Today’s B2B decision-makers aren’t the same as they were 10 years ago, even five years ago. Instead, they’re millennials and other digital natives who are used to searching and researching everything online.
They can seamlessly switch from looking for a new bicycle for their child to researching advanced IT for their organization – all on the same mobile phone. More than that, they might purchase that bike online for a few hundred dollars, then expect to purchase that new technology stack for tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, or more, via a similar self-service e-Commerce platform.
Or they might want to research a new business solution for months on their own before they hear from your sales team, but still expect a customer experience that’s highly personalized to them with relevant information at each stage of their customer journey.
Regardless, B2B customers now demand a digital experience that more closely resembles their B2C experience. Afterall, you don’t cease to be a person when you’re at work. Yet, while your enterprise-level customers might expect a more B2C online experience, their buying journey and the risk factors involved are vastly different than when they are that consumer shopping for a present for their son or daughter. However, a wrong purchase decision for your company could mean the difference between millions of dollars in profit or loss.
And yet, most B2B websites are behind. They drive most visitors towards a sales call or other non-digital interaction with sales. To provide the website experiences enterprise customers crave, you need to go beyond a basic understanding of website design and employ more advanced tactics. So, what does that involve?
Research and data are behind landing page optimization techniques that get more leads
We repeatedly drive home the fact that research is the source for the fuel that feeds your marketing engine. What’s the fuel, you ask? Data, of course. And lots of it. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that advanced techniques like conversion rate optimization (CRO) involve using data and testing to continually improve your website’s ability to convert visitors into leads or leads into customers. But before we go into the step-by-step process required to evolve your website from basic to advanced, let’s look closer at conversion rate optimization and how to create landing pages that convert visitors into leads, and leads into customers.
What is conversion rate optimization?
Conversion rate optimization or CRO involves improving content, in this case website content such as webpages and related landing pages to ensure that visitors to the content complete a desired action. Many people assume the word “conversion” always means completes a purchase or becomes a customer. And while those are examples of common desired actions, conversion actions can also be the following:
- Subscribing to a newsletter
- Downloading a piece of gated content to become a lead
- Contacting your sales team to sign up for a demo or free trial
Your organization’s specific conversion goal or goals will differ depending on multiple factors, including your industry, your target audience and which portions of the buyer’s journey a prospect is at.
How to determine your conversion rate
Not everyone who visits a page on your website needs to become a lead or a customer. Some visitors might land there by accident. Others might be a student, journalist or content writer performing research. Still, you must have a way to determine if your landing page is working and be able to make improvements if it’s not. That’s where conversion rate comes in. It’s calculated based on the percentage of landing page visitors who take the action you wanted them to take. To calculate it, use the following formula:
For example: If one of your company’s products is diesel fuel for semi-trucks and similar vehicle fleets and 100 people visit a website landing page and 10 of those visitors sign up to receive a presentation from your sales team, then the conversion rate on that page is 10%. 10 demo signups/100 landing page visitors = 10%.
To increase your conversion rate, you can make minor changes to key elements on a landing page, or even reduce prices or give away product. However, focusing too much on conversion rate can be a trap. That’s because the goal of CRO isn’t increased conversions, it’s increased revenue. In other words, if all those sales contacts aren’t generating sales and increasing returns on your investment (ROI), then none of it matters. So, what does matter when it comes to basic CRO?
How to design your website so it’s conversion-focused
When a website looks amazing and everyone from the marketing team to the CEO thinks the copy reads better than their favorite book or newspaper, the entire company cheers. That’s great but getting your site’s landing pages to convert and improve the bottom line, doesn’t mean looking great. Your website should look good, but its main goal should be converting visitors into leads so your sales team can convert a percentage of those leads into customers. Here’s a quick rundown of what to do instead:
- Image captions: Don’t omit this key step. It’s not necessary to use captions to describe images. Instead, include relevant information that helps persuade your visitors, such as a helpful statistic or similar proof point.
- Directional cues: Images do more than illustrating key information. They can also influence site visitors to look at a specific part of the page. For example, if a user sees an image of a person looking to the left, that user’s eye will naturally be drawn to the left of the webpage. Place a clickable call to action (CTA) button on your landing page where it looks like the same person is pointing at the button and discover what happens.
- CTA buttons: Avoid making your call to action a linked sentence, phrase or image. Instead, make them clickable buttons. People have become trained to recognize CTA buttons online. If your CTAs don’t look like what customers expect, they may not click them.
- Action colors: There’s much debate amongst CRO experts on CTA button color. And there’s not clear answer on whether your buttons need to be red, blue or green. But what is clear is that it must be in a high contrast color that stands out on your website and associated landing pages; and that it should be the color that your visitors click the most. So, if red works better for your site, try red buttons. If blue performs better, then blue, and so on. Bonus tip: If you’re using a landing page to offer both a downloadable asset like an eBook and to ask customers to sign up for a sales demo, then use two different button colors.
