Five tips to help maximize conversions

Conversions. The marketing manager’s golden goose. The holy grail. In marketing we focus on various KPIs to determine the success of a campaign, but the one that ultimately moves the needle for a business is conversions. The word “conversion” has different meanings to different organizations, but today I wanted to provide you with the top things we are seeing to help drive conversions, however you define them:

1. Determine what success looks like
Okay, this may seem pretty elementary, but you would be surprised at how often this gets overlooked. This is the first and most important step in any campaign, and if we don’t define what success looks like, to be honest (and maybe a little blunt), we’re destined to fail, and will never be able to determine ROI.  Regardless of what those metrics are, whether it be subscriptions, email opens, impressions, or form fill- outs, we must define how every key stakeholder in our organization defines success.
“Ryan, all my manager cares about is sales, he doesn’t care about anything you just mentioned.” Totally understand, that’s why we have to make sure our stakeholders understand …
2. Conversions don’t always equal sales
No matter the length of your sales cycle, whether your B2B or B2C, your customer has a journey. Yes, the time spent “in the funnel” varies from business to business, but there is a process of converting someone from a “stranger” to a customer. Regardless of the speed at which this happens, the journey typically looks something like this:
awareness > engagement > interest > consideration > decision > retention
When prospects move from one stage to the next, it’s a conversion. We are moving someone from a stranger to a passive lead to an active lead and so on and so forth; each of those steps is a conversion. Now, you have to work within your organization to define what actions warrant movement; for example, maybe an email open classified in the “engagement” phase while a click in an email to a high value eBook or white paper may be classified in the “interest” phase.  How do we determine the values of each action? Well …
3. Utilize lead scoring
There is a technological investment in this, but whether it’s an enterprise system like Salesforce or your own homegrown CRM, I cannot stress enough the value in lead scoring. Just to level set, lead scoring is assigning value to different actions a prospect takes while moving through the buyer journey. To use the example above, our buyer journey has five steps. To make the math easy (because, ya know, I love math) let’s say the stages are broken up into “20-point” intervals.
We can assign KPIs at each stage with a certain value and when the prospect reaches the point threshold, they are converted to the next phase of the buyer journey. Tracking this movement through lead scoring can show the value of those marketing campaigns that aren’t point-of-sale focused by showcasing that your marketing efforts are helping move prospects to the ultimate goal of a sale. Speaking of sales …

4. Involve your sales team
Again, this seems obvious, but you would be shocked at how often we see disconnected sales and marketing teams. In many cases, especially in the B2B world, your sales team is truly the driver of your organization. Sales = money. Money = good for the company, it’s really as simple as that. With that being said, it’s our job as marketers to make your sales team’s job as easy as possible. Talk with them and see at what point they want to engage with customers.
Using the example above with lead scoring, maybe the most efficient use of their time is only engaging customers when they reach the “interest” phase of the buyer journey. And the best part is, if you keep them involved, especially in setting up the KPIs for the lead scoring, they will know exactly what the prospect has done and why they are getting “pinged” (i.e., sales knows that if a prospect has 40 points, they must have done x, y and z). 
I can tell you firsthand, when you’re able to do this, the value you bring to sales is almost immeasurable. Hate being known as the department that “makes things look good”? Give your sales team qualified leads that drive conversions and watch your reputation change.

5. Appropriately map your content
We’ve talked extensively about the different phases of the buyer journey, so it makes sense that at each phase the content we are serving should be different. People have different needs at each stage of their journey. For example, for a prospect who’s at the beginning of their journey conducting research, a cut sheet that features the specs and pricing of your product can be a little off-putting.
Think of it this way: When you’re walking through a store and you see a sales person asking people in front of you, “Sir/Ma’am, what is the current situation with your TV/internet provider?” I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one that makes a 90-degree turn and ducks into an aisle to avoid eye contact.
Why is that? It’s because we as consumers naturally want to do our own research before we engage in any type of “sales pitch.” In fact, according to the eCommerce Foundation’s recently released “United States Ecommerce Country Report,” 88 percent of consumers pre-research their buys online before making a purchase either online or in-person.
So, what does this mean? We have to make sure we are properly mapping our content for the different phases of the buyer journey. One of the best ways to do this is to conduct an audit on all of your existing content and see how the “pie chart” breaks out. Typically, we like to see about 60 percent in awareness/engagement, 20 percent in consideration/interest and 10 percent in decision.
If your numbers don’t line up, that is totally okay. You’ve just identified the gaps you need to fill and the types of content you need to fill them.
There you have it! Sounds easy right? Of course, I’m being just a bit sarcastic there. These five steps are hardly the only ways to maximize your conversions, but trust me, starting with the above actions will go a long way. It’s hard. I’m not going to lie, I probably could have written a detailed blog post on all five steps, but it’s much easier to just have a conversation because everyone’s needs are a bit different. Is it easy, no, but to throw in your classic end-of-blog post cliché, “nothing worth having or doing comes easy.”