lead generation

Building a smooth customer journey is key to business and revenue growth. Here’s how to create a sales funnel that works in just 5 minutes.

You may not believe you already have one or more sales funnels in place, but all businesses do. Maybe it’s not working as expected. Or perhaps you would like to make it more effective. Follow these steps to create a sales funnel in 5 minutes that will have customers buying from you in no time at all.

What Is a Sales Funnel?

But first things first. Let’s quickly refresh the definition of a sales funnel.

A sales funnel is a hypothetical or ideal journey you would like a prospect to travel to become a lead or a customer. This is why sales or revenue funnels are also called “customer journeys” or “customer blueprints”.

They can be as simple as a one step Click to Call Google Ad, where the button is your opt-in point or as complex as need be. Especially for those businesses where lots of lead nurturing is needed for prospects to convert.

Call only ads are best used when there's a sense of urgency to the offer. Isn't this one of the shortest sales funnels ever?

Call only ads are best used when there’s a sense of urgency to the offer. Isn’t this one of the shortest sales funnels ever?

Keep in mind, while you are building your sales funnel, that the best functioning ones are those that reduce friction. That is, they do not add unnecessary barriers or hurdles to the sales process.

Ready, Set, Let’s See How to Create a Sales Funnel in 5 Minutes

One of the sales models that is most frequently used in customer blueprints and customer journey mapping is the AIDA model, which stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. Developed by E. St. Elmo Lewis in 1898, it maps how people make purchasing decisions. And, in spite of the technological developments, its importance and effectiveness has not diminished as humans have not changed their buying decision making process since then.

Whatever tactics you use to qualify leads and drive them closer to taking the desired action will change accordingly to where the lead is within the funnel: top (TOFU), middle (MOFU) or bottom (BOFU). It essential to understand how the funnel works from the moment you make the first contact (TOFU) with your ideal future customers to the moment where you convert those leads (BOFU). Keep in mind that each one of these components depends on the others.

Creating a sales funnel is as simple as defining the desired action and the target audience and then drawing the path between those two. And as complex as making it function successfully.

Here’s how to create a sales funnel (or improve the one you have) in 5 minutes.

AIDA model applied to customer journey mapping.

AIDA model applied to customer journey mapping.

To Create a Sales Funnel First you Need to Generate Awareness

Attracting attention or generating awareness works best when you know your target audience media habits. You’ll be more successful if you advertise your brand, your products and/or services where the majority of your prospects already are.

These prospects may be currently looking for what your product or service provides or they may not. Those potential leads that are intently searching for a service similar to yours will notice relevant messages much more than those that are not.

For example, if someone is ready to upgrade to a new car, they will feel as if there are more automobile ads than usual. It’s because they are more aware. Generating awareness for your brand might be easier in this case. Funny how the brain works.

On the other hand, you may generate awareness amongst prospects with related needs. They are not looking for what you sell exactly. For example, while browsing their Facebook feed or reading a blog post, a person looking for a higher paying job may stumble upon a college or university they didn’t previously know existed.

Once you know where to find the vast majority of your audience, you can decide on a way to generate awareness about your brand. Usually these tactics range from PPC campaigns, TV or radio ads, billboards, blog posts, trade show participation, referrals, direct mail, email campaigns, online search results, all the way to super outrageous publicity stunts. You get the idea. Don’t craft the copy or the creative yet.

Have you chosen a tactic to introduce your prospects to your brand? Great! You’ve got the first step of your sales funnel covered. (Don’t overthink it) Move on to the next step.

Guiding customers through the buying stages: how to create a sales funnel that works in 5 minutes.

Guiding customers through the buying stages: how to create a sales funnel that works in 5 minutes.

Second Step: The Interest Awakens

To create a solid sales funnel, you have to drive your prospects to click, call, download, sign-up, or visit you. And even though this happens at the last stage, you need to present the reasons why your are worthy of consideration in order to make it happen.

Do you have an eCommerce site and are offering free shipping? Is your SaaS fulfilling a productivity need that is important to your lead? Or do your cars flaunt the features your prospective buyers are searching for?

Related reading: 7 Conversion Copywriting Hacks You’ll Wish You Knew About Sooner

You need to know your customers and their behaviors, habits, and motivations to cut through the noise and to offer them something they recognize as useful or relevant.

This is the time to entice and convince them as to why they need your product or service.

Third Step: Pick Me! Pick Me! or the Sales Funnel Desire Stage

You presented your benefits properly and showed value to your prospect. Now it’s time to elicit desire. Congratulations! You are in the middle of the funnel (MOFU).

Keep an eye on your goal, your lead has to desire your product or service above any other.

Hence, you should keep educating and positioning your brand as the solution to their needs and problems. This is the stage where you shine a spotlight on those benefits. Testimonials, case studies, product comparisons, and customer reviews work well here.

This is also the stage where you match your product or service benefits to the prospect’s needs to clear up any barriers to the sale. This is a critical stage in which website traffic often fails to convert.

Do not miss out on these 20 Landing Page Best Practices to Kickstart Your Conversion Lift

Fourth Step: Ask for the Sale

It seems to go without saying that any good sales funnel ends with a purchase. The biggest mistake people make when using the AIDA model, though, is to assume the sale will happen organically once the other steps have fallen into place. It won’t. Unlike an actual funnel, what goes into a sales funnel doesn’t always reemerge at the end. And people tend to not take action unless they’re asked. So, pay attention to your calls to action – the worst mistake sales people make is not ask for the close.

