Photo courtesy of Sean MacEntee on Flickr

Unless you think of your website as merely a brochure to share with your existing customers and prospects, you also expect it to bring in some sales opportunities. But, let’s face it, most of the time that does not happen. Most of the business owners we initially talk to think of their website as more of an expense generator, something they’re supposed to have, something that is supposed to look good (or half-way good), but not something that is supposed to attract revenue.

They’ve all heard of websites that generate new business, increase sales and support growth, but those websites are like business urban legends to a lot of small business owners.

But it is possible to have a site that generates leads for you.

How to do it

Generating new business will depend on many things, including but not limited to:

  • a website that is user friendly
  • a website that is informative
  • a website that generates traffic for free (not only from SEO, but from social media or other sources like partners, vendors or directories)
  • a website that has an advertising plan and brings qualified prospects with paid methods (no successful website that contributes significant growth to a business can do so by free traffic alone)
  • a website that has a content building strategy (fresh content is the oxygen for your website)

The list can go on and on. But, there is often one piece that seems so obvious, yet ends up being missed or becomes an after-thought. That oft-missed piece is the “how to generate leads” mechanism.

Even though you might think bringing people — even the right people — to your site and giving them good information about your company and your service/products is a good enough formula for web success, there is one more important ingredient: the call to action. A simplified explanation of a call to action is: something that gives visitors a reason to engage with the website and a route to do that.

Your website should funnel all traffic and action towards one important goal: turning visitors into a lead/prospect for you. Getting leads to call you, email you, request a quote, subscribe to your newsletter … your one main goal can be any of these, but never all of them. You should be aiming to get your leads to perform one primary (and at most one secondary) action on your website.

Some call to action ideas:

Analysis Offer

Offer a free analysis or consultation with a special add-on. Wealth management and insurance companies often use these types of offers to get people to engage with them by asking people to fill out some information and then telling them if their investments are appropriate for their goals or if their type of insurance suits their lifestyle etc.

Often it is good to add on a free lunch, free coffee or some other freebie to spice up the offer. So, you can have a short form for them to fill out asking for some information and then send them the analysis results and an invitation to discuss it over lunch, your treat.

With this one, the key should be how simple the offer is and how there is no commitment on their part. The main proposition should be that they have nothing to lose and since there is no commitment, they can go back to their existing provider armed with some valuable information even if they decide not to go with you.

Discount Offer

This is the most common type of call to action. Offer a good discount or deal and add a free service or product to spice it up even more.

Some examples:

  • Get carpet cleaning in 4 rooms for $X and if you act now have one hall cleaned for free
  • Buy the software, get the training free
  • Buy 2, get 1 free (or buy a certain amount and get another specified amount free)

This is the most gimmicky sounding one, so it is better to use phrases like “Activate The Offer” rather than “act now”, “buy now”, or “schedule now” (lest you conjure up images of infomercials in people’s minds). Also, adding a 100% Price Guarantee to this offer can be good idea. Try experimenting with the offer a couple of different ways and seeing what works best. Get visitors to fill out just a minimal form and then email them the coupon so they can activate the offer.

Info Offer

This is usually the domain of software companies, consulting service providers and business-to-business service providers. It’s used a little too much and thus it’s hard to structure a really enticing version of this. Unless you operate in an area where people really need to do in-depth pre-purchase research, this might be difficult to pull off well. Basically, it consists of writing a guide, white paper or short e-book and having people download it after filling out a short form.

Rather than offering one long e-book/guide, it’s better to offer a bunch of small ones so you can keep explanations simpler and more focused for the visitors who download it. People love information in list form, so try using titles like:

  • 10 Things You Need to Know About ____
  • 7 Simple Tips to ____
  • How to _____ in 8 Simple Steps

Keep in mind your e-book guide is going to be the actual sales piece. You have to give value to the reader by making the information easy to read and ensuring that by the time they get to the end of it they consider you to be the authority in this area. Also, add on an offer or something like a coupon in the body of the e-book/guide so the reader will be interested to keep the item for future reference.

Assessment Tools

These can take the form of tests or quizzes used for assessing someone’s situation in whatever field you are in. They are underutilized, so they are a good option.

People who are searching for the best product or service to match their specific need or people who aren’t exactly sure about their situation and want help assessing their situation will usually be willing to fill out a quick quiz or survey.

For example, people who are not sure whether they need the services of a life coach might take an available quiz to see if their current situation calls for the services of a coach. They take the quiz and it’s scored based on whatever scoring system you come up with. They then receive their results via email. And, just like that, another email is collected from a lead who can be repeatedly approached. People looking for customized tips and suggestions often enjoy answering a few easy questions and won’t mind giving a few pieces of personal information to get that result.

You can develop your own surveys or tools and use services like SurveyGizmo or Google Docs free apps, or you can license professional tests from places like PsychTests for this purpose. We find that these type of tools and quizzes often create the highest conversion rate in terms of getting responses from people. Not all test or survey takers become prospects that immediately become customers or clients, but they make a great follower base, a base you can keep emailing and keep in touch with via social media while asking for referrals and facilitating word of mouth marketing. Tools like that can also help you get quality mentions and links back to your site (and, thus, they also make a good SEO tool).

The Forms

While quizzes can have several questions, it’s best to keep forms for downloading or taking advantage of offers short. Often, businesses make the mistake of asking for too much information from people, which is time consuming and makes them feel uncomfortable, leading to lower conversion rates. Don’t ask for more information than you really need to know. The ideal form length is one or two fields, and not more than three or four before they are able to download the content or get the discount or whatever it is you’re offering. Quizzes, analysis tools and assessment tools can be longer, but it’s probably best to stick to a 20 question limit and aim for below that if you can. The most important pieces of information to collect are the visitor’s name and their email address.

There are many other ways to put a Call to Action on your site depending on what you do, and how well you do it. The starting point is your company’s strengths and what you can offer and you’re limited only by your own creativity and imagination. Come up with one and test it and if it doesn’t work, try something else.

There is, in fact, a magic formula out there for what you do when it comes to calls to action, and it is your job to find it. Don’t forget that once you find it, it can become your most lucrative tool for growing your business. Nothing is easy, but the only thing you can do is to start with the first step, and like Confucius said: “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

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About Serhat Pala

Serhat Pala is the President and founder of RhinoForce and Prior to that, he ran several online retail businesses including, which, under his management, was recognized as one of the Inc. 500 fastest growing privately held companies.


Advice, Lead Generation


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