Three Best Ways to Convert Online Prospects Into Clients


You’ve got a killer website that potential clients are visiting. But how do you turn those visitors into paying customers?

Whether you offer a product or service, online customers can be fickle. According to Forrester Research of Cambridge, Mass., 88% of online shoppers that begin a transaction don’t complete it, a term known as “shopping cart abandonment.”

And consider this: Researchers say consumers searching for goods or services online will visit an average of four websites within a 30-minute period. This means that if visitors to your site request more information, you’ve got to follow up fast to beat your competition to the punch.

Here are three best ways to convert an online prospect into a client:

1. Reach out within seconds. Once prospects’ information is in your hands—whether they’ve submitted a form or sent an email asking for more information—the clock is ticking. These days, customers anticipate a rapid response, and the longer you wait, the more likely you are to lose their interest, says Glenn Houck, co-founder of LeadQual LLC, a Stratford, Conn., firm that helps businesses turn leads into sales. He recommends following up within seconds, not just minutes. If a business doesn’t have internal staff to monitor emails or response forms, it can hire providers of so-called “lead-management” services. For instance, for a fee of about $5 per lead, LeadQual will call prospects back within 50 seconds, as well as to follow up multiple times. Once prospects express more interest, they are put directly in touch with the business. While rapid response might not be the only factor that gets you the deal, the immediate attention can make a positive impression.

2. Follow up, again and again. There’s no need to hang up your hat just because the prospect hasn’t returned your call on the first try. Recent data released by Leads360, a provider of lead-management software in Los Angeles, indicates that repeated follow-up can lead to success. Leads360 found that making a second phone call increased the chance of making a sale by 87%. Further, the magical number of calls it took to change as many prospects as possible into clients was six. Jeff Solomon, founder and Senior Vice President of Leads360, says the six-call follow-up should take place within the first month of initially hearing from the prospect. If you want to do something other than phone calls, Mr. Solomon suggests reaching out with what he calls a “nurture email” that contains additional information, such as guides, online calculators and other tools that can help prospects better understand your interest in landing their business.

3. Get to know your prospects. Ever wonder who is coming to your site, what they are clicking on, and how they utilize it? If visitors don’t fill out a form or suggestion card, it’s possible to use analytics to determine a variety of useful information, including how the prospect found your site. Programs that track Web traffic range from Google Inc.’s free Google Analytics to ones that charge fees such as Adobe Systems Inc.’s Omniture. “Knowing how a customer acts within the site is vital,” says Shmuli Goldberg, director of marketing and communications for online-analytics provider ClickTale. For instance, you can use analytics to find out where users click most on your site, or what grabs their attention and holds it. Another key bit of info you can glean is how prospects react to your online forms, down to what they won’t fill out (incidentally, it’s often their phone number). Once you know where you are losing visitors, you can make changes to your site that eliminate superfluous information and allow for a more user-friendly browsing experience.

Write to Grace L. Williams at