What’s your call to action? How will you prompt them to fill out the form, complete their shopping cart purchase, have a one-on-one call or meeting or do whatever final action you want them to take to complete their customer journey?

Purple mattress on exit intent pop up offer (BOFU).

Purple mattress on exit intent pop up offer (BOFU).

Maybe you’ll offer them a free assessment, or a last minute discount if they complete the transaction right away. Take a minute to decide as the BOFU stage is the most crucial since it’s where you ask for the sale.

Ta Da! 5 minutes to build a sales funnel without writing a single line of copy — yet.

Would you rather have the conversion scientists identify your customer journeys to help you build your funnels? Then, check out our Conversion Rate Optimization Audit Services.

Sales Funnel Examples

Now that we’ve created our customer journey, let’s take a look at a couple of sales funnel examples for inspiration.

I think we covered one with the call only PPC ads example. Great for a local business like a personal injury attorney or a plumber, locksmith or any organization whose concern is to make the phone ring. Another requirement for successfully using this type of sales funnel is a sense of urgency to your product or service.

Purple mattress provides visitors with a humorously informational and convincing MOFU tactic on their landing pages with their zany videos backed by scientifically proven data. We may be a bit skewed as they also wear lab coats but go ahead, play the video and tell us what you think – unless you decide to buy a mattress first. ;)

A typical lead generation sales funnel example that remains mostly on the TOFU stage is to offer a Free Book, Research or White Paper to visitors – organic or paid. Take them to the next stages of the funnel by offering a one-time offer or a free consulting session. Keep qualifying the lead and close it with a call or an in person meeting.

Once you have a funnel ready an implemented you will want to test it, so we leave you with 9 Imaginative Approaches to AB Testing Landing Pages to get you started.

Here is a list of questions you may — and should — ask before you choose the best conversion optimization consultant for your online business.

Maybe you have exhausted your resources or maybe you’d rather have CRO experts maximize your profits. Whatever your situation, it’s time to pick a conversion optimization consultant for your online business. No matter the business type – eCommerce, lead gen or subscription website – how do you know which optimization professional is the best? Better yet, how do you know which one is the best fit for your needs?

We rounded up 14 key questions to help you analyze and evaluate your prospective conversion rate optimization (CRO) consultants. Buckle up because here we go!

1. How Much will a Conversion Optimization Consultant Cost me?

Conversion optimization is an on-going process, meaning you can expect a multi-month engagement. Therefore an equally important question here is when will I start to see positive results and a good return on investment. To achieve this, try to compare their experience, the actual time they’ll invest in analysis and research for your project and, again, the return on investment. After all, their job is to increase your revenues.

Still, you want to have an idea of cost. Here it goes. Small conversion rate optimization firms can be found for as little as $2500 per month to run tests. For a full team approach, expect to pay between $5,000 and $15,000 per month. Enterprise-focused firms will charge up to $50,000 per month.

Agencies that specialize in search engine optimization, paid search advertising, social media and media buying are adding conversion optimization services to their line card because clients, like you, are asking for it. They are not necessarily conversion specialists, so they may offer conversion optimization as a part of their package for a small additional fee. So, ponder on this: Can this fee fund the resources necessary for a conversion optimization program that can make a difference on my bottom line?

A word of caution: Know what you buy into.

When it’s time to pick a conversion optimization consultant for your online business, you have to understand what their offer actually is.

Do you know how your conversion rate optimization consultant measures success? A great question to ask when you are trying to choose the agency that best fits your website needs.

Do you know how your conversion rate optimization consultant measures success? A great question to ask when you are trying to choose the agency that best fits your website needs.

2. Do I Need to Have my own Resources? How Much Time will I Have to Invest in this Project?

This will depend on the type of engagement you are looking for. Here’s an example. At Conversion Sciences we offer our clients a couple of service options.

If they prefer to hand over the conversion rate optimization portion to us, we furnish them with a full CRO team. No company resources needed. Just plan to spend an hour with your conversion consultant each week on an ongoing basis and a bit more while we learn about your online business. Feel free to learn more about our Fully-Managed CRO Services or as we like to call it: the Plug-n-Play Approach to Revenue Increase. (Yep, shameless plug)

If they have an internal conversion team already in place, or they don’t have sufficient traffic to warrant full time engagement, our clients can opt for our Conversion Rate Optimization Audit. They will even walk away with a thorough analysis of your customer journey. Discover more about these ad-hoc services here. Do expect to invest time and internal resources for this type of project.

Our advice, always ask this question. It will help you better compare and find the best CRO consultant for your website.

3. How will you Measure Success?

A great question that separates the wheat from the chaff. Let’s explain.

This is the best answer a CRO consultant can give you: “We will improve bottom-line metrics such as leads generated, transactions, or subscribers and that’s how we will measure success.”

It incentivizes your conversion consultant to look at the bottom line as their measure of success. And it also aligns the conversion consultant goals with your business goals.

Be careful of optimizing for secondary measures, such as clicks to a page with a form, bounce rate, the time visitors spend on your site or the number of pages they visit on average. It is often easy to improve these and not improve bottom-line metrics such as leads generated, transactions, or subscribers.

4. Can you Guarantee Results or a Conversion Rate Increase?

Should you pick a conversion rate optimization company that offers a guarantee or one that is willing to work for a percentage of the increased revenue? While these may seem like two very tempting offers, there are some downsides.