- Forms: It’s tempting to try to collect as much data as possible from visitors who fill out a lead form. However, shorter forms are better and only ask for what’s absolutely necessary. For example, you don’t need more than a name and email if someone is signing up to receive your email newsletter.
- Options: The more actions you ask your webpage visitors to take, the more anxious and confused they can become. Don’t include too many choices or things they need to do in order to complete a conversion. If you’re tempted to have CTA buttons that each involve a different conversion path, you risk overwhelming potential leads. Consider no more than two CTAs per landing page. And if they must complete multiple steps, then add a progress bar so they know how many steps to expect and when they’re done.
Landing page optimization techniques that help increase conversions and drive revenue
In the previous section, we went over the visual elements of your webpages and how to optimize them to create customer experiences that get more leads and sales. In this section, we’ll talk about content and landing page copy because it’s important. Some of these tips might sound contradictory, but they’re not. That’s because with CRO, research, testing and data are the foundation of everything. What works for one audience or campaign might not for another. And what was converting well last week might stop working as well today. Let’s dive into the actions your marketing team needs to test to create high-converting landing pages.
- Test benefit-oriented CTAs: Try replacing action-oriented or vague CTAs with those that focus on what the visitor will get for clicking. For example, instead of “Buy,” or “Click Here,” test CTA button text like, “Start My Free Trial,” or “Get More Information.”
- Test action-oriented CTAs: While a vague CTA usually won’t work, you might find that just telling webpage visitors what to do works better than telling them what they’ll get. So, try using commanding language for CTAs like “Download Now,” “Sign Up,” or “Read the Book.” The important thing is to use the button copy that’s the most successful.
- Use specific headlines: Vague headlines won’t help your target customers understand that what you’re selling is the solution they need. That’s why to get more leads and turn more of them into a sale, make your headlines specific. Your landing page headlines should convey clearly what your product or service does.
- List the benefit in your headline: Your website headlines aren’t there to tell visitors how great your company is. Instead, the headline should communicate what your customer gets out of using your product or service – how it benefits them.
- Focus on actions, not facts: Action-oriented copy works better than passive, fact-based copy. Think show, don’t tell. And don’t make the headline all about you. Instead, tell people the result they get from using your product or service.
- Avoid complex language: Landing pages and other online content should be written in plain language that’s more conversational than formal or academic. The content should be easy for people to understand regardless of their level of technical or professional industry knowledge.
- Break up blocks of text: People don’t consume online content in the same way they do printed text. Users tend to scan or skim digital content. Landing pages with long paragraphs or large text blocks can overwhelm visitors. They won’t be able to quickly see what it’s about or if it’s relevant to them. The solution is to replace blocks of text with bullets and numbered lists.
- Use experts and customers as social proof: Expert social proof can be more persuasive than a statistic or anything a copywriter can create. Leverage client and partner logos, expert quotes, customer testimonials and industry awards.
These tips are just several things you can do to create successful website pages that improve your lead gen efforts and convert more leads into sales. The important thing is to tell the entire story in your headlines. Anyone who visits one of your landing pages should be able to scan the headlines and CTAs and glean the following:
- What you’re offering
- How it benefits them
- That they want or need the offer
- How to get or access the offer
Remember, what works for another company might not work for yours. Even the suggested best practices above should be tested and retested to see if they get better results out of your website’s landing pages.
Now that we’ve gone over the basics of website CRO, let’s examine how to use more advanced techniques to further improve your landing pages.
Leverage research to understand the needs and behaviors of your target customers
Research and experimentation don’t ever stop for marketers. It’s a constant process. A campaign or individual campaign asset that performed well last week may stop working. But how would you know if the content just needs a quick refresh or whether you need to start over completely? Useful tools that can provide key insights into how customers interact with your website and what might be causing them to not complete a conversion action include:
- Heat maps
- User testing (e/g., A/B testing; see below)
Identify your website key performance indicators (KPIs)
KPIs help you identify what’s working and what isn’t on your website and related landing pages. Examples of metrics to track to improve website landing page conversion rates include number of website visits, form submissions, content downloads, CTA button clicks, phone calls, chatbot interactions, etc.
Use A/B testing, multivariate testing and heatmaps to evaluate changes to your website landing pages
Whether you’re testing one website variable (A/B testing) or multiple elements at the same time (multivariate testing), testing is critical for optimizing every content asset, including your website. Moreover, assessing your site’s landing pages isn’t a one-and-done activity. It’s a continuous activity and especially crucial anytime your organization changes the layout, copy, images, calls-to-action (CTAs), etc., on your website.
