Converting Web traffic to leads is something of a science, experts say. A lot depends on your market, your products, demand for the product, and the time of year. For instance, visitors to roofing company websites — as with sites for plumbers or HVAC contractors — often convert to leads at a higher rate; 10%-plus is the benchmark. That’s because homeowners looking for a roofing contractor aren’t casually looking. With a roof leak or storm damage, homeowners often need a contractor right away. With windows or siding, let alone products such as basement finishing, bath liners, or a full-service remodeling job, conversions might be more along the lines of 1%, maybe 2%, if that.

“You’d love to have conversions in the 3% range,” says marketing consultant Dennis Schaefer. But it takes a concerted effort to get prospects engaged. What will engage them is lots of information about their problem and how your company will solve it.

Layered Approach

Chris Behan of Socius Marketing, an Internet marketing company with several hundred home improvement customers, says it’s important to take a “layered approach.” Have a strategy to address as many visitors as you can coming onto the site, he says, wherever they happen to be in the buying cycle. Give them information in exchange for their contact information, or at least get an email address that you can use to soft-market via newsletters and email offers.

Another way to engage is contests and giveaways. But Behan cautions that visitors won’t bother unless they know there’s an actual chance to get whatever it is you’re giving away. So spell out how often drawings are held, and promote past winners. (For example, see this contest page that Socious Marketing organized on the website of American Home Design, in Nashville, Tenn.)

Different Avenues

The quantity and quality of leads from your site will depend on how you ask customers to connect. Multiple points of entry allow you to capture the contact information of many more site visitors, provided they’re really interested in what you’re selling. Besides contests and giveaways, Behan suggests:

Free consultations: Rather than “Request a Free Consultation” — a conversation killer when it comes to creating an appointment — because homeowners are often wary of inviting you into their home — say “Get a Price.” Then call to set the appointment.

Online financing approval: The prospect provides the information, and your office determines if they qualify for financing. This overcomes the fear that they may not be able to swing a loan to get the job financed.

Easy payment plans: It may be impossible for most people to imagine writing a check for $30,000, but it’s not hard to see filling out a check for $49 a month.

Current promotions: On your site, feature whatever specials or offers you’re making in a carefully limited time frame. Not every company wants a flood of nebulous leads from its website. “If you have 10 salespeople out there, you have to feed them leads,” Shaefer says. “If it’s just you and one other guy selling, you want to make sure that the quality of those leads is strong because you’re wearing other hats.”

—Jim Cory is editor of REPLACEMENT CONTRACTOR.