The most extreme guarantee is a pay-for-performance basis also called “I get a cut of your revenues”. On the plus side, they don’t get paid if they don’t deliver higher revenues. On the downside, they may get credit for your own promotions and not just for their conversion work. And as revenues increase, their monthly fees will look much larger to you. If conversion rates go way up, that’s good. But it means your consultant is getting paid very high fees. This can make you feel like you’re paying too much.

Therefore, even though these guarantees may feel as if they reduce the risk that you face as the site owner, they can also increase your overall investment.

Would you like a better solution?

Consider asking the conversion consultant to continue working for free if a predetermined goal is not met in a set timeframe. For example, if they can’t demonstrate a 10% increase in revenue in six months, they keep working for free. When they hit the results, they can start billing you again. Do you think they’ll accept?

5. How Much do you Know my Industry/Technology/Platform/Distribution Channel/Market?

If there’s one thing that testing teaches us very quickly, it’s that there is no such thing as a “magic formula.” Ideas that work for similar sites may not work on your audience. An orange button may work for one site, and not for another. Every audience is different.

Having said that, a conversion optimization vendor that has worked with a number of your competitors will have a playbook of ideas to consider. There will be ideas that never would have occurred to the team without the hindsight of having worked in your industry. If they also know your website platform and technology, their learning curve will be limited mostly to your product, service or business brand.

And while a solid understanding of your website platform is always a plus, industry experience can also be a hindrance. If the vendor is overly familiar with websites in your industry, they may not be able to look at your site with fresh eyes. A key advantage of external vendors.

All-in-all, a disciplined optimization process will work in any industry. Ask your vendor for some examples of novel ideas that are specific to your industry, but make sure they have a proven, repeatable process.

So, before you pick a conversion optimization consultant for your online business ask yourself if you are looking for a fresh pair of eyes, or for somebody that can quickly catch up and contribute as if they had always been a part of your team.

6. Can you Share Some Case Studies?

A case study will help you understand how the consultant helped other businesses improve the performance of their website from a lead generation, sales or subscription increase standpoint. Take case studies showing giant performance gains with a grain of salt. This can happen for you, but not always.

A consultant should always be able to facilitate and show you their case studies but you should go the extra mile and also ask to speak with their clients. While they will refer you to clients they’ve had success with, you can ask about situations in which your conversion consultant struggled.

How a consultant deals with adversity is as important as how they behave when things are good.

Should your CRO agency guarantee results or a conversion rate Increase? Discover the answer on the Conversion Scientist blog.

Should your CRO agency guarantee results or a conversion rate Increase?

7. How will you Get to Know my Target Audience and What is your Process Like?

Successful conversion consultants let the data tell them about your audience. Your analytics data, surveys, reviews, and chat transcripts can reveal many issues with you website. If that is not enough, they should resort to surveys, session recordings, heatmap reports, and A/B testing.

Any other answer from a CRO consultant could demonstrate that they do not have the optimization experience needed to perform the job.
Getting to know your target audience will be one of the first steps in the process, so make sure they share with you what the rest of the process looks like, or that is somewhere on their website. You want to know how much of your time will be spent supporting the on-boarding process and if there are any additional fees for software or special ad-hoc work.

8. Do you do Split Testing or can you Implement Personalized AI-Powered Experiences to my Visitors?

A solid conversion rate optimization consultant will be well versed on every optimization technique and tool available and will recommend the one that is the best fit for your business. Stay away from those who try to steer you towards a single solution. Unless you want a one trick pony and not a true blue pro.

Related: AI Optimization Services for High Traffic Sites

9. How do you Know what to Optimize First?

The most common framework for ranking ideas is called ICE, which stands for Impact, Confidence, and Effort. It helps collect and rank all of the ideas that will come up when starting a conversion rate optimization project.

Asking this question may weed out the weakest prospective vendors. After all, a solid understanding of methodologies demonstrates the kind of professionalism you are looking for.

10. What would you Like to Know about our Company?

Your conversion consultant will be ravenous any for data you have. Ideas come from chat transcripts, marketing research, surveys, personas, reviews, advertising data and more. Conversion consultants are uniquely able to turn your existing research into test hypotheses.

Be suspect if they don’t want to know more about YOUR business. Optimization professionals have inquisitive minds and they always want to know more. Giving them the opportunity to ask you questions allows you to dig into their curious nature and mental process.

Good consultants will have lots of answers to this question.

11. Do the People I’ll be Working with have Strong Optimization Experience?

More than likely, you had a chance to speak to the top people in this agency. They have positively impressed you. But, what does the team that will be working with you look like? Are they experienced? If they are juniors, what type of supervision will the vendor provide. You want reassurances and you should be asking these questions.

Conversion optimization is a relatively new field. There aren’t a lot of experienced conversion consultants available to hire. And this is not a set of skills that is easy to teach in the classroom.

This is where process comes in. Your consultant should be able to articulate a repeatable, proven process that has a history of positive results.
If you’re working with an agency, there is a good chance you’ll be working with a less-experienced individual. Find out how the agency backs up this individual with analytics, test design and data science. They should also be backed up by someone with strategic marketing experience. Conversion optimization is strategic as well as design-oriented.

12. How Quickly will I Get my Money Back or How Soon will I See Results?

Beware of those who can guarantee a full return on investment within a short timeframe. CRO consultants will be able to make some estimates once they start working with you and they can also share their previous and similar experiences. But that’s all they are. Estimates and experiences. And no two websites or business are completely alike.

13. Do you Work with the Tools we Bought or can Afford?

If you are now working and/or already invested in conversion optimization tools, bring up the topic on your first conversation. You will want your consultant to know you expect them to use your tools proficiently, or to have experience with similar tools from different vendors.

