Today’s B2B chemical industry decision-makers aren’t the same as they were even just a few years ago. Instead, they’re millennials and other digital natives who are used to searching and researching everything online. And today’s chemical companies are taking notice. Moreover, since the pandemic, the chemical industry in particular has taken the big leap into B2B ecommerce. And why not? Investing in digital tools provides a 20% increased ROI and increases sales and marketing efficiency by 40%.
Today’s enterprise-level chemical buyer can seamlessly switch from looking for a new pair of running shoes to researching semiconducting polymers for their solar research company – all on the same mobile phone. More than that, they might purchase those shoes online for a few hundred dollars, then expect to purchase the polymers and any other materials and chemicals they need for tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars or more via a similar self-service ecommerce platform.
Alternatively, they might want a hybrid digital and traditional experience where they research a new business solution for months online before they hear from your sales team. Yet, still expect a customer experience that’s highly personalized to their interests and concerns.
Regardless, chemical industry customers now demand a digital experience that mirrors their B2C experience. Afterall, you don’t cease to be a person when you’re at work. Yet, while your customer who’s looking for the chemicals, polymers and ingredients 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 themselves or their families. However, purchasing the wrong thing for a chemical company could put worker safety at risk and mean the difference between millions of dollars in profit or loss.
To provide the website and landing page experiences B2B chemical customers crave, you need to supercharge your chemical ecommerce website design and incorporate conversion rate optimization (CRO). In this article we’ll cover what we mean by CRO, how to use it to optimize your chemical company’s website and landing pages to improve results. So, let’s get started.
Landing page optimization techniques that get more leads
Data is the fuel that feeds your marketing engine. And to get the data you need takes research. The same is true of any strategy or tactic that helps your chemical company achieve its digital marketing and sales goals. Tactics 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 completely supercharge your website, let’s look closer at CRO 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, e.g., if a manufacturing customer purchasing specific polymers from a chemical ecommerce site. 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 request a proposal
Your organization’s specific conversion goal or goals will differ depending on multiple factors, including your products, the industries and verticals you serve, your target audience and which part 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 complete a purchase or become a lead. Some visitors might land there by accident. Others might be a student, journalist or content writer performing research. It’s vital to 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 a resin like acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) that’s vital to multiple verticals in the manufacturing sector and 100 people visit a website landing page and 10 of those visitors sign up to receive a presentation from your sales team on a new high-grade ABS you’re launching, 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 offer product discounts or give away product samples. 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 either your ecommerce pages or 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. For ecommerce customers, you want to make it easy for them to add chemicals, resins, etc., to their online shopping cart. If it’s not a button CTA or they have to hunt to discover how to order materials, they’re probably going to move on.
- Action colors: There’s much debate amongst CRO experts on CTA button color. And there’s not a 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. And for direct purchases, your forms will need to ask for more, e.g., shipping address, payment information, etc.
- 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 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. This last is crucial for ecommerce landing pages, especially shopping cart pages, so your buyers know when their purchase is complete and your shipping or logistics department has started their part of the process.
How to create landing page content that converts
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. In this subsection, we’ll go over 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,” as general terms regardless of campaign or page type, test CTA buttons that are specific and direct. For lead gen marketing campaign landing pages, try CTA button text like, “Start My Free Trial,” or “Get More Information.” And, for ecommerce landing pages, test CTA button copy like, “Add to Cart, or “Get a Quote.”
- 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. For example, you could test a CTA button on your ecommerce pages that provides customers with a purchasing shortcut like “Buy Now,” or “Complete Purchase Now.”
- 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 chemical 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
To keep your B2B chemical ecommerce website humming, takes research. And that research phase never ends. For example, an email campaign for a new, better polymer that’s important for semiconductor fabrication has an individual landing page that was generating traffic and converting last week but leads dropped off drastically this week. How would you know if the content just needs a quick refresh or whether you need to drastically change entire templates, try new visuals or rewrite the copy? And was it a problem with the landing page itself, the emails or the entire campaign? 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 all your landing pages, including those where customers can make a direct purchase via an online shopping cart with their company credit card or another form of digital payment. Examples of metrics to track to improve webpage conversion rates include website visits, product purchases, form submissions, phone calls, chatbot interactions, etc.
Use A/B testing, multivariate testing and heatmaps to evaluate any changes you make to your webpages
A/B and multivariate tests
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, whether it’s your entire website or an individual ad campaign targeting a new audience with information about your brand’s solvents. Moreover, assessing your site’s landing pages isn’t something you do one time and never repeat.
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 convert more website visitors into leads or increase sales conversions on your ecommerce pages.
Another way to improve website conversions is to use heatmaps. A heatmap is a graphical representation of data that uses color to represent that data. There are multiple types of heatmaps, but the most common variation is used to analyze online audience behaviors. Optimizely, Hotjar and Crazy Egg are just a few examples of martech solutions that include heatmaps.
