Using interactive calculators to generate more inbound leads

As a Platinum HubSpot Agency Partner we frequently write guest blog posts that are published on the HubSpot blog. This post originally appeared on The HubSpot Designers blog.

As inbound marketers, we all know the power of a whitepaper or ebook top of the funnel offer. The ability to provide unique, compelling information, accessible only via a simple sign up form is the bread and butter in an inbound marketer’s toolbox. It’s often the place where many of our client’s leads begin their journey through the buying process.

What if you could provide a web asset that was more useful to your site prospects than a document to download and read? At Kula Partners, we’ve found that interactive calculators can help your prospects learn much more about your offerings, while providing your sales team with a greater depth of understanding on the needs of your potential customers.

Interactive Cost Calculators – A more useful lead generation tool

We’ve been experimenting with interactive pricing calculators to capture additional lead data in addition to the standard contact information for our clients. Our first experiment with the calculator was for Docbraces, an orthodontist. Powered by a simple piece of JavaScript, this calculator helps the site visitor to see how much they can expect to spend on a set of braces. Interestingly, we found that the landing page for this offer converted at around 45%, compared with a much lower conversion rate for standard content offers (which varies depending on how ‘niche’ the offer is from 10-30%). Of the prospects who converted, 24% requested a consultation. The calculator converts many times more prospects into leads than any written asset on the site.

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For more complex sales opportunities that combine multiple product and service offerings at various prices, a more robust solution is required. These more complex ‘solutions finders’ offer an opportunity for marketers to gather additional lead details for the sales team. When designing a multi-form ‘solutions finder’, it’s important to remember that at its most basic form, it’s a tool that allows prospects to step through an analysis of their needs and get a recommendation at the other end.

Steps to building a calculator for your business

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The first step, as with any inbound offer, is to capture the prospect’s contact info and name. By all means, consider asking for more info, but balance it with the additional data you’ll be getting from the calculator. The important part here is that we’re going to be using the HubSpot tracking cookie to carry the prospect’s details and responses through to their profile in the contact record. Therefore, it’s essential that the landing page where this data is collected is housed in HubSpot’s COS. So, stick with HubSpot’s COS instead of passing data from WordPress to HubSpot here—it’s easier and more reliable.

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Let’s take the example of a telecom company solution finder to demonstrate how this top of funnel offer can be implemented. On the next page of the form, we collect data on the lead’s corporate telephone requirements. We ask questions such as ‘How many phone lines do you need?’ and try to ascertain if they have existing technology that will need special integration. Once the lead has completed this page, they’re presented with a business telephone recommendation, and sent on to the high speed internet section, then the mobile phone section, etc. At each stage, the data they’ve entered is submitted to custom HubSpot contact record fields so even if they don’t finish, extra data about the lead is captured. When they complete the entire form, the recommendation is presented to them on a thank you page and emailed to the lead and a sales rep.

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When building a calculator like this, the first step is to design the question and answer matrix before any code gets committed to the repository. We use JSON for this, but XML would work too. This means mapping out the possible paths the user could take through the questions with the potential answer they’ll receive at the end. It’s important to keep this relatively straightforward. Try not to add too many ‘if/then’ branches to your logic—it just makes the processing engine complicated and non-reusable. On that front, we’ve built a JavaScript-based ‘logic processor’ that gets called upon to respond to the user’s input.

The form elements should be coded within a single HTML file, which, like all of the other files for the system, is stored in the COS Design Manager. Within the HTML file, place the HubSpot form code near the footer, so that it can be executed at any time to submit the user’s selections.

Take a new approach to content

There’s no question that interactive solutions finders require at least as much research and effort to produce as a written content asset, and require a more development-oriented skill set than traditional inbound content. However, the added lead detail, and deeper engagement of the prospect in the sales process makes an interactive solutions finder an attractive top of funnel offer. Pricing calculators are really just the start too—with a creative web development team, almost anything is possible when trying to create new kinds of conversion opportunities.

To learn more about how to converting your visitors using interactive calculators, check out Jeff’s INBOUND presentation.

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