As far as affordability goes, we live in a golden age of marketing tools. There are many options at many price points. The consultant should be able to help you choose a tool that fits their needs and your budget.

Always consider that most conversion consultants will give you a better return on your investment in optimization tools.

Here is a list of questions you may - and should - ask before you choose the best conversion optimization consultant for your online business.

Here is a list of questions you may – and should – ask before you choose the best conversion optimization consultant for your online business.

14. What is the Consultant’s Testing Philosophy?

Each consultant will have a testing philosophy. Some favor scientific rigor. Others favor quick decisions. Here are some questions to ask them and the answers you will want to hear.

How long will you run an AB test?

No AB test should be stopped before two full weeks have passed. If you have a high volume of conversions, one week may be acceptable, but no less.

Will you stop a variation if it looks really negative?

Most conversion consultants will monitor tests and stop any variations that seem to be underperforming to avoid lost sales and fewer leads.

Do you let tests overlap?

If your prospective conversion consultant plans to run tests on multiple pages of your site, there is a risk of polluting the data and making bad calls. They should be able to visitor from getting into multiple tests.

How do you do quality assurance on tests?

The tools that conversion consultant uses give them sweeping powers to alter your site. It is surprisingly easy to break your site, even if they checked it. A thorough Quality Assurance (QA) process includes testing on multiple devices and involves several people before it goes live.

What kind of post-test analysis do you do?

Even if a test finishes and there is no winning variation, your conversion consultant can learn important things from the data. They just have to take the time to do a little more analysis, called “post-test” analysis. This should be part of their philosophy.

Can you perform multivariate tests?

If you have a high-volume site, multivariate testing is an important option. You may also want to find out if they can use machine learning AI tools to accelerate their testing.

How to Pick a Conversion Optimization Consultant for your Online Business

Final word of advice: no matter who you choose, make sure the consultant you hire is the one that is able to deliver on the strategy YOU need.

Solid CRO firms will tell you right out if they are unable to help you and may even recommend alternative solutions to your business problem, Use these questions when the time comes to pick a conversion optimization consultant for your online business. Who knows? It may even be us!

Experience a lift on your contact form conversion rate. Know what form of form you should have on your lead generation site. These best practices designed to increase contact form conversion will definitely help.

Contact forms are the most common way of beginning a conversation between a company and a prospect. In this article, we’ll show you how to get more prospects to fill out your form without reducing the quality of those leads.

What’s the big deal with forms? They have fields. You fill out the fields and you get something you want.

So, why do so many of your visitors fail to fill out your forms?

There is some psychology and some science to getting more form fills, whether you are trolling for leads or asking your visitors to buy something. The folks at SingleHop have done a study and it is exactly what we’ve seen in our testing of contact forms. You’ll learn a lot about increasing contact form conversion from this little infographic.

Contact Form Fields: How Many is Too Many?

As a general rule, the more fields you have, the lower your conversion rate. However, the leads you do acquire will be better qualified. The best way to find the right mix is to A/B test your contact forms.

Generally speaking and to increase contact form conversion, you should avoid:

  1. Fields that ask for qualifying information that can be found out on a phone call, such as purchase timeframe.
  2. Drop-down fields that may not contain an answer accessible to the visitor, such as title.
  3. Drop-down fields that imply something, such as number of employee ranges.
  4. “None of your business” fields, such as mobile phone, yearly revenue or social security number.

Best Practices to Increase Contact Form Conversion

While you may think your website is selling your product or service, what it’s really selling is a sales call. You must convince the visitor to complete your form.

There are four components that will help you achieve this.

Build Trust

You can build trust by including your phone number and contact information. Sometimes they will call you.

On a mobile device you should optimize for phone calls.

Provide Social Proof

Your contact page should present testimonials and endorsements to make visitors feel comfortable completing the contact form.

Add Value

Make sure you are building value. What’s in it for the visitor if they fill out the form?

  • Who will contact them? A salesperson? A consultant?
  • Will there be a hard sell?
  • How long will the call be?
  • What questions will be answered?

Sell the call to increase contact form conversions.

Use Risk Reversal

You can significantly remove barriers to completion by simply presenting your privacy policy on the form. While these are rarely read, they indicate that you care enough to have one.

Lead generation solutions that deliver. Contact us to generate more and better leads fast.

Get the Call to Action Right

On a contact form, the call to action usually lives on the contact form button. The call to action should communicate what will happen when it is clicked.

Studies indicate that using first person improves conversion rates. Test changing “your” to “my”.

For example “Download your free report” is second person. “Download my free report” is first person.

Experience a lift on your contact form conversion rate. Know exactly what form of form you should have on your lead generation site. Infographic.

Contact forms infographic.

The Best Lead Capture Forms

The best contact forms don’t assume the visitor wants to fill out the form. Only lonely people fill out such forms.

Instead, your form should give visitors a good reason to complete the form, and build trust with them and explain the value of completing the form.

This is an important step in their journey to solve a problem.

Treat it as such.


21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
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Lead generation is the lifeblood of online business and most lead generation is done via email collection.
If you grow a list of prospects who’re interested in your promotions, your business grows too. However, before you make money from your list you’ve got to get people on it. Whether you want people to download your lead magnet, sign up for your latest webinar or volunteer to test your product, you first need to persuade them to part with their highly guarded personal details – that’s no small feat.
No wonder the average opt-in rate across industries is hovering around a mere 2%. After investing a fortune in Facebook advertising, PPC ads, outsourced content, content management software, site design, and more, you only net two leads per 100 visitors. Two leads… NOT customers mind you.
Surely, your business deserves better.
Today, we’re going to cover the eight elements of a high converting opt-in page so you can boost your opt-in conversion rates and get a better return on your content marketing investment.
Ready to dive in?

