5 Tips to Improve Conversion Rates

Published: June 1, 2010

1. Targeted Lists- Simply put, the best way to increase response to send the message to the only the most relevant audience. In other words, by running multiple, smaller campaigns at a more highly refined list. Define your target profile for each product or value proposition, and focus the campaign on them.

Sometimes it isn’t easy, however. See if this scenario sounds familiar … you contact a list broker or online property about sending an email campaign, hoping to get your message out to the 25,000-person minimum required by the provider. When you put your requirements into the equation (department, title, geography, etc.) the list that comes back to you has 15,000 contacts. What do you do?

It’s hard to walk away, because those 15,000 are a great fit for your message. You will, most likely, backfill. You sacrifice quality for quantity and add another 10,000 names that aren’t really a fit for what you are trying to do. Your response rate will go down because 40% of your list is not in your sweet spot. Lower responses mean lower conversions, because some of those irrelevant contacts are going to click but not convert. Or worse yet, they will convert and you send a lot of unqualified leads to sales, damaging your credibility.

Alternatively, you consider eating the cost of that extra 10,000 names (but that makes your contact cost seem out of whack) or see if you can send those people different content than your original campaign idea (maybe something more relevant to them) … but that is a lot of heavy lifting, without much expected return.

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House data is an inadequate back up because it tends to have so many holes in things like department, industry and level of contact (VP, Director, etc), and becomes out of date so quickly.

Another solution is finding a provider with quality contacts, advanced filtering and list building tools, and no minimums or subscription requirements. Your conversion rates will improve based on sending relevant offers to targeted contacts.

2. Targeted Content- Giving people more relevant content and offers is an obvious conversion win. Targeted content can be delivered in two ways:

– Email content or online display advertising tailored to the buyer profile of the target audience.

–       Web site content customized based on what you know about the visitor. Most people have some success with landing pages based on the keyword used in search, but that is limited in reach and does not differentiate customer types. The real opportunity is to segment the way you plan your campaigns, using the unique firmographics of the business (company, industry, corporate revenue, number of employees, location, etc) that is about to visit.

Email content can be customized based on how well targeted your list is, how much time and effort you have spent building out and understanding your buyer profiles, and some effort centered around matching offers to those buyer profiles. However, open rates and click response frequently disappoint.

Customizing web site content for specific companies or industries would be very challenging. You still need a basic understanding of your target buyer profiles at the firmographic level, but customized web content based on details like industry or company size (such as industry-specific case studies) has been proven to increase engagement and conversion. Additionally, you can also show specific message for a visitor that is already a customer or if that business visitor is from an account flagged by sales as important. Without cookies!

3. Shorter Forms- It’s no secret that shorter forms reduce the friction in the conversion process. The less that you ask for from a visitor, the more likely they are to give your offer a try. It’s also no secret that a big problem with making it easier to convert is that more unqualified clicks do convert, again damaging your credibility with sales and falsely inflating your campaign metrics.

The additional argument against shortening forms is getting little or no discernable lead data. Marketing relies on capturing as much information as possible to both route the leads to the appropriate salesperson and qualify them as potential selling opportunities. While shorter forms might generate more conversions, quality goes down.

Marketers need to find that magic balance in their forms that makes them short enough to grease the conversion wheels, but long enough that you can capture enough information about your conversions that you can actually work with them after the fact.

4. Remarket to Unconverted (But Interested) Web Traffic- Many marketers have tools in place to identify the IP addresses of their web visitors. If you could identify the relevant businesses that have visited your website and then cross-reference those businesses with any high-value pages they visited, you would have the beginnings of a very solid, targeted list leveraging intelligence pulled from your analytics package and CRM systems. These are businesses that, although they may not have converted, are actively searching for more information about your products and solutions. And you may very well have contacts from that company in your house list that you can start contacting. Unfortunately, most IP lookups return little usable data. This is largely because the public registries are not set up or maintained as business directories.

5. Use What Works- The word “metrics” is almost a mantra when talking to BtoB marketers about best practices. They can tell you how many impressions there were or emails were sent, opens, clicks and conversions. Standard analytics or CRM packages fall short, however, in understanding the quality of the traffic your campaigns are driving to your website.

Consider this scenario … let’s say that you are spending $5,000 per month running two campaigns in Google PPC. You are burning through your budget well before the month is over, and 85% of your conversions are coming from campaign 1. Campaign 2 isn’t driving nearly as many clicks/conversions, but you are curious to dig deeper because the quality of leads coming from PPC seems to be declining.

Using a tool like Demand Analytics, you could analyze the quality of the traffic clicking through on those ads. You could very well find that 85% of the traffic driven by the campaign consuming 85% of your budget is from outside of your target markets, while the smaller campaign has a 40% hit rate. Using this information you could adjust the spend to make sure the smaller campaign is running all month long, or tweak the messaging of the expensive, click-driving campaign to reduce the clicks from companies outside of your buyer profile.

In conclusion, always keep in mind that a good conversion rate is not always the sign of a successful campaign. The single metric I like to use to measure success — more than impressions or clicks or conversion percentage or opens — is return on marketing (RoM).

RoM is the amount of pipeline generated divided by the cost of the campaign. For example, if I can generate $10,000 or more in pipeline for every $1 that I spent on a campaign I would consider that more important than if my conversion rate was below 2% because the conversions I did score were of a very high quality.

Using a combination of tools to drive targeted campaigns with relevant content to select prospects, grease the wheels of the conversion and then measure the quality of the traffic you drove will naturally improve conversion rates, but should also significantly impact the metrics that are even more important than conversion percentage.

Jason Stewart leads demand generation programs for Demandbase and is a recognized thought leader in the BtoB lead generation and lead management space. He founded and leads the Salesforce.com user group in Salesforce.com’s headquarters location (San Francisco) and was one of the first 500 people to complete the Salesforce.com Certified Administrator process. He has spent 10+ years in BtoB telesales, demand generation, lead management and marketing operations with a variety of businesses including Maxager Technology, MarketLive, and Inference Corporation.

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