An Ultimate Guide To Conversion Rates
Introduction to conversion rates
Here’s a hypothetical but realistic situation: A person matching your ideal buyer persona winds up on your organization’s homepage. A snappy blog headline on the sidebar grabs their attention and they click it. The article proves to be informative and valuable, so they start reading more of your blogs.
Eventually, the person comes across a call-to-action inviting them to schedule a free business consultation. They click through to a landing page, but instead of filling out a quick form and moving to the next phase of your sales process, they leave the page.
Why didn’t this person convert? How many more people did something similar? There’s no way of knowing unless you’re tracking data on conversion rates.
Conversion rate tracking allows you to more precisely follow leads as they move through your sales process. If you don’t track conversion rates, you won’t know where your marketing content is effective and where improvement is necessary.
This e-book aims to serve as a one-stop resource for what you should know about conversion rates, including the need for compiling and tracking conversion data in manageable bites, reasons why prospects may not be responding to your messaging, tips and tricks for improving conversion rates, and more.
By the end you should have a thorough understanding of what conversion rates to track and what to do with that data.
Sizing Up Conversion Rates
Imagine arriving home after running a few miles. You’re thirsty and want something to drink. Water would be nice. What are your options?
You could turn on the faucet, stick your head underneath and drink. But that’s unnecessarily messy. You could cup your hands and sip tiny mouthful after mouthful. But that’s inefficient. If you’re like most people, you fill up a glass or open a bottle. It’s the ideal solution.
Managing the data from your sales conversion rates is a similar a situation. If you just dive in head first, you won’t get what you’re after. If you approach it too acutely, you’re unlikely to get the most accurate picture.
Breaking data into easy-to-swallow chunks is the most effective way to assess it. Sales executives looking to wrap their heads around conversion rates should segment their data as prospects move through the sales pipeline.
Your sales process likely has three to five milestones from beginning to end. Start tracking data on conversion rates from milestone to milestone from the beginning, as soon as your sales team gets the lead.
A conversion is when the buyer moves from one phase of your sales process to the next. For instance, when a prospective customer responds to a free demo offer on your website, they’ve passed a milestone.
Every organization uses its own way of distinguishing various stages of the buyer journey. Use whatever criteria are necessary to indicate you have a lead and start tracking the conversion rate from there.
Gauging a buyer’s digital body language is the key to tracking conversion rate data. Assess what information a prospective customer has looked at and what information they’ve provided you with. This is the most accurate representation of buyer intent.
Fortunately, this isn’t as time-consuming as it sounds. Research and try some of the available software that automates much of this data collection process. This saves your sales reps from wasting time compiling data. Automating the process also ensures more accurate data, as human error is minimized.
The overall goal for tracking your conversion rates should be making the process less of an art and more of a science. Optimized, accurate data goes a long way toward this objective.
Conversion Rates 101: The Basics
Sales executives should pay attention to conversion rates because they ultimately affect revenue. When your conversion rate is low, it means your organization’s cost of sales is higher because you’re spending more time communicating with people who aren’t generating revenue for your business.
Therefore, the more efficiently you convert customer “touches” into revenue, the better your overall cost of sales is going to be. Anyone wanting to increase revenue and decrease the cost of sales should track conversion rates and take action where appropriate. (Read more about what actions to take in the following section.)
What kind of information should you track? Any engagement your leads provide you with is worth monitoring. Track open rates and click-through rates for your emails; track the bounce rates off your website’s landing pages. When a lead engages you, what sort of information do they provide? What do they expect in return from you in exchange for that information? What language provokes the best buyer response? This is just a sampling of what’s worth tracking.
Here’s the caveat: You must have a clear reason for putting your time and energy into tracking any particular metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs). For every data point you have, ask why you’re tracking it. If you don’t have the answer, you should stop measuring it.
Once you’ve self-edited what you’re tracking, take another step back and reflect on the usefulness of that information.
Perhaps one of your landing pages asks prospects to enter their annual household income into a field along with their name, age, job title and marital status in order to download a free e-book. Many people, especially prospective customers at the beginning stage of the sales funnel, might not want to provide such personal information and may leave your landing page.
Ask yourself whether all of the information you’re collecting is truly necessary. Encouraging a prospect to visit a landing page requires work on your part; don’t lose that potential customer by asking the wrong (or unnecessary) questions.
The Importance Of Testing
So you know what conversion rates to track. Now what should you do with all the data?
An excellent next step is to conduct systematic A/B testing based on the data you’ve acquired.
Let’s say, for example, that your team creates a compelling email that gets sent to a segmented list of prospective customers. The email contains a call-to-action that leads to a landing page to sign up for a free 30-minute business consultation. By tracking the right data, you’ll see how many people open the email, the number of people that click your link to the landing page and who provides personal information in exchange for the consultation.
In a perfect world, you’d nail it. You’d consistently see leads signing up for your consultation and moving to the next milestone in the sales process.
