In the for-profit world the metamorphosis of a first-time Web visitor into a full-fledged customer is often referred to as ‘the buyer’s journey’ (a journey that takes place through the sales funnel). Entire industries, business practices, and methodologies have emerged to help companies implement strategies for delivering those prospects to the promised land.

And as all of us know, the journey of even a thousand miles begins with the first step which, in this case, involves a simple ‘conversion’ – i.e. convincing that visitor to sign up for a newsletter, white paper, report, or some other goodie. In other words, to surrender a modicum of contact information through which future contact/nurturing can be made in exchange for a value-added service.

iStock_000015596799_SmallRemember, many visitors aren’t going to be ready to donate, join, etc., on that first visit – meaning that some nurturing will be required.

So how best to lure those early visitors onto your donor’s journey?

1. KISS – Successful websites use very simple, unique value propositions. Depending on the metrics you trust, you may have less than 10 seconds to convince a visitor to dive deeper. Take a page from the ever-popular Charity Water website.

2. Testing. Test your Call to Action, test your headlines, test your images, test your copy. Today’s Web tools make testing much, much easier, and there are lots of best practices to suggest that simple tweaks can bear lots of fruit.

3. Short Forms. Seems hard to believe that this still bears repeating, but keep those initial forms short – as in, limit your required fields to perhaps a first name, an email address, and one other piece of salient data.

4. Testimonials. Include a testimonial or two in your CTA-related copy. People love to know that others have gone before them and enjoyed what they’ve found on the other end of the experience.

5. Make it Easy. Be sure the CTA/form is easy to find and access. Instead of hiding it below the fold or link, allow visitors to sign up from the same page.

Yes, these sound simple, but you’d be surprised how many in our industry still fail at this practices. In next month’s edition we’ll talk about the next step in the ‘donor’s journey’ – nurturing/cultivating the converts.

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