Stage 2: Capturing Traffic
Updated: Oct 15, 2021
We’re now on Stage 2 of the Marketing Flow - and it’s all about capturing traffic!
As we said in the overview of the stages of marketing, capturing traffic is not about conversion.
Rather, it’s about capturing data on your leads.
What do we mean by data? Essentially anything that helps you learn more about your prospects or target audience, which you can use to improve your marketing.
What do we mean by leads? Essentially anyone who indicates interest in your brand or whatever it is you have to offer.
Capturing traffic is thus an important part of any marketing campaign. Today, we’ll take you through how to do it, how it benefits you, and even how to improve your lead capture and generation in particular.
Why Capture Traffic?
Before we go into anything else, though, it’s probably wise to go deeper into why you should capture traffic.
You see, when we introduce the Marketing Flow to business owners, a lot of them ask us if it wouldn’t be easier to just go from Driving Traffic straight to Converting Traffic. (Just as a reminder, “conversion” means making people buy something, basically.)
But that idea would take you from Stage 1 of the Marketing Flow straight to Stage 4!
And while that may seem like a nice way to speed up the process, it’s not advisable. Here are the main reasons for that:
1. You Can Increase Opportunities for Conversion
Here’s the thing: most people entering your funnel aren’t ready to buy. Average conversion rates of 1% to 2% in various industries prove that.
So, if you push possible customers into the conversion stage without trying to capture their information first, you’re likely to lose them forever if they don’t buy then and there.
And again, most of them won’t buy then and there.
That translates to around 98% to 99% of your prospects lost in a flash. Most of them won’t be coming back.
But what if you could still get some conversions out of that 98% or 99% by taking a different route with them?
That’s what the Capture Stage allows you to do: it gives you a way to stay in touch with consumers who aren’t ready to buy yet.
That’s so you can encourage them to consider conversion gradually (during the Nurture Stage, which comes after this Capture Stage) as opposed to just losing contact with them forever.
Besides giving you chances to convert more prospects, this also gives you a chance to get higher-value conversions. Studies indicate that nurtured leads buy more - their purchases are typically 47% larger when they finally convert.
2. Capturing Traffic Helps You Refine Your Marketing
In addition to helping you stay in contact with prospects, capturing traffic helps you learn more about them.
That lets you craft ever-better marketing personas (see our explanation of these in our article for Stage 1: Driving Traffic) as well as produce personalised messages for each prospect.
In other words, it helps you improve the quality of the contact you have with them.
That’s because getting more data on your audience helps you to understand what they want or need. You can use that to improve the following:
Because you’ll be able to tailor your approaches to fit your targets’ preferences, you’re more likely to get your target audience to give you their attention. That’s just what you need to nudge undecided consumers towards conversion!
How to Capture Your Traffic
Now that you know why capturing traffic is so important, you probably can’t wait to get started on it. Don’t worry, because we’ll talk you through that.
First, let’s clarify that capturing traffic is the process of turning all non-converting unknown traffic into known traffic.
Here’s a definition of those terms:
Unknown Traffic - This refers to people who landed on the site but did not provide you with identification information such as email addresses or mobile numbers.
Known Traffic - This refers to people who landed on the site and filled in a form granting you identification info, but who are still not ready to convert/purchase. Nevertheless, because you know their identification and contact info, it’s easier to move them further towards conversion, i.e. nurture them in the next stage of marketing.
In the process of turning unknown traffic into known traffic, you learn about them, as we said earlier.
Hence, this stage is about more than just grabbing people’s email addresses or mobile numbers - it’s also about knowing what they want, need, do, or like.
It’s about knowing your traffic in more ways than one.
In any case, there are many methods for capturing traffic. These range from plain lead capture forms to full-on whitepapers.
We’ll talk about the most popular of these techniques later. For now, however, let’s go over some core guidelines for deploying those techniques and capturing data from your prospects.
Basic Rules of Turning “Unknowns” into “Knowns”
First, let’s note something about turning unknown traffic into known traffic: some people call the process “conversion”, which we’ve avoided doing thus far.
It’s true that getting someone to give you their email address can be considered a conversion. After all, a conversion is basically just a consumer taking an action that you want them to take (e.g. submitting an email address).
However, it’s important to distinguish such conversions from the conversion that’s in the final stages of the marketing funnel.
