9 Questions to ask yourself when your B2B conversion rates are plummeting.

KENNEDY MARKETING BLOG

In today’s market, 67% of the buyers journey is now done digitally as buyers continually search for ways to get up to speed with their symptoms and figure out ways to address them. This makes reaching and engaging with a B2B audience much more difficult – a fragmented media space, cluttered with numerous businesses all vying for your attention.

So it’s no wonder that buyers are prone to filtering out what is irrelevant at the expense potentially of your company’s message.

So with the changes in the way that we buy and undertake research, it’s clear that the buyer behaviour is moving outside of the traditional definition of the sales and marketing funnel whether you are buying as a business or an end consumer.

Today, most marketing teams are judged on their efforts to drive visitors to the website.

Activities destined to generate awareness are designed to attract leads into the top of the sales funnel. Once this process starts to deliver results, marketers are then pressured to ramp up the traffic, to hopefully add even more leads into the funnel for sales to convert.

Now, think about where in your buying process did a particular brand stand out?

If you bought a television, perhaps you found it by searching for “best television for the money” or “discounts on big brand televisions”. If Google was the first place you went to search for your television then you have joined the over 90 percent of us that conduct online research before making a purchase.

When we as customers follow a sales conversion path, logically, the company that we ultimately buy from needs to have been exposed be to us at some point along that journey.

As customers in today’s 24/7 world a multi-channel journey can move across mobile, laptop, TV, or in-store without us even giving it a passing thought. 

For example, many companies in the technology sector are lagging behind the curve when it comes to understanding the new digital landscape.

Buyers are more selective that ever before, they don’t need to hear from a brand directly to decide if they are interested based on their own research. And that’s a problem, because the traditional approach to doing business that many companies are hanging on to – the outbound-centric models are not as effective as they were in delivering leads into the sales pipe-line.

Conversion rates require ongoing maintenance and should be regularly checked to make sure you are being effective.

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However, when conversion rates aren’t what you had expected, it’s common for businesses to start making knee-jerk amendments to on-page elements – where there are likely to be changes to CTA buttons, landing page headlines and the graphics. But conversion is much more that what the customer sees, don’t “judge the book by the cover”. So before making any changes to address your conversion concerns, ask yourself these nine critical questions:

1. Are You Addressing Your Complex Sales Cycle?

In today’s new world order, traditional marketing as we have known it, does not always work – especially if you are a start-up, SaaS or a tech business that typically have a high-cost investment and a high-consideration sales process.

In a recent survey, 74% of business buyers told Forrester they conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase.

B2B buyers have had to evolve their own approach because of complexities within their decision making process. An elongated sales cycle, the various vested interests of stakeholders, a focus on cost and a multitude of different vendor options available.

Change “all about me” To A Buyer-Centric Mindset
  • Use your expertise, knowledge and experience as a way to educate prospects online especially if you what you provide has a long and complex sales cycle
  • Become a trusted “expert” by sharing insights and offering advice via “social selling” to build a position of authority
  • Learn how to recognise when prospects are open to engage to hear your insights and advice by creating a buyer’s persona
  • Implement and use a sales CRM tool to manage and record your actions and feedback
  • Sell in the way that your customers are buying

Being able to offer advice and value to prospects regardless of whether they’re ready to buy, builds credibility and authority for your brand.

2. Is There A Market For Your Product?

Analysing the potential marketplace for your product is something you do in the early stages of product development. It’s part of gathering initial research on your audience and understanding what they need.

So it makes sense to revisit your audience research and review your customers needs. Make sure your product addresses their pain and provides a solution. Then look to how you position your product to ensure customers can see the value your solution brings.

An important marketing lesson to learn is that when you have a B2B product that is highly complex or technical in nature your customers may not actually realise or just simply ignore that they need it. So focus on what is the buyer’s pain that they need to address – talk about their problems. Start conversations around your buyer’s plans, goals and challenges. What options do they have, what are the consequences if they fail?

Without knowing your customers, their background, goals, pain and how your product or service will benefit them – it’s very difficult to create content to attract leads. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and your own findings.

How Do You Select A Market For Your Product?

Start with what you can manage – a small market. Probably only a small portion of the population will be interested in your solution.

The perfect target market for a tech start up for example is a small group, concentrated together and served by few or no competitors.

