User Engagement

How to Make Your Visitor Convert on the First Visit

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Conventional marketing wisdom advises patience — website visitors are usually just “kicking tires” on the first visit, but will come back again and again, and eventually convert.

Patience may be a virtue for e-commerce websites, but the data says otherwise for lead generation websites.

After analyzing more than 300,000 client and agency online sales leads, we discovered something quite startling: It turns out that 84 percent of website visitors converted on the first visit.

Why Do First-time Visitors Convert?

If that statistic doesn’t make companies get serious about website content, design and conversion optimization, what will?

The painful reality is, if a lead generation website loses the visitor on the first visit, the chances of a conversion drop precipitously. Here’s a breakdown:


There are several reasons:

  • Visitors to lead generation sites are further along in the buying cycle, and are visiting the company website not to kick tires but as a last part of the vetting process.
  • Visitors to lead generation sites have complex or unique needs, and therefore need to speak to a company representative to explain their challenges and test the company’s solutions.
  • If the number of competitors is relatively small, when visitors see a website that suggests a great fit, they are excited to move forward and not spend hours searching for a company that may not even exist.
  • A lead generation conversion (a form submission or a phone call) is not nearly as big a commitment as placing an order on an e-commerce website. With little to risk and much to gain, visitors are more apt to pull the trigger.

How to Make Your Website Convert on the First Visit

Perhaps the first and most important step to building an effective lead generation website is acknowledging that ‘lead generation’ is the website’s purpose.

Too often, the company website is a hodgepodge of content for several, non-prioritized audiences such as employees, the media, investors, current customers, and prospects.

By attempting to cater to all audiences indiscriminately, the website becomes a watered-down smattering of information that fails to attract interest and sales leads.

Once the company focuses on lead generation as the driving purpose of the website, the techniques needed to improve first-visit conversions become a mere matter of technical skill. Here are a few techniques of great importance:

> Content that persuades as well as informs

Content is your message. For a lead generation website, this message needs to be short and simple. Persuade and inform in a way that’s easy and familiar to put prospective converters at ease.


> Credibility elements that matter

Social proof (or lack of it) can make or break a qualified lead at any point in the funnel. Reduce anxiety and make every effort you can to make your service/product look authentic.


> User-friendly forms

Remember the fundamentals of online user experience – reduce effort and maximize ease – while designing your contact forms.


> Strong calls to action

Ensure that your CTAs, wherever you place them, are prominent. Keep testing their on page placement to optimize clicks.


Additional Tips

Along with the elements above, you will also need:

  • Navigation that clarifies rather than confuses
  • Images that build enthusiasm and not drain it
  • A personal dimension to the content
  • Well-executed, ongoing website testing
  • Mobile-friendly design
  • Proper placement and display of the phone number

With so much at stake — 84 percent of conversions — these techniques are of equal import. Another common pitfall that strikes lead generation web development is disproportionate emphasis — for example, creating mountains of useful content but relying on bland, stock photography.

To stack the odds in your favour, make each of these components of the website as strong as possible. By doing so, you’ll leave competitors scratching their heads about why their online lead pipeline has suddenly run dry.

Brad Shorr is Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, an Internet marketing agency that provides SEO and PPC services. His articles on marketing, sales and business strategy have appeared on leading websites including Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Moz.