Element #1: A short pre-headline to draw them in

When your prospect arrives on your opt-in page she wants to know if she’s in the right place. If she feels lost, she’ll click away. Use the apex of your page to make her stick around.
And, depending on who you ask, you have five seconds or less to do that. But how do you do it? Here’s three ways to instantly attract your reader when she lands on your page so she stays on.
#1. Name the target audience
For example, Attention dog owners, Attention Content Marketers etc.
When you name your audience you get a nod from the prospect, “Yep that’s me.” Handled correctly, this small first yes will ultimately lead to the big yes of a signup later on.
#2. Name the type of lead magnet
For example, Free Special Report, Free Training Webinar etc.
The specificity of your offer increases desire and the likelihood of the prospect staying on so as to get it.
#3. Name the referral site
For example,wh Welcome Entrepreneur Readers
Naming the referral site on your page makes your prospect feel like a diva and warm up to you and your offer.
Amy Harrison rolls out a red carpet for her Copyblogger readers. She makes them feel the love by welcoming them: specifically, heartily, personally.

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Your pre-headline has four main purposes:
#1. To help your prospects understand your offer…fast.
#2. To alienate those who are not a good fit for your offer.
#3. To attract those who are perfectly suited to your offer.
#4. To build rapport with your audience in an instant.
A great pre-head will keep readers on your signup page.

Element #2: A benefit-rich headline to make them want to read more

Once your prospect hangs around, use your headline to show her how your offer will benefit her and improve her life. Promptly address her concerns so she lingers on the page or you’ll lose her by the door. Quickly address her pain, paint the desired future for her, or pique her curiosity so she can’t help herself but read on.
In short, tell your prospect what’s in it for her.
Jacob McMillen’s headline is ultra-specific and has a solution that’s tailor-made for cash-strapped businesses – that’s a big benefit that’ll keep his target audience glued to the page.

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Not only that. Your headline must also tie in nicely to the traffic source. That way the prospect’s conversion journey becomes smoother thus generating better results for your business. Jacob McMillen does this superbly as the source page to the above landing page shows:

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Notice how his CTA, the last words in his bio, are the first words on the landing page? This way the byline is perfectly coupled to the landing page thus increasing conversions. When a reader clicks his bio and lands on the landing page she smoothly continues her conversion journey – because of harmony between the two pages, conversions are likely to be higher.
On the flip side, a copy mismatch between the source page and the signup page tanks conversions.

Element #3: A few lines of crisp copy to pull them further down the page

You’ve done well if your prospect is still on your page thus far.
Your next few lines should give specific points about your offer. Show her how your offer will scratch her itch or push her towards her dream. Do that and she’s more likely to give you her details.
Use bullet points or short paragraphs. Your bullets should be:

  • Clear- use simple direct language so the prospect easily grasps your offer.
  • Crisp- keep your points brief and to the point to keep the prospect engaged.
  • Catchy- use attention-getting words to give details about your offer.

Smartblogger nails their bullet copy on this sign-up page for an upcoming webinar.

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The three bullets tell you exactly what you’ll get on the webinar in a simple engaging way without laboring the point. If you’re going for the minimalist approach even a single line will do. The amount of copy on the body of your opt-in page depends on three key factors.
#1. How aware is your prospect about you and your offer? The more aware she is about you and what you do the less copy you need and vice versa.
#2. What works best for your niche? Study the most successful signup pages in your niche and do likewise.
#3. How complex is the problem you’re trying to solve for the prospect? The more complex the problem, the more copy required to convince prospects to sign up.

Element #4: A pro-looking image to help them visualize what they’ll get

Our brains process images up to 60,000 times faster than text.
To woo your prospect so she says yes to your proposal (offer), show her what she’ll get. Use a picture of the product or of people expressing the feeling you’re targeting. Pictures of animals work well too if your context allows it.
John Nemo’s book shot dominates his opt-in page on purpose. You can almost smell the LinkedIn cash splashed on the cover ☺.

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A word of warning about pics: don’t just include a picture because you like it…that won’t help your cause. Only include a picture if it’s relevant to your offer.

Element #5: A signup field(s) to capture their personal details

You’re almost there now… your prospects cursor is hovering over the signup field. Now comes the big question…how much info do you want from her?
Numerous tests show that, in most cases, the fewer the signup fields, the higher the conversion rates. That’s why most sites simply ask for an email address and/or name only as shown in the Marketing Sherpa lead generation graphic below.

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Of course, you can ask for more than that if you want a more targeted list. Although your conversions may dip, the quality of your list will improve. Ask for what you need and no more. This makes filling the fields more desirable. You can always ask for more details later.
But, as with everything digital, conduct split tests to see what works for you and your audience instead of blindingly jumping on the bandwagon. In many cases, tests have shown that increasing the number of fields actually raised conversions.

Element #6: A bit of social proof to earn their trust

It’s natural. No one wants to go first. People do what they see other people do. That’s why social proof is a vital ingredient to the success of your page. Here are some three quick-and-easy ways of incorporating social proof into your signup page:
#1. Display your list numbers if they’re substantial
To nudge people over the sign-up line, you can use big numbers associated with your following. However, be careful as numbers can be a double-edged sword. If your numbers are small, social proof will still work, but against you! No-one wants to be a part of something small and insignificant.
Social Media Examiner uses their massive list to good effect to inspire people to join their list.

