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The Marketing Manager's Guide to Optimizing Conversion Paths

Posted by David O'Sullivan

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image credit: hubspot

As a marketer, one of your key performance metrics is to generate highly-qualified leads for your sales team. If your visitor-to-lead conversion rate is in the dumps, the culprit might not be your product or the quality of your content offers.

It may be simply too difficult for your visitors to become leads. According to HubSpot, 55% of web users spend 15 seconds or less on a website. You have a quarter of a minute to impress your visitors with a clear value proposition.

Optimizing your conversion paths, or the journey your prospects take to convert into leads, is one powerful tool for maximizing your lead generation efforts. If your visitors have to work hard to figure out how to download your whitepapers or request follow-up from your sales team, they may bounce off your site and visit a competitor instead. In this blog, you’ll learn the definition of conversion paths, and some pragmatic ways to improve your website’s user experience (UX) for lead generation.

What are Conversion Paths?

A conversion path is the process a website visitor follows to become a lead. Your website may have anywhere between 0 and 10,000 conversion paths. According to HubSpot’s Rachel Goodman Moore, conversion paths typically encompass the following marketing materials:

  • Attention-Grabbing Calls-to-Action (CTAs)
  • Optimized Landing Pages
  • Contextually-Relevant Content
  • Thank You Pages

A CTA button on your homepage or blog article represents the beginning of one conversion path. In order for these pathways to generate marketing-qualified leads, each aspect must be tailored to your buyer personas, or ideal buyers.

For more insights on how targeted marketing communications is tied to lead quality, check out Why You’re Struggling to Generate Enough Marketing Qualified Leads.

However, even the most relevant content can fail to convert if there’s excessive friction in the conversion pathway. Almost all of us have experienced frustration when dealing with overly long or invasive landing page forms or trouble downloading content offers from a prospective vendor’s website. Ensuring that your conversion pathways are as straightforward, simple, and user-friendly as possible can prevent qualified prospective leads from abandoning conversions due to UX-related frustrations.

Here are some important tools for marketing managers to ensure their conversion pathways are optimized for simplicity and usability:

1. Perform Usability Testing

A conversion pathway or user flow that seems really simple and intuitive to members of your marketing team may be downright confusing to your customers. Remember, you’re not exactly in a position to be subjective about your website or product offerings since you work with them on a daily basis.

Perform usability testing with third parties who resemble your brand’s buyer personas is among the most effective means of understanding how outsiders perceive your website. Optimally, members of your usability testing sample should resemble your ideal customers in terms of demographic and firmographic factors, including education level, technology habits, pain points, and preferences.

UX researcher Molly Wolfberg recommends compensating individuals who participate in your test for their time, and recommends the following approaches to finding individuals to provide feedback on your conversion pathways:

  • Advertise on Craigslist with Clear Participant Requirements
  • Recruit Non-Customers on Social Media
  • Post on Reddit, Inbound.org or Other Industry-Specific Forums

By gathering feedback from a pool of usability testers, your team can gain critical insight into how your website is perceived by true outsiders. Use their insights to identify and act upon any friction in your conversion pathways, including messaging, CTA positioning, landing page form length, or other factors.

2. Engage in Continual A/B Testing

Regardless of how well-versed you are in lead conversion best practices, the results of A/B testing can be surprising. Marketer Ryan Lynch refers to rampant “trojan horses” in data-driven optimization practices, which is a way of describing the unexpected results you can achieve from measuring conversion pathways.

Optimizing your conversion pathways off pure intuition is never sufficient. While usability testing can prove invaluable, it’s also not sufficient to ensure you’re not losing potentially well-qualified leads. Continual A/B testing and improvement is the only truly effective way to ensure your website is optimized to capture the most conversions possible.

Each of the following website elements can affect your conversion rates, and can be A/B tested to optimize your results:

  • CTAs
  • Images
  • Page Copy
  • Page Layout
  • Page Forms
  • Social Proof

Always test a single element of your conversion pathways to gain actionable intelligence, and work from the most disruptive to the least-disruptive elements.

3. Analyze Your Customer Data

There’s a third and final factor that’s important to consider in optimizing your conversion paths, which is lead-to-customer conversions. The percentage of your marketing qualified leads which turn into sales is an indicator of how well-optimized your conversion pathways are to capture the right prospects.

Closed-loop analytics is the process of tracking a website visitor through the buyer’s journey to becoming a customer. By “closing the loop” and viewing the visitor-to-customer conversion process in it’s entirety, marketers can gain important insight into the conversion pathways and content offers that are yielding best results for their company. Use this intelligence to understand the conversion pathways that are optimized to generate truly marketing-qualified leads, who ultimately become buyers.

Minimizing friction in your conversion pathways can maximize your company's visitor-to-lead conversion rates. By obtaining objective outside feedback, performing A/B testing, and analyzing your closed-loop analytics, you can understand the pathways that convert -- and the pathways that require further optimization.

For more information on content marketing - talk to us about using HubSpot for your own business? We can help get you set up, trained, and running on a strong strategy! 

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