Collect Leads and Make Your Clicks Stick

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Our friend Paul Colligan would be a retired multi-millionaire today if he had thought of this at the time.

MTV’s Spring Break Weekend 2000 was sponsored by the folks over at www.GotAJob.com. Back then Paul owned www.GetAJob.com – only one letter different. He hit pay dirt. Nearly naked bodies cavorting around on the screen, and MTV was telling viewers, “Go to www.GotAJob.com!” By the time those people got to their computers, they couldn’t remember which was which.

Paul was able to cash in on the literally thousands of visitors per hour who came to his site via the typo. He was making money hand over fist, all the while getting a mach-two lesson in online marketing.

What Paul didn’t realize at the time, however, was that he was making another very, very expensive oversight:  if he had simply collected names and email addresses from those hundreds of thousands of visitors, he would have had a gold mine to go back to for years to come.

But he didn’t. So the money he made – and it was terrific money – he made just once. Had he known to collect names at the time, he would be a multi-millionaire today. He would have built an asset.

Do you want to create a growing asset that you can go back to again and again? Don’t pour all of your energy into just making the sale. Instead, offer something of legitimate value up front to your website visitors for free, in exchange for their contact information. You’ll get literally ten times as many people to cooperate, and you’ll grow a valuable list of leads and prospects. Having done that, you can communicate with them – and sell to them – again and again.

A Valuable Strategy

If 1%-2% of the visitors to your site buy from you, you’re solidly hitting the average. If those are the only folks you’re getting any contact information from, however, you’re missing a huge piece of value from your pay-per-click campaigns.

Design an effective landing page that gets people to opt in, and you’ll pull anywhere from 10%-20%. We’ve worked with some clients whose signup forms pull better than 50%. Either way, you’re building a contact list that is, at the very minimum, five to ten times larger than you would get by just using names and addresses from buyers.

Collecting names of leads is valuable for another reason. It adds an entirely new dimension to your marketing strategy, namely, email and direct mail. Instead of having one chance to talk to a visitor on your site, you now have multiple chances. You can use email to talk to that person again, to build trust and add personality to your products and message, and to get that person back to your site a second time, or a third time or more.

That doesn’t just make for more chances for people to buy from you; it gives you a chance to show more sides of your business, and even engage that visitor in live chat – an approach becoming more popular online by the day.

Making Clicks Worth More

The goal in pay-per-click is to get good clicks, make them worth more, and attain more clicks from more places. This lead-collecting approach can help you with all three of these steps.

For the last two years, I’ve sold an e-book to westerners living in Asia which teaches them how to acquire the local language wherever they happen to live. Folks who arrive at my site, however, are first offered a free five-day email course that covers the basics; I then promote the book later.

Since I sell this using Google, I have a choice:  promote the e-book in my Google ad or just promote the five-day course. I’ve always opted for the latter. Why? Because when you’re the person clicking, buying a book at full price takes a good deal of convincing; signing up for a free five-day course does not. So a person sees this ad:

Want to Learn Chinese?
5 Crucial Principles You Must Know
To Master Chinese, and Fast
MasterChineseFaster.com

He clicks through to the landing page and finds exactly what was promised.

This way the ad itself is more compelling, so I get more clicks; and people find exactly what they expected when they get to my landing page, so I get more signups.

Since I have an entire series of language-learning follow-up e-mails, I have multiple opportunities to win people’s trust, get them back to my site, and sell to them again. So my clicks grow in value over time. Plus, the five-day course is a nice “package” that’s easy to promote via affiliates, so I get more traffic from more sources because of it.

There was a time when “squeeze” pages – where your visitor’s only options were to opt in or leave – were popular and largely effective. But on the Internet today, people want choices. They want to be able to navigate freely, get information, or see products without being forced to take only one action.

Google knows this, and now penalizes “squeeze only” landing pages by requiring five to ten dollars per click or more from advertisers who use them. Google doesn’t want people to land on your site, get frustrated, and hit the “back” button. So the smart answer is to give your visitors options. You can still emphasize your free offer and the need to opt in, but provide links and navigation throughout your site as well for folks who want more choices.

Offer Something Worth Taking

Anything of value – especially something that gives you reason to talk to your prospect multiple times – can be given away. You can offer:

  • a free e-mail course
  • a sample or free trial of your product
  • access to a newsletter
  • an audio series – a talk or a set of interviews
  • a free chapter from your book
  • a how-to-guide, a free report, or a white paper
  • a cheat sheet
  • a free CD
  • a coupon
  • a free 15-minute consultation

Your prospect’s contact information is valuable, so make it a fair trade.

Even if you’re offering a one-time gift (such as a white paper, a CD, or a free product sample), you can still create reasons to e-mail your prospect multiple times about it. Remember that people can get distracted and quickly forget about something they’ve downloaded or even purchased. So, follow up on subsequent days by reminding them to take it out and look at it again. You can highlight different features or aspects through e-mail, and give them a reason to revisit it.

If a product you sell has a high dollar value, especially something worth several hundred dollars or more, you’ll do well by making your free gift a physical item that requires a street address and which is sent by snail mail. This not only filters out non-serious lookers; it also puts you in touch with your prospects through multiple media. And a physical item received through the mail tells a prospect that you’re doing real business and are worth spending dollars with.

The Classic Formula

The old time-tested formula for an opt-in page is:

  1. An attention-getting, benefit-driven headline
  2. A statement of unique value
  3. A compelling offer
  4. A clear, specific call to action
  5. An easy way to respond

This, of course, is also the classic formula for a working sales letter. Granted, if you’re selling physical products rather than information, the look of this will change.

The principle, however, does not change. The headline gets people’s attention. The statement of unique value prevents what you sell from becoming a mere commodity. The offer gives them a reason to do something. The call to action tells them what to do. And there is always value in making it easy for people to respond to you.

So the obvious question is:  how long should your copy be? Answer: enough to convince them to take your offer. Naturally that varies. If you’re selling gift baskets or small electronics, you can get by with very little copy. If you’re persuading folks to sign up for a white paper or an e-mail course or a small free information gift, then one page above-the-fold may be fine. Getting people to give you a snail-mail address and more detailed information in exchange for a physical product or a consultation will take more convincing, and you may well need a couple of “pages” of copy to get people to respond.

The more clicks you can convince to “stick,” the more your clicks will be worth. We’ve seen clients more than double their value per visitor simply by giving people a reason to give out their contact information, and then staying in touch with them by e-mail and getting them back to the website multiple times.

There is simply no greater asset a marketer can build for themselves than a fresh, active mailing list of solid prospects and paying customers. Those clicks you’re buying from the search engines don’t merely have value for today or for this week; they have a lifetime value to you. Grow that value and watch as new online opportunities open up to you as a result.

About the Author

Andrey Milyan was the first editor-in-chief of Search Marketing Standard, the leading print publication covering the search marketing industry. He has been following and reporting on industry developments for over 10 years. Andrey now works in the paid search sector of a prominent search marketing agency.