Conversion Optimization: How to do it right

It’s easy to spend a lot of time optimizing landing pages – and to feel darn good when you hit on one that really produces leads. But your company’s bottom-line relies on sales, not leads.  Does your super-performing landing page actually result in more sales?

To know for sure, your website optimization processes need to consider the second half of the conversion equation: lead-to-sale conversion.

This article covers the three key issues you need to address to make sure you are positively influencing sales, not just increasing leads.

 1. Establish Metrics for Lead Follow-up

Does your company have clearly defined processes and metrics for lead follow-up?  It should.

Without a follow-up process, you have no way to measure whether your fantastic supply of leads is actually contributing to sales.

So your first step in improving your website optimization is to make sure you have processes and metrics in place that give you the information you need to accurately evaluate your website data.

Be sure to get solid agreement between sales and marketing on the follow up process. How are leads graded? What is the timing of follow up? When are leads handed over to sales? What metrics are used to evaluate follow-up and who is accountable?

Without these processes in place, you cannot accurately measure the effectiveness of your website optimization.

2. Evaluate Lead Quality

Not all leads are created equal. Different landing page treatments can generate different quality leads. That’s why it’s critical to review lead quality when evaluating tests. The best way to do this is to monitor lead-to-sale conversion.

The classic example is a test with a free offer. In one recent test, we altered the call-to-action and color on a key “free trial” button. This resulted in a 20% lift in leads generated. However, we also discovered these “free” leads converted at a much lower rate than the leads generated by the original treatment. That’s why it’s so important to look at the revenue impact.

Unfortunately, in trying to match sales you may come across some challenges.  Most likely, you’ll discover that the sales information you need is not readily accessible. It’s probably in a different system (or systems) and has no easy key to tie back to the lead.

Don’t despair.  Although not as accurate, you can use the following metrics to estimate the impact on sales.

Evaluate Lead composition: Many organizations grade leads as soon as they arrive in the CRM system. This provides a quick way of more effectively evaluating a landing page. Consider the percentage of A and B leads generated along with the overall visit-to-lead conversion rate when evaluating tests.

Measure Sales opportunities generated: This can be relatively straight-forward information to report in many CRM systems and has the added benefit of yielding shorter-term results for companies with long sales cycles.

Get sales feedback: It is always useful to get sales feedback, but ensure it is quantitative. Even the best sales reps can have difficulty evaluating lead quality by gut. Several years ago I received negative feedback on a batch of sales leads we were testing. When we reviewed the data, we found these leads converted at a 25% higher rate than the control. The actual conversion rates were 5% and 4% respectively. In both cases, roughly 19 calls out of 20 ended in rejection!

One final note: In order to simplify the reporting of lead quality, consider passing the test treatment into the CRM along with the lead. This should make reporting on lead grade and opportunities much easier.

 3. Optimize the Lead-to-Sale Process

If you’ve implemented steps 1 and 2, then you’ve come a long way.  You are now evaluating your website optimization against data that really matters: sales.  But don’t stop there.  The skills you use to create and evaluate fantastic landing pages should be applied throughout the sales cycle whenever you interact with a customer.

There are many areas where testing can be effectively employed. Here are a few examples of tests we have run atBuildDirect:

Lead Grading (and re-grading):

Lead grading has a significant influence on final conversion as sales reps focus more energy on leads with the highest grade. Lead grading methodologies can be tested against the current “control” (the current winning process) to identify and implement improvements.

One of the most effective areas to consider is re-grading leads based on repeat activity. For example when multiple leads are generated from one company over time or when a prospect returns to the site for subsequent visits, re-grade the lead to a higher level.

Lead Follow Up Communication:

One of the core areas to test when optimizing the lead process is follow-up communication and timing. Some areas to consider are:

Timing & content of follow up phone calls and emails:

Testing the frequency, timing & format of follow-ups can significantly improve the bottom line. At BuildDirect, we have established a follow-up process that that includes a series of phone calls and emails with timing and content being evaluated using optimization testing.

Testing hard-copy fulfillment and collateral:

Setting up the infrastructure to enable personalization of hard-copy letters opens the door for some great testing opportunities. At BuildDirect, we have had a lot of success trialing different text & collateral in lead fulfillment packages.

Limited-time Offers:

Optimization testing also provides a great mechanism for evaluating limited-time offers. Testing offers against a “no offer” control group is a great way to measure the true ROI of these offers.

Drip & Trigger-Based Marketing:

Drip and trigger-based emails are very useful to help move leads down the funnel. At BuildDirect, we have found these campaigns have very high open and click-through rates and very low unsubscribe rates.

As with onsite retargeting, one important element to consider when evaluating these initiatives is to include a control group that does not receive the campaign. Many of these people will buy anyway. A control group provides a very useful means of evaluating the true lift of these initiatives.

At BuildDirect we have made significant revenue gains by focusing on both landing page optimization and lead-to-sale conversion optimization. There are a lot more tests to run, but we have the framework and metrics to quickly and effectively identify ways to generate and convert more leads.