How to Take the Lead

How to Take the Lead

Eli Robinson appraises the various ways in which a franchise can generate a lead online

When you’re thinking about your franchise’s online lead generation, it’s easiest if you break down the pre-sale component of the process into these three steps:

* Acquire traffic
* Capture contact information
* Establish an offline relationship

One example of this process in action would be to purchase a Google Ad (1), ask the lead to fill out a lead form (2), and then call them to introduce yourself (3).
The comprehensive list of ways to acquire traffic would be innumerable, and the list of ways to establish relationships offline is limited to phone, email, and text.

Lead Forms

The most common way to capture contact information online continues to be the straight-up lead form. Enough has been written about them over the years, but here are a few different things to think about when evaluating your franchises forms today:

A) Focus On Mobile – Desktop forms are a totally mature acquisition vehicle while mobile is still nascent. When thinking about your website, focus nearly 100% of your attention on the mobile experience in order to see incremental gains in performance.

B) Lower Field Count – Every field you add to your form will decrease the number of people who fill it out. After name, e-mail, and phone number, every other field you collect is considered superfluous and leads will punish you by not submitting. You may deem that a few additional fields are necessary, but keep in mind that you’re excluding people from the process every time you add one.

C) Collect In Multiple Steps – The newest phenomenon in actually collecting information in multiple steps, as opposed to all at once. By placing an entire lead form in front of a lead, you are presenting an intimidating task that will discourage many, many people from submitting their information. By breaking the capture into multiple steps, you make the entire process more palatable for the leads, thus increasing your conversion rate.

It’s inevitable that your franchise is going to use lead forms. They are too effective a marketing vehicle to not incorporate in your process in a big way. However, they are not the only way to get visitors to submit their contact information.

Here are the other mainstream ways to capture leads:

Gated Content

While certainly not as popular today as it has been in the past decade, you still can decide to place valuable content behind a registration requirement. ‘Franchise Kits’ ‘Entrepreneur E-Books’ and ‘Discovery Webinars’ are littered across our industry’s websites to this day. And all you need to do to see them is give up your name, e-mail, and phone.

If you elect to employ these tactics, I’d encourage you to keep two different things in mind. 1) Consumers are increasingly becoming protective of their contact information so your conversion rate on these vehicles will likely go down over time. 2) Calling someone after they download an e-book is often deemed to be a ‘bait and switch’ by the leads and will lead to a negative interaction.

To make these tactics work, make sure you create excellent content that provides value to the leads. If they feel sated by your information, they’ll be more likely to listen to your pitch.

Live Chat

There is only a certain amount of information that you can communicate to visitors on your website. Attempting to answer every question that they may have in their mind would turn your online experience into an unnavigable nightmare. Live chat serves to answer any questions leads may have, while ‘trading’ them answers for contact information.

Usually seen as a call to action in the bottom right hand corner of a webpage when it’s present, you’ll often see a CTA like “Speak To An Expert” or “Ask Us A Question Now.” When the chat box opens, it asks the visitor for their contact information and the question they need answering. Assuming you have the manpower to staff the chat responses, it’s an incredibly useful tool. You get leads and leads get answers.

Phone Leads

How easy is it to find your franchise’s phone number? In the instance that the visitors don’t use live chat to get their questions answered, they may elect to pick up the phone and dial you. Phone leads have the unique feature of combining step two and three of the process. Not only are you capturing people’s phone numbers (thanks caller ID), but you’re also starting an offline relationship with the people calling in.

Text Leads

Those same phone numbers that visitors may elect to call may also be used to entice them to text in their inquiries. Compared to live chat and phone leads, the follow-up process is more difficult as the communication is asynchronous and establishing a relationship can be a bit more onerous for the franchise. That being said, texting has become the U.S.’s primary form of interpersonal communication so it’s likely you can get more people to text your business than call it.

Social Media

Finally, many of the major social media networks are spending time on their own communication platforms. Whether it be Google (Allo), Facebook (Messenger), LinkedIn (Messaging), or any other major ones, they are in a race to become your franchise’s de facto lead generation tool. Both inbound and outbound, there are opportunities to connect with visitors on their platforms and recreate your website’s experience in other places.

The secret to success in this endeavor is testing and continuous improvement. Keep trying new things! The online world is ever-evolving, and you’d be shocked at what will work for your franchise.


Eli Robinson is the COO of Metric Collective, a technology holding company focused on helping franchises with their online marketing challenges. Previously, he has served as the leader of both FranchiseHelp, a leading source for finding new franchisees online, and FranFunnel, a SaaS platform designed to help start conversations with leads and

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