In B2B marketing, changing trends often refer to the comings and goings of “ages”—the digital age; the social age; the mobile age. Marketers now have a lot more to consider than they did 20 years ago. There was a time when simply having a website meant you were heading in the right direction. Now, not just any old website will do. A successful site must have a design that makes it appealing, optimization for search, a content and social presence to support it, and plenty of conversion opportunities to drive new business.
As the buying process has moved from a company-driven sales cycle to a consumer-driven one, website conversions have become a key part of lead generation. While marketers used to focus simply on driving traffic, they now have plenty of other factors to consider when it comes to improving conversion rates: Which browser visitors are using; where they’re coming from; what content they’re downloading; which forms they’re filling out; what images and copy are on the page—not to mention the added complications of social and mobile.
With social and mobile continuing to grow at astounding rates, marketers can’t afford to ignore either of the two giants any longer—especially when it comes to conversion rates. Here are a few reasons why:
- The percentage of visits to B2B websites coming from smartphones has increased nearly 50% in the past year. (via Webbiquity)
- More than 59% of B2B purchase decision makers and influencers use their smartphones to gather information when purchasing products or services. (via eMarketer 2012)
- Marketers rate social media as the second-most important factor (64%) in search, behind strong content (82%). (via BtoB Magazine)
The implications of growing social and mobile use among consumers that means there are several key elements to consider if you’re trying to fuel conversion rates:
1. Take advantage of customer reviews and testimonials. More and more consumers are taking the time to research products before alerting companies that they’re interested. One of the first pieces of content they look for are customer reviews, a form of social proof that’s free from the influence of marketers. They want to find out what experiences others have had with the product or service before they invest their time or money. Companies should cater to this trend by including customer testimonials on both the desktop and mobile versions of their website. It’s also important to be aware of what clients are saying about you across various social channels and to quickly reach out to try and resolve any unhappy customers.
2. Ask only for what you need. The more steps you put between a lead and the conversion point, the higher the likelihood they’ll fall out of the funnel. This is especially true when people are using a mobile device, where small screens can make it difficult to navigate a lengthy form. If you’re trying to capture lead information in a form, don’t ask for anything you don’t need. We recommend keeping forms to four fields maximum (the three most common form fields being first name, last name, and email address). Beyond that consider using progressive profiling or a tool that pulls in social data, like Jigsaw, to gather the remaining information for your database.
3. Keep copy short. People love to scan. If you have a page full of detailed, informative copy, a consumer rarely takes the time to read it word for word. Instead, they pick out bolded words, bulleted text, and maybe the first sentence of every paragraph. That’s why it’s important to keep the copy pages short and focused—especially on pages with a call-to-action. Paragraphs should be limited to three sentences, and copy should be broken into bullets as often as possible. This is even more important on mobile devices, since consumers will be scanning through your copy on much smaller screens. Make it as easy as possible for them to find the information they need.
4. Have content worth promoting. The rise of social media has been accompanied by the rise of content marketing. If your goal is to have leads convert via white papers, webinars, buyers guides, blog articles, or other long-form content, those pieces of content need to be worth promoting. A recent study by B2B Marketing Insider found that vendors who produce low-value content are 27% less likely to be considered in the decision process, and 40% less likely to win the business. Just producing any content isn’t enough. It needs to be great content in order for it to bring in leads with the potential to convert.
5. Emphasize positive user experience and intuitive design. Conversion should be easy. Consumers shouldn’t have to wait more than a few seconds for a page to load, and their next steps should always be straightforward and easy to find. On mobile, this means making buttons big enough to be pressed by a thumb or finger, and obvious enough so that they stand out from the rest of the design. As often as possible, use radio buttons or checkboxes to minimize the amount of typing. The conversion process should be fluid and speedy, with minimal distractions. Be sure to preview your page designs and email templates in a mobile layout (on various platforms if possible) so that you understand how users will experience your design.
6. Get your top execs involved on social media. An eMarketer study found that 77% of buyers are more likely to buy from a company if its CEO uses social media, while 94% said that c-suite social media participation enhances a brand’s image. While it’s important to have a company account on popular social media channels, don’t underestimate the importance of involving your top level executives. Getting them involved in your company’s social media efforts is an often-overlooked step when it comes to increasing conversion rates.
7. Use analytics. With the addition of mobile and social, there is (hopefully!) traffic coming to your site from all over the web. You can use an analytics service to evaluate which outlets are driving the most conversions and which will help you identify the campaigns and channels where you should focus your time and money. Tracking pages with high bounce rates can help diagnose problem areas that are causing consumers to leave your site. Analytics can even reveal which keywords have the highest conversion rates, so you know where to target your ad and landing page copy.
The main thing to take away from all of this is that the “Field of Dreams” mentality (“If you build it, they will come”) doesn’t work in marketing. If you want consumers to visit your site and convert, you not only need to build a website, but take the necessary steps to optimize it across devices, support it with strong content, and promote it through the appropriate channels.