The Secrets to Growing Your Website’s Leads, Calls & Sales: The Basic Rules of Website Conversion


The good news about website lead generation is that there really are just a few basic rules of conversion that you need to remember when you evaluate your website’s ability to maximize sellable leads from your existing website traffic.

Rule #1: Stay Above The Fold

This rule originates from the concept that visitors cannot and/or will not submit leads if they never see your call-to-action or your lead form. This means you need these to be visible; and, for most websites, this means you need to keep all of your conversion opportunities “above the fold.”

The saying “above the fold” is a holdover from traditional print newspapers. The idea was that important news should be presented on the top half of a paper; more specifically, above where the paper was folded, not below it.

For your website, above the fold means everything visitors can see without having to scroll. Those who subscribe to this rule understand that the stuff at the top of your homepage (i.e., above the fold) gets viewed a whole lot more than the stuff at the bottom.

A recent Nielson Norman Group study found that traditional website visitors spent about 80% of their browsing time above the fold and less than 20% below it. Consumers have limited attention spans for long pages, so keeping what’s important to you above the fold ensures the greatest visibility.

For most pages, requiring the visitor to do a bit of scrolling is fine, but your website must make it crystal clear that your page promotes scrolling. (There are plenty of dealer websites today that are built to look really cool, but in the process of designing something focused on the “form” many website providers forgot about the “function;” and they eliminated the scroll bars from appearing on your pages – as if scroll bars were somehow objectionable to your visitors).

Rule #2: Page Location Matters

Beyond just making sure that your conversion opportunities are presented above the fold, you’ll also want to be sure that they’re displayed where even the casual visitor will notice them. For the most part, this means the top left side your webpages.

When redesigning your site, adding parasites or just working to improve your conversion rates, think left then right. According to the Nielson Norman Group, visitors spend 69% of their time on the left side of the average webpage. This does not mean you should avoid conversion opportunities on the right side of your webpages; though when you have a choice of where to place your most important calls-to-action, you should place these on the left.

Rule #3: What They See Is What They Buy

This rule is most important to remember when you’re working with your parasites. For example, when you’re setting up specials pages, deciding which offer to include on your pop-up, or developing the creative for any floating coupons, sliders or other attention getters (like Instant Retargeting), you’ll want to remember that what the visitor sees is what the visitor buys.

When your website visitors are in a hurry or pressed for time (as they might be on your mobile site) they’re more likely to interact with visual content. This means your buttons and forms should include product images (or even icons) as these will generate greater interaction leading to more conversions for you. Additionally, images can begin to create a sense of ownership in the prospect; so keep this in mind when placing your calls-to-action: that is, what they see is what they buy.

Rule #4: Avoid Calls-to-Action that Resemble Ads

Most every website visitor has learned to avoid looking at typical online ads and anything that resembles an ad. For your website, this means your calls-to-action shouldn’t look like the “cool banner ad” that we see at the top of every website we visit. If it does, then consumers will instinctively avoid looking at it.

Rule #5: Carousels Don’t Convert

That rotating header your OEM requires you to have on your dealership’s homepage may look fancy, but I can guarantee that it almost never converts. In fact, the typical rotating carousel on any website rarely even gets any clicks.

Certainly, most dealers included the carousel header because either (A) Their OEM demands it; and/or (B) They want to ensure every department is represented on the homepage so they give one slide position to each. Whatever the reason, it’s important to understand that you’re giving up the most important real estate on your website to a widget that rarely (if ever) converts.

Yes, your service manager wants his slide; the parts manager wants his slide; and so on until you’ve got a full carousel with five or six rotating images. The problem is that typical visitors think these are ads and, as we learned in Rule #4, they avoid them. They develop what’s called “banner blindness” and they don’t even look at rotating headers.

Rule #6: Color & Contrast First; Message Second

Basically, this rule implies that it’s important to first get the visitors attention, and then present them with your message. In other words, you can have the greatest call-to-action message ever, but if a visitor never notices your conversion button, they’ll never get a chance to covert. So, when you’re building a conversion button or link, make sure that the color and contrast both garners attention and works with your site’s design.

To ensure the color, contrast and message changes you made to your site actually help drive additional conversions, it’s important to test and measure their effectiveness. We’ll tackle conversion measurements and more in our next post: Website Conversion Metrics That Matter

(If you’re catching this series for the first time, you may want to begin with the first post in the series: Before You Change Even One Word on Your Website…)

About TheManager:

Steve Stauning, creator of The Appointment Culture and an expert in Digital Marketing and Website Conversion. He is also an extremely popular keynote speaker, writer, and industry consultant. Learn more about Steve at