look at what motivates people to opt in.

You can look at it in lots of different ways, but my own particular “formula” for optins is:

Optin Rate = (V + I) / (F + R)

 
So in other words the higher V and I are, the more likely a visitor is to opt in. And the higher F and R are, the less likely they are to opt in.

So what are V, I, F and R?

V stands for the perceived long term Value a visitor sees in subscribing to your emails. In other words, the more value a visitor thinks they’ll get from your emails, the more likely they are to subscribe (obvious really).

So if you’re already pretty well known as being an expert in your field with lots of useful advice to give, that will increase your chances of people opting in. As will the quality of the material they’ve already seen from you on your blog. And spelling out exactly what they’ll get (e.g. what they’ll learn from your emails and the benefits it’ll bring) and showing quotes from happy subscribers will increase this perception of value too.

I stands for the short term Incentive you offer for opting in. So if you offer a high value Lead Magnet like a short report or video when people opt in, they’re more likely to do so.

There are a million free newsletters on offer on the web, so often it’s the immediate value offered by a Lead Magnet that convinces people to opt in. Of course, you don’t want them just opting in for the freebie and then unsubscribing or ignoring your emails. So your Lead Magnet has to be closely related to what you talk about in your emails.

F stands for Friction. If your visitors have to give you a ton of information from their email address to inside leg measurement to subscribe, it’s going to put them off. As is a badly designed form or page that distracts them, or if their attention is taken away from opting in by lots of other options on the page.

Moving graphics (like the “sliders” so many website designers love to put on their pages these days) are notorious for distracting visitors away from the main thing you want them to do. As is having too many menu items, social media buttons and links to lots of other exciting things close to your optin forms.

R is the perceived Risk of opting in. In other words, visitors are going to be put off from opting in if they think you might misuse their email address and other details. So does your site look a bit scruffy or spammy? Does it feel like a “get rich quick” site that will then bombard them with sales pitches.

Have you got a clear privacy policy and anti-spam message? Is it clear who you are from your about page – are are you pretty anonymous? All these things will impact how risky your visitor thinks giving up their email address is going to be.

The Big Strategies For Getting More Email Subscribers

So if those are the factors that will motive vistors to subscribe to your emails – how can we make sure our site is addressing them?

The first and simplest strategy is to Use Dedicated Landing Pages.

I do a pretty good job of this, but I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve seen who direct traffic just to their home page (the most generic page on your site) when they’d get far more optins by sending people to a dedicated landing page specifically designed to encourage people to opt in.

So if you’re paying for traffic from Adwords or other pay-per-click services, for heavens sake send the traffic to a dedicated page which relates specifically to the advert, offers a great lead magnet for opting in, sells the benefits of subscribing, and doesn’t have all the normal distractions of your menus, sidebars, social media icons etc.

If you’re sending pay-per-click traffic to your home page (as sadly, many businesses still do) you’re throwing away money.

But you can go further than that. In your social media profiles, instead of linking to your home page, link to a dedicated landing page – ideally written for visitors from that specific social media site.

When I changed the link on my twitter profile to go to a landing page rather than my home page, optins from visitors from my profile went up 3x overnight.

(And as proof that everyone has room for improvement – when I was writing this post I realised that on my Linkedin profile the link to my website was to the home page when it should have been to a dedicated landing page).

You should also make sure that any guest blog posts or articles you do direct people to a landing page with your lead magnet rather than your home page.

So rather than “Ian Brodie is a blah blah blah, read more of his articles here…” use something like “To get a free copy of Ian’s Pain Free Marketing Blueprint for attracting and winning more clients without the pain and expense of traditional marketing, click here…” and send the traffic to a page where they can opt in to get your lead magnet.

The second strategy is to have an enticing Lead Magnet.

This is straight out of the optin formula. The more attractive your lead magnet, the more likely people are to opt in.

A lot of folks spend endless hours making minor tweaks to the design of their website and landing pages (to be honest, I’ve done it myself). But far more important is the perceived value of what you’re offering to people who opt in.

