What's the end goal of your online presence, and more specifically, your website? It likely doesn't stop at amassing traffic. A truly successful web presence converts that traffic into leads and, ultimately, customers.
Based on the conversations we've had with our clients, generating leads is among the top goals of B2B marketers in 2023 and beyond. That means taking a close look at your marketing channels and where you're directing users--which tends to be your website. And that's where conversion rate optimization (CRO) comes into play.
You can always improve every channel used as a touchpoint with your audience. But your website remains your primary lead generator, and it's the spot where you have the most opportunity to grow your leads, customers, and revenue.
In fact, investing in your website has an evergreen and compounding effect. Any optimization you make for lead generation has staying power for the future, and it affects all of your website traffic. CRO, in other words, can become the engine that drives your leads and business growth.
CRO is the strategic process of website building designed to maximize the chances of a visitor taking an action that gets them closer to becoming a customer. In other words, it's the process of building your website so that as many visitors as possible become leads, customers, subscribers, etc.
On a deeper level, CRO is the process of analyzing your audience to understand why they convert, which can help you build a website more specifically designed to drive to that conversion. An understanding of how your users navigate your site, and the triggers that prompt them to take (or not take) that conversion action, allows you to build a site designed to maximize lead generation and, ultimately, revenue.
Studies and analytics tell us that across audiences and industries, the average website conversion rate can range between 1% and 4%. A "good" conversion rate would be anywhere above that range. However, the most important thing to keep in mind is that this number is not just volatile, but can also be misleading.
An 'average' conversion rate is just that, composed of so many variables that it's almost impossible to narrow down to a scenario relevant for your business:
And of course, every average you'll find online is based on an incomplete data set. Most businesses don't share their conversion rates, making it difficult to know whether the averages you find online are actually representative of your audience and goals.
CRO, in other words, is about more than just finding some industry average, and looking to surpass it. Instead, it's about setting your own benchmarks, understanding your audience, building a website better suited to their needs, and improving incrementally over time.
The most obvious advantage of conversion rate optimization is clear: if you convert more visitors to leads and more leads to customers, your revenue and business will naturally benefit. But that's far from the only reason an emphasis on CRO can help you succeed. Consider these 5 benefits as you look to build and invest in your CRO strategy.
Keep in mind that these benefits tend to be evergreen, as well. CRO as a strategy means continually looking to improve your conversion rates. But at the same time, every step you take towards that goal affects your entire website. Once an improvement is in place, you effectively set a new baseline of conversions that you can measure future efforts against.
Any action that your website visitors take getting them closer to a purchase is technically a conversion. That said, CRO experts tend to distinguish between macro and micro conversions as distinct types of actions.
These are the most important types of conversions, and most closely connected to revenue. They might include:
These are smaller steps your audience takes that still get them significantly closer to becoming a customer. They might include:
While less directly connected to the purchase than macro conversions, micro conversions still matter. They indicate tangible interest in your business and products, and typically provide you with enough information to follow up with more personal messaging.
Calculating your conversion rates is deceptively simple. Take your total number of conversions in a given time frame, and divide it by the total number of visitors over that same time frame. Now, multiply your result by 100 to get the conversion rate percentage. Or, to put it in formula form:
Conversion Rate = (# of conversions) / (# of visitors) x 100
For example, you might want to measure your conversion rate for the month of December. In that month, you had 100 total conversions out of 5,000 total web visitors. Your conversion rate for December would be (100/5,000) x 100 = 2%.
Of course, this formula changes as the conversions you're measuring changes. But you can use the same basic formula whether you're calculating your total conversions or a specific type, like new subscriptions or email newsletter signups. The same is true whether you're measuring conversions on a single page or across your website; as long as both your conversion and visitor numbers are identical, the formula will continue to work.
CRO is a strategy that affects your entire business. Still, a few pages are especially valuable and relevant when it comes to testing your conversion rates.
You don't have to limit yourself to these pages. Any page on your website that includes a conversion opportunity is a potential testing ground. But if you're looking for a place to start, these four areas tend to be most relevant in getting your visitors to take action.
It might not be obvious at first, but CRO improves even further when you can closely connect it to sales enablement. All of the areas you can improve to enhance your conversion rates, and all of the insights you gain that drive you to those improvement can and should be fed to the sales team. Those insights, in turn, can help them close deals as much as they help you optimize your conversion rates.
