Increasing conversion rates is a top priority for many B2B marketing and sales teams today. While some B2B marketing campaigns achieve conversion rates of 50% or higher, many are in the 1.5%-3% range. Even though CSOs worldwide identified investments in optimized lead generation programs as a number-one priority, only about half of all B2B marketers currently utilize programs.
Converting a prospect to a customer and a customer to an advocate relies on solid data and continuous communication with customers. By driving more traffic to highly effective web pages, marketers can achieve higher conversion rates that ultimately lead to higher sales and profits.
Knowing that improved conversion rates are key to an email marketing or promotions campaign, many questions remain. How can B2B marketers increase conversion rates without a substantial investment in costly software and IT involvement? What are the characteristics of a successful campaign? What are the steps involved?
This white paper will identify four steps required to double the conversion rates of B2B companies of all industries and sizes.
Step One: Deliver Relevant Content and Targeted Messaging
Email is the marketing channel of choice for B2B marketers today. In a recent survey, 72% of marketers indicated that they use email as the primary means of communicating with their target markets.iii There is also a resurgence in the popularity of email marketing. Although its returns have diminished somewhat in the past couple of years, email marketing still outperforms other direct marketing channels such as print catalogsiv and paid ads.v A Forrester Research survey in 2008 revealed that 95% of marketers use email marketing, with another 4% planning to do so by the end of 2008vi.
To deliver an email marketing campaign’s desired results and increase conversion rates, marketers must deliver content that is relevant to and personalized for their targets. Customized content provides deeper insights about a company, service, or promotional campaign to prospects and customers. In essence, marketers need to start the “right” conversation with the “right” targets. But how do companies go about achieving this? To double conversion rates, successful marketers drive their targets to effective and action-oriented landing pages. These are distinct, stand-alone URLs created specifically for a target market for a specific promotion or email marketing campaign. Landing pages offer detailed information on a particular topic, product, promotion, or event.
When linking these personalized landing pages to targets, however, it is vital that marketers retain consistent branding and messaging. In the interest of delivering highly personalized information to key prospects and customers, a company’s identity often gets lost. Marketers need to deliver consistent messages that speak to the company’s brand and value propositions at all times, or conversion rates will drop and ROI will plummet.
After starting the “right” conversation with the “right” prospects and customers with optimized landing pages, the next step for B2B marketers is to continue that conversation, using many of the same basic principles.
Step Two: Drive an Always-On, One-on-One Dialog
In Step One, B2B marketers become connected with their targets. The goal in Step Two is to stay connected. When marketers stay connected and engaged with their targets, this leads to increased customer response rate, interaction, and advocacy. How can this be accomplished? To continue to deliver personalized communication, effective marketers solicit information such as identity, demographics, and profile details from their targets. This allows marketers to create and deliver continuous information that is customized and personalized to this target, or drive the most relevant content. It allows marketers to “keep the conversation going.”
Personalized URLs, or PURLs, offer an effective tool for staying connected to key prospects and customers. PURLs contain detailed, customer-driven information and communicate relevant messaging, which results in better marketing ROI. Communications populated by customer-driven data contain targeted messages and specific actions that marketers could only dream of 10 years ago. Today’s B2B marketers have the right tools to increase conversions. By knowing how to use these tools, the desired results can be achieved.
At this point there needs to be a reminder about branding. At this stage-as well as all stages-marketers must keep branding top-of-mind. Content that is both personalized and incorporates brand is a tricky balancing act. Customers demand a personalized experience today, but companies need to always communicate their brand to their key targets. When marketers employ these best practice marketing campaigns, they are able to influence the discussion about their brand. This can be achieved as long as marketers are able to optimize content easily, instantly, and continuously.
Step Three: Close the Loop on Campaign Conversions
One of the biggest mistakes B2B marketers can make when deploying an email marketing campaign is to send targets to their company’s home page. To increase conversions, marketers must instead create and deploy optimized landing pages. A landing page is a Web page designed specifically for a promotion or marketing campaign. These pages are designed to close the loop on marketing campaign-related activities; they are used to support marketing, brand, and customer communications and can contain brand messaging, data gathering, or both of these. Optimized landing pages, or pages created with personalized and relevant communication based on valuable data, will double customer conversion rates.
Optimized landing pages are the “missing link” for any promotional or email campaign. However, only half of marketers surveyed indicated that they optimize their landing pages to increase customer conversion rates.vii There are many ways to optimize a landing page. It can be as simple as using a customized headline or customized copy. However, when marketers are able to optimize their landing pages “on the fly,” this results in the highest possible customer conversion rates. This means having the functionality to quickly and easily incorporate personalized data. This functionality enables marketers to deliver personalized thankyou pages, personalized email confirmations, secure lead collection, and even storage for each and every client account. Deploying optimized landing pages will ultimately lead to increased sales and company growth.
Step Four: Access Instant and Actionable Analytics
The “right” conversation with key prospects and customers is continuous and never completely ends. In order to deploy email marketing campaigns that achieve higher conversion rates, B2B marketers need to be able to track clicks, conversion rates, cost per conversion, cost per click, and other pertinent marketing metrics throughout the entire campaign. Every marketer has different needs and should be able to utilize a reporting system that provides instant and actionable analytics tailored to their needs. Effective reporting systems contain the parameters required of each individual and provide access to appropriate information needed to assess each campaign and make any necessary adjustments.
As this white paper indicates, doubling conversion rates with effective email marketing tools is not only possible for B2B marketers but can be accomplished without expensive software or IT involvement. With optimized microsites, PURLs, and landing pages, marketers can provide continuous, personalized content to connect and engage with key prospects and customers while keeping brand top-of-mind.
Optimized lead generation programs lead to other benefits, as well. Continuous, relevant content builds customer relationships and loyalty, thereby converting customers to advocates. This in turn decreases customer churn and increases customer retention, which lead to substantial cost savings. As companies plan to invest more and more on email marketing in the next few years,viii it is imperative they turn to optimized lead generation programs to truly cash in on these investments. By crafting relevant messages to key prospects and customers and incorporating the proper analytics, B2B marketers will not only double their current conversion rates but cultivate loyal customer advocates for the long-term.
I CSO Insights
II Marketing Sherpa’s “Landing Page Handbook, 2nd Edition”
III Direct Magazine’s Annual Forecast Survey
IV October 23, 2007. Magill, Ken. “E-mail ROI Is Still a Stunner, but Diminishing: DMA.” Retrieved from http://directmag.com/disciplines/email/email_roi_diminishing/ on October 14, 2008.
V February 12, 2008. Marketing Sherpa. “Marketing Sherpa’s Fifth Annual Ad:Tech Survey: Top Web Advertisers Rate Best & Worst Online Tactics & Budget Plans.” Retrieved from https://www.marketingsherpa.com/barrier.html?ident=30337 on October 14, 2008.
VI September 9, 2008. Magill,
VII Marketing Sherpa’s “Landing Page Handbook, 2nd Edition”
VIII September 21, 2007. eMarketer. “Email Marketing: Getting Through to Customers.”