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Surely, on seeing the 620 000+ social media marketing peers on Social Media Examiner’s list, a prospect will be enticed to sign up.
#2. Splash customer testimonials generously on the page
Testimonials multiply your clout score thus making it easy for people to take up your offer. Henneke Duistermaat, of Enchanting Marketing, does a neat job.

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Not only does she head the page with a rich list of big sites she’s been featured on, she sandwiches her offer between two testimonials from heavyweights in her niche. Prospects are more likely to trust her word and gobble up her course.
#3. Point to influencer endorsements and press mentions
To get prospects to sign-up for a free trial, Get Response leads with an imposing figure of their current users and then they underline their authority in their space by quoting two influencers.

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This is likely to cause more people to take their software for a spin.

Element #7: A privacy statement to assure them their info is safe

        
Because cyber-crime is rampant, your prospect is uneasy. Hardly a day goes by without someone being scammed or spammed online. Allay her fears…wrap your arm around her and let her know you’re not one of the bad guys. Tell her you won’t peddle her email address nor send the alien stuff she didn’t ask for.
A brief statement such as ‘We respect your privacy and will never share your infois enough as Neil Patel does.

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Feel free to get creative with the phrasing. Or, if you’re not feeling inspired, simply write ‘privacy policy’ and link to your full-blown privacy policy. And, oh, a privacy statement also serves a more personal and practical purpose: failure to include one might land you in trouble with the law. ☺
Basically, your privacy statement should assure your visitors that their info is safe. Only when they feel you’re trustworthy will they be swayed to give you their personal information.

Element #8: A strong call to action (CTA) to compel them to click

Your call to action marks the finishing line of the sign-up race. Give it some thought.
Your button copy should be specific, simple and reader-focused. Tell the prospect exactly what she’ll get if she signs up. Don’t try to be cute, clever, or cryptic, or you’ll lose out.  And please, don’t make the rookie mistake made by many content marketers – using the dismal default CTA copy e.g. signup, subscribe, or download.
Don’t leave your visitors wondering what they are clicking the button for.
Sign up. For what?
Subscribe. To what?
Download. What?
A simple formula, coined by Joanna Wiebe, will help you ace your button copy. Just fill in the blank: I want my reader to __________________.
Your answer becomes your CTA. For example:
I want my reader to:

  • Book a free call…becomes…Book my free call.
  • Get a free quote…becomes…Get my free quote.
  • Reserve a spot on webinar…becomes…Reserve my webinar spot.

Here’s a great example of powerful button copy pulled from this very site’s homepage:

Book a Consultaion Now is a proper Call to Action, or CTA

Book a Consultaion Now is a proper Call to Action, or CTA

The CTA is clear, simple, direct, benefit-focused, and urgent – all the hallmarks of a powerful call to action that converts.
Make the desired action simple and easy smoothly guiding the prospect towards your goal without much work or resistance. Use energetic verbs and the first or second person to make the CTA personal and bump up your conversions. Once your reader clicks on your button, you’ve won and now have a precious lead in your funnel.
Opt-in pages are crucial to the overall success of your business that you should seriously consider outsourcing the task if you don’t have the time or the expertise to craft them yourself.
Conclusion
Getting signups is an essential bridge in your inbound digital marketing efforts. It’s the magic link that turns browsers into subscribers, subscribers into buyers, and buyers into brand evangelists. In short, it’s the gateway into your funnel. As a serious growth-focused business owner, take time to work all these elements into your page so you increase the likelihood of success. Then you’ll hear the sound of clicks not crickets for a change.

Discover the 7 components of an optimized byline with 7 high-converting author bio examples to show you exactly what to aim for.

Creating quality content is challenging.

You have to find a unique angle on an often well-covered topic. You have to research data to back it up. You have to create a compelling headline. You have to create curiosity in the opening, polish your grammar, get the tone right, yada yada … all this while fitting the piece into your brand’s or client’s overall content marketing strategy.

With all that work, it’s important that you are getting maximum value out of your content, whether it’s published on your website or a 3rd party publication.

One incredibly easy yet often overlooked way to increase the value of your content is to optimize your author bio.

There is actually quite a bit of value you can derive from your bio, and yet most marketers and writers simply throw something together and never think about it again. Such a waste!

Today, I’m going to highlight the 7 components of an optimized bio, with 7 high-converting examples to show you exactly what to aim for.

Before we begin, let’s cover the basics.

How To Write An Author Bio: What is a Byline?

A byline is a short paragraph that tells readers a little bit about the author and how to contact the author or read additional content by the author.

In most online content, the author bio can be seen at the end of the article.

Aaron Orendorff is the founder of inconic content and a regular contributor of Mashable, Lifehacker, Entrepreneur, Business Insider and more. Connect with him about marketing, behavioral economics, and business on Twitter or Lilnkedin.

Author bio of Aaron Orendorff from Fast Company. Aaron Orendorff’s

As a general rule, you want to keep your bio to 2-3 sentences or 40-60 words. This gives you enough room to include the 7 components we’ll talk about today without creating a wall of text that scares off readers.

An author bio is sometimes confused with an author byline which is technically not the same thing.

