Tom Stieghorst
Tom Stieghorst

Getting leads for new business is one of the essential tasks for any travel advisor, and one of the new training sessions at this year's Cruise360 conference offered a template for creating lead-capture pages online.

A lead boils down to contact information, plus some information about the potential client's intent. It does no good to have a name and e-mail address if the person behind the data has no intention or interest in cruising, instructor Allison Carney said.

Someone who fills out a form to win a free cruise would be providing both types of information.

"Once you know something critical about their buying habits," said Carney, a Seattle-based communications consultant to nonprofits, an agent can combine it with the data to build a lead that can eventually generate revenue.

In Carney's view, a lead-capture form is a web page that has eight elements: navigation, headline, value statement, image, privacy policy, form, call to action and social proof.

Some of the components are pretty straightforward. The ideal amount of navigation, for example, is none, Carney said. In other words, a viewer shouldn't have to do any clicking other than to submit their response. A headline, and possibly a sub-headline, should be clear and concise. The privacy policy is just a security blanket for the potential lead and can often be handled with a link (an exception to the zero-click navigation rule).

Pick an image, Carney said, that is "compelling and purposeful." A page designed to get cruise leads doesn't necessarily have to have a cruising or nautical image, but it's a pretty good place to start, she said.

Crafting a value statement gets into the meat of a lead capture page. It is often a series of bullet points and it gives someone an idea of what you offer in exchange for their contact information. It should answer the question: "What am I getting?" Carney said.

In building a form for data entry, keep it simple. Three fields is enough; anything more than five is likely too many. If you ask for location information at this stage, stick with a zip code rather than the individual's home address.

"The fewer opportunities to quit, the better," Carney said.

The call-to-action should be engaging and compelling: "sign up and save" or "act now for your 15% discount," might be examples. And social proof is typically a testimonial from social media or your blog posts that provides third-party validation of your worth.

Lead-capture pages typically reside on your website, but they can live anywhere on the Internet. "It's your job to market that page," Carney said. Social media advertising, such as Facebook ads, are one way to go. "This is one of those situations where you need to spend money to make money," she said.

There are websites that help further with the process of building lead-capture pages, Carney said. GetResponse.com, LeadPages.com, Unbounce.com, MailChimp.com and Instapage.com are a few of them.

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