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“Hey, you. Yes, you. Come here. You wanna white paper? Well, I have a deal for you. All you gotta do is give me your contact info. Hey, you got nothin’ to worry about. I’ll take real good care of the information. Honest.”
I’ve been studying the landing page techniques of what I call “The Bad Boys of Conversion.” These marketers, often called “affiliate marketers” or “infopreneurs” get high conversion rates for everything from get-rich-quick systems to health supplements.
My goal is to understand how the well-tested tactics they use could be applied to more conservative business sites.
One of the most important techniques used by these marketers is “risk reversal.” Money-back guarantees are perhaps the most common form of risk reversal. Are these tactics useful for business-to-business lead generation?
Absolutely, but a different kind of risk reversal is in order.
• Business professionals are human: Business professionals respond to the same incentives that consumers do. However, consumers are risking their money, while businesspeople may be risking their reputation, and their decisions could affect their jobs. This makes business prospects more risk averse. Thus, using risk reversal strategies becomes even more important in a B2B transaction. You can significantly increase both your conversion rates and the quality of your prospect list by using some of these risk reversal strategies on your lead generation web pages.
• Remove the risk up front: Make your white paper, webinar, or video free. Before you say, “Lead generation content is always free,” keep in mind that your prospect is “paying” for the content with their contact information. To them, it isn’t exactly free, and the decision to give you their contact information is similar to the decision to spend money. Here are some ways to remove risk up front.
Don’t ask for contact information. If you have a piece of content that really nails your value and generates qualified calls give the content away. There is no risk to the prospect, and broader readership can be expected.
Removing risky fields can also lower the “cost.” Fields that increase the cost of lead generation content include address, phone and many qualifying fields. Do you need their address? Do you need to know their marketing budget, really? These risky fields can decrease your conversion rates.
Ask for only the information that you need to qualify and contact them, and eliminate all the rest. Make your forms optional. This allows the prospect to select the level of risk they are willing to accept. Completed forms will indicate better qualified prospects, prospects that already have a level of trust with your brand. Partially completed forms, less so. Empty form submissions indicate prospects that you may not want to waste time on anyway.
• Ask for opt-in, not opt-out: If you’re asking a prospect to sign up for email communication, you should explicitly ask for permission. You may feel that this is implied when someone provides their information to you, but any uncertainty increases risk. Tell the prospect can they can expect and let them opt-in by checking a box. This is an opportunity to sell your email communication.
• Allow opt-out at any time: Let prospects who are signing up for email communication know that you will be offering opportunities to opt-out of the email with each communication.
“You can unsubscribe at any time.”
• Spell it out: Transparency is a great risk reverser. Tell them on the page what will happen when they click the “Get your report” button.
“You will be taken to a page that contains a link to the report. You will also receive an email asking you to confirm your email address. We don’t tolerate spam. Based on your input, a respectful sales person may call, and this is your opportunity to ask any questions about widget use in your organization.”
This will lower your conversion rates, but should result in a better-qualified list.
You should also tell them what they won’t get. “No one will call” is a common risk reversal phrase. Of course, this limits what you can do with your house list, and you should be sure to adhere to any limitations you promise.
• Add risk and then remove it: On the scales of a decision you have risk balanced against value. If your landing page does a good job of building the value of your offer, you will find prospects more willing to take risk, and complete the form.
One great way to communicate value is by setting a price. Consider charging for your content. Then offer a money-back guarantee to reverse risk. No questions asked. Does this sound like raising the prices in a store just so the owner can run a sale? Yes it does. But our goal is to communicate value—not to boost our profit.
This strategy will reduce conversion rates, but it will deliver highly-qualified prospects. For example, charging for a product trial—a common lead generation offer—will often ultimately deliver more paying customers than a free trial, even though it reduces the number of people who try the product. Since we’re not really trying to make money on the offer, we won’t be concerned about those who request a refund just to get free content. We should all have content worth stealing.
I use a unique email address for every site I provide personal information. When I get spam, I check the address to which the email was sent, and that tells me who’s been stealing my contact information. With services such as OtherInBox, more professionals are using this technique. It’s more and more likely that you will get caught, and your brand will suffer. You don’t want to join the “bad boy” marketers, do you?