As an Inbound Marketing Strategist at Imagine, I spend time with my clients every month to review metrics and adjust our plan of attack based on what those metrics tell us. One of the things we consider is the visitor-to-qualified lead conversion rate.
Earlier this year, our marketing manager, Stacy, wrote a post about why your 10,000 visitors aren’t converting to new customers. While obviously, it is important to have visitors, if they never convert to customers that indicates a problem with your approach.
In a recent study, Holger Schulze of LinkedIn’s B2B Technology Marketing Group noted that 59% of respondents said generating high-quality leads is a top priority. And in my personal experience working directly with clients, I would say the priority of generating quality leads for B2B SMEs is closer to 100%.
The first step in that process is for the contact to simply move from a visitor to a qualified lead. If that step is broken, the rest of the process is doomed.
Before I dive into how to drive more qualified leads, I want to define conversion. For this conversation, conversion is simply measuring how many website visitors take the action you want them to take when visiting your site. That action can be subscribing to your blog, downloading content, making a purchase or creating a password. At Imagine, when a visitor downloads a piece of content or subscribes to our blog, they become a lead. They have converted from an unknown visitor to a known lead.
The next step in the Imagine process is to put those leads through a triage process. Based on our ideal client profile, we assign a classification to each lead. We have pre-determined criteria for determining if a lead is not qualified and to what degree they are qualified. For more information about how to manage your leads, download our workbook How to Effectively Manage Inbound Leads.
So you may be thinking, what is the visitor-to-qualified lead rate I should be trying to achieve? Well, that answer is specific to the end goals you’re trying to reach.
When I analyze the visitor-to-qualified lead conversion rate for my clients, I don’t look to industry benchmarking averages because each B2B SME I work with has unique and specific goals.
When we begin a client engagement, we go through a process to determine the number of qualified leads required each month to meet the end goals. For example, based on a client’s yearly revenue goal, we may calculate that they need a minimum of 50 qualified leads to drive the sales necessary to meet the goal. Our monthly analysis of the metrics focuses on those pre-determined numbers.
How to Improve Visitor-to-Qualified Lead Conversion Rate
B2B SMEs always want more qualified leads, of course, but what if your inbound marketing program is missing the mark? Let’s say your qualified lead goal for the month was 118. You’re on day 15 of the month, and you only have 30 qualified leads. Yikes! You’re definitely behind pace to reach the goal for the month.
So what’s the solution? First, don’t go back to the drawing board and proclaim inbound marketing doesn’t work. The reality is that inbound marketing is not a set it and forget it approach. It requires regular optimization. But trust me when I say that the investment you make in optimization will help you keep moving towards your goals.
If you find yourself in this position, here are 9 ways to improve your visitor-to-qualified lead rate:
1. Analyze leads by looking at cross-channel attribution
At Imagine we use HubSpot to dig into reporting metrics. If I note a qualified lead problem, I can look at the qualified leads we are generating to identify trends in industry, company size, role, lead generation source and content engagement to identify what’s working. On the other side of the coin, I can look at the leads that are not qualified to identify what part of our inbound marketing efforts are attracting the wrong types of leads. For example, if we have an eBook that is attracting leads from companies that are too small, we may tweak the title, CTA, and copy, to indicate that the eBook is positioned to help larger organizations.
2. Adjust your landing pages
When you have an offer gated behind a form, use language that helps visitors qualify themselves. If the page is for a middle of the funnel or bottom of the funnel offer, incorporate enough information in your messaging so visitors can determine if your products and services are right for them. If your offer is for the top of the funnel, use language that helps guide more qualified leads. For example, I have a SaaS client that does not offer subscriptions to SMEs, so in the language on their landing pages, we make sure it’s clear that the content is for large enterprise organizations.
3. Move your CTAs around
Align the CTAs promoting your offers with pages on your site that match your targeted personas and funnel stage. It’s helpful if you create a content map of all your site pages so you can precisely align your content offers and monitor the click rate of your CTAs. You can improve your clicks by using smart CTAs that promote specific offers based on your personas visiting the site and other offers they previously downloaded.
4. Use appropriate forms
You need more than an email address to determine if a lead is qualified, but you also need to balance your desire for more information with the lead’s willingness to complete a longer form. An approach I recommend is to use longer forms on higher value offers at the middle and bottom of the funnel. And for your top of the funnel offers, use shorter forms with progressive profiling. Over time as the visitor engages with more of your content, you can capture industry, company size and answers to even more accurate lead-qualifying questions.
5. Evaluate the user experience
Are your targeted personas easily able to find the information they need on your site? Is your message resonating? What about your imagery? How about the placement of your content offers and video? Using a heat mapping tool like Hotjar will give you insight into the site user experience that will help you update your website, so your message, layout and lead generating efforts create more qualified leads.
6. Review your content
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel here. If you have blog topics that resonated with the right audience, expand those topics into longer form content like whitepapers or something more interactive like a video. When repurposing existing content or creating something new, keep in mind the formats that will resonate with your audience. As popular as video is, according to DemandWave's 2016 State of Digital Marketing Report, 61% of respondents said whitepapers drove the most leads. You can look at your content from the other end of the spectrum as well. For example, if you have an eBook that is generating leads that are not qualified, revisit your offer to see if you can retarget the title, imagery and supporting elements like landing pages and CTAs to do a better job of attracting qualified leads.
7. Participate on the right social media platforms
Don’t waste time sharing your message across all social networks if the right audience isn’t there. You will generate more quality leads if you spend time where your target personas engage.
For example, if your primary persona is on LinkedIn, move beyond sharing blog posts and offers from your company page. You will drive more traffic by having your employees share content from their profiles, as well as sharing your message in LinkedIn Groups and through LinkedIn Pulse. Remember, when it comes to social, your employees can be your best asset to drive qualified leads. Take an employee advocacy approach to social by leveraging your employees’ networks because your employees have their network where they are trusted thought leaders. Incentivize them to pass on qualified leads with perks for the introduction and bonuses on closed business.
8. Choose your Google AdWords carefully
If you’re running paid search, use long tail keywords and be specific in your ads to make sure you are targeting your niche and not wasting clicks. For example, I ran ads for a uniform rental company and included language in the ads and on the landing pages that mentioned the service was for companies with “200 or more uniformed employees.” The reason behind this was because leads from smaller companies were not qualified and would never result in closed business. This approach can translate to display as well. Test incorporating more qualifying language into your digital ads
9. Try LinkedIn Advertising
LinkedIn targeting let’s you get specific with company type, size, and job title, so you can ensure your message is getting in front of qualified prospects. If they have a need, they can quickly turn into a qualified lead.
Improving your qualified visitor-to-conversion rate starts with understanding what the end goal is for your company and clearly defining what a qualified lead looks like. Once you have that focus, consider lead quality conversion optimization an ongoing process that leverages metrics to make informed decisions that will result in more qualified leads, and ultimately, more closed business. Keep in mind that while there are many significant conversion rates to measure, if your visitor-to-qualified lead conversion rate is not where it should be, your entire funnel will be negatively impacted, resulting in fewer closed sales.