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In this episode of Ecoffee with Experts, Matt Fraser spoke with Tom Shapiro, Founder and CEO of Stratabeat. To help you convert your website into a lead generation machine, Tom shares his expertise in compiling the best strategies and most useful tools. Watch now to boost conversion.
You have to have the correct brand strategy, the right messaging fit with your audience, and when you double down on it, that can have a big impact on your lead generation results.
Oh, thanks for having me, Matt. Appreciate it.
I think it will be different depending on the company’s website, marketing, and level of sophistication. But if we wanted to put it into three buckets generally. The first step is ensuring that your brand strategy and branding are the right fit for your audience. I can’t tell you how often we start talking with a company, and they want to jump right into marketing. And I tell them you can’t because your website is not there. It’s not set up for success. So yes, we could start blogging, optimizing everything, and driving tons of traffic, but that would waste a lot of money and do more damage than good. We want an amazing experience, not mediocre. And certainly not an experience where the messaging is off. So that’s one thing that many companies don’t think about when they start thinking about transforming their website into a lead generation platform. But, you need to ensure that box is checked. You have to, that’s necessary. Another is looking at audience segmentation, personas, and the customer journey. And that’s also important to ensure that you’re addressing each audience segment and providing each persona with a path to achieve what they want. And if you’re providing them with that path to achieve what they want, good luck. It’s not going to work. So the third factor is, have you thought about how to drive them to action? And there are different ways to do this. And there are different types of conversions. But you need to figure out the objectives of the site visitor, and then what are your objectives as a business? And what are that matches in terms of action they can take that’s valuable to them and you? And so conversion might be signing up for your mailing lists. Still, it also might be, watching an on-demand webinar, it might be right requesting to talk to your salespeople, or it might just be watching a bunch of videos. It’s going to be different depending on what you’re trying to get them to do. But the third factor in transforming your website is you need to have that path to action.
I think for Joe Plumber, which is different than our audience, as an agency, like what we target mid-sized companies. But for Joe Plumber, there are so many resources online today that didn’t exist 15 years ago. And so I would say it’s relatively easy to find the information. What’s difficult is there’s a lot of crap out there. That’s where I think they will need to talk to a specialist and get some advice, just some direction, because there is too much crap out there. They will not be able to tell the difference, so I think that talking with some specialists, just informally, would probably be a good first move and go in the right direction to find the resources online. But there are so many resources online, there’s so much technology at their fingertips. For instance, I think they need someone else to build their website, they do not need to build their website and get someone else to maintain it. But in terms of creating content, they can create content because they’re an expert. They are subject matter experts. And similarly, maybe you can hire a freelance editor to, you know, clean it up, polish it up a bit, but then you can do the bulk of the work, and that makes it much more affordable. And then there are plenty of younger junior-level marketers and freelancers who could help here and there, you don’t need to hire a full-time marketer. So it could be someone on a project or a monthly basis, a certain number of hours, but keeping the cost low for the plumber. So, yeah, but still getting marketing done every single month.
Yeah, so this is pretty incredible, and it’s amazing how many people don’t know about it, but it’s a game changer. Matt, this is a game changer. So, he was a psychologist, and he loved tracking vision. He loved tracking I-tracking studies. And he took a group of people in one study and showed each individual a painting. And it was the same painting for everyone, but he showed the painting to them individually in isolation. And he would meet with one of the people, and the painting would be covered. Before showing them, he would ask them questions and then show them the painting. And depending on the question he asked, they would look at a different part of the painting, and they would not look at the other parts. So let me give you an example. So if you look at the actual painting, there are people in the room and furniture. And so if he said, how old do you think the people are in the painting? You would look at their faces and ignore everything else in the painting, you would only look at the face. And if he said, what do you think their status is in society? You would look at their clothing and not at their faces. And so, depending on his question, people would consume different parts of the painting. And in other words, we would consume different content, even though the painting was the same. So think of your website. Someone, a persona, is coming to your website, and they have a very specific question going through their mind. And so they need that answered. They’re going to consume your website very differently than Persona B or Persona C because of questions going through their mind as they hit your site. So you need to know your personas so that you can define what are those specific questions going through them as they hit my website, as they hit this page, or that page on my blog. You need to know what’s going through their mind. So that you make sure that you’re answering that question, because as Yarbis proved, if you don’t answer that specific question, they’re ignoring everything else, and they’re moving on, they will abandon your page.
