If you currently have a 1% conversion rate from visitor to customer and want to double that, you can either:
- Double your marketing budget.
- Invest in conversion rate marketing.
Given that investing in conversion rate marketing is cheaper than doubling your marketing budget, that’s probably best the option to choose.
However, you might have already tried things like changing the button color on your CTA or adjusting the copy on your headline.
If those tactics didn’t work for you, it’s because they are only the tip of the conversion rate optimization (CRO) iceberg.
To solve this problem, here’s an unconventional guide to conversion rate marketing that targets the root of your conversion problem.
Specifically, we’ll discuss:
- The right way to perform customer research (and why your current strategy doesn’t work)
- How to analyze your traffic generation strategy (and why it might be generating non-buyers)
- How to improve your content funnel (and key tests to set up)
- CRO tips for each stage of the funnel (and how to apply your data to it)
The first step of any conversion rate marketing plan should be customer research. Changing the button color on your website won’t matter if the customer coming to your website doesn’t need your service.
You might say, “But we already have product-market fit!”
While any business with customers undoubtedly has some product-market fit, there’s one problem:
Your customers’ needs evolve daily, so your product-market fit will also evolve.
As Steli Efti, the founder of Close, puts it:
“Product-market fit is not a destination, but a moment in time. Some people think they need to iterate and pivot, then you’ll arrive in the promised land of product-market fit, and now it’s only about growing. That’s an illusion.”
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When was the last time you listened to/took a sales call? This week? This month?
Now that you’re going to listen to a sales call (right?), aim to understand the pain points your customers currently experience and how your product will fit into their solution.
To get a sense of that problem/solution, you can ask questions (or if you’re listening to a call recording, pay attention to questions) like:
- What were some of the key pain points they are experiencing now (before your solution)?
- What about your product made them most interested in your solution?
- What would the ideal solution look like for their scenario?
Even if you sell an ecommerce product, ask people how it fits into their lives and why they prefer it over other products.
As most ecommerce customers don’t do sales calls, consider looking on Amazon and searching customer reviews. You’ll find a goldmine of pain points and reasons why happy customers are happy in the review section.
For example, even with something as simple as a table, you can tell from this review that a key pain point is that most tables wobble and are difficult to assemble.
As you’re looking through reviews, scan for underlying reasons why people love the product.
For example, even this tea set review shows an underlying reason why this person loved the product: it generated complements.
If you currently only understand your ideal customer’s age, title, or main pain point, you probably won’t be able to offer them the best solution or demonstrate why your product is the best solution.
Once you have a better understanding of who your customer is (at this moment in time), the next step is to ensure that your product or service is indeed meeting customer needs and expectations.
Improve your product or service
Once you’ve listened to 10–15 sales calls or looked through about 50 reviews, you should have a better idea of what your ideal customers really want and how your product or service uniquely solves that problem.
Therefore, your next step is to improve your product or service.
While this might sound like a difficult process, it isn’t as hard as you might think.
Let’s look at three different business categories.
If you sell kitchen tables, the design, structure, and aesthetics clearly play a major role in your product’s success. However, this doesn’t mean you need to change your product’s actual design and aesthetics (assuming it’s durable and people are buying it).
Instead, you might notice that the top complaint in your reviews is that tables arrived damaged. Again, you might not be able to change how the carrier handles it, but you might be able to improve your packaging process or improve exchange and return processes.
By improving your UX design process, you create a better experience, and it will therefore be easier to improve your conversion rate.
Improving a software business might also seem like a daunting challenge, but it’s often just a matter of enhancing certain features or repositioning your product.
For example, your users might love your product, but many customers wish the interface was a little more user-friendly. Instead of changing the entire product, you might be able to reorganize the user interface to improve the user experience.
Another common problem is that setup or integration is difficult.
While you wouldn’t actually have to change your product, improving your setup process or increasing integration options will increase your conversion rate much more dramatically than changing the copy on a banner or an adjective in your headline.
Improving a service business is perhaps one of the easiest businesses to pivot and adjust, as there isn’t a preestablished product involved.
You might just need to change some operational structures.
For example, let’s say you run a marketing agency.
You might find that most prospects on sales calls ask if you measure conversions or if you just send deliverables (X blog posts and X links per month). In this case, you might adjust your agency’s focus to reporting conversions.
Similarly, if you have a content agency, one of the biggest concerns from sales calls might be ensuring that the content is expert-level.