If you’ve read from the start, you’ve picked up by now that we typically mean the fulfilment of your main marketing objective when we say “conversion” - like a customer purchasing a product.
That’s why we’ll avoid using “conversion” for now when referring to the process of turning unknown traffic into known traffic here. We’ll just call it “turning” one into the other so you don’t get too confused.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s take up the general concept behind capturing traffic or leads.
Basically, you offer people something in order to get their information.
You might offer them access to articles if they create accounts on your site, for example. Or a downloadable e-book if they subscribe to your mailing list.
In either case, if they take the bait, you get to capture their contact information (and more, in some cases). It’s fairly simple.
You can also think of your lead capture attempts as “hurdles”. People have to jump those hurdles by providing you the information you’re asking for. That’s in order for them to keep moving toward what they want or to get a reward.
In the first example, jumping the hurdle will give readers the ability to read articles they want to see.
In the second example, jumping the hurdle will reward people with the (presumably valuable) e-book.
There are some basic precepts to doing this. We’ll go through the most important ones now.
1. Size Hurdles in Proportion to Rewards
This is the first thing to remember when implementing lead capture techniques. Put another way, it means this: the less you’re offering prospects in exchange, the less info you should be asking for.
Let’s take an example and say that what you’re offering is access to extremely valuable data - like statistics you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else.
You’d be offering prospects a lot in exchange for information, then. That means you can ask for more than just their names and email addresses.
But if you’re only offering access to data that, while useful, can still be found from other sources if they just look hard enough, you’d have to content yourself with their names and email addresses.
In short, make sure what you’re offering is worth the trouble they’re taking and the data they’re giving you. Otherwise, it’s best to start out with as low a hurdle as possible, i.e. a “smaller ask”.
2. Build a Human Connection Where Possible
One thing you’ll see in our list of lead capture methods later is that building a connection with the customer is important.
Methods that focus on that - like demos/consults and human chat - are among the top techniques for lead capture right now, with an average lead generation figure of 68%.
This is probably because building a connection effectively also shows the consumer how you’d treat him if he became an actual customer.
It gives you a chance to show customers much you value them, in other words.
Besides, building a relationship with a consumer also makes him more likely to stay and listen to what else you have to say or show.
And as we already said before, that gives you more chances for conversion.
3. Try A/B Testing If Your Numbers Are High Enough
A/B testing is a useful method for finding out which version of a lead capture attempt works best. It refers to the process of trying one version of something (Version A), and then seeing how the results compare to the results when you try another version of the same thing with just 1 major difference (Version B).
For a really simplified example, it would be like testing whether you get more buyers if you sell blueberry jam in a jar with a red lid (Version A) or in a jar with a blue lid (Version B). Whichever version gets you more sales is obviously the one to keep!
You can do this with various lead capture attempts. You can vary your landing page designs, lead capture copy, lead capture moments, and more.
However, it’s worth noting that quantitative tests like these are only helpful if you have enough volume to give you representative samples.
That said, if you did Stage 1 of your marketing campaign properly, you should fulfil that requirement without trouble!
4. Make Trust Part of Your Toolkit
You also need to build trust with possible leads at every opportunity. That’s because lead capture is already part of the consumer’s experience of your brand - you can’t sour it!
So make sure your lead capture methods deliver on the exchange after a consumer “jumps the hurdle”, i.e. always provide the promised reward after a lead gives you data.
That already provides their first experience of how trustworthy you are, and you can keep building on that until they trust you enough to convert.
Keep in mind that you can also use trust to your advantage to fuel your lead capture. For example, use referral systems to send more traffic your way.
Then, invoke the trust these new audiences have in those who recommended you to them.
That will make them more likely to trust you and thus make it easier for you to capture their information.
5. Plan on Doing Lead Capture at Multiple Stages
This means that you should be prepared to capture info on your audience even outside of this stage of the Marketing Flow.
You see, you will naturally capture leads and audience data even beyond this stage.
You could continue to capture information on your traffic while already nurturing them (Stage 3), for instance. That would feed into the work you’re doing at that very same stage.
The more information you continue to gather, the more likely you are to convert lower-intent buyers, perhaps by using remarketing methods. All of that means more conversions in the long run.
Methods for Capturing Leads
Now that you know the fundamentals of capturing traffic, we can go over some techniques for doing it. This is not an exhaustive list, mind you - it’s just a summary of the most popular options.
