Editor's Note: We're pleased to present this guest post by Matt Ackerson, founder of Petovera. He and his company are on a mission to give growing businesses peace of mind via their 24/7 WordPress sales-funnel support service. Today he'll be sharing exactly what he recently did to ensure a steady stream of leads for his business. When I first started thinking about how to get email subscribers, I didn’t really know what was possible. Then I met a friend who was collecting 15 new email opt-ins per day. At the time, I was collecting a grand total of 0, so this sounded like a lot. “Man, how do I change that?” I wondered. Fast-forward 18 months, and my company receives an inbox full of client leads every week. Just take a look at my lead notifications:
Those new leads join a quickly growing list of 6,500+ email subscribers. How’d I get from there to here? It comes down to understanding one simple rule. But first, a little backstory. Plus, if you'd like to save this post to read later—and grab my bonus 7-point checklist on optimizing your website for lead generation using the “Every Page Rule”—click below to get both PDFs: [cta-box]
In Search of a Lead-Gen System That Runs Itself
It was the beginning of 2014 and I was spending New Year’s in Russia with friends (and a little too much vodka). While thinking about the year ahead, I decided this would be the year I would commit to creating a sales funnel for our business. Since its founding in 2010, my company, Petovera, was getting regular sales, but growth was flat. The company could only grow as fast as my team and I worked. The biggest problem? When I stopped selling to focus on another priority or project, the company stopped growing because we stopped generating leads. If you’ve ever owned or worked in a B2B service business, this may sound familiar. I somehow needed to find some leverage to get the company to the next level. Happily, I'd had the good fortune of networking with a number of smart marketers and entrepreneurs, like freelancing expert Brennan Dunn. They'd shown me that implementing a strong inbound sales funnel was my ticket. After all, we were a bootstrapped business with a small ad budget, and I knew that inbound leads would always convert the best. Studying how Brennan was building his business opened my eyes to the missing piece of my marketing equation. And it was such a simple formula for success: 1) Get traffic with truly valuable content that will help your target audience. 2) Convert that traffic into email subscribers. 3) Convert your emails, subscribers, to qualified leads and sales. That was it! So. Simple. I had tried each of these tactics individually in the past, but it wasn’t until my turning point in 2014 that I committed to implementing and linking all 3 together. With an understanding of what an end-to-end sales funnel looked like, I started at the top: creating valuable, in-depth content for our audience, like this detailed post on writing an FAQ. By mid-February, we were starting to see some good traction. Traffic had quadrupled from the end of December, and the feedback I was getting on our content from our email list was encouraging. (One of my favorite pieces of feedback from that time: “Just reading your latest blog post and had to give you some virtual high-fiving. F—ing great.” – Jordan Gal, CartHook.com.) Now that traffic was rolling in a bit, my next priority was to convert more of that traffic into email subscribers. And I did it through a little strategy I call the Every Page Rule.
Here’s what is it: you treat every page on your website like a landing page. The goal of a landing page is to convert a visitor into a lead by prompting them to fill out a form, opt in, make a small initial purchase, or take any other type of action that leads to a desirable result. So applying the Every Page Rule, that means:
- Your homepage is a landing page,
- And so is your about page.
- Your services page or individual product pages are landing pages.
- And all of your blog pages are also landing pages.
Think of each page on your site as part of a leaky ship. You need to plug every hole in order to stay afloat. That may seem like a pessimistic metaphor, but it's realistic. Bounce Exchange has estimated that 70%–96% of website visitors never return after an unsatisfactory first visit. Traffic coming into your website and then leaving your website without converting equals lost relationships . . . which equals lost customers . . . which means you're not just losing traffic, you're bleeding money. Now, we at Petovera were well aware of this when I began rethinking our website. In fact, we had helped many of our own clients double their leads. But for years, we had simply neglected to practice what we preached on our own website. It was time to take action. To fix my own leaky ship, I started with small steps.
0–2 Subscribers a Day
I figured I should start by ASKING for people’s emails. That would be simple enough. I installed this little email collection widget on our blog’s sidebar:
What now? I studied the design of our blog and began to think. Well, what if I just gave people some incentive to opt-in, like a bonus? I had a Wufoo.com account, so I cooked up a simple form for each of my blog posts and began offering checklists or bonus resources of some kind. Often, the incentive would be as simple as offering people an opportunity to download or receive a copy of the blog post to read later.
As I started embedding these forms in my weekly articles, I noticed that opt-ins increased.