Yeah, I would say 30 to 60 seconds. Sixty seconds might be generous, more like 30 seconds.
It can be a gorgeous website, beautifully designed, and it doesn’t matter if you don’t answer the questions running through your mind.
I think you’re spot on. Many people, even marketers or business owners, don’t understand that a website involves a lot of psychology and persuasions. And like we’ve been talking about, you need to align that to the audience segment and the persona. And if you’re not doing that, and you’re just skipping it, you’re saying, build me a house, any house. I don’t care what it looks like, whether it’s a cottage, Victorian, or ranch. I don’t care, build me a house. It’s so stupid. If you want leads and revenue from your website, you need to treat it as this engine. Like you need a high-powered engine, we need high-precision engineering.
They told you they don’t want revenue.
So it depends on the business, industry, and audience. So it’s going to differ. So, for example, with one software client, they were marketing to developers, and the big thing in attracting them was webinars. They just enjoyed that live engagement. So, when we started with them, their baseline for attendance at these was around 50 people, and we jacked it up. We got it up to 300 at one point, but towards the end, the average was 200. It went from 50 to 200. That’s a lot of new leads. And one of the keys to doing that was coming up with a calendar, plotting it all out, and doing a nice mix of engaging topics. And then, you also want to ensure that you involve other companies and specialists in your webinar because they will attract their audience to your podcast or your webinar. So for them, that is what drove leads the most, but then for others, like look at our agency strategy, what has helped us drive a lot of leads is my books. And so, Rethink Lead Generation has been a great lead driver for us. But the software company I was telling you about, they don’t have any books, that isn’t going to be an avenue that they can explore, it’s not even an option for them. And you know, webinars are not the ticket for us, whereas, on the other hand, live events have been fantastic for us. You have to look at each company that will be different in terms of the ticket to driving leads. However, I will tell you, if you are a B2B company, there is one thing you are doing that I guarantee you you’re not doing today that will double or triple your leads. And what it is, and again, this is for B2B businesses, so businesses that sell to other businesses. Use IP detection software, which already inflates the IP addresses of your site visitors so that you can see which companies are visiting your site, which pages they visit, and exactly how long they are on each of those pages. So you see the entire navigational path. And then what that does is it reveals who’s on your site and what they’re interested in so that you can immediately, immediately conduct outreach to them. And your outreach will be contextually relevant because if they’re looking at product A, then your outreach should be talking about product A. If they’re looking at a blog post about a certain topic, you should be reaching out about that. Now here’s the thing, you don’t want to be salesy. When you do outreach, you don’t want to be creepy. And you don’t want to be salesy. You don’t want to say, Oh, I saw you on my website. What you want to say instead is, how can I help you? Hey, we’re experts in this area. I was looking through your website, and it looks like we might be a good fit. How can we be of help? Do you have any questions? And you just leave it at that. You don’t try to sell anything. So that’s the first thing that I do every single workday.
We are currently using an application called LeadFeeder. It’s excellent. We love it. And there’s another one called LeadForensics, which we love, but Lead Forensics is much more expensive. So if you’re looking for a great application, LeadFeeder might be good for you. If you’re looking for the Lamborghini, you might want to go with LeadForensics, but it’s more expensive. And then, if you want a rocket ship, there’s something called LiftCertain, which can also get you the individual’s contact information. So it’s not just the company, but the actual individual’s name, email, and phone number, but it is very expensive. So you’re going from a good product to a great product to one that’s in the stratosphere, and the budget is also in the stratosphere.
