Part 1 of this piece focused on changing market dynamics. We looked at the steps marketing teams need to take to enable web visitors to convert and how to scale that effectively. Here in part 2, we’ll cover more specific conversion rate optimization strategies you can deploy to make it much easier (and therefore more likely) for customers to convert.
As a brief reminder of the context of this conversation, COVID-19 has meant a significant change in B2B and B2C consumer behaviour. Most buyer’s time is now being spent at home on the internet. Countries with a lockdown have experienced a minimum increase of 30% web traffic.
GatedContent.com spoke at B2B Marketing Virtual Expo on the subject, 2020: The Year Web Conversion Became Business Critical. We led with advice about how to make the most of this year’s surge in web traffic, in the face of dropping direct response conversions and a lack of opportunity for face to face selling.
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is all about improving the user experience, boosting your commercial position is somewhat secondary. You need to make changes based on improving a prospect’s user journey and reduce friction as much as possible, which will impact their feeling towards your brand and increase the likelihood of conversion.
Step 1 - The 3 critical ways to approach CRO strategy
Take a robust approach to split testing
Just like with a media campaign, you would test calls to action, creative and copy. This should be the same approach with form strategy. In reality however, people create a form once because it matches their data requirements of what a lead looks like, and then they put it on the website and forget about it. Because it’s so difficult to go through the process of remapping fields and redeploying every time you want to make a change, people don’t do that so forms stay static which is a huge missed opportunity. Split testing form messaging, length of field and specific questions will allow you to determine which factors affect conversion the most for your audience.
- Gating levels – One area that’s vital to test on forms for web conversion is different gating levels. Asking the question, what is the data requirement to call a conversion a lead, then working back from there will help. For example, should you ask for first and surname, or just first to make it simpler? Is it a lead requirement for sales that you need a phone number or could that come later down the line?
Modal vs. inline – Should the form be modal, where it’s a button on a landing page then a form pops up? Or should it be inline where you show all the fields on the page? Should you look at different buttons and anchor tests that lead to forms. There are a number of options here that could significantly impact your results so thorough split testing is imperative.
Progressive profiling – Progressive profiling helps build a picture overtime. The more information gathered indicates increasing buyer intent and enables organizations to build a more accurate picture of the prospect through tracking of multiple web sessions, page visits and content consumption. This means you’re able to better target that individual overtime with increasingly relevant content and offers, giving a far greater chance of a sales conversion.
Multi-step – multi step forms reduce friction on an individual form by showing less fields at a time and indicating the progress through the form to the user. This approach results in a more informed user journey with fewer fields to fill out per page, reducing overwhelm and where the time it’s going to take is explicitly indicated making it more likely the conversion will be seen through to completion.
Pre-population – Filling out information in advance or narrowing a list of options as you type are both tactics that can really help the prospect move towards a form conversion.
- Pre-population are automatically fills out pre-defined fields based on information already held on that prospect, helping the user avoid having to retype in information when you’ve already got it.
- Typeahead narrows down a list of options as the prospect types. Using this tactic improves the user experience by supplying a list of possible choices based on the text they’ve entered while filling a form or searching something — similar to the Google Search bar.
- Geolocation helps automatically populate the country field in a form by using the IP address. This can be manually updated by the user if for example they’re using a VPN and their location isn’t clear. This really helps when segmenting user data by location, and allows content like data protection guidance to auto-update according to the rules in the country the user is operating in.
Platforms that have AI technology, incorporate conversational marketing is an area where we’re seeing significant improvements in conversion rate for web traffic. Exploring how you can have a conversation to drive an engagement with a prospect on your website, rather than serving a full form straight away will significantly improve the quality and volume of leads.
Case Study Example – ChowNow
US based food ordering service ChowNow worked with GatedContent.com to implement a CRO project based on making more of their existing website to drive high quality leads. The process we took was:
- Testing and optimization of the text, style and place of their demo request button
- Removed 2 form fields through split testing conversion rates
- Integrated GooglePlaces data to improve UX and data selection
- Tested inline vs. modal forms
This project resulted in a 50% uplift in conversion rate in demo requests which is a fantastic example of the impact split testing forms can have. What would a 50% uplift in inbound leads do for your business?
Step 2 - Are you making the best use of your data?
In this section we will explore data measurement, governance and insight. Looking at how you can use the data you’re capturing to drive insights that allow better decisions down the road on both marketing optimization and from a commercial pipeline perspective is a critical building block when addressing CRO.
Are you ensuring your compliance with required legislation (eg. GDPR or CCPA) and are your web forms always robust in how that data is captured? Do you have people deploying forms that don’t meet those requirements or don’t map to the right field for marketing opt-in? Compliance is a huge risk for businesses and the repercussions of getting this wrong can affect your brand reputation, not to mention significant fines.
If you’re looking to leverage data for ongoing segmentation and nurturing, all of these things rely on data quality at the point of capture. It is very difficult to go back to update and improve data quality later. Making sure data is clean at the point of capture, and that global compliance is consistently adhered to is critical to enable marketing to be effective so ongoing nurture can be carried out.
A lot of people look at attribution as ‘where a lead came from’ working on a first or last touch basis. What that restricts is really understanding what journey that lead has taken and which touchpoints that lead has experienced. If you’re in a B2B environment with extended buyer journeys you’re going to have a series of touch points before that person becomes a lead or a closed won deal.
Understanding those touches, piecing them together and ensuring you capture that data in a clean way then means you can inform justification for marketing budgets going forward. Part of the evolving role of the marketing ops director is finding ways to gather that proof to support future investment decisions.
We’ve mentioned CRO and split testing, which applies to both a form, and the page it sits on. Understanding the conversion rate of the form vs. the page is critical to understanding whether it’s the form, the page or both that are causing problems.
The other aspect of tracking conversion performance is enriching the data you’re working with. For example, you might have data capture on forms that covers job function or seniority. Rather than using that information standalone, you can pass all of that data into web analytics which allows rich insight to look at how specific buyer personas are engaging with your content and web pages and what downloads are they’re consuming. Instead of just knowing your highest performing assets, you know the highest performing asset by persona. You can also tell which channels drive web visits from which persona. That level of insight is invaluable. Making sure the data on your forms is being leveraged and used more broadly is a great opportunity to drive value from forms beyond simple lead capture.
We hope this short series has helped give some clarity and actionable examples of how to maximize web conversions from existing and organic traffic. If you’d like further guidance take a look at the resource below.
By analyzing your current web conversion rates and optimization practices, we can estimate the projected uplift in leads you can expect from working with GatedContent.com.