We’re driving a lot of traffic, but now we need to convert more visitors into customers. How do we increase our conversion rates?”
A startup CEO recently posed that question to me. The obvious answer is to drive more of the right kinds of traffic to your website. It’s not the answer this CEO was looking for, but it’s the right answer. Find more of the right people and don’t worry too much about everyone else.
This startup didn’t have a traditional conversion problem. They had a problem that many Inbound Marketing-focused companies run into. I’m thinking of companies that target the top of the funnel aggressively like Birchbox, Mr Porter, OpenView Labs and Acorns (not saying these companies suffer from a conversion issue, just a good profile of an Inbound-driven startup). They weren’t converting visitors into customers because they ignored the middle of the funnel.
When You Go Inbound First
When you chase rabbits or deer, Inbound is usually a go-to strategy for growth, but it creates problems that startups who chase elephants, mice or flies don’t have. When you focus on Inbound early on you get rewarded with precious traffic. But you don’t have precise control over who makes up that audience. So, if you drive a lot of Inbound traffic, it probably isn’t ready to convert. Any business, startup or established, that is looking to improve conversion rate should start by asking…
Who’s Coming, From Where?
Where are your visitors coming from? How should they be behaving on your website? Were they acquired through awareness-generating content? Were they acquired through email marketing?
Know where the bulk of your traffic is coming from and have a realistic expectation for how your customers should flow through touch-points and arrive at a sign-up/purchase. If you’re not sure how channel traffic should be resulting in leads, play with Google’s Customer Journey tool.
When you employ top-of-funnel content to build awareness and traffic to your website, you rank for a lot of informational and educational searches. Your traffic comes from Organic Search and Social, the type of traffic that Google says just isn’t ready to convert to purchasers (at least, in the B2B space).
Here’s the hard truth of conversion optimization: It doesn’t matter what you do, you’re never going to convert 95%+ of visitors from Inbound Marketing efforts. Most of those “engaged” readers simply aren’t ready to become customers. You have to re-engage site visitors to have a chance at turning them into new business.
Re-Engage With Lead Magnets
How do you re-engage? You build higher-funnel conversion types. You develop a lead magnet or series of lead magnets that drive more engaged users to opt-in to further communication from your brand. It’s your only hope at re-engagement. Waiting on the return visitors from Organic traffic is hopeless.
If the common (oversimplified) customer journey through a website looks something like this:
- 1st TOFU Content
- 2nd TOFU Content
- 1st Product/Service Content/Pages
- 2nd Product/Service Content/Pages
- FAQ Pages
- About Us Pages
- 3rd Product/Service Content/Pages
Then how are you moving your site visitors towards #3 and beyond?
Give Visitors What They Want
You do it by nurturing. Focus on turning visitors into prospects, first. The only way to turn a visitor into a prospect is by giving them what they want. Every visitor who lands on your website has a job-to-be-done. They want to solve a problem in their life. Figure out what those jobs are, that you’re uniquely equipped to help with. Design an appropriate lead magnet to help visitors fulfill those jobs. Lead magnets look like:
- “Sign Up for The Webinar”
- “Download Our Checklist”
- “Download The Ultimate Guide”
- “Get The Free 10-Week Course”
You provide a bundle of value, they give you their email address. By moving a visitor along to the next step, you’ve accomplished two remarkably important things. One, you’ve gotten them to self-identify with the problem and solution that’s important to them, and two, you’ve collected their most important personal information on the web: the email address.
A lead magnet like the one above helps startup marketers and entrepreneurs commit SaaS metrics to memory – that’s the surface-level “job” it accomplishes. But put yourself in the Saas marketer’s shoes for a moment. Let’s say the data is rolling in, but you’re not entirely sure where you should be focusing your analysis…where do you turn? The real, more meaningful “job” that this magnet helps potential customers solve might be “helping me not look stupid in front of the board, my co-workers and boss.”
Equipped with a lead magnet that solves a customer job, you’re now ready to nurture. Now you can actualize your marketing automation pipeline. Now you’re ready to use utilize your product marketing content to turn real, actual leads into customers.
Retarget Your MOFU
When you can retarget visitors with middle-of-funnel content instead of bottom-of-funnel content, your ability to grows massively. Luckily, the emerging technologies of email retargeting and “onsite retargeting” give you even more power to target those MOFU prospects. New startups like OptiMonk allow you to segment your visitors and target them with exit pop-ups, opt-in forms, sidebars, after posts, footers, and more. In the rush to make AdRoll “work” for “all visitors” lists, don’t neglect to retarget MOFU content to MOFU lists!
The Temptation to Avoid
The great temptation when leads aren’t being generated from your Inbound/Content Marketing program is to start to pack your content full of mentions of your products. It’s the wrong way to go. Instead, ask, “What do our TOFU visitors need right now?” When you’ve uncovered the steps to sale, and can map TOFU, MOFU and BOFU content with ad and email campaigns, you win.
There Are Worse Problems
For a startup chasing rabbits and/or deer, you’d rather have this problem than the opposite problem of conversion-focused magnets without the necessary traffic to create conversion opportunities. In the startup world, where order-of-operations is critical, this is the right problem to have. But you’d better start solving it before your CEO starts complaining about your conversion problem.