An author byline is a line at the top of an article that names the author, usually lists the date, and occasionally includes additional information

Byline says, "By Aaron Orendorff, a 5 Minute Read"

Author byline by Aaron Orendorff from Fast Company article. Fast Company article

Author bios and bylines have become much less distinct in the internet age, and on many websites, the two will be merged in some form or other. But in most cases, you will have the ability to create a distinct 2-3 sentence bio for yourself that shows up at the end of any article you write.

So let’s talk optimization. The following 7 components will help turn your author bios into legitimate lead generators for your business.

STEP #1: Say who you are and what you do.

People who consume your content have got three big questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you do?
  • Why should I care?

Your bio should answer all three.

Nail them and they’ll be keen to find out more about you — and gladly follow you into the kingdom of your products and services. Most bios don’t address these essential queries. Some do but in a dry matter-of-fact-Wikipedia way. Think of your bio as an elevator pitch in two or three sentences.

Henneke Duistermaat gets hers right.

Henneke Duistermaat is an irreverent copywriter and business writing coach. She's on a mission to stamp out gobbledygook and make boring business blogs sparkle. Get her free 16-part Snackable Writing Course for busy People and learn how to enchant your readers and win more business.

Author bio of Henneke Duistermaat from Copyblogger. Source

She sums up who she is, what she does and who she does it for using an engaging style. Crucially, she tells readers the benefits of doing business with her. Because there’s something in it for them, her readers would want to check her out.

STEP #2: Establish your authority in the space.

Authority is the tipping point of winning a hesitant prospect over or boosting your trust with clients.

Becoming a trusted voice in your space draws more prospects and causes your clients to stay with you longer. That’s why influencer marketing is the rage right now. Use your byline to underline your authority. Prove you’re worthy of a prospect’s business.

Here’s a great example from Ann Handley.

Ann Handley is the author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller Everybody writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content. She is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs; a columnist for Entrepreneur magazine; a Linkedin Influencer, a Keynote speaker, mom, and writer.

Author bio of Ann Handley from the Get Response Blog. Source

Pixel after pixel, Ann proves her authority… Wall Street best seller, CCO, Entrepreneur columnist, keynote speaker. You may not have her star credentials but there’s always something to share.

Your vast experience maybe? An industry award? Or a mention by a notable publication?

Whatever it is, slip it in. Impress clients before you say a word. However, don’t shamelessly brag about everything you’ve ever done as Sammy Blindell points out in this post:

“Brand, don’t brag. It’s easy to compose a list of all your accomplishments — and it’s also a mistake. Use only those achievements that your ideal customers will see as beneficial to them, because this is about THEM. If you recently completed some extensive training in recognizing dog aggression, your financial planning audience isn’t going to care. In fact, they’ll probably turn away from your brand. However, if you were a keynote speaker and advisor for the annual International Financial Advisory Convention, that matters.”

Amen to that Sammy.

STEP #3: Include an image with some personality.

I’m amazed how many content marketers miss the importance of a photo on social media profiles. It’s SOCIAL media for goodness sake — how can you socialize behind a silhouette? That’s like showing up at a party in a hood.

LinkedIn statistics show having a profile photo can get you:

  • 21x more profile views
  • 9x more connection requests
  • 36x more messages

The same applies to your content marketing, and yet many marketers use a photo that either looks like a mugshot or a shot where the cameraman said, “Say ‘professionalism'”. Ugh!

Want to boost your brand’s perceived competence, likeability and influence? Use a professional shot with some personality!

A great example comes from John Nemo.

John Nemo is the author of the Amazon bestseller Linkedin Riches to Leverage the World's Largest Professional Network to Enhance Your Brand and Increase Revenue. As a Linkedin trainer and consultant, Nemo has helped hundreds of small-business owners, coaches, consultants, trainers, sales professionals, and business development exectives utilize Linkedin to generate more sales leads, clients, and revenue. He is a former Associated Press reporter, a professional speaker, and the author of seven books.

Author bio of John Nemo from Linkedin Riches. Source

John’s shot exudes confidence, warmth and authority. Prospects are more likely to connect with him. And, oh, please smile. It makes you more likeable. To improve the quality of your photo use editing tools like Pixlr and Fotor.

And then put your best face forward so people fall in love with you and your brand.

STEP #4: Inject your personality into the bio copy as well.

When you really think about it, you and your competitors sell similar products.

The differentiator? Your unique personality. Personality, an aspect of authenticity, leads to higher ROI and appeal. Sadly, when people write business copy, they insist on sounding business like — whatever that means.

As a result, ho-hum bios abound.

People do business with people. So you better sound like a human. You’ll bond better with your audience and win more business. Jorden Roper reveals a glimpse of her personality very well.

Jorden Roper is a fuschia-haired freelance writer for hire and founder of the Writing Revolt blog, where she writes no-BS advice for freelance writers and bloggers. When she's not working you can find her traveling playing music in her band, or hanging out with her Chihuahuas.

Author bio of Jorden Roper from Clearvoice. Source

Jorden isn’t just a freelancer. She’s a fuschia-haired one that frolics with Chihuahuas. I have an inkling that, like her Chihuahuas, she’s:

Bold. Lively. Devoted.

In one fell swoop she humanizes and brands herself by talking about her pets. Let your hair down. Flee from high sounding nothing aka corporate speak squeak.

Be yourself. Be human. Be relatable.

Then more people will desire to learn more about you and your products.

STEP #5: Include a lead magnet in your byline.

Your conversion goal for your piece should extend to your byline. For better conversions, your offer should be related to the subject of your piece or at least relevant to the topic.

Discussed pitching? Offer readers a pitch template.

Enumerated on the benefits of content creation and management software? Offer readers a demo.

