You’ve rolled out a great B2B software, threw in a significant amount of money for PPC and media campaigns, but sales are still slow. “Do I need to overhaul my marketing strategy?” the question lingers in your mind.
Best-selling author and management guru Peter Drucker said the worst mistakes are made not out of acting on wrong answers, but on wrong questions. Before you conduct a strategic overhaul, perhaps the question you should ask is, are you converting enough leads that the marketing campaign might be delivering? If not, optimizing your conversion rate–not a marketing change–is the right approach.
If this is your first time to focus on conversion as a marketer, we suggest that you start with these five easy steps to start improving your conversion rate. Your immediate goal is to move the baseline from, say, 1% to around 5% and, from there, split test your options to further scale conversion. According to a MarketingSherpa study, the average conversion rate in SaaS is 7%, just below education/healthcare (8%) and professional/financial services (10%) industries.
You can go way past the median as more businesses migrate to the cloud. IDC reported an 11% increase in SaaS adoption by 2018–by then, will your conversion rate give you a big slice of the pie instead of the crumbs you’re getting now? Here are five ways to kickstart your conversion optimization goal.
1. Display trust elements on your website and landing pages
Converting a lead is all about trust. Purchasing the right software weighs heavily on the person or persons assigned to it; it can make or break one quarter of the company’s performance. So, prospects need all the trust signals they can get before they decide to deal with you. Without an actual experience of doing business with you, prospects rely on second-hand opinion to prejudge you. One of these opinions can come from a credible source: trust seals.
These seals are issued by authoritative third-party firms that verify your product and business to meet certain business standards or performance benchmarks. They signal to prospects that the company or product has been assessed and found fit for businesses.
In an ActualInsights survey, 75% of respondents said seeing trust logos on a website increases its trustworthiness. On another note, Greg Harnett, writing in a Forbes article, said trust seals are effective especially for smaller sites or lesser known products that are yet to establish brand credibility.
There are two popular types of trust seals: security and good business seals. Security seals like Norton guarantee that an e-commerce site is secured from being hacked, while good business seals like BBB vouch for the company’s legitimacy.
There’s also a third type of seal that you can leverage to build trust: specialist trust seals that focus on the B2B industry. For example, the Verified Quality Seal that is offered by FinancesOnline, a B2B and SaaS review site, is unique because it validates that your product features are of top quality and your customer support is reliable. This seal highlights your positioning strength in B2B software, something that a Norton or BBB alone won’t achieve.
Displaying all or a combination of these trust seals on your homepage, pricing page, and landing page (ex. free trial form) gives a degree of–sometimes the only–assurance to prospects, who haven’t encountered your brand before.
2. B2B review sites as top lead generation channel
According to the recent Google/Millward Brown Digital findings B2B buyers first make a generic search before engaging a brand site. That means, prospects are looking not for your software, but your software category. If you have a strong SEO keyword for this category, you’re doing great. Based on a HubSpot study, search is still the top source of leads and, consequently, conversions. But what if you’re shut off from page one of the search results?
You can leverage B2B software review sites to get search leads. They can act like page extensions of SERP category searches. In fact, try searching for “best project management user reviews” and, most likely, B2B review sites will dominate the results. We’re not privy to search algorithms, but if we examine Google results, websites that allow readers to check product ratings, read user reviews, watch videos, and, more importantly, compare products are given priority. After all, these are the top activities buyers do online, activities that are possible mostly on reviews sites; hence, their popular use in product research.
You can push the envelope and vie for prospects’ attention by leveraging the marketing tools being offered on B2B review sites. For example, you can benefit from highlights of your product on comparison pages of your competitors. It may also be a good idea to get some B2B awards and quality certificates to highlight your software’s key strengths and distinguish it from your competitors even further.
Make sure you check if your product is present on all of top B2B and SaaS review directories and enhance your presence there with lead-generation tools that can give you more conversions down the funnel.
3. Use customer support as a conversion tool
SaaS buyers aren’t just looking for great software features, they also want reliable customer support from you, especially if they don’t have a technical team to troubleshoot glitches. In case you’ve forgotten, half of the term, SaaS, means “service,” which means customer support can be that make-or-break factor to get conversions. Why wait, then, for prospects to turn to customers before giving them your attentive support? We say attentive because, although free trial subscribers get a response from vendors, in many cases, assistance at this stage is automated, hence, it lacks a personal touch that can tip the lead to your favor.
Of course, it’s impractical to provide full customer support to all prospects. What you should do is to identify the most promising leads and treat them as paying customers early in the game. There are plenty of powerful CRM solutions that help you to see lead-measuring metrics, such as context of the conversations, frequency of queries, and subscribers’ historical data.
Use these insights to personalize your response, even better, conduct proactive support that also helps you to shortlist qualified leads even after the free trial period. For example, divide your tutorial webinars into stages through a series of email campaigns. For every webinar link sent, ask for an additional non-invasive personal information (e.g. job title or company name). Those who continue to give their personal information throughout the webinar series are likely the most serious prospects–they probably like what they’re seeing in your app–and deserve your customer support NOW.
4. Make customers post positive shoutouts about you
Positive testimonials are another third-party source that can improve your credibility. Unlike trust seals, testimonials are taken as anecdotal and open to subjectivity, even manipulation; thus, buyers have less confidence in them. However, lower confidence doesn’t mean they aren’t effective. Testimonials, especially in volumes, can influence a buying decision. In fact, in a Huff Industrial Marketing survey, 57% of participants said that testimonials give credibility to a company.
You can leverage this advantage in two ways:
- Search through your social mentions and amplify the positive shoutouts. Share them on your social media pages or reply with a thank-you or a reinforcing message. You can also quote these comments and display them on your website.
- Ask for testimonials. In an ideal world, satisfied customers will go online and tweet or post their nice feedback about you across their social networks. In reality, they won’t or at least, majority of them won’t for lack of motivation or engagement.
So, how can you tap these little gems? If you have a CRM program, identify the most satisfied customers with admirable credentials, such as job title, company’s brand prominence, and professional achievements. Contact them and bait them with tokens in exchange for their testimonials. Give them a one month of free subscription, for instance, a link exchange, or corporate giveaways… even small items like a laptop cover or a fountain pen can work more often than not.
Publish the testimonials on your website and on B2B review sites, where other prospects can see them. Most review directories have a section for user reviews, where you can upload your customers’ comments.
5. Maximize the free trial phase
Unbounce reported that only around 15% to 20% of your free trial subscribers will turn to paying customers and that rate will significantly dive after 90 days. When someone opts in for a free trial, that’s one foot inside your store. Here are ways to maximize this chance:
- Use clear call to action (CTA) in your free trial communication. It sounds obvious, but if you’re asked now what your goal is for the free trial offer, you’ll probably say to convert leads to customers. Well and good, but that’s vague–how do you translate that into a CTA? Instead, use a specific metric that illustrates a conversion. For example, use activation as a key unit. In which case, your CTA should be to encourage subscribers to activate your app. Use a liberal amount of “Activate your plan Now!” or a similar copy across your free trial communication with subscribers.
- Send more than one email during the free trial phase. However, make sure each email adds value to user experience and is not just a sales pitch. Think of content, such as, webinars, white papers, reports, case studies, etc. as a hook in each of your email.
- Look beyond the free trial phase and treat the subscribers as part of your growing mailing list. You can engage this list with monthly webinars or blog posts to keep them engaged for a long-term period. Who knows, maybe one day they will become ready for a plan.
Have a structured approach to increase conversion rate. Start with these five easy steps and, as you reap the early rewards, adopt more complex conversion techniques and conduct a split test to know which specific tactics work and how much the improvement is.