After more than a decade of reviewing thousands of business software websites, I still come across too many that are missing the single most critical element to their success. In fact, I daresay the vast majority of software websites continue to miss the mark. This is a shame because it is so easy to fix and the impact is enormous.
I’m talking about a strong offer! It’s what compels a prospect to complete your form and become a lead that wants to engage with a salesperson. Examples include “Request Free Demo” or “30 Day Free Trial”.
A strong offer:
- Is displayed prominently above the fold on every page of your website.
- Comes in the form of a button, not a text link.
- Contrasts with the rest of your website. (The color stands out.)
- Contains the word “free”.
- Links to a short form where you capture the person’s name and email. (You can get everything else later.)
And you get bonus points if you place a short but great testimonial near your offer to help draw more eyes to it.
Why do so many software companies fail to do something so simple? Most software entrepreneurs and executives are not marketers. They are usually computer engineers with an idea for a new product, or sometimes salespeople who identified a market opportunity and then teamed up with an engineer. Either way, developing a high performing website is not their expertise. But what exactly is “high performing”?
Business software is more complex and much more expensive than consumer software. This means that the purchase usually requires at least some assistance from a salesperson. Therefore, a “high performing” business software website is designed to generate sales leads. That mainly happens in four ways:
- An interested prospect emails you after seeing your email address on your website.
- The prospect calls you.
- The prospect chats with you via your online chat tool.
- The prospect fills out an online form with contact details and then you respond.
These are all great ways to reach potential customers, but #4, when implemented properly, almost always outperforms the others by a long shot.
You may be thinking, “I have an online form on my website and we hardly get any leads from it.” In fact, I see this all the time at Capterra and it’s often because you link to it from a “Contact Us” or “Request More Info” link. You are missing that single most important element of your website!
When you get your strong offer in place and tie it to a short form, you will convert a high percentage of your web visitors into sales leads. It’s really that simple. Don’t be one of those software companies that gets it wrong. Now you know! Add those offers and watch web visitors start to convert to leads. Of course, this assumes that you’re attracting decent web traffic – an entirely separate topic that we’ll leave for another day.
Michael Ortner is the CEO and coFounder of Capterra, a privately held technology and online media company. Founded in 1999 with the belief that software has the power to make the world a better place by helping businesses accomplish their missions, Capterra is a Web service that helps connect buyers and sellers of business software. Over 5 million businesses use Capterra annually to find and compare virtually any kind of software ranging from CRM and Marketing Automation to Project Management and Training. More than 15,000 software companies list with Capterra, over 1,000 of which have upgraded to one of our pay-for-performance options in order to increase their exposure, drive more web traffic and generate more sales leads. In 2007 Capterra was awarded a spot on the Inc. 500 list as one of the fastest growing private companies in the United States. In 2008 it was named one of the top places to work in the Washington, DC area.
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