How To Turn Leads Into Customers In 2016

by Neil Patel

Last updated on July 25th, 2017

Every business wants to turn more leads into customers. As the digital marketing landscape changes, we need to be much more intentional and aware of how this process works, and how to make it better.

Unfortunately, we can no longer rely on a few flimsy metrics and a couple of quick tactics to turn leads into customers. The process is more, well, complicated.

We would all like to have a step-by-step process for turning a lead into a customer, as if it were as easy as replacing a light bulb. But something as monumental as turning leads into customers — one of the most important goals in all of digital marketing — isn’t quite that simple.

I recommend adjusting your perspective on how to turn leads into customers, and embracing the following steps.

Focus On Getting A Lead’s Attention, Not Just Gaining More Impressions

More impressions does not necessarily mean more leads. And more leads will not necessarily result in more customers.

What’s missing from the impression → lead → customer sequence is the critical ingredient of attention.

In web marketing, “An impression is a single display of a particular ad on a web page.” Impressions are important when it comes to measuring your ad spend, reach, and ROI. But they are misleading when it comes to defining the true effectiveness of your marketing.

Impressions can foster a false optimism. You see the large numbers and think, “Wow. Things are really great! My product or service must be gaining a lot of traction and doing really well!”

In reality, you’re not getting any leads to begin with. All those impressions are not converting.

results reach

Gary Vaynerchuk helps explain what’s wrong with obsessing over impressions:

The entire marketing world is obsessed with impressions. You might hear someone say, “40,000 people saw this video.” But the truth is, they didn’t. They didn’t because as soon as the ad came up in video form, they clicked away to a new tab to look at something they actually wanted to see. But they count as an impression. They count as “seeing it.”

Some marketing experts are predicting that attention will “become the new metric that matters for marketers.”

Larry Levy in Forbes demonstrates the Active Attention Index that information marketers use in order to track attention to news and social conversations. The example he uses is clean energy.

clean energy active attention index


When you’re able to gain insight into your attention analytics more than your impression analytics, you’re taking a step in the right direction.

True customer engagement must involve their attention. Otherwise, your business doesn’t even matter. For a lead to even begin the transition towards customer, they must give you both time and attention.

apptegic customer engagement


Turning leads into customers begins with truly capturing the customer’s attention. How is “attention” different from “impressions?”

It has to do with the following:

  • Intention = the desire to take action
  • Excitement = feeling emotion and intensity
  • Urgency = the desire to act now
  • Focus = thinking only about the product or service being advertised

Getting attention is tough but critical.

Your marketing efforts should pursue attention rather than just count impressions. Here’s Vaynerchuk again:

Because the truth is this: for a consumer to get excited about something, to be compelled by something, it comes down to attention. Attention, not impressions. They need to really consume it. That is the game.

Here are some other tips for capturing a customer’s attention:

  • Create curiosity
  • Use the right words — words which stir up excitement
  • Be relevant. Find out what your customers really want, and deliver
  • Be enthusiastic and even a little bit crazy. Your intensity will be contagious
  • Tighten up your unique selling proposition
  • Use videos if you’re not doing so already

When it comes right down to it, revenue equals attention. If you can secure your lead’s attention, then you have secured a customer.

customer bliss revenue attention


Track And Act On The Correct Metrics

It’s easy to become distracted by the so-called “vanity metrics” in digital marketing — pageviews, impressions, visitors, etc.

new visitors returning visitors


These numbers might give you some warm-and-fuzzies, but they won’t give you the information you need in order to improve revenue.

What are vanity metrics? TechCrunch describes them as follows:

Vanity metrics are things like registered users, downloads, and raw pageviews. They are easily manipulated and do not necessarily correlate to the numbers that really matter: active users, engagement, the cost of getting new customers, and ultimately revenues and profits. The latter are more actionable metrics.

Eric Ries has issued some of the most famous warnings against vanity metrics. His book The Lean Startup is full of sage advice on the topic.

the lean startup


Ries proposes a feedback loop in startup marketing that is built on data. Here’s what it looks like:

build measure learn

The problem is, this feedback loop can become completely screwed if we’re using the wrong metrics — vanity metrics.

In Four Hour Workweek, he describes the problem:

The only metrics that entrepreneurs should invest energy in collecting are those that help them make decisions. Unfortunately, the majority of data available in off-the-shelf analytics packages are what I call Vanity Metrics. They might make you feel good, but they don’t offer clear guidance for what to do.

The problem worsens. It’s very difficult to gain truly actionable metrics from off-the-shelf analytics programs.

As marketers, we know about being data-driven. We love our data. But do we love the right data? More importantly, are we taking the correct action based on the correct information?

