Right now, the majority of businesses more than ever have their hands full dealing with the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Between developing plans to safely reopen while meeting all local safety requirements to sorting out the financial damage the pandemic has wrought, there's no shortage of things to worry about. But out of everything they have to do, there's no doubt that the most important task is finding a way to drive enough sales to remain afloat despite the challenges they face – and succeeding can mean the difference between making their weekly payroll or being forced to close up for good.
But, driving sales means finding ways to turn leads into customers. And for service-based businesses, making that happen isn't always easy. That's because they don't have a tangible product to promote, no showroom to generate interest, and few concrete ways to prove their credentials upfront. For that reason, many focus their digital strategies on mass traffic generation in the hopes that getting as much attention as possible will yield greater sales.
But the vast majority of the traffic those efforts generate will fail to turn into qualified leads. It happens because most service businesses all but ignore the final and most critical part of the lead generation process: lead capture. It's the part of the process when the visitor provides their contact information and actually turns into a lead. And increasing their lead capture rate will lead to greater sales, so focusing on that tends to deliver a much better ROI. To help, here are four simple steps for service businesses to increase their lead capture rate:
Step 1: Improve existing traffic quality
One of the most important – and most often overlooked – ways to increase a service business' lead capture rate is to make additional efforts to improve the quality of the traffic that their marketing efforts already produce. High-quality traffic consists of visitors that have a genuine interest in the business and what it has to offer – if not an explicit intent to make a purchase. Making sure that each new visitor falls into that category is a prerequisite to increasing your lead capture rate.
Failure to address traffic quality problems first and foremost will all but guarantee that the steps that follow won't be as effective as they should be. For service businesses, a great way to improve traffic quality is to work hard to generate as many positive online reviews as possible. This helps to overcome the lack of a tangible product by giving potential visitors a reason to believe that the service on offer is worth looking into. Also, service businesses should:
Get involved in industry forums where customers and competitors congregate
- Maintain a useful and relevant blog containing information centered on the business' areas of focus
- Comment on the blog posts of other industry thought leaders
- Make sure all digital ad campaigns target high-intent keywords
The above efforts will pay off in a baseline of high-quality traffic that should be more receptive to the business' lead capture efforts.
Step 2: Deploy an outreach marketing campaign
Although a service business can rely on passive quality traffic generation strategies like the ones covered above, they should also augment them with a more active campaign if they want to improve their lead capture rate. And for service businesses, outreach marketing is by far the most effective method to utilize.
It involves making deliberate connections with influential people within the business' specific industry to try to earn some brand mentions in high-value publications and forums. The trouble with such strategies is that they often take time and a great deal of effort to pay off – so they're not high on business owners' list of ways to spend their time.
Today, however, it's possible to kickstart an outreach marketing effort by turning to an influencer marketing platform that can help connect the business to individuals that can help promote their brand. Although it's not free to engage their services, doing things this way offers a useful paid shortcut for business owners who don't have the time to do all of the relationship-building legwork it takes to succeed organically. And in an environment where every additional sale makes a very real bottom-line difference, any advantage is more than worth pursuing.
Step 3: Fine-tune landing pages
Driving high-quality traffic to a website is crucial, but it only represents the halfway point on the road to successful lead captures. After all, if visitors don't have a crystal-clear idea of what it is they're expected to do when they arrive, all of the effort it took to get them there is for naught. That's why the next step in the drive to improve lead capture rates is to fine-tune the landing pages visitors see when they first arrive on-site.
One thing to keep in mind: if a web page takes longer than 3 seconds to load, 25%+ of users will click away and never come back. Page speed is a must for UX and conversion rates, so if you’re on Wordpress, a fast loading theme is important.
The desirable action is for the visitor to provide their contact information so that the business can reach out with offers and additional marketing materials to encourage a sale. And, if the first two steps have worked well, the majority of visitors should arrive already primed to take action. But that doesn't mean they'll spend more than a moment looking for how to connect with the business.
For that reason, the direct approach is typically best. Although the specifics will vary from business to business, a high-performance service business lead capture landing page should include:
- A specific and direct statement of the value proposition the business offers
- Customer testimonials to lend credibility to the value statement
- A call-to-action that asks the visitor to provide their information to learn more
Of course, it's best to put any and all potential landing page designs through their paces with thorough A/B testing before committing to anything. There's no telling which slight variation will increase your lead capture rate, and every little improvement means more potential for sales – and that's the overall goal of this entire exercise.
Step 4: Capture the stragglers
Sometimes, no matter how much effort has gone into getting quality visitors to follow through on your lead capture process, there will always be some that won't immediately take action. That doesn't mean, however, that they're a lost cause. That's why service businesses need to build in some additional lead capture elements into their web properties beyond the landing page pitch.
Elements like AI-powered chatbots and exit pages provide additional opportunities to convert a visitor to a new lead before they leave the site. And there are now countless ways to leverage automation to improve lead capture results, many of which can react to specific visitor behavior to provide the exact right nudge they need to convert. They're all low-risk, high-reward ways to improve a service business' lead capture rate. And even if all of the extra efforts manage to recapture only a small fraction of those who previously would have slipped through the cracks, then it would still be worth it.
Capture and convert
Following these four simple steps should go a long way toward helping the average service-based business gather enough qualified leads to keep their salespeople busy and thriving. That's because, taken together, they will have improved the overall quality of the leads that end up in the sales pipeline, to begin with.
Those who end up captured as leads will have arrived because they had a strong interest in the business' services, a positive impression of the business itself, and will have taken an affirmative step to learn more. In other words, they're already primed to commit to a purchase, all because the methods that led them there were sound. And if that's not a recipe for service business success, then nothing is!