2–4 Email Subscribers Per Day
At this point, I was seeing a pattern. The more reasons or opportunities for someone to opt-in, the more opt-ins we were receiving. But what else could I do to bring the number up? I took inspiration from Neil Patel’s blog. Neil had over 100,000 email subscribers and regularly invited members of his audience to copy what he was doing because it worked. Relying on his advice, I created a free 5-day course and launched a widget on the top righthand side of our blog pages to promote it:
4–6 Email Subscribers Per Day
When you work hard and you start seeing regular progress like this, it’s thrilling. I had a small but organically growing audience of readers, and I felt like the winds were at my back. I analyzed my website’s other pages. In Google Analytics, I noticed that our home page was one of the most visited pages on the entire website. But it wasn’t really doing much of anything to help us grow! “What can we do here?” I wondered. “Maybe I’ll reuse what’s already working well over on the blog.” So on the home page, I installed another email capture widget advertising our free course:
That got us a few more leads, but by this point the home page itself was feeling a little outdated. A redesign was in order. It was right around this time that I started using LeadPages®—specifically for LeadBoxes®, which I used to make the home page opt-in even more powerful. When someone clicked on the green call-to-action button on the homepage, it would show a pop-up like this:
LeadPages® started paying for itself almost instantly. Although I liked the opt-in form design, the biggest benefit was that I was now able to offer content upgrades with automated delivery to our audience, letting me focus on other ways to optimize my lead generation. To make my content offers stand out within the context of my blog articles, I started placing a yellow box in the post, like this one:
Much better. It looks like a friendly post-it note offering additional value within the blog article. Our subscriber numbers continued to climb.
10–12 Email Subscribers Per Day
With LeadPages®’ landing pages and two-step LeadBox™ opt-in forms, our visitor to email list subscriber conversion rate shot up dramatically, almost doubling. I know this because I was tracking it in a spreadsheet over time. I saw our average visitor-to-lead conversion rate go from about 2.7% to over 5%:
We were on a roll. Now I started making lots of smaller micro-optimizations to help push the number a little higher. Here’s one idea that I implemented in our blog’s byline after seeing it in a post by Videofruit's Bryan Harris on Noah Kagan's blog, OkDork:
This low-key play for leads netted us a handful of additional subscribers each week.
20+ Email Subscribers Per Day
There were 3 additional changes that pushed us over the 20 email subscriber per day mark. First, I had heard that pop-ups could be effective at promoting lead magnets to convert more site visitors into subscribers. I had held off on implementing a pop-up because . . . well, I was busy with other tactics. I was probably also a bit concerned that it might annoy people. However, knowing what I know now if I could go back in time and advise myself on this process again, I would say: start with the pop-up. I began preparing to implement the pop-up by looking at what content upgrades were performing the best in my LeadPages dashboard. I observed that our sales funnel checklist offer had one of the highest conversion rates at 48%. This content upgrade was also a good choice for a pop-up because it was relevant to the service our business offered, AND it had the highest number of opt-ins compared to all the other content upgrades I’d created. I looked at existing pop-up designs because I was pressed for time and wanted to make sure I was modeling mine after something that worked. Bounce Exchange provided a good example, so I designed a similar template to advertise the checklist and rewrote the copy. (You can publish LeadBoxes® as pop-up boxes as well.) Here’s how my first pop-up turned out:
A user would only see the pop-up as they went to leave the site, click “Yes” on the pop-up, and then see a LeadBox™ to enter her email. Within 2 days our conversion rate had risen over 40%—and it remained there.
Everyone coming to our blog was now being offered our best, most popular lead magnet–and there was little risk that they'd leave without seeing the offer. The second notable change we made was to increase the visibility of several free resources, such as a 3-part training series on sales funnels, as well as a list of our top free resources via a floating navigation bar at the top of the screen:
The third and final change was to scale the success of our pop-up and sales-funnel checklist a bit further. So, after a website redesign, we set up 5 key landing pages for each of our service branches. We added an exit pop-up advertising a checklist for each of these branches (such as a landing page design checklist) and reused the same design, just changing the copy on the pop-up. We also introduced a new site-wide footer that included a call-to-action button for the sales funnel checklist. (Also note the social proof, showing blogs and press outlets where the company had been featured. I’m confident this also contributes to the conversion rate.)
Of course, the story doesn't end there. For each subscriber that joined our list, we would survey them and put them into a personalized email funnel track according to what they most needed help with. Then, at the end of that experience, they would receive a call to action to work with us, becoming a pre-qualified lead. But that’s a story for another day.
It's Your Turn to Get More Email Subscribers
Here’s what I’d like you to do . . . Take 10 minutes right now, click through your website, and write down the areas where you can apply the Every Page Rule to help you build your email list and drive more leads. To help you take action, I’ve put together a handy 7-point checklist for implementing the Every Page Rule (it also includes a copy of this article for reference). Click below for a free download: [cta-box]