So this would not be something that, for example, Joe plumber would be able to use because one, if the plumber is trying to get consumers’ households, then you can’t use this software to identify consumers. So it’s for businesses to identify businesses. If you’re a plumbing company that services companies or Building Property Managers. That’s a big business, so then it might be worth it. Because one, it’s B2B, and two, it’s big money.
We don’t personally, but I’ve heard great things about it.
Yeah, so there are different things that you’ll want to do. One is, you’ll want to look at Marketing Automation software. So one example that might be something like Active Campaign, which is what we use, or HubSpot ActOn, Marketo. And so that’s all for automation of lead generation and nurturing. That’s very important. Another thing that you want to look to do is what we call behavioral intelligence and human intelligence. Okay, that’s doing a behavioral analysis of your site visitors. So what we do is we’ll marry that up with the IP detection software. So the IP detection software will tell us, Oh, hey, you know, IBM was on our website, or it could be anyone, ABC Company was on our website at 8 am this morning from Cincinnati or Toronto. So then we go into the behavioral intelligence software, which does not reveal the company, but we can match it up in terms of the time in the locations. Okay, at 8 am from Toronto, here it is, the visit. And then we can watch a video recording of their time on our website. We watch their visit. So you can’t see them, obviously, but you can see everything happening on their screen, what they’re clicking on, how far they’re scrolling where their cursor is. And you can see, are there any friction points? Are they getting frustrated at any point? Is it a great experience, or is it intuitive? You want to see what they’re clicking on and how far down the page they’re scrolling. For example, if most people do not scroll more than 50% down the page, your most important CTAs are below that. Guess what? That means they are not going to see your most important CTA. So you have to either reorganize the top of the page to drive more scrolling or move the CTA higher on the page. So if you use behavioral intelligence software, which does the video recordings, it provides heat mapping, clicks mapping, scrolls mapping, and pension mapping. All this fantastic analytics data on the behavioral side so that you can read the digital body language of your site visitors. It gives you the ability to convert them so much more. If you’re only relying on Google Analytics, I’m sorry, but nothing is actionable. Nothing is actionable.
So HotJar is one of those tools. We use an application called MouseFlow. It’s amazing and very useful. And then, if you’re a large enterprise, you want to look at a more powerful application, something like Decibel. So Decile does the same things, but it’s much more robust and expensive. It’s built for the enterprise, and it’s fantastic.
Yeah, so the one that we have used is VWO; vwo.com. And it does all of those things and provides many different types of analytics. It provides all of the behavioral stuff, but also, it’s fantastic on the AV testing and the young Bulgarian testing side.
VWO would be that.
No, I would think that any mid-sized company would be able to afford it.
Yeah, it depends on how you do it. If you partner with a company or research firm, said with a click Z, a forester, or a gardener, something like that. Those are expensive, but if you partner with one of them, your success rate will skyrocket. You’ll get so many more leads that way because they have credibility.
If you’re a smaller company, maybe you can partner with a smaller research firm, but having that research firm’s name on it just lends so much credit.
It depends on what you’re offering, and if it’s someone who needs their kitchen sink fixed and wants to call the plumber, they’re not interested in a white paper or an e-book or anything like that. They want a plumber. If you’re talking about a Property Management company that manages, let’s say, 60 different buildings, and they want a relationship with a plumbing company, they would probably read it. And not only read it, but they would probably read 10 of your white papers before purchasing. And so it depends on who your audience is, what they’re trying to do, and their objective, and then you marry up on a lead magnet accordingly. And like I said, with strategy, what’s been interesting is that we can offer white papers and Play Books. What that is offering a free chapter of one of our books and so it depends on who your audience is and what you have available, and what’s going to move the needle for you.
