Jake Zahnow, president of Windowpro, in Cleveland, wasn't happy with his company's website, launched at the beginning of 2009. “It wasn't producing the results we were looking for, and we thought the navigation was difficult,” Zahnow says. Enter Jesse Cory, of Ohm Creative Group, in Detroit, who redesigned Windowpro's site so that navigation is simple and the home page features calls to action that appeal to consumers at every stage of the buying cycle.

Cory, and experts such as George Faerber, owner of online marketing firm BringMeMyLeads, say that two factors cause visitors to “stick” to your site and convert. The first is the extent to which the visitors were conditioned before they got to the site. “[Many] people in our industry are looking at the site as a standalone from their brand, something separate from their offline efforts,” Faerber says. “You have to look at them together.”

The other factor is how consumers are engaged when they get to the site. For Cory, critical elements include professionalism, navigation, and calls to action. Windowpro's site, Windowpro.com, features no less than four calls to action, prominently placed, including a sale (“Click here to view our current offer”), a Free Estimate offer, a sweepstakes, and a window and door buying guide. Since putting these front and center, Zahnow says conversions have steadily climbed.

SOMEONE I CAN TRUST Faerber says that visitors to home improvement websites are actively looking for “someone they can trust who can give them lots of information and help them in their decision-making process.”

Some things to consider if you want more conversions:

  • Video is more apt to get visitors' attention than text and, Cory says, increases the time that people spend on a site. “People are overwhelmed by reading all that content and they're more adapted to watching video to get information.” Professional-quality video — customer testimonials, installations, and owner introductions — makes a difference.
  • If you want your site to be a major lead source, invest in it like you would in other media. “If you're spending 2% of your marketing budget online,” Faerber says, “don't be surprised if you're not dominant online.”
  • Put calls to action front and center, and make sure your site can be easily altered so you can test what's converting and what isn't. For instance, Faerber's window company, Bee Window, in Indiana, replaced the headline “Schedule an Appointment” with “Get a Price” and beta tested it. The conversion rate immediately shot up, and the site was duly altered.