Ridiculously Effective Technique for Online Lead Generation

Ridiculously Effective Technique for Online Lead Generation

An average website has a sales conversion of 1% to 2%. So it’d be fair to say that on most sites more than 95% of visitors don’t buy anything—especially on their first visit. So instead of trying to sell them right away, we should capture leads (i.e. emails) instead.

I firmly believe that the best way to sell something is to avoid it at first. You need to let people know you first, earn their trust, and then you might try to sell to them.

Sure, this somewhat depends on the industry, but it’s true for most businesses.

The formula

This is not the focus of this article, but in a nutshell, the formula for making a tons of sales online in this:

  1. Capture emails.
  2. Build and develop relationships via regular communication.
  3. Add tons of value (way before asking for anything in return).
  4. Repeat step #3 as much as possible.
  5. Sell great products.

The technique

Nobody just wants to give you their email address. Everything in conversion rate optimization starts with an attractive value proposition, and you need to get your sign-up forms right.

That depends a lot on what you sell. As Exit Intelligence‘s CEO Matt Cimino recounted:

We had one client selling a high-end outdoor product. For them, offering a discount of 10% didn’t convert that well on a $500 purchase—it was a valuable offer, but the after-discount cost was still $450.

However, it was a product that you would use with your friends. An alternative offer of “Enter for a chance to win a package of 10 for your friends” worked far better.

Still, despite product-by-product and company-by-company variations, there’s one online lead generation technique that has produced far better results for me than anything else—tests and quizzes.

There’s something magnetic about tests and people are almost drawn to them. Some people are even willing to pay a fee in order to take a personality quiz.

I think it has to do with how people like themselves. Or maybe it’s nostalgia (thinking back to the teenage years and taking silly tests in magazines). It might be a subconscious hope to discover something magical.

Whatever the case, it works ridiculously well.

Examples of tests and quizzes

Example 1: T1Q

T1Q was a site for people who have no idea what to do with their lives. When I launched the site back in 2008, it had a typical email capture form on the site:

OneQuestion test example.

It got ~5 people per day join the list, out of ~500 daily visitors. 1% conversion rate. A couple of years later, I split tested it against an invite to take a test (both forms were on the home page):

OneQuestion test example.

The results: Now I got around 100 people per day joining the list. Overnight. That’s a huge difference (+1900%).

A later version was converting even better.

Why it works so well

Besides being a free test and having therefore innate attractiveness, it does one key thing: it solves a problem the visitors have (or to be exact, offers a promise to solve it).

Most visitors come via search and they are Googling variations of “find life purpose” or “what should I do with my life.” The keywords told me the problem they had, and this free test was built exactly to address these questions.

The lesson here is:  don’t just build a random quiz. Your business and website solve a real problem. The test should, too.

If you don’t know what problems your customers need help solving, you’re not doing it right :) Talking to users should be one of the two key activities in your business.

Tip: Make your quiz relevant to your product

I could have also built “Do women find you sexy” quiz—and I’m pretty sure it would have been popular—but it wouldn’t attract my ideal customers. So I’d end up with a bunch of useless emails.

Ideally, your test would only be attractive to people who are also the target group for your products. In T1Q’s case, it’s ebooks, courses, and coaching programs related to finding your purpose and passion.

Example 2: ShopGemstones

ShopGemstones is a gemstone information site. One of the best in the world.

Their goal: build up an email list of gem nerds (my words, not theirs). Gemstone people are often somewhat esoteric and believe in the healing properties of gems and so on.

So a test was designed to attract these people:

ShopGemstone test.

A total of 11 question, and email asked at the end:

ShopGemstone test email collection.

We did something else that was clever—we turned the test into a link building machine. Once they got their results, we showed them this among other things:

ShopGemstone widget.

Hundreds of test takers added this to the sidebar of their blog. Once one person did it, her friends saw it on her blog, took the test, and put their results onto their blogs. ShopGemstones got hundreds of links thanks to this.

Example 3: Should I Quit

This “Should I Quit My Job?” test is technically a funnel to get people to sign up to courses like Live Off My Passion.

It targets a specific user and plays on the natural curiosity (“are you one of them?”) of people.

Should I Quit? test example.

They ask for the email at the end. A score is given right away, but for the explanation you need to confirm your email (double opt-in).