If you currently have just a few general freelance writers for all client accounts, you might not have expert-level content. Instead, you’ll probably want to consider hiring subject-matter experts assigned to each client’s account.
Those are just a few examples of how you can actually improve your conversions much more effectively than simply changing a button color on your website.
Analyze your traffic generation strategy
By now, you know what your customer’s key pain points are and have the ideal solution for them.
However, you might notice that even after you’ve done customer research and repositioned/improved your product, your traffic still isn’t converting.
Despite popular belief, testing your font size and other micro-adjustments often won’t improve your conversions at this stage.
Instead, the real solution lies in analyzing your traffic goals and who you are actually attracting.
For example, let’s say you offer SEO services, your main clients are Fortune 500 companies, and your main traffic generation strategy is content marketing.
In this case, you might have three different blog posts:
- Beginners Guide to SEO
- 5 Tips to Improve Your Web Presence
- How to Set Up Google Analytics
Those all sound like great SEO topics, and they probably generate a lot of traffic as each one has a high search volume.
However, they probably won’t convert into leads.
Because a VP of Marketing or Director of Marketing (who is the decision-maker at a Fortune 500 company) probably isn’t going to read a beginner’s guide to SEO or care about Google Analytics setup.
So you might have a lot of traffic on your website, but it won’t be the right kind of traffic.
Instead, think about how you can target the individual decision-makers and attract them to your website.
For example, these blog posts would generate less traffic volume but more relevant prospects:
- How This Fortune 500 Found the Right Marketing Partner (and Grew by X%)
- The Exact Content Strategy of This Fortune 500 (and How It Increased Sales by X%)
However, content isn’t the only channel that this applies to.
For example, if you run paid ads to an ecommerce product, are you running ads for generic traffic related to your service, or are they targeting a few key prospects?
Notice that now that you have the right people on your website and the right offer in front of them, converting them is much easier.
Optimize your current funnel
Once you have the right customer on your website and the right funnel in front of them, you can start experimenting with standard CRO tests.
Here are a few of the best conversion rate hacks you can use at each step in your funnel.
Your homepage receives various kinds of traffic (TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU), so it’s usually the most difficult to optimize.
Instead of trying to optimize it for everyone, make your value proposition clear so that any person landing on the homepage knows exactly what you do and who you help.
If you’re a SaaS startup with a complex product, make your messaging simple and clear. Stripe is a great example of this:
If you’re a consumer-facing business and most people understand what you offer (such as learning to play guitar), make your unique selling point clear. Here’s a great example from Tony’s Acoustic Challenge:
Most ecommerce businesses are fairly self-explanatory and don’t need a clear value proposition. Instead, your value might be something like the speed at which you can help people.
Once people understand what you do, the goal of the homepage is to direct them to the appropriate stage of the funnel.
For example, ecommerce companies should focus on coherently organizing their products so that people can easily find the product category they need.
Ideally, it should all be on the homepage, and if it’s not, it shouldn’t take more than two clicks to find any single product.
Here’s a great example of an ecommerce homepage that is easy to navigate:
For SaaS and service businesses, the homepage should direct visitors to the most appropriate point of their journey.
This SaaS business offers a free trial for people at the bottom of the funnel.
For people who are at the middle of the funnel, they provide a demo. For prospects who’ve never heard of their brand and are still in the awareness stage, they can navigate to a product overview, free resources, and the blog.
All too often, marketers try to overcomplicate the homepage when they should just explain what their product/service does and then redirect the visitor.
Pricing pages (SaaS/Service)
The pricing page is undoubtedly one of the most critical pages for conversions, as people on these pages are clearly interested in your products and prime prospects for converting.
The most common format is to have three to four different pricing tiers, with the middle tier highlighted as the “best value” option.
It should also have a comparison list of features below the price, showing what you will get at each price point.
Here’s a great example of Crazy Egg’s pricing page (and given that they are a CRO tool, it’s safe to assume that it converts fairly well).
Product/Checkout pages (ecommerce)
If you’re an ecommerce business, you probably don’t have a pricing page. Instead, your product page and checkout pages are the key conversion pages.
Here’s a quick checklist you can run through as you’re optimizing your product page specifically:
- Use discounts
- Provide quality videos and photos
- Include all common FAQs (dimensions, material, etc.)