You can increase the value of your Lead Magnet by focusing it on the big problems your potential clients are most likely to face. And give it a name that highlights its value.

In my case, my Pain Free Marketing Blueprint appeals to people who find marketing painful. And “blueprint” implies a step by step guide.

But I could perhaps increase the perceived value to a wider range of people with a Lead Magnet that promises faster results. Or, since I know that lead generation is a critical issue for most of my potential clients, I could focus it on that.

Another strategy is to have multiple Lead Magnets, each focusing on a different client problem. So if you work in the field of leadership you could have one on strategy, one on motivating your team, one on setting a vision, etc. Each would appeal to leaders with slightly different challenges. But by focusing on these very specific problems you really “hit the spot” for those leaders.

You can also try using a medium that seems higher value. A physical CD or DVD may appeal more to your potential clients than a PDF for example.

The third strategy is to make sure your Landing Pages are effective.

So going back to our optin formula, that means making sure you’ve clearly explained the value of subscribing and your lead magnet, and you’ve removed all distractions like menus, sidebars, social media widgets etc.

Ideally, you want to use something like Google Content Experiments (free) or Visual Website Optimizer (paid) to test what the most effective landing pages for you and your specific audience are.

You can get a head-start by learning from what landing pages are working well for other sites. But you have to be careful here.

A lot of so-called “best practices” being touted on the web are created by people in the “get rich quick” markets. And often what works for them and their particular clients (people rather desperate to earn some money and hopeful the next scheme they try will let them do it with minimal effort) don’t work nearly so well for real markets with sensible and typically rather conservative buyers.

So while a scruffy looking page with big red letters shouting WARNING and promising push-button riches may excite the get rich quick crowd, they’re likely to send your and my clients running in the opposite direction pretty darned fast.

Instead, seek inspiration from sites that cater to real businesses.

Unbounce.com have some great landing page examples and simple templates to learn from. If you dive into the archives of marketingexperiments.com you’ll see their testing of different landing pages and elements for a variety of businesses to use as starting points.

At the end of the day, only your own testing can tell you what really works for you – but these are good starting points.

In terms of creating the landing pages, if you don’t have your own pet web developer, then there are a variety of shortcuts you can use.

Some WordPress themes have built in landing page templates. I use the Thesis theme with the Marketers Delight skin for this site and it has a simple landing page format.

Unbounce allows you to create landing pages on their site using their templates and then “redirect” your pages to theirs.

Optimizepress is a theme for WordPress that allows you to quickly create landing pages (and sales pages and membership sites).

The Premise plugin works with your existing WordPress theme to create simple, clean landing pages.

And the solutions I’m using for all my new landing pages is LeadPages. This comes with a dozen or so pre-configured landing page templates you can tweak by changing the colours, text, graphics etc. All in a few minutes per page.

Strategy four is to maximise opportunities to optin from your blog.

Dedicated landing pages are always going to have a higher optin rate than your normal blog or website pages. But you’re going to get the most traffic (e.g. from google or social media) to your blog. So you need to make sure there are plenty of opportunities for visitors to opt in when they’re looking at your blog.

Most people just have a simple optin form in their blog’s sidebar. But I’ve found you can get way more optins by using the following locations too:

  • Using a “Feature Box” on your website home page. This is a technique I learned from Derek Halpern when he reviewed my site. Most people come to a specific blog post. if they then choose to visit your home page it’s a sign they’re interested in finding out a bit more. So make the optin box on your home page big and bold. I also use a welcome video to encourage people to opt in.
  • On your “About Me” page. Another Derek Halpern tip. Instead of just having your About Me page talk about your background, make it about the website too. And tell people that best way to get the most from the site is to sign up for your newsletter. Again, if they’ve taken the trouble to go to your About Me page it’s a sign they’re more than casually interested in what you do, so give them a chance to get to know you more through your newsletter.
  • Putting an optin box at the end of each blog post. If someone’s interested enough to read to the bottom of a blog post then they’re probably interested in what you have to say. So while they’re there, give them the opportunity to opt in. There are plugins like OptinSkin or Hybrid Connect that allow you to configure and add optin boxes fairly easily. In my case my WordPress theme makes it pretty simple to add automatically.
  • Use a Scroll Triggered box. As an alternative to a box at the bottom of the post, you can trigger a box to appear when people reach the bottom. Look in the WordPress plugin directory for the free plugins Qoate Scroll Triggered Box or Dreamglow Scroll Triggered Box – both of which can do this.
  • Use a “Welcome Gate”. this is a dedicated landing page which appears the first time someone visits your home page. I’ve been using one for a month and optins from my welcome gate are running at about 12% (vs a 3.1% average for the site). I use LeadPages to create my Welcome Gate, but if you’re handy with html you can also get a plugin to generate one for free from the people who made LeadPages here.