That’s the question we need to ask. Otherwise, we have no real hope of ever converting customers.

If it’s revenue you’re after, you’ll need to dispense with the following vanity metrics. Sure, track ‘em, but don’t align your life according to their misleading signals.

  • Impressions (see above)
  • Traffic (including spikes)
  • Pageviews
  • Video views
  • Subscribers
  • Followers

What’s the danger in tracking these metrics? You lose sight of the most important metric of all — revenue!

curse of vanity metrics


We need metrics that truly allow us to focus on leads, and coax them through to conversions.

So, what metrics should we be taking action on?

Here are four broad metric categories you should analyze.

  • Split testing data. Most of the time, your A/B testing data doesn’t lie. I would rather see a company spend money on split testing than watch them throw away money on yet another analytics SaaS. Spit testing gets results.
  • Goal tracking in Google Analytics. Much of the easy-to-access data in Google Analytics are throwaway metrics. Goals, however, can serve up some really valuable stuff.
  • Funnel metrics. Your conversion funnel is what brings your leads into the fold of customership. For this reason, tracking numbers as your leads move through the funnel is a helpful way of determining what needs to change and how.
  • SEO keyword data. Wrapping your head around SEO isn’t that easy. But wrapping your mind around keyword data is a bit trickier. Every keyword tells a story about your leads. For example, you can find out what type of information leads want by trying to figure out the intent behind their keyword. This will give you some real actionable data that can convert more leads into customers.

It’s important to keep in mind that the exact metrics you track will vary according to the nature and type of your business.

Fizzle, for example, is an entrepreneur blog. They track these metrics.

  • Current Active Members
  • Monthly Active Revenue
  • New Members (Past 30 days)
  • Members Lost (Past 30 days)
  • Monthly Churn
  • Retention Rate
  • What Link Members Signed Up From

Why do they choose those seven metrics to track? Because they are actionable.

Here are five metric categories, taken from a KISSmetrics article, that will help to improve your lead-to-customer rate.

  1. Lifetime value — the overall value of a single customer over the period of their relationship with your business.

revenue value customers

  1. Events — determining where customers come from, and what they do before or after they visit your website.

events page views

  1. Cohorts — determining if or how your customer groups are responding over time.

users signed up

  1. Marketing attribution — assessing when and how leads turn into customers based on the number of visits and time elapsed between each visit.

acquasition visits

  1. People — gaining a sense of customer satisfaction and interaction with your product and website.

customer page views

Address Your leads’ Psychological Barriers

Leads are people — real people with real concerns, hangups, mental barriers, cognitive biases, questions, and options.

The better you get into their minds to understand these issues, the better you will help them to become customers.

This starts, of course, with developing a customer persona.

hubspot personas


When you have a customer persona carefully developed, you can go on to understand some of the more intricate details of the process that helps a lead to convert.

Going beyond is the realm of customer psychology. Learning a few smart moves can launch your lead-to-customer process to a whole new level.

In this process, I recommend a five-step framework:

  1. Know your customer
  2. Understand exactly what they need
  3. Tie this understanding to what they want
  4. Understand their fears or pain points
  5. Determine any psychological barriers to making a purchase

Here are some psychology-driven tips that will help you to improve:

  • Show your product or service in action
  • Use novelty to attract attention
  • Explain how your product or service solves a problem
  • Demonstrate how your product or service fulfills needs
  • Tell a story
  • Create a sense of anticipation
  • Generate curiosity
  • Use social proof and testimonials
  • Use the power of “new!”
  • Draw the user in with controversy
  • Create urgency
  • Use scarcity

The better you understand and apply your customer psychology knowledge, the more leads you’ll convert into customers.


Developing this article wasn’t easy. I had to break through a lot of the myths and misconceptions around turning leads into customers. There is a mistaken view that the process is easy — just move them like game pieces from point A to point B.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Such advice is ludicrous, not to mention a waste of time.

For example, here is one step-by-step process that I read:

  1. Know the goal
  2. Craft a powerful experience
  3. Know your “ABCs”
  4. Use technology
  5. Embrace the basics

Such information tells me nothing. We can do better.

We can do the following:

  • Focus on getting a lead’s attention, not just gaining more impressions
  • Track and act on the correct metrics
  • Address the leads’ psychological barriers

Is there more to it than that? Absolutely. But mastering these three components will allow you to turn more leads into customers than you ever thought possible.

What is your advice for turning leads into customers?

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Neil Patel

Neil Patel is the co-founder of Crazy Egg and Hello Bar. He helps companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP and Viacom grow their revenue.


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