1. Contact Forms
Easily the most popular technique for capturing traffic, contact forms are the standard “Drop us a line” or “Contact us” boxes that you see popping up on websites.
Do they work? Very well, actually, because they’re so straightforward. But there are some general rules to follow here.
For instance, try limiting your fields to just 3 for your forms. Several studies - including Hubspot’s - have found significant improvements in form performance when fields were brought down from higher numbers to 3.
Streamline the form’s design too, so that it’s clear from the get-go which field is for what info.
Finally, avoid using “Submit” as the call to action: consumers don’t like it, for whatever reason. It may be that it’s too generic or implies surrender (submission), but whatever the case, use other options.
2. Scheduling a Demo/Consult
This is a great way to do lead capture while also getting a chance to show off the service or product you’re selling.
It has its downsides, of course. For example, demos and consults can sometimes lead to fewer conversions, because they can give the consumer a better picture of whether or not the service or product is really for them.
But again, if you did your audience targeting right in Stage 1, this shouldn’t be such a big problem.
And demos and consults are among the best ways of quickly establishing personal relationships with potential customers. They feel valued and you get to build trust with them immediately.
Both of those things can contribute to you being able to lead them further down the funnel. They can also help you capture more info on these prospects over time. (After all, you’re no longer just a random salesperson to them after that!)
This is another great option for connecting with the consumer while getting their data. It also works for much the same reasons demos and consults do - you build a relationship while building trust.
Note that it tends to work best when an actual human conducts the chat, i.e. a customer service representative, as opposed to a chatbot.
That’s because humans still sound more… well, human! People would obviously relate to them more than to a machine.
That being said, machine learning is improving by leaps and bounds. There are now some chatbots that can be programmed to deliver responses almost as organic as actual humans’ chat replies - to the point where some consumers may have trouble telling the difference.
Whitepapers and e-books are typically used as lead capture devices by being offered as downloadables.
In other words, prospects are offered a whitepaper or e-book they’d find interesting. In exchange, they have to provide their names and contact info.
This is a fairly good ploy if you stick to whitepapers or e-books that touch on your target audience’s interests as well as your area of authority.
For example, if you’re a financial advisory company, why not offer downloadable guides to budgeting? Or if you’re an art supplies shop, why not offer e-books on things like watercolour techniques?
5. Email Newsletter
This is another good way of capturing info, both at the start (when you’re getting them to sign up for the newsletter) and afterwards (while sending them emails already).
That said, you do have to prove first that you can offer them things pertinent to their interests. You could do that with things like articles, whitepapers, and the like.
Once you do that, you can move on to asserting that you have even more that would interest them. That’s when you pitch the email newsletter to prospects and grab their contact info.
Once you’ve started sending them the emails, you can go on to capture more data. For instance, you could send them surveys in the newsletters or fun quizzes that give you more info on them.
6. Landing Pages
Landing pages are dedicated or standalone webpages that are designed as a prospect’s destination after clicking on something like an ad, a link in an email newsletter, etc.
Landing pages differ from standard webpages in that they’re always designed specifically for marketing purposes. This means they typically have only 1 objective, which is to get the visitor to take a specific action.
In the case of landing pages designed for lead capture, the action is for the visitors to fill out a form or submit information. Landing pages may provide text, visuals, and other elements that urge the visitor to take that action.
Conclusion: Preparing the Way to Nurturing Prospects
So now you have the essentials of how to capture traffic. Once you have this down, you begin to open up your options for getting through to consumers and getting more of them to convert.
Don’t be afraid to use a multifaceted approach to capturing traffic, by the way. For instance, you can pair your email newsletters with landing pages: design-focused and optimised pages where people can land after clicking on a link in your emails.
Or you can pair your landing pages with offers for e-book or resource downloads. That way, you give people added reason to go ahead and give you their info.
Whatever lead capture techniques you do use, be sure to test and refine them for best results. Believe it or not, taking the trouble to do this instead of trying to convert prospects immediately can be more cost efficient in the long run.
After all, the cost of acquisition is always higher than the cost of retention for customers. Thus, it’s only logical to try to keep what traffic and leads you now have.
In order to do that, you obviously need to stay in touch with them as well as continue gathering data on them.
By doing so, you’ll be better able to nurture them, which is Stage 3 of the Marketing Flow. Read our next article to learn how to do that. You can also subscribe if you want more useful marketing tips from us!