Strategy Five is to use Google Analytics to tell you what’s working (and what’s not).

You’ll need goals set up on Google Analytics to trigger when someone opts in – usually that’s done by triggering the goal by a visit to the “thank you” page visitors get sent to after opting in.

What you can then do is look at your top converting traffic sources to see if you can get more visitors from those sources (we covered this in the last Project 10K blog post).

You can also look at the top converting landing pages on your site. Can you send more traffic to that page (e.g. if a certain blog post converts well, can you tweet it out regularly? Or link to it elsewhere from your site?).

Are there common themes in your top converting pages? A particular topic you could blog about more?

In my case I spotted that my highest converting blog posts were almost all videos where I was using LeadPlayer. It’s a plugin that lets you add optin forms inside embedded Youtube videos. My posts with LeadPlayer videos get between 2x-5x the normal optin rate. So the obvious conclusion is to make more of them and to get more traffic to them.

And finally, look at blog posts or pages that get a lot of traffic but have low conversion rates. Is there anything you can do to improve the conversion rate? Is there a mismatch between the traffic source (e.g. searches for a specific keyword) and the content of the blog post itself which you can fix? Or can you change the format (e.g. from text to video) to something that’s working better for you to get optins.

Your Turn

I’ve covered five pretty straightforward but powerful strategies for increasing your website conversions.

Which are you going to use?

If you’ve got any questions or want to share your strategies, drop me a note in the comments box below.

* The links for Thesis, Optimizepress, LeadPages, LeadPlayer and Optin Skin are affiliate links. If you follow these links, fall in love with the product and buy it, I’ll get a commission ;)

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  • Danny van Kooten

    Hi Ian,

    It’s Danny, the author of Qoate Scroll Triggered Box.

    I’ve discontinued development of that plugin a long time and recently developed a much better take on scroll triggered boxes. It’s simply called Scroll Triggered Boxes and available from the WordPress.org repository here: http://wordpress.org/plugins/scroll-triggered-boxes/

    Would love it if you could give it a test run and update your article with the new name or a link. :-)

    Thanks again!

    Danny

    • http://www.ianbrodie.com/ Ian Brodie

      Hi Danny – thanks – only just spotted your post. I stopped using the plugin as I spotted you’d stopped development. Didn’t notice the new one so I shall take a look. Cheers

  • Jonas

    Hi Ian

    great blog!

    Do you know what is a reasonable unsubscribe rate when using a “lead magnet” (freebie) on a landing page. My unsubscribe today rate is about a staggering 18% (on first contact). (I get about 200 leads a day but losning almsot 40 the same time) Traffic is mainly coming from Google adwords and Facebook Ads. The campaigns is still profitable, but if I can get it down I would save a lot.

    Any last ideas or resources on how to “keep” them on the list :)

    Thanks

    Jonas

    • http://www.ianbrodie.com/ Ian Brodie

      Very difficult to say Jonas – but 18% seems like an awful lot. I’d have a think about the lead magnet you’re offering. it could be there’s either a mismatch between what you say you’ll give them on the landing page and what they get (so they unsubscribe), or maybe it’s largely material they’ve sen before from other sources so they think “nothing new”. Or maybe it’s just attracting the type of people who want the freebie and nothing else.

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