Tools like Optimizely and Google Optimize allow you to test different variations of your website. With the right martech, you can evaluate different headlines, images, CTAs, etc., and determine which versions are the most effective at converting website visitors to leads or sales.
Another way to improve website conversions is to use heatmaps. A heatmap is a color-coded graphical representation of data. There are multiple types of heatmaps, but the most common variation is used to analyze visitor behavior on webpages and landing page templates. Optimizely, Hotjar and Crazy Egg are just a few examples of tools that employ heatmaps to help you identify which website elements need improvement, e.g., CTAs that might not be getting results.
Use what you discover from your tests to make improvements and eliminate what isn’t working. Then test those changes. Your research and site evaluation never ends. It’s as true for CRO as it is for search engine optimization (SEO). Effective website optimization requires near constant data analysis and review. Your landing pages are never “finished.”
Employ marketing technology to improve and personalize the B2B website customer experience
Marketing technology, or martech for short, is a valuable tool that can play a role in raising your website conversions and CRO. The amount of data involved in digital marketing is enormous. It would take your entire marketing team far too long to sift through all of it, pull out what’s relevant and then leverage that to develop, test and optimize your website. By the time they were finished, their conclusions would be outdated. Moreover, prospects could have moved on to competitors.
Of course, no marketer would ever do the above. Yet, to save time, some might be tempted to use gut instincts instead of a data-based approach. CRO doesn’t work with guesswork and intuition. But, there’s a better way – marketing technology, more commonly known as martech. So how does it help?
Incorporate personalization into your website to deliver audience and even individualized content and customer experiences to landing page visitors. Next, send targeted messages and offers to site visitors based on their behavior and engagement with your website. Even the most basic level of personalization requires data. To create audience-specific experiences, use data from your CRM and marketing automation tools. Taking your personalization efforts to an advanced level requires even more data and cutting-edge technology. Providing individual content and website experiences involves martech that incorporates the latest developments in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
To achieve personalization at the level most customers expect, including enterprise customers, requires a lot of data and content. For B2B marketing, particularly account-based marketing (ABM), personalization is a pillar component. Plus, to provide highly personalized content to each audience segment, let alone on an individual customer level, is extremely difficult to downright impossible to achieve at scale without the help of marketing automation. Yet, these days personalization is a must-have tactic and invaluable for increasing leads, conversions and sales. Marketo, Salesforce Pardot and Hubspot are all examples of martech that help companies personalize content and distribute targeted messages by audience to increase leads and get more customers.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Martech solutions that use AI and machine learning provide a level of personalization and website customer experience that isn’t possible without them. These technologies help companies segment an audience down to the individual and then provide messaging, content and a customer experience that’s unique to an individual buyer.
Moreover, many of the tools we mentioned above deploy some form of artificial intelligence, some more sophisticated than others. For example, Salesforce Marketing Cloud uses AI to help clients provide real-time personalized customer experiences and customer engagement scoring combined with cross-cloud data to target prospects who are most likely to convert. These technologies are advancing at a rapid pace and transforming all aspects of website optimization, including CRO.
Session replay or DXA
Session replay, also called digital experience analytics (DXA) provides valuable quantitative and qualitative insights. DXA data can also work with other website testing and analysis. DXA tools such as, Hotjar, Glassbox, Dynatrace, and FullStory, record and replay website user sessions. Incorporating session replay tools helps you understand how your prospects interact with your website so you can identify areas that need improvement. Some solutions are more complex than others or capable of DXA at an extremely in-depth level.
Converting leads to sales, in other words selling to customers is all about building relationships and providing high-quality customer experiences, including on your website. Adding customer service chat windows or a chatbot that connects to your customer service or account services department helps automate customer service and provides a more personalized experience for website visitors. Drift, Intercom and Zendesk are all automated customer service solutions.
All the tactics and tools we’ve discussed to improve CRO and supercharge your website are types of analytics. But often what people think of in terms of website analytics are classic platforms like Google Analytics or Open Web Analytics. These free solutions allow you to track and analyze your KPIs, including site visits, form fills, phone calls, etc.
Website CRO is an ongoing process
To do CRO right takes experience and know-how. Plus, the work is never complete. From research to testing and data analysis to personalization, optimizing your website CRO is an ongoing process. Moreover, it involves a sound strategy and knowing where you’re going. You must also have experience with a variety of martech solutions, including keen understanding of how to choose the right tool and how to integrate the entire technology stack to achieve your conversion and exceed your revenue goals.
With over 21 years of experience, Elevation Marketing knows how to implement a variety of advanced B2B CRO tactics that help you provide the website customer experiences today’s B2B customers crave. We will partner with you to create personalized content and experiences that improves ROI and drives sales revenue. Contact us today to discuss your B2B website needs.