Use heatmaps to help identify the elements on your site that need improvement, e.g., product images and descriptions that aren’t enticing customers to make a purchase on one of your ecommerce pages, or confusing site navigation that makes it challenging for buyers to navigate to and from their shopping cart from other areas on your website.
Assessing your site’s landing pages isn’t something you do one time and never repeat. It’s particularly important whenever a chemical or composites enterprise adds a new product or products to an ecommerce page or alters the layout, copy, images, calls-to-action (CTAs), etc., to any website landing page. Use what you discover during your evaluation to make improvements and eliminate what isn’t working. Then test those changes. Keep repeating the process. You will never be done.
How martech can help improve website conversions
Marketing technology, or martech for short, is a valuable tool that can play an important role in raising your website conversions and CRO. Moreover, it’s a must-have for chemical companies and chemical industry suppliers who have an ecommerce site or ecommerce pages on their main website. Even if you haven’t taken the plunge into the B2B chemical ecommerce pool, the amount of data you need to measure and analyze is vast. It would take your entire marketing team far too long to sift through all of it; then analyze the relevant findings to develop, test and optimize the ecommerce and other webpages on your site.
It’s tempting to look at the task and decide it’s not worth the time and effort involved. However, CRO for websites doesn’t work with guesswork and intuition. And with millions of dollars at stake and increasing competition within B2B chemical industry ecommerce, you can’t afford to trust your gut. Instead, you must leverage the help of marketing technology. Martech can help improve your website conversion rate optimization efforts in the following ways:
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 searching for chemicals, polymers and ingredients expect, requires an enormous amount of data. Next, that data must be analyzed, and then substantial amounts of content must be created or adapted with each audience in mind.
For ecommerce, it’s absolutely imperative the buyer experience on your site and any targeted messaging is relevant to them, their industry, their needs and where they are in the purchasing process. Moreover, it needs to be personalized to their buying habits. Do they prefer a self-service ecommerce experience that features zero interaction with customer service or sales? Or do they prefer to call or open a chat window to complete a sale? Perhaps, they want the option to do both.
Providing highly personalized website or landing page experiences and content to each chemical industry sector or vertical, let alone on an individual customer level, is extremely difficult to downright impossible to achieve at scale without the help of marketing automation. 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.
Session replay or DXA
Session reply, also called digital experience analytics (DXA) provides valuable quantitative and qualitative insights. Session replay data can also work with other website testing and analysis tools. Martech solutions that include a session replay or more advanced DXA tools include, Hotjar, Glassbox, Dynatrace, and FullStory to record and replay website user sessions. Using session replay tools can aid your understanding of how potential customers interact with your website, including your B2B ecommerce pages so you can make key improvements. Some testing and analysis platforms, such as Dynatrace are more complex than others and include DXA and other digital testing options beyond website testing.
Converting leads to sales, in other words selling to customers is all about building relationships and providing high-quality customer experiences. The option to speak with a human being or at least a chatbot is non-negotiable for most ecommerce sites. For example, if a product developer visiting your chemical ecommerce website is unsure which polymer would work best in a product prototype they’re developing, does your site have a quick and easy option for speaking with customer support or your sales team?
The addition of a customer service chat window or chatbot can help automate customer service and provide a more personalized experience for buyers who prefer an ecommerce experience, but still want to get help when they need it. Drift, Intercom and Zendesk are all automated customer service solutions. Some customer service add-ons to a site require a live agent and others can seamlessly transition between an AI chatbot and your customer service or sales department. But beware of low-quality chatbot experiences. These can have the opposite effect and frustrate buyers instead.
Many of the tactics and tools we’ve discussed to improve CRO and supercharge your website in this and the previous sections are types of analytics. But often what people think of in terms of website analytics are classic platforms like Google Analytics. A free solution like GA allows you to measure and evaluate your KPIs, including website and landing page traffic, pageviews, product impressions, sales data, etc. GA has integration capabilities with many other popular marketing SaaS. For example, Google Analytics can integrate with both Hubspot and Salesforce.
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 chemical industry organizations segment an audience, sometimes even down to the individual and then provide messaging, content and customer experiences that are specific to each segment or buyer.
Moreover, many of the tools we mentioned in the previous section include some form of artificial intelligence. And some of them are actively researching and testing AI and ML. 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 and B2B ecommerce site optimization, including CRO.
Chemical industry ecommerce and website CRO is never-ending
CRO for B2B ecommerce websites, regardless of industry takes experience and know-how. Plus, the work is never complete. From research to testing and data analysis to personalization, optimizing your website is an ongoing process. Moreover, it involves a sound strategy and integrated multi-phase, omnichannel approach. You must also have experience with a variety of martech solutions, including keen understanding of how those solutions can work together to drive CRO and lead generation, improve ROI and increase sales revenue.
Elevation Marketing has proven experience helping B2B chemical and composites industry clients at all levels of ecommerce experience. We thrive on helping companies like yours get extraordinary results. No matter where you are in your digital marketing journey, we see a wealth of opportunities for chemical and composites companies. Contact us today to discuss your B2B chemical website needs.