If you try to market to everyone, you waste both time and money. So use keyword tools, and platforms like Google Trends to uncover the volume of interest in your particular product through the levels of search traffic. Then ask yourself how does your product meet the needs of the people searching for it?

  1. Customer size – Generally, the smaller your customers are, the higher the risk of having to regularly replace them because of smaller budgets.
  2. Budgets – Working hard on your price point is important otherwise if your price positioning is wrong you may have an ineffective product distribution – nobody can afford what you sell or you are under pricing it.
  3. Competition – Is the market swamped with competitors and alternatives, is it mature, is the market changing, etc.? Learn to read the market, is this the right time, what other variables need to change to open up a market?
  4. Customer segmentation – is the segment big enough to meet your sales goals yet not so big that your product will be lost?
  5. Value proposition – take a hard look at the your points of differentiation. Can your customers measure and identify the value points? Do your have insight on whether buyers actually value the things that make you different from your competitors? 
3. Do You Have An Effective Targeting Strategy?

It’s frustrating to see large numbers of visitors landing on your site, but not see any opt-ins or sales.

If you are getting the numbers but not the conversion, one of the first questions you should ask is whether you’re targeting the right people? Conversion is a game of quality not quantity.

You may well have a great product, but if you’re presenting it to the wrong audience then you’ll never generate traction. Conversion paths are getting longer and more complex, so if you are going to see a return on your efforts you’ll need to offer value all the way along the buying journey.

In an ideal world, as companies we would like to think we have the time for one-to-one conversations with every sales prospect. But historically, time, money and limited resources have prevented such an approach. 

Fortunately, the new world of digital provides a possible middle ground – where we can scale-up the number of interactions to ultimately help your conversion efforts.

The key to this new lead nurturing strategy is to understand more about your customers, to then be able to focus your time on developing the right message and content, distributed at the right time through the right channels.

By combining a buyer persona profile, a carefully mapped buyers journey and an empathetic approach you can greatly increase your engagement with prospects and the long term success of your lead nurturing programme.

Below is an example of a buyers journey, where you will work on different formats or types of content depending at what stage the buyer is.

Content Mapping buyers journey
4. Has Trust Been Established?

Asking visitors to share information for example to gate content with an email address requires a huge leap of faith.

One study from Taylor Nelson Sofres showed that consumers might terminate as many as 70% of online purchases due to a lack of trust. People may really want what you’re selling, but if they don’t trust you, then they’ll never convert.

There are several ways to establish and grow trust, which include:

  • Testimonials and reviews from real customers, which will be far better received than corporate information
  • Company contact and location information
  • Customer logos from recognisable brands
  • Trade group affiliations
  • Awards and recognitions 
5. Do You Have A Compelling Story?

Storytelling is a powerful sales tool when it connects with the right audience.

Public relations (PR) is the process by which you communicate and engage to build mutually beneficial relationships between other organisations or audiences using trusted sources to distribute your message.

Both PR and inbound marketing are mutually effective in boosting brand awareness, increasing website traffic, creating a brand identity, and distributing your content to a target audience. 

PR are accomplished storytellers, creating narratives or angles to advance the agenda of their client in order to protect, enhance or start to build a brands reputation.

Inbound marketing can augment PR efforts and serve as an amplifier to the content that is created adding another way of sharing it to your target audience.

An inbound strategy can benefit in many ways, providing a platform to post fresh, new content along with optimising relevant and targeted keywords, and building thought leadership. 

Digital PR builds relationships by making use of inbound marketing tools and content to help generate qualified traffic, along with building up brand awareness. 

There are three main ways of distributing your content – via your own channels (owned), other people distributing and sharing it voluntarily (earned) and paying to distribute it (paid).

6. Do Your Customers Understand The Benefits?

Customers are typically value orientated, what do they have to spend to get a return and how long before they see the benefits?

It’s difficult to persuade a business to buy something unless at the same time you educate them on the reasons and added value.  

When it comes to the technology sector in particular there are many characteristics in the buying process that create complexity that as vendors we need to address through education. For example:

  1. Remembering that customers are more than just a company they are real people that you need to interact with, so humanise your content
  2. That a client tends to make buying decisions with many stakeholders all with their own agendas
  3. A fear of making a bad choice means decisions now happen over time rather than overnight
  4. Buyers have so many more options to select from that reaching a consensus is a challenge 
  5. Budgets are tighter, money needs to go further 
  6. Switching process – it is common to have customers that do not buy because they are concerned about the consequences of switching suppliers, the potential extra time, costs, resources, new technology, etc.
  7. VFM (value for money) – is the buyer qualified to measure and understand the added value your solution drives?
7. What Is The Customer Experience Really Like? (CX)

It’s important to understand the journey your customer has to follow in order to reach the point where they’re willing to convert.