Talked about the health benefits of sex? Offer them hands-on private coaching sessions at the nearest hotel. Nah, bad idea. But I’m sure you get the hang of it.

Your bio is a great opportunity to attract direct leads from your reader base.

Here’s a great example from Beth Heyden.

Beth Hayden is a copywriter and content writer who specializes in ghostblogging, email marketing campaigns, and sales pages. Download Beth's free report, The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Warm Welcome Messsage to get step-by-step process she uses to create magical welcome messages for her clients.

Author bio of Beth Hayden on the Be a Better Blogger Blog. Source

 

What the byline doesn’t show is how the offer is an extension of her piece. Here’s a snippet of one of her main points.

Excerpt from Be a Better Blogger post by Beth Hayden

Excerpt from Be a Better Blogger post by Beth Hayden. Source

Her offer? A free report entitled ‘The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Warm Welcome Message.’ You’d almost feel dumb not to sign up for it since the report completes the piece. This way, her conversions are likely to soar.

Note the singularity of her offer. Countless content strategists overload their bylines with links which overwhelms readers and tanks conversions. Plus, by making one uncontested offer, eyeballs are instantly drawn to it.

STEP #6: Follow up your bio link with a landing page.

Capitalize on the heavy lifting done by your content by linking to a landing page not your homepage.

People who read all the way down your content are potential red-hot prospects or brand loyalists in the making.

Don’t let their enthusiasm go poof — into cyberspace oblivion, without harnessing it. Reward them with something special, on a special page tailor-made for them.

Give them something cool and useful like:

  • A super-relevant lead magnet
  • A discount on your latest product
  • A free beta version of your product
  • A slot to win a prize in your competition

See how Jacob McMillen does it below. This byline on a guest post:

Jacob McMillan author bio on the CrazyEgg blog.

Jacob McMillan author bio on the CrazyEgg blog. Source

Takes you straight to this landing page:

Landing page from Jacob McMillan author bio

Landing page from Jacob McMillan’s author bio. Source

Notice how his CTA, the last words on his bio, are the first words on the landing page? This way the byline is perfectly coupled to the landing page thus increasing conversions. When a reader clicks his bio and lands on the landing page, she smoothly continues her conversion journey.

Harmony wins the day.

Step #7: Be very specific in everything you say.

Your bio offers you a chance to position your brand favourably.

Be clear about what exactly you do. You’ll generate more interest, attract higher quality leads and close more sales.

Next time I see a byline that reads ‘Andy Awesome is a marketer who resides at…’ I’ll organize an online march against dud bios. Dude, you ain’t saying nothing. They’re 271 bajillion marketers out there. Add a descriptive to specify what you do.

Only then will you stand a fighting chance of being heard above the me-too roar.

Lianna Patch stars in this regard.

Need help with email and landing pages? Then Lianna’s your girl. Her copy makes that crystal clear.

Brand yourself precisely. You’ll see an uptick in the number of prospects who approach you.

Finally, use your bio to boost your rankings for your target pages as Jacob McMillen explains:

“Bylines are a great place to link to a primary service page you are hoping to rank in search. It can be really challenging to rank service pages over blog posts, but including a back link to my main service page in every byline is one of the biggest reasons it’s ranking front page for 40+ key phrases.”

Conclusion: Get Every Ounce of Juice From Your Author Byline

Here’s the heart of the matter:

Your bio is an intricate part of your marketing and branding.

It’s a tiny hinge that swings huge marketing doors — a gateway to your world. So value it and craft it with care. Stretch all your investment in PPC and FB ads, SEO, outsourced content, site design and more to its fullest potential.

Make every click count.

New Tool Makes it Easy to Find Prospects on Social Networks via Social Appending.

In my most recent ClickZ column, I reflect back on my days as a marketing cog in the corporate machine, a time in which the practice of “appending” was considered “black hat.”

Appending is the practice of adding contact information to records in your prospect database. If you have someone’s name and company, you could “append” their email address and mailing address through a number of services that keep that kind of information.

Companies that sell mailing lists often provide this kind of service.

The thinking was that the prospect hadn’t given you permission to contact them through these other channels, and that it violated the “submit button contract” that is implied when they completed an online form.

Social Appending: How Far We Have Come

Social Appending: How Far We Have Come. Source: Unbounce.

We’ve come a long way

Oli Gardner has an interesting info graphic on the Unbounce blog. The graphic highlights a tool called FlowTown. This is a social appending tool. Marketers can use it to find the social media accounts of their prospect list, and begin marketing to them through those social media channels like Facebook and LinkedIn.

This is where those of us who have been around the block groan, and then secretly cheer.

Why this is different

While appending has not been considered a best practice, it happens. In fact, the best way to do this is to send ask your prospects for permission after appending the data; sending them an email asking if they want email messages, for example.

Many social media platforms allow us to easily “unfriend” or block unsavory marketers. This puts the opt-out capability in our hands. So asking for permission ahead of time is less of a problem.

But there is a right way to inject yourself into someone else’s conversations. It’s called a Content-oriented Social Media Strategy.

  • Only “append” people who have expressed an interest in your industry or products. This is how you know your content will be relevant.
  • Begin with non-promotional content. “How-to” and “10 Ways” style articles test well.
  • Use social landing pages, such as a blog or Facebook page to “keep it social”
  • Measure what you send. Stop sending content that doesn’t generate clicks, shares or comments.

If you’re going to jump into the social conversations, do it right, or it will backfire in a very public, viral way.