Are you trying to build your email lists? Once you create an offer to entice website visitors to give you their email address — a blog subscription, ebook, webinar, free trial, discount, etc. — you need to create an effective conversion path so they sign up and ultimately become paying customers. A conversion path usually consists of five elements, four of which live on your website:

  1. A call-to-action – A button or text that lets website visitors find your offer
  2. A landing page – The page that advertises your offer and includes a form
  3. A form – Website visitors fill out this form in order to receive your offer
  4. A confirmation page – Your new leads see this page after completing your form
  5. A confirmation email – Makes it easy for your leads to reference your offer any time

Neglecting any one of these elements means 1) you may lose out on signups, or 2) you’ll get lots of signups, but you won’t drive these leads along your sales funnel as quickly as you could.

First, let’s dive into the elements that drive the initial signup:

1. Call-to-action

A call-to-action (CTA) is a text or button anywhere on your website or blog that links to your landing page. Here’s an example call-to-action I created when I worked at HubSpot in order to promote free infographic templates.

Call-to-Action Example

Your CTA should:

  • Showcase the offer. Make it clear what you’re giving away.
  • Be actionable. Include a verb (e.g. “Download” or “Claim” or “Sign Up”) to elicit action.
  • Stand out. Diverge from your typical color scheme if necessary so visitors notice the CTA.
  • Be above the fold. Don’t make people scroll down to see it. An exception might be on your blog, where you might add CTAs below each post.

Place CTAs throughout your website — especially on your homepage and blog posts — to ensure that visitors who find your content via search engines or social media see the offerings you have available.

2. Landing page

Once visitors click on a CTA, they should land on… a landing page. (Intuitive, right?) Here’s one I created for HubSpot for those free infographic template:

Landing Page Example

Your landing page should include:

  1. A clear headline. Use concise copy saying what the offer is. Don’t try to be too witty or clever — just get to the point.
  2. An image of the offer. If it’s not a tangible thing, include an abstract image — text alone is boring.
  3. Clear and concise copy. Include data if it’s relevant and available, and bold key points.
  4. Include bullet points. Outline what’s included or the benefits of receiving the offer.
  5. A form. Collect visitors’ contact information in exchange for the offer.

If you’re creating a conversion path early in your sales funnel — e.g. when you encourage blog visitors to subscribe — you can combine your call-to-action and landing page. For example, here’s the popup subscription box I use on my blog (and a freebie, like a checklist or guide, would make this even more effective):

Simple Subscription Box Example

You might also have a simple blog subscription form in your sidebar or in a module above your blog posts. But if your offer requires more explanation, or if you need more information than name and email, a landing page is a great way to entice visitors to sign up.

3. Form

Your landing page should almost always include a form. Otherwise you probably won’t generate as many signups, and you’ll have no way to reach out to these visitors in the future.

The length of your form will depend on the marketing goal for the offer you’re giving away. Here are a couple factors to keep in mind:

  • Sales funnel stage: The earlier in your sales funnel, the fewer form fields you should have. This will reduce visitors’ hesitancy to sign up and increase conversions. For example, a blog subscription form might only have one field: email address. If you’re giving away something a little more substantial, like a free checklist or ebook, you might want to collect first name, last name, and email. And if you’re giving away something further down your sales funnel, like a free trial or discount, you may want to ask for more detailed information.
  • Sales team bandwidth: If you’re doing marketing for a company with a sales team, and your reps have too many leads to sift through, add more fields to your forms. This will help your reps better qualify each lead, and know which are worth calling. And yes, this is an awesome problem to have.

4. A confirmation page

Congratulations, visitors are filling out your form! After they sign up, you need to send them somewhere. Redirecting them to your homepage or refreshing the page would be a jarring experience (“Wait, did the form submission work?”). But simply replacing the form with their offer (e.g. a download link) would be a missed opportunity for you, since they’ll get the offer and leave your website right away.

Instead, create a confirmation page. Here’s one I created for those free templates at HubSpot:

Confirmation Page Example

Your confirmation page should include:

  1. The promised offer. You might decide to only share the offer via email, but there’s something to be said for providing instant gratification on the confirmation page.
  2. Social sharing buttons. Make it easy for visitors to share the offer with their friends.
  3. A follow-up offer. Ideally this will be for whatever’s next in your sales funnel (a sequel, a free trial, etc.).
  4. *OPTIONAL* Personalization. If you’re using a sophisticated CMS/CRM, you can personalize your website content based on information you know about your lead. On the thank-you page example above, the lead’s name and company name are both subtly included to make it feel like the page was built just for them.

5. Confirmation Email

Make it easy for people to reference your offer later by sending them a confirmation email. Here’s one I created for that same free template:

Confirmation Email Example

Your confirmation email should include:

  1. Personalization. Unless you only know their email address, personalize the greeting with the contact’s first name.
  2. The promised offer. Include the offer or a link to the confirmation page — wherever they can obtain what you’ve promised.
  3. The contact’s next step. You may want contacts to convert on a follow-up offer, or you may want them to email the offer to their friends. It’s up to you!
  4. Social sharing buttons. Always make it easy to share your content on social media.

Setting up a complete conversion path might seem overwhelming at first. But once you get your page templates and processes down pat, it’s worth the extra effort to drive more signups from your website, and drive those new leads further down your sales funnel. And remember: you’re not done. Now it’s time to create email marketing campaigns to keep these leads engaged and drive them down your sales funnel. But that’s another post (or five!).

Need help creating your conversion paths? Check my availability for marketing consulting.

Want to share this post? Here are ready-made tweets:

Click to tweet: How to Get More Email Signups That Become Paying Customers – http://bit.ly/1PB9Yzo by @DianaUrban #marketing #marketingtip

Click to tweet: Want more email signups on your website? See how to create an effective conversion path: http://bit.ly/1PB9Yzo

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