That's especially clear once you consider the areas that you can improve with the right CRO approach.
Everything you say about your business and products has to clearly communicate the value it offers to your audience. Benefits have to align with audience pain points. At the same time, you also have to ensure that your messaging doesn't say the exact same thing as your competition, ensuring that your messaging stands out from the crowd instead.
How you say something matters as much as what you say. Your rand voice and tone need to align not just with your business values and personality, but also with your audience. Your website messaging should resonate with your buyer personas to ensure you're meeting and exceeding expectations when they're reading and experiencing your content.
Yes, it's technically sales copy. But your headlines deserve special consideration. You'll want to make sure they're short and succinct, but still communicate enough about the content to follow. The more action-focused your headlines are, the more conversions you'll likely get.
The language, design, and even the color of your call-to-action button could lead to incremental conversion improvements. So can the design of your sign-up forms, from how many fields you need (fewer tends to be better) to the way you phrase the questions and even the 'submit' button.
Where do you place those headlines? Where do calls of action go, and where does the sign-up form live? These layout questions may matter just as much as the exact formatting of individual elements, like the buttons or graphics designed to enhance conversions. Testing your formatting and layout can lead to valuable insights about audience preferences.
As the natural points of many conversions of your site, landing pages deserve special attention for testing. That might include anything from how you frame the offer to whether an individual offer needs a dedicated landing page to begin with. At their best, the singular focus of landing pages adds value to the conversion flow; testing helps you get there.
Beyond individual pages, your website's navigation could harm or help your conversion rate. The key is to build a navigational journey that matches your audience preferences, allowing them to easily find the information they're looking for on their way to becoming a customer.
The speed of your website is a hidden obstacle on the way to conversion. Slower-loading pages can depress your conversion rates significantly. A CRO approach can identify slow-loading pages and fix them in the quest for driving as many conversions as possible for your website.
You can take an almost innumerable number of approaches in optimizing your conversion rate. For a truly strategic process, though, following these four steps tends to be most effective:
CRO is ultimately circular; once you iterate on testing results, it's time to repeat the process, either by focusing on your next priority or by gaining new insights through the research step. Let's examine each of these steps in more detail.
This first step essentially consists of gathering data about your status quo or baseline. Here, you'll learn about your audience's current behaviors, along with their reasons for these behaviors. Most CRO processes divide this step into qualitative and quantitative data:
Neither of these is preferrable to the other. Instead, it's the combination between the two that helps you understand how your visitors convert or fail to convert.
Chances are that your learnings in the research phase are intensive. That's why the next step is estimating what changes you could make that have the biggest possible impact on your conversion rates. Prioritize your improvement opportunities based on three dimensions:
Considering all three of these dimensions ensures that you're never just focusing on the easy wins or the comprehensive changes. Instead, you should end up with a healthy mix of both, ultimately working strategically toward improving most of them,
Once you've found your priorities, it's time to make the changes. Don't go broad scale immediately, though. Instead, take a more cautious testing approach to see whether any tweaks you're making have a true conversion rate impact.
This is the time for split testing. Test any improvement or change you're making to your website against the status quo, then show both to equal, random samples of your audience. The complete test can help you understand whether the tweak you made actually made an impact.
After the testing phase, it's time to roll out the change more broadly. If, for example, you've seen that changing the color on a button improves conversion rates, change the color on more buttons and see if the results hold. If they do, you have a clear indicator of how to design your website buttons in the future.
This is also the time for broader learnings. Any insights into audience preferences, from messaging to layout, that come from your tests will be valuable for others (including your sales team). Summarize your findings and share with anyone in the business who could benefit from this knowledge.
After that, it's time to keep going. Find your next priority, and your next test. True CRO never ends, but always looks for improvement opportunities to convert more visitors to customers.
CRO is complex, but you're never on your own. In fact, you can implement a number of tools designed to help you track and improve on the ways your users interact on your website:
And of course, there are plenty more tools available depending on your individual needs and situation. And, most importantly, you don't need to build your CRO strategy in isolation. Instead, work with a reliable partner like Steel Croissant to build the right strategy, gain the right insights, and optimize your website to generate more leads and customers.
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