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What Is Website Conversion Optimization?

Posted by Jason Stewart on December 14, 2010

Hint: It's WAY more than just your landing pages.

B2B companies are light-years behind B2C when it comes to accurately, effectively, and succinctly describing what it is that they do and why you should care.

I have been meaning to write about the Marketing Sherpa B2B Summit that was here in San Francisco this past fall for quite a while, but you will have to settle for my one key takeaway from that show. When talking about social media, Research Director Sergio Balegno mentioned that more than any other tool, including your home page, the blog is turning into the place that is the center of the B2B social dynamic -- the place your customers and prospects go to find out what you are really like, and in many cases who you are.

The insinuation here, I think, was that our prospects are embracing social media and rely on it to do their research and often look for support - which is no doubt true - but I think the real reason is a lot more basic. B2B companies are light-years behind B2C when it comes to accurately, effectively, and succinctly describing what it is that they do an d why you should care.

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Here is a pop quiz for you. Open up your web analytics package and take a look at how your company "About" page performs. Is it in the top ten? Is it number two, after the home page? It's probably because your prospects click on "About" to find out who you are, and because they didn't find it on your home page. Or at least what they did find on your home page wasn't relevant or compelling enough to push them to one of the pages you really want them to visit ... products, solutions, etc.

Most B2B websites remind me of the Choose Your Own Adventure books I used to read when I was a kid. These were the ones where you would get to the end of a page and pick what the protagonist would do next. Sometimes you wind up solving the mystery and rescuing your friends, but other times you wind up trapped with no clear path to resolution. Many websites are like this, overwhelming you with options and hoping that you will self-select your way into identifying yourself as a lead.

These sites are not optimized for conversion.

In his blog piece from this past November, The Declining Role of Microsites, Sirius Decisons analyst Jay Gaines defines a microsite as a "dedicated online destination that is deployed to support a specific outbound or inbound marketing initiative." In other words, it is a small, self-contained site dedicated to converting visitors into leads. While they can be extremely effective, they are a classic example of treating the symptom rather than the disease. Gaines states that "excessive use of microsites is increasingly a symptom of a poorly designed, outdated and inflexible primary site. Why else would one be compelled to create isolated clusters of web pages with unique domain names and little or no navigation to the primary site?" His recommendation? "...marketers should focus on turning their primary site(s) into conversion optimized destinations..."

How can they do it?

  • Targeted, Relevant Content Visible on the Very First Impression
    If you can identify the web visitor before you interact with them and use the information to dictate how your site behaves, you can increase engagement and ultimately drive more conversions.
  • Increase Conversions With Shorter (and Smarter) Web Forms
    Everyone knows that shorter forms mean more conversions, but what about the data? Using smarter forms that capture information about the visitor without requiring them to enter it themselves can overcome the quality vs. quantity tradeoff most B2B marketers struggle with.
  • Chat Smarter
    I absolutely love using chat when I have a support issue, and it may seem that the primary use-case for chat is support...but the sales implications are tremendous for lead generation. If you knew your top prospect was on your site right now, wouldn't you want to proactively engage them to make sure they are finding what they need?
  • Understand What Happened with B2B Web Analytics
    No matter how much you optimize your site for optimization, the majority of your visitors are not going to convert. It's vital to understand what types of businesses they represent, and in some cases even figure out where specific busiensses are in the buying cycle depending on which pages they are visiting and where they are coming from. You may already know which sources are driving the most traffic, but do you know which ones are driving the best traffic?

The Demandbase Real-Time Identification Service can help you optimize your website for conversions by identifying the IP address of your business visitors before you interact with them, delivering more than twenty relevant data points about the visitor including company name, employee count, customer status, revenue, industry and more. It is done completely without cookies, and this past week Demandbase announced that we have expanded the business resolution platform driving our Real-Time Identification Service to more than 1 billion IP addresses across North America and Europe. By plugging Real-time ID into the tools you are using already (CMS, CRM, MAS, Web Analytics, Chat) you can more proactively engage with your prospects online to ultimately increase conversions.

Join us this Thursday, 12/16 at 11AM pacific for a live webinar featuring Steven Woods from Eloqua and Greg Ott from Demandbase, interacting with Meagan Eisenberg -- Director of WW Programs, Marketing Automation and Operations, Field and Services Marketing at ArcSight (recently acquired by HP) as they discuss the ArcSight use of Demandbase and Eloqua to optimize their website for conversions. Register here.