The chances of that happening, however, are slim. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be super successful in optimizing conversion rates on your first go-around. This is where A/B testing is helpful.
Use A/B testing to tweak your process and refine your message. First, pick a relative measure, such as the subject line of an email. Create two versions of the same subject line. You might try framing one as a “how to” and taking an interrogative approach with the other. Test them both. Weigh the data and see which performed better. Keep the winner, create another subject line and test it against the winner. Keep refining your process with A/B testing until you see the results you’re seeking.
Other possibilities to consider for A/B testing include the time of day a message is sent, the colors used in the content, whether the message is graphic-heavy or text-heavy, the language in the sales copy and tone of the message. It’s worth measuring how your customers react to anything you put in front of them. The only limit you should consider with A/B testing is the amount of work you create for your sellers. After all, your sellers should spend most of their time selling.
Why Are Prospects Not Responding?
Let’s say you’ve done your homework, you’re using good sales and marketing automation software, you’re tracking conversions rates and doing A/B testing – but still not seeing the kind of response you hoped for.
What should you do?
Start by looking into the bounce rate for each piece of relevant content. The bounce rate is the number of people who arrive to your website or open your email, but then “bounce” away from the content and take no further action.
On the surface, the bounce rate tells you the obvious. But it also implies something greater. For a prospect to have the opportunity to bounce they must have first landed on the page. (Remember, though, that content must be accessed for the bounce rate to be measured. People don’t bounce off content they simply ignore.)
When you analyze your bounce rate, try to determine what’s precluding people from proceeding with the engagement. Why are they not clicking on your call-to-action? Why are they navigating away from your landing page? Again, this is where A/B testing could be highly effective in determining the answer.
Compare your bounce rate to your audience. It could be that the wrong people are receiving your messages. Try segmenting your email distribution list differently or rewriting the sales copy on your landing pages to entice the right people.
The lower your bounce rate is, the better your overall prospect engagement. However, sending messages that aren’t resonating with your target buyer is a far greater concern than a high bounce rate.
Any landing pages, curated content, advertisements or other materials you’re using to generate sales is only going to be successful if it’s seen by the right people. This sounds pretty elementary, but it’s a common pitfall. It’s important to do enough research to ensure that your messages are reaching the right people.
Put these details aside for a moment and consider the problem on a broader level. If prospects aren’t responding to your content, it’s because you’re not giving them what they need.
Go With What Works Best
It’s common to see junior salespeople try anything just to move the sales process along. They’ll do what their gut tells them and randomly try different processes until one works, then they’ll stick with it.
Humans, your sales reps included, are creatures of habit. We tend to veer toward what we’re comfortable with; we use a lot of intuition to get through the day. The problem with gut feelings and comfort, however, is they don’t always lead us down the best path.
The more you’re able to fortify your sellers with hard data and a statistically verified process, the better off you’ll be.
Your conversion rate data and thorough A/B testing should guide the best practices you use in your sales process.
Remember, however, that spending too much time toying with your data is often counterproductive. “Analysis paralysis” occurs when people are presented with so much information that making rational decisions becomes cripplingly difficult.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by numbers that don’t matter. It’s unlikely that you’ll overlook any grand revelations if you don’t look at your conversion rate data every day. Try assessing it monthly to start. The sweet spot varies across organizations, but the key is to give yourself enough time to collect statistically relevant data while not viewing it so infrequently that you miss opportunities to improve.
5 Tips To Get Started
Now that you understand the need to effectively analyze your conversion rates, you’re ready to start tracking data. Use these tips as a guide to get started.
Start small: Just tracking email open rates is better than not tracking anything at all. Start with the small stuff. Once you wrap your head around the method, expand your conversion data collection. Think of conversion tracking like you’re going to the swimming pool. Dip your toes in to test the water before jumping into the deep end.
Keep it simple: Measure simple data as people convert from one stage of the sales process to the next. Determine what you want to measure and put processes in place that allow you to get the data you’re seeking.
Listen to the data: Your data won’t lie to you. If you see that only 5 percent of your marketing emails get opened, that’s a sign you have plenty of room to improve.
Understand your milestones: Your organization establishes the milestones in its sales process for a reason. If you don’t understand the purpose of each sales milestone, the data you collect won’t serve you well.
Know your goals: When you’re looking at analytic data, it’s easy to lose sight of short-term versus long-term goals. You should know how your goals are differentiated and understand that you’re going to use different KPIs to track different goals.
Going forward, remember that tracking conversion rates isn’t a one-off activity. You should ideally apply conversion tracking consistently throughout every piece of content you create. Armed with so much information about conversion tracking, you’re now ready to go forth, convert and conquer.
The Tellwise Nutshell (TTN): To generate the sales you want, conversion rate tracking is essential. If you haven’t embraced conversion tracking, you’ll be surprised by how effective and productive your content becomes once you start measuring conversion rates and using the data proactively.
Be it through the color of an icon or the copy on a website, conversion tracking gives you an informed perspective of what’s moving your buyers through the sales process and what’s holding them back.