10 Tips for Fixing Your Sales Conversion Problem (Permanently)

The organization has a short-term “sales culture.” Almost everything marketing does is oriented toward creating a lead. You know there are larger system/infrastructure issues impacting performance, but you can’t expect anyone to invest/focus on them. You’re on a “trend mill,” running as fast as you can but going nowhere.

It’s a nightmare that thousands of marketers are living every day, so let’s fix this issue -- permanently.

The problem, at its core, is money. Yes, resources and time are also an issue. But the bigger challenge is a budget loaded with program dollars intended to be spent on media, events and other lead-generating activities. Unfortunately, little are earmarked to fix the Web infrastructure, navigation and content issues that are keeping leads from converting. You have a system problem without system dollars to fix it.

Step one in the process is to get a capex budget (just like the one used to build your corporate website). And you’ll need to get a big one. Depending on the size of the website, you’ll need at least $500K, and perhaps over $1 million, to build a “system” that will improve conversion rates.  Here’s how you’re going to spend it:



2. Assessing search. Does the organization know what it wants to be known for (topics, products, solutions) and how audiences search for those items? If not, pull together a top 10 list and get to work finding out. Use tools like Google Keyword Planner, Moz Open Site Explorer and Moz Keyword Explorer to gauge popularity and set priorities from your existing website. 

3. Increasing SEM spend. After assessing your top 10 priorities, you’ll most likely find that you need to increase your spend to improve your position. Determine how much, and for how long.

4. Inventorying & assessing content. While your marketing dollars are working to help your audience find you, the next step is to help visitors find the information they are looking for quickly. Assess the content on the following criteria: relevance (is it current, audience aligned, and insightful?), accessibility (clicks and public view), and scanability (ease of assessing key points).

5. Evaluating readability. It’s time to take a hard look at the content you’re producing. Is it written in the audience language or your engineers’? Is it compelling -- will it engage audiences? Use tools like Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease and the Gunning Fog Index to help score content.

6. Modifying content. This could be painful. Try to leverage existing material. If you have videos, carve them up into two-minute or less, “snackable” insights. For long-form content like white papers, do the same. Chunk content into smaller, more digestible bits. Next, create templates and guidelines for producers to follow so they know the type of content that will work best for marketing needs.

7. Investing in UX. Find out how visitors really navigate your site. You may be shocked by their lack of sophistication and patience. Use tools like Validately to help assess the user experience with your Web properties.

8. Optimizing everything. Create pilot pages based on the UX findings and watch how visitors navigate and consume content. Use tools like Hot Jar to help track visitor clicks. Set performance metrics for bounce rates, time spent on page and conversion rates. Performance optimization is an ongoing effort, so become comfortable with constant experimentation.

9. Training everyone. To produce the right content, invest the time and resources to train people how to use the new templates. Train product marketers on how to produce audience-focused content, marketing folks on how to write ad copy that’s compelling, etc. Use insights gathered in steps 6 and 8 to convince people to get onboard.

10. Hiring an advisor. If this sounds like a lot of work, it is. If you don’t have the staff, the time, or the desire to take it on, get someone to help you. You have a day job producing leads, so put someone else on a parallel path of improving the process and performance. Chunk up the work plan mentioned above into quarters, align it to the marketing and the organization’s priorities and set reasonable expectations on making progress.

Inbound marketing, content marketing, digital marketing (whatever you want to call it) is not a marketing “tactic”; it is an ecosystem built from the outside in and requires a system thinking approach. The steps above will help you pinpoint issues within the system. “Digitalizing” an organization starts with audience-facing sites, so try to align this effort with any organizational effort related to digital transformation.

Get the funding, and use data points to prove the value of building a robust inbound lead generation capability. According to CEB, 71% of buyers start their purchase journey on the Web. Build a market visibility index using your pipeline/waterfall metrics and market share. Reverse the numbers and find out what percent of the total opportunities available are in your pipeline. If you need more benchmarks, download Hubspot’s latest report on inbound marketing.

Need more proof? The process I described above was implemented for one company this year, resulting in a  95% increase in MQL and an improvement in the company’s conversion rates by 65%. Inbound is now the top lead source in volume and performance. This organization has a hardcore outbound sales culture that now believes in the power of inbound marketing.

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