Also, you can’t look at the lead magnet in isolation. You still need to consider the entire experience to provide a holistic experience that will drive the conversion. I mean that we were hired by one company, and we went in and said we need to overall your website because it is not aligned with your audience. So we spent the first few months dealing with that, and as part of that, we said look, you have zero social proof on your website. The case studies you have stink are not impressive and don’t have any real numbers. So throw them out, we are not going to use them. So we will build new case studies for you that are business builders. They will be lead drivers. They are going to make people drool. When they read those case studies, they’ll go. That’s what I want right now. And so we did. We created fifteen to twenty case studies, and alone they get somewhere between fifteen to thousand pages per month. And that’s only the case studies.
They have nothing to do with lead magnets because we offer these case studies as social proof. But that leads to more lead magnets down the road. Why? Because as part of the marketing process, you are giving them comfort and making them aware they are in the right place. This is the right company. You are building trust. So when they see the lead magnet, they are more inclined to download it because you have already sold them. You have already sold them.
Some companies go nuts with case studies. If you visit the Right Software website, it’s a product management system.
They have over fifty case studies. You don’t have to read the case studies. Instead, you look at them and say, ” Oh my God, that is amazing. And you already trust them implicitly.
Here is the secret about case studies most companies are not aware of. It will increase your leads, if you have some customer stories, you can turn that into a hundred case studies. And at the last company I was at, I was Director of Digital Strategy at iProspect, you mentioned that in the beginning. So when I joined iProspect, I was their eighty-fifth employee. Five years later, we are over seven hundred employees. On my first day on the job, I looked around and asked for case studies, there were only three or four. There were very few. And that was very frustrating to me. So when I got into a position where I could control the case studies, I said, okay, we will create one hundred case studies this year. So I partnered with one of our strategists, she’s brilliant, and she’s awesome. So we interviewed account teams, so let’s say our client was Hewlett Packard. We would interview the account team, and then we would transcribe it. We turn that one interview into six or seven case studies because there are many stories you can tell depending on, again, this goes back to the persona. Are they more interested in a global, mobile, or solution for Latin America? Are they interested more in technology? Do they need help with technology, or is it more they need hand holding and service? So you can create six or seven case studies from every interview with an account team. If you are talking about Joe Plumber, you can still create multiple case studies based on that one project they did at a house, depending on how you want to package it up. Oh, yes, I am a specialist in plumbing for victorian houses. Here is one case study. But for that one case study, you don’t have to mention it was a victorian house. You can package it as this was a rebuild of the entire house. For another case study, same story, same house, the same customer, you can create a third case study about the problem that arose to land them in the position to call you. Like there was a leak, it was flooding the basement, and I needed to get there in thirty minutes; otherwise, the house would be destroyed. So plenty of opportunities from one story to slice and dice it and slice and dice. We call it content atomization because we are slicing and dicing into atoms. And so that’s how we win at iProspect, from having a hand full of case studies to having over one hundred all within one year of our efforts.
It certainly helped. We did many things, and that was one of them.
For one of our clients, it was very interesting. They added a contextually relevant survey to that page on the website. And you didn’t have to include your email address when you submitted the results. But they found that eighty percent of the people included their email addresses anyway. And talked about this at length. Why would people go through the survey, submit their information and opinions and put their names and email addresses when they didn’t have to? And the more we talked about it, the more we realized that people love feeling important. They love feeling significant. And part of it is they love hearing themselves because that lends to self-significance. It’s like, why do people comment on blogs? Why do people comment on social media posts? You go to LinkedIn, why do people comment all the time? A lot of it is self-validation. So you do it, and your name is out there, and you have an opinion, are participating, and are an authority. So they were getting hundreds of leads through their website without paying any money. It was all passive without money, cost, or effort. Think about that. It was all passive. But these surveys worked. And so we talked about white papers, we talked about books, we talked about webinars. We talked about all these different ways of generating leads. There is the survey as long as it’s contextually relevant to the page. Here is the problem, most companies. When they launch a survey, they don’t make it contextually relevant to one page. They will plaster it everywhere indiscriminately. And so they do one survey. It’s generic, so it doesn’t match a specific persona, and so it may speak to some people, and it may not speak to others, so it’s just random. Instead, what we do, for instance, when strategy launches a survey, we will launch over ten surveys at a time on our websites. The reason being we want them to be contextually relevant to the page. And so the only way to do that is if you have multiple surveys. So we typically will launch ten surveys at a time, putting them on different pages.