Should I Quit? test example with email collection.

I’m not in a position to disclose exact figures, but I can tell you that this resulted in thousands of opt-ins and nice sales down the funnel.

Can’t build a test? Build a tool

In B2B settings, it’s more difficult to come up with a good idea for a test, but a tool could be easy (although harder to put together).

HubSpot is killing it with Website Grader. Every business owner is interested how their website is doing, how they stack up against the competition, and giving your email for useful insights seems a small price to pay.

HubSpot's Website Grader.

TweetCharts does something similar, letting you dig into Twitter data:

TweetCharts tool.

The main idea is the same: help your prospects solve a problem, and ask for their email.

Email up front or later?

There’s two ways of thinking here.

  • Ask for the email before the test. Users see the test value proposition and they want the benefits. There is no other way to get to the goodies, but to give your email. So they do it. Also, a significant amount of users do not actually complete tests—so if they don’t reach the end, you also lost their email.
  • Ask for the email at the end. Less friction up front—it’s easier to get going. At the end, you state that they will get the results by email (can reveal partial results right away), so they’re motivated to give it to you.

You have to choose which scenario is more likely to work in your case. Better yet, test it!

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Join the conversation Add your comment

  1. Hey thanks for the articles. I have been a web developer for a while now, and have always provided seo and backlinking, but am just starting to study conversion and real design. Your site has been a great resource! Thanks!

  2. What a fabulous piece of information. I was just looking for keywords for my next article and just saw this. I was fully expecting to hit the back key within seconds with a groan of “sooo predictable” – but it wasn’t and I was surprised.

    Great idea to do a quick survey – I guess my next question is how to create the results – what sort of software did you need to do that?

    Okay …. so I just read further down and see the Gravity plugin may be the answer. Will check it out.

    Great article, thanks!

  3. Wow!Not all the companies are doing this kind of strategy in their sites.Thanks for sharing this information! I agree with you,”Nobody just wants to give you their email address” that’s why you have to think of a strategy to make things happen. And having a “sign-up” form will be very effective.

  4. What a great post!
    I need to know that tool can I use for creat a quiz for wordpress?
    Can you tell me?

  5. Hi Peep!
    I was pleasantly surprised by the helpful information in your article! You definitely hit on a unique approach to increase conversions. I love the idea of a survey and you gave some neat ideas here.
    Thanks again. Off to start creating some ideas around a survey!

  6. Nice post. I struggle with getting people to sign up so I come away with this read with some great ideas on how to increase my signups to my list. Thanks for taking the time to create such a value added post it was just what I was looking for today. I only get around 30-50 people per day to each of my blogs on average and only a signup once in a while so I will read your post on how to get my signup forms right.

  7. I too love the idea you have here. This strategy will most likely yield high conversion rate. There are lot of techniques to capture leads but this one seems so unique .

  8. Hi Peep !

    I think still email marketing has a vital role in digital marketing if we do in right manner and with right content.For that, first important task is to get as many email id’s as you can.To get this number of email ids you have to make the UI of website in a such a way.A visitor should get a feel of easiness and excitement at the first moment itself , i think it will get only after a few trial and error methods and constant analysis of visitor analytics. You have given a couple of super cool methods for getting email ids by making a curious state in visitors mind i think it is pretty effective too . Anyway looking forward to read such more posts from you.


  9. Nice post.Thank you for taking the time to publish this information very useful! I’m still waiting for some interesting thoughts from your side in your next post thanks.

  10. Hi,

    I would like to know , is there any technology that provides communication right from the email itself ? Like click to call service ?

    Thanks in advance


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  12. this is so good exactly i always wanted this!!

  13. Hi there, yup this piece of writing is really nice
    and I have learned lot of things from it about blogging.


  14. Through out the years we have learned that have a powerful value proposition is the way to go. You have to ask yourself, “What’s in it for them”. The prospects need to have the ability to get something to help them solve a problem. After you get their email, then you put them on a drip campaign and the emails that they get will come directly from you. You will ask them questions, educate them and give them reasons. Build the pipeline an they will convert over time.

    See what we’ve done where we give them free leads… people like to get free stuff


    Thanks, great article.


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Ridiculously Effective Technique for Online Lead Generation