A carefully mapped out customer journey and an empathetic approach to your customers “moments of truth” over multiple touch points is the path to purchase.

The end result should be real value for the customer in terms of buying what they need and for your company to provide a seamless and positive customer experience.

One of the biggest challenges facing companies when they want to become customer focused is the lack of a “customer or buyer-centric” view within the organisation.  A way to overcome these barriers is to breakdown and review the total customer journey from the customers perspective.

With so many channels, new devices, platforms and content mediums it has made it much easier for consumers to be selective on what they view, at the cost of ignoring the rest. So when a visitor arrives on your website, are you ready for conversion?

You can reduce friction on your own website by taking small steps and testing them to see how they alter your conversion rates.

But before you make changes ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Does the copy on your website speak to your target audience about their problems and how to solve them (not just telling them all about yourself)?
  2. Do you use calls-to-action buttons that lead your visitors to your offer?
  3. Do you have designated landing pages?
  4. Do you have too many forms to fill or clicks to complete an action?
  5. Do you have a thank you email or landing page after the content has been downloaded?
  6. Do you have Case Studies or Customer Success Stories (showcasing real cases) published on your website?
  7. Do you have testimonials from happy customers?
  8. How quick are your load times?
  9. What is your balance between images and written copy on your website?
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8. So What Is Wrong With your Sales Funnel?

Figuring out where people exit your site can be a good indicator of why people leave, and help you to work backwards towards finding a particular touch point to focus on and improve.

Using Google Analytics to track where the site traffic enters, the number of steps users have to take while navigating from page to page, and tracing the exit point will all offer great insights.

The problem with much of the sales funnel conversation is that it describes a funnel with a definite end – buy or not buy.

If you don’t buy, you must be either stuck in the middle or fallen out of the bottom. In the context of sales, just because your customer has reached the end of the funnel it does not mean the end of a customer’s journey.

A common mistake is to assume that if a visitor doesn’t progress from one stage to the next that they must have dropped out of the funnel. In today’s digital world buyers do behave differently.

Moving around the funnel from one stage to another, entering and leaving at different points. This fluidity is contrary to the idea of a traditional funnel which has only two openings, one at the top and one at the bottom and ignores any leakage.

Prospects are also moving across multiple devices and channels, as they jump into and out of the funnel at different stages.  

In the same sales funnel you’ll have visitors entering part way through the funnel, some will exit early, some will skip stages, and others will engage multiple times at the same stage – all in a non-linear way. 

9. Do You Have Content Assets That Appeal To Both The Immediate And Longer-Term Customer Needs?

By viewing customers across the sales funnel, marketers can influence the sales process as prospects search for and digest information to help them make a decision at different stages of readiness.

In 2017, take a holistic view of the customer journey as suggested by Google “Understanding How Micro-Moments Influence Consumers” and create a range of content assets that match the right message to the right moment in the buyer’s journey.

We all know trying to lead an uncertain customer through the sales funnel, usually ends up with failure in either a delayed or defeated selling process. Prematurely presenting a solution to a customer who does not identify with the problem is a recipe for disaster. 

Take Away

If your conversion rate is going down, as a part of your plan of action look to the competition.

How are they positioning their products?

What are they doing differently to engage the target audience?

But in general the most effective lead generation campaigns contain most, if not all, of the following components:

The Offer: an offer is the high-value content that you create based on the buyer and where they are in their buying journey.

The Call-To-Action: a CTA is text, an image or a button that links directly to a landing page so visitors can find and download your offer.

The Landing Page: unlike normal website pages, is a specialised page that contains information about one particular offer.

The Form: will collect contact information from a visitor in exchange for an offer.

The Email: is a cost effective way to build relationships with customers, it can be a simple thank-you or a collection of emails that nurture your prospects along the sales funnel.

The Customer Pain: the Inbound methodology is all about attracting leads to you. The better you understand the pain that your customers are experiencing, the more effective you are going to be in creating products and services to address those needs.

Let me know if you have any other ideas on how you managed to improve your conversion rates.

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John Kennedy

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