It was in the survey as the final question.
Not a requirement, it wasn’t required.
Yes, because you want it to be intuitive, quick, fast, smooth, and easy. All of those things are frictionless. The less work they have to do, the more likely they will fill it out and submit it.
And the conversions go higher because it’s so contextually relevant. For example, what is important to you if you are on a kitchen renovation page and there is a survey about kitchen renovations? What are the challenges you are faced with today? On and on, you are going to get a lot of conversions. Whereas if you say fill out our renovation survey and its generic. They don’t know if it’s about kitchens or not. But, of course, they will not spend the time trying to convert. No one works to convert on your site. So it has to be easy and intuitive.
You make it blatantly clear that it’s all about kitchens. Every link on the page is only about kitchen renovations. So if you have a lead magnet, it should be about kitchen renovations and not renovations in general, and your leads will go up. We call it page targeting and instead of setting up your website as one consolidated platform, what you are trying to do is micro-target. You are hyper-targeting page to page. It’s a very different way of building a website and a lead generation platform, but it will generate more leads for you.
It depends on what your goals are with your website. If you want leads, then you should be designing for conversion. What that means is, let’s say you have a landing page, and aesthetically a designer wants things to fit into a color pallet to all to look fantastic together. So you might have green on green because it is beautiful when they put the different shades on top of one another. The problem is that it looks beautiful, but it blends in and doesn’t stop them in their tracks and make them pay attention. And so, for instance, with the CTA, that is why it is so important to have contrasting colors. It doesn’t matter what color as long as it’s contrasting to other colors on the page. Because then it is going to jump off the page, it’s going to grab you, you are going to stop. We know how the human mind and behavior work, and everyone will pay attention to that CTA. It doesn’t mean everyone will convert, but they will notice and pay attention.
I would allow the designer to select the color rather than someone who doesn’t design. One hundred percent of the time, we want the designer to make design decisions. However, we will guide them in terms of conversion optimization and marketing. And if we receive a design from one of our designers that looks gorgeous but we realize the CTA will not be noticeable, then we will go back and ask for contrasting color and leave it up to the designer. So that containing color should be consistent with your other CTAs across the site. So you want to adhere to design principles like consistency, and that’s easy to do once you decide on a CTA color. So, for example, your site can have more than one CTA color. But you want to apply them consistently because that makes the user experience better when things are understandable and intuitive, and they have seen that before and know what it does. So they don’t have to think about it, they don’t have to relearn how to navigate your site.
It depends you have to test, and plenty of AB testing software will allow you to do that. So, for instance, one thing which we have tested for clients is to download white paper versus my whitepaper.
You must run the test yourself. Your audience does make a difference. Because with conversion optimization, you can rely on a different audience to give you instructions on how you should be attracting your audience. So test test test.
The one with my.
One thing you can do is the more specific you can often be to help with conversions. Again you have to test it because it’s not always true. Sometimes they overcomplicate things and have to read more, they have to look at it. It’s not as intuitive because they have to read it. Whereas if you learn more, everyone glances at it and knows what it means. Another thing that helps with conversion optimization is on that page where you want them to click the CTA button or where you want them to submit a form, tell them what will happen after they submit the form. And very few companies do this. But if you tell them to submit the form and not only will you get our white paper, we will also follow up with an email sequence teaching you this, and this and this, or I saw one company offering a free consultation. So if you can make it clear, this will happen next if you click the CTA button. If you do that, it can help you greatly increase your conversion rate.
