Use multi-step calculators to increase conversions

I was recently approached by a company that helps German citizens save money on gas and electric bills by switching to a cheaper alternative.

The company uses a calculator to help people estimate their savings and then signs them up directly for the service (which I presume to be a dashboard of sorts).

The problem they were facing was that people would use the tool but then not register.Of course, I explained that I could audit the process and provide some recommendations.

The thing is, this is not the first time I've seen this problem. Clients have contacted me complaining of the same thing.

And every time, it boiled down to the tool being one step and asking nothing in return for calculation.

This is fine, if you are relying on organic traffic and the use of a free tool. But, if you are buying ads and sending people without capturing their email address, well... it's a waste of money.

So, how do you increase conversions using a calculator lead generator?

Multi-Step Calculators

Break up the tool into multiple steps. Start with the email address. Let people have skin in the game right away in order to use the tool you created.

Yes, this will result in some people leaving right off the bat. That's okay. If this happens too often, we can flip the flow and test one more thing. But, before we get to that, let's look at the email-first approach.

Step 1: Capture the Email

Enter the email, get access to the calculator. Simple as that.

Step 2: Ask for inputs one field at a time

But, Gene, why don't we show them a bunch of fields to save time?

We show one field at a time to increase the sensation of having spent time in the flow. If we show a few fields and all they need to do is click "Next", the user has not invested any time in the flow.

Yes, it's a bit weird, and some would say evil, but we're here to increase conversions and make more money, not to make it so easy that they leave after one click. Remember, we are spending money, this is not an organic SEO tool - in which case it might be best to serve the best user experience.

Step 3:  Halfway through step 2, we'll want to ask for additional personal information

The point of a calculator tool is to present the results, but also try to collect enough information within the flow so that the final form is not asking for too much information. This means we'll need to ask for personal information in between questions that are necessary to perform the calculation. We'll start with easy fields like Full Name.

Step 4: Prime the user

In this step, before we ask for additional information or present the calculation, we want to prime the user with a positive expectation and feeling. We do this by showing testimonials from other happy users. We can even add "social proof" in the web app itself so that it's always visible.

Priming in psychology is exposure to one stimulus to influence another. In this case, we show the user that people are happy with the service and set them up to feel positive about signing up. Remember, we want them to go through with the signup and not just perform the calculation and leave.

Step 5: Ask for additional fields

If you have any other non-sensitive fields, you can ask them after priming the user.

Step 6: Prime again with how quick/easy it is to sign up for your app or service

In this step, we simply point out that signing up takes seconds or minutes, even on mobile devices. We want to set the expectation that the service is super simple and gets results right away.

Step 7: Show a screen to indicate that the results have been calculated and that the user is going to benefit from your service.

This can be in the form of making more money, saving time, saving money — whatever it is that your app or service provides.  We tease the user that the results are positive and all they need to do to see them is to provide a few more pieces of information.

Step 8: Ask for the more sensitive information - phone number, address etc...

This step is optional and you can try flipping it by showing the actual results first. Many people will get angry if you ask for more information before showing the calculation. In many cases, they will just leave and not return.

It's up to you how you want to handle it — show the results first and ask for the final few bits of sensitive info (less likely to convert), OR ask for the info first, and then present the findings.

Both have advantages and disadvantages, so you should test that for yourself.

Step 9, the final step - make it super easy to get in

At this point, you should have enough information to create an account for the user. You can ask them to sign up with a click (or by using a social signup)

Optional but recommended: retarget the person who leaves

If you have the google pixel set up, you can retarget the user who leaves your website. By setting up an event on the calculator, you can see who engaged with it and serve them ads for your product or service.

Set up an email drip sequence

Now that you have their email (since you collected that first), you can set up a drip sequence for a classic email funnel.

Here are the sorts of things you can start sending your prospects:

  • Case studies of successful customers. Show the exact benefits gained by your other customers.
  • Personal outreach to help them get started in minutes
  • One click access to get back into your app and finish the process of signing up