- Increase white space
- Add trust badges
- Add social proof
- Use specific customer reviews
Amazon is an excellent example of a stellar ecommerce product page, and you can assume that they’ve run a number of CRO tests on their page format.
Therefore, rather than reinventing the wheel, try using their format as a template.
Once you’ve optimized your product page, the next step is to ensure that your checkout page is quick and easy. Amazon again masters this by owning the one-click checkout feature.
You can incorporate one-click checkouts on your own website as well with a tool like Bolt.
However, if you do have to collect credit card information, make the checkout process as simple as possible. Minimize form fields and use a process indicator (such as 99% done, even if they are just on step one of two).
In general, the fewer distractions, the better. However, your customer should always be able to see what they’re purchasing. Otherwise, they may click the back button.
Another note is that you should check the experience on both a desktop and your mobile device. In fact, a poll of smartphone users showed that 79% of them made ecommerce purchases within the last month, so having a great experience is essential for mobile conversions.
An example of a store with a great ecommerce mobile checkout page is Nike:
It’s a simple, clean, and uncomplicated three-step process that provides an excellent user experience.
Another key aspect of the funnel (typically for SaaS and service businesses) is your blog. While most businesses believe blog posts are a part of the funnel, few take time to build each post into the funnel.
First, if you’ve done your homework and completed the Analyze Your Traffic Generation phase above, you should have qualified leads landing on your blog posts. From there, the only thing you have to do is direct them toward the right solution.
The most common way to redirect people is by using CTAs throughout the post. You can create a boxed CTA within the post or simply add it organically as text in your blog post.
Here’s an example of a great boxed CTA from Hotjar…
… and here’s a great example of an in-text CTA:
Hotjar also shows how to do something manually and then mentions that Hotjar users don’t have to worry about it:
While it isn’t quite a CTA, it’s perhaps one of the cleverest ways to convert visitors from a blog post and show off your product’s strengths.
Another clever way that you can convert visitors is with a pop-up CTA. Rather than asking for an email address, ask if they want to talk to a specialist on the blog post subject immediately and drop a phone number.
Ultimately, you should have mostly bottom-of-the-funnel content, so shorten the sales cycle and get them to the point of conversion quickly.
If you have a high-priced service or long customer journey, you might offer a lead magnet to get them on your email list. But since many content marketing funnels are too long and drawn out, focus on getting visitors on bottom-of-the-funnel content and then convert them.
While we already touched on how you can use pop-ups in content, you can also use them in other scenarios on your website.
The key is to make sure they aren’t annoying. In the content example above, a personalized pop-up offering the reader the chance to talk with someone live regarding the specific pain point they’re learning about is indeed relevant and helpful.
Therefore, one key to a great pop-up is personalization.
Another key is to wait until the visitor has read your content for a minute before showing a pop-up.
The only exception to this is if you have an exit pop-up.
Finally, if you’re trying to get the person to hang around, offer them something of relevant value and explain why it’s valuable.
For example, OptinMonster has a great example of a pop-up that provides relevant value to their target audience (versus just asking for an email):
Another thing you’ll notice is that the CTA also makes it difficult to say no. Here’s an example of a great CTA button on an ecommerce website:
Adding in a timer to create urgency and showing that you’ll get free shipping and exchanges makes it a no-brainer for a qualified prospect.
Re-engage your visitors
Finally, even if the visitor leaves your website, you can still retarget them through email (hopefully you captured their email) or retargeting ads.
While abandoned cart emails are one way to re-engage visitors, you can also create abandoned cart SMS messages with a tool like Tone.
Another option is to use a tool like Klickly to re-engage them and make a one-click purchase directly inside the retargeting ad.
If you have a service or software business, be sure to leverage a nurture sequence to bring reluctant customers to the point of sale.
However, even if the visitor left without leaving any contact information, you can run retargeting ads on Facebook or Google.
The best part is that retargeting works on any type of business, from ecommerce and service businesses to info products and SaaS businesses.
Start converting now
Conversion rate marketing is one of the easiest ways to increase sales, but it’s also much more than simply adjusting colors or adding a different adjective to your headline.
Instead, great conversion rate marketing starts by deeply understanding your customer and using your solution to meet their needs.
Use these steps to enhance and adjust your offering to match your customer’s needs and make it a no-brainer.
From there, it’s a matter of constantly A/B testing the various funnel stages and finding the right messaging to communicate your product’s value clearly.
So, start testing your marketing strategy today!