So, let’s say you have defined a persona, and they come to your website. Because you know the persona, you know the pain points and how to solve the problem. So let’s say you have a conversion funnel to drive them to download a white paper. Because they are in your marketing automation system, you can nurture them, and when they are ready to buy or engage with you, then make the sale. The conversion for someone like that is how you get them from the home page to download the white paper. Or let’s say they don’t arrive on the home page but a blog post. How do you get them from there to download the white paper and hand off their email address? So it’s defining the step-by-step process, which can include the pages they need to go to and the CTAs they need to click on to go to this process. If you are using a software like MouseFlow, you can set up the conversion flow and track it to see how many of your site visitors go from this page to this page to this page to this page to this page and convert. So you can see the entire funnel where people are abandoning the funnel. If we are talking about a customer funnel, where you are driving them from wherever they may happen to be, and they realize they have a problem and you can help them, how do you get them to your site? That funnel gets them to your site, so they land on it. You need a funnel to get them to your site. So everything from understanding the purchase funnels to their customer journey. So are they at the beginning of the customer journey, in the middle, or at the end? And then make sure you have a mechanism to capture them at each phase in their customer journey. But once they land on your site, you need a website funnel that drives them; again, let’s use the white paper as an example. What is that path? What do they need to click on? First which page is next, which page is next. and which page is next to get them to download the white paper. And then, the offer funnel is on that page where you want them to download the whitepaper. But what’s the flow of that page? What is the architecture of that page? What’s the messaging on that page? What’s the CTA on that page? To optimize the conversion. People who make it to that page, you are optimizing only that page. That’s the offer funnel.
So there are two ways of doing it. One would be to create your ideal and then see what happens based on the data and optimize accordingly. You can do that, and again software like MouseFlow can help you define your funnel within your website and track it page by page. If you want to take a more database approach, you will let your audience dictate what the funnel should be. Then, you look at your analytics and see their navigational flow today, And then you say, oh, that’s interesting. So they come to the home page first, want to see our services, then see two case studies, and then go to the about us page and convert. Interesting, they sense because they want to know what we do, so they go to the services page. They want to know we are legit, so they check out some case studies. So now they are curious, who are these guys? Who are the people at this company? And so they check out the about us page. Are they local? Are they international? So they go to the about us page and then convert on the white paper. So, in that case, you are looking at this as the most proven path they are showing up.
Out of all the different navigational paths, this one converts the most. Okay, let’s focus on that path. We will define it as a funnel, and we are going to study the data and optimize it. So we will test different CTAs to get them from that step to the next. We will optimize that offer journey at the end of the funnel. So that is the exact opposite way of doing it, allowing your site visitors to dictate to you what the funnel should be.
You need to think holistically. If you want to transform your website into a lead generation engine where it is reliable and puts out leads for you consistently, then you need to think holistically. It’s not that I will blog a lot, do SEO, or do a white paper. You have seen everything we have discussed is a much more holistic endeavor. It would help if you had the correct brand strategy and messaging to fit your audience. It would be best if you defined the personas and the funnels. You must think about social proof, which many people forget, and when you double down on it, it can greatly impact your lead generation results. Even though, for instance, as we discussed, there is nothing to download there. Maybe there is no conversion event on those pages, but it can still have a massive impact on your lead generation results. I want the audience to think holistically. Lead generation is the whole thing. You can be very sophisticated about it even if they are not converting on your site as we talked about you can use IP detection software to get them to convert off your site. There are many ways to do this and have a sophisticated Lead generation engine. But it’s not doing this one thing. It is not that, it is doing everything.
So one place would be our agency website, stratabeat.com. Another would be my website which is tomshapiro.com. And if you want a conversation, you can contact me on LinkedIn. Send me a message and mention this podcast, and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Matt, thank you so much for having me on. It’s been awesome and fun.
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