Reality check: converting customers doesn’t just happen by accident. These days, B2B marketers need to proactively engineer the buyer’s journey.
Your ability to convert strangers into qualified leads often hinges on your ability to “light up” where you want people to go next as you nurture them from Point A to Point B.
But doing so now is easier said than done.
Think about it. Technology’s limited ability to attribute clicks across devices and platforms makes it difficult to give customers that personalized push – and that’s before we take into account the marketing challenges of GDPR.
Meanwhile, we’re marketing in an era of self-service, multi-channel nurturing, where 60% of business decision-making has already been made before prospects get in touch with us. Unless you can make a strong first impression, you’re fighting an uphill battle for guiding your potential customers anywhere.
All the more reason for you to experiment with various elements of your marketing funnel – to fine-tune the aspects that you can of that ever-so-vital journey.
The Not-So-Mad Scientist’s Approach to Optimizing the Buyer’s Journey
While the need to experiment and optimize has been well established, many of us are unclear on exactly how to do so. Experimenting with call-to-action button colors and sizes, we’re told, is silly. So what should you be experimenting with, then?
And in the meantime, your marketing strategy has about a million moving pieces to manage, right?
Don’t panic. Below are five key elements to address first and foremost. These elements will not only hone your focus on where to start with your experimentation, but also represent the most important aspects of conversion optimization for modern B2B buyers.
1. Experiment with content formats
Conventional wisdom for years has been “the more, the merrier” in regard to content length and frequency, especially in the 10x era.
That said, the ideal blog post or video format isn’t exactly a universally known entity when it comes to nurturing people towards conversions.
Consider that the “perfect” length or frequency for a piece of content, written or otherwise, is totally subjective. While massive pillar posts such as those from Backlinko are certainly valuable from an SEO perspective, also bear in mind how content gurus like Seth Godin kill it with bite-sized, punchier pieces.
Likewise, if you’re limiting yourself solely to written content, you’re inevitably holding back your ability to convert. Nearly three-quarters of consumers purchase products after viewing video content on-site.
Meanwhile, Facebook notes that video content receives six times the engagement of a typical post as part of their updated algorithm. With tools out there such as Lumen5 and Wave, you can pull double duty by converting your written content into social or homepage video.
Remember: optimization isn’t one-size-fits-all, nor is it a game of “either-or.” Long versus short. Written versus video. What converts boils down to your numbers.
Keeping an eye on your analytics can likewise clue you in on whether your audience is hungry for longer, visual-heavy content or short-form pieces instead.
2. Explore channels for content distribution
Content distribution is a massive problem for modern marketers simply because there’s so much ground to cover. Don’t forget that now-infamous study from BuzzSumo, which concluded that the vast majority of content produced daily is ignored by readers and Google alike.
Given the effort it takes to create any piece of content, maximizing your reach is a must-do for the sake of time and a positive ROI.
There is a slew of third-party tools and tactics out there to help you squeeze the most out of your content strategy, converting every nook and cranny of your target audience without fail.
For starters, consider social scheduling tools such as Edgar, which allow you to post and repost your top performing evergreen content. Built-in features such as optimized timing ensure that your posts are getting in front of as any many eyes as possible.
Bear in mind, though, that when individuals share content, it comes across as far more trustworthy on social media than when a brand posts links to its own assets. Services such as Smarp help streamline suggesting curated content among in-house brand advocates to get in front of new audience members. Not only does this expand the reach of your content, but provides your brand with a much-needed sense of authenticity.
Considering how quickly social media moves, the more feeds you’re in, the more likely people are to spot your content. To give you a sense of the scalable impact involved with employee advocacy, Smarp has found that each Facebook post from a team member drives an average of four clickthroughs.
3. A/B test your landing page layout and messaging
Here’s some food for thought: 96% of visitors to your site aren’t ready to buy.
That’s why first impressions are so incredibly valuable to immediately build a sense of trust and understanding, hopefully keeping people from bouncing and likewise encouraging them to reach out and ask for more information.
Testing your landing pages is essential for optimizing your copy and reducing bounce rates. Visitors will make snap judgments based on something such as a wonky design or weirdly-worded CTA. In other words, every piece of your landing page deserves your full attention.
But which elements represent top priorities? As highlighted by iSenseLabs, here are some pointers to consider:
- Customer-centric copy (“you”) that immediately highlights the benefits of your product
- Captivating visuals that point your visitors’ attention directly to a CTA
- CTA micro-copy that speaks to your visitors’ curiosity
These might not seem like major game-changers unto themselves, but even the most minor changes can represent catalysts for giving visitors that much-needed push to take action.
Tools such as VWO are great for A/B testing elements both big and small, essentially serving up different versions of your landing pages to figure out which gets the most results. Rather than treat changes as a guessing game, you can fine-tune your site based on hard data over time.
4. Rethink your approach to email automation
Cited by nearly 60% of B2B marketers as the most effective channel for revenue, email is still the bread and butter of businesses at large.
Even so, drip campaigns and remarketing by themselves aren’t enough. While the ability to send behavior-based, segmented campaigns to nurture our leads is a major plus, doing so isn’t the be-all, end-all of an effective campaign.
If you feel like your emails are underperforming, consider the following tweaks to increase your conversion rates:
- Embrace mobile optimization, including bite-sized subject lines and tap-worthy CTA buttons
- Personalize offers, deals and messaging based on your segmentation
- Use triggers such as opt-in forms, time spent on product pages and other visitor-specific actions to activate your drips
In short, you need to rely on a personalized email strategy versus one-size-fits-all campaigns if you want to create a more compelling customer experience.
5. Defining how much your leads are worth
Finally, modern CRMs can tell us just about everything we need to know in terms of what our hottest leads are interested in.
But especially in the era of GDPR and general wariness over how companies use people’s data, it certainly pays to tread lightly. Pushing too hard for a sales pitch too early could result in lost leads despite your best efforts.
Businesses can’t arbitrarily assume “when” and “why” potential customers are ready for a pitch. Instead, you need to have a specific set of factors in place to essentially outline who your most qualified leads are based on behavior.
That’s why leading scoring is so valuable. For example, HubSpot’s CRM allows for manual lead scoring, which lets marketers define their perfect leads based on specific parameters. Acting as a system of checks and balances, you can look at “positive” criteria such as social clicks and time on certain pages against “negative” attributes such as opting out of an email campaign.
The end result? A crystal clear, data-supported picture of your most qualified leads versus a shot in the dark when it’s time to go in for the sale.
What Does Your Buyer’s Journey Look Like?
The buyer’s journey doesn’t have to be a game of chance. You have more control than you might think when it comes to customer behavior.
And you’ll never know what works for your customers until you experiment accordingly. Not only is going through the legwork totally worth it, but hey, nobody’s going to do it for you.
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.