Customers go on a journey every time they buy something. Whether they’re a first-time buyer or a loyal customer, it’s your job to guide them along that journey toward conversion.
Uncovering strategies to optimize your conversion rate is vital for the success of your B2B eCommerce business.
The average B2B eCommerce conversion rate varies wildly depending on which reports you read, the niche you reside in, or the conversion metrics being measured. While there may not be a straight answer to the question “what is a good conversion rate?”, there is always an opportunity to improve your conversion performance.
By optimizing your conversion rate, you’ll be on the right track to converting visitors into customers.
What is conversion rate optimization?
Conversion rate optimization is your secret weapon for increasing action and getting more sales for your B2B eCommerce business. But what is conversion rate optimization?
Conversion rates, as you probably know, measure the number of conversions divided by the total number of visitors. If a site receives 1,000 visitors a month and has 50 sales, the conversion rate would be 5%.
A conversion refers to any desired action you want users to take. Most B2B eCommerce businesses will have multiple conversion goals — and each conversion goal will have its own conversion rate. These conversions could be anything from making a purchase to downloading a whitepaper, joining your newsletter, or signing up for a webinar, for example.
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the process of improving your current conversion rate. After all, a better conversion rate equals more conversions.
CRO is done by analyzing visitor behavior during the conversion process and testing hypotheses for why people aren’t converting. From these tests, you can identify new ways to improve your conversion rate.
The steps in the conversion funnel
Get more out of your conversion rate optimization strategy by breaking it down by the different stages in the buyer’s purchase journey.
The conversion funnel, also known as the sales funnel, represents the typical journey a user takes leading up to a purchase. This funnel is split into three core stages:
- Awareness – Top of funnel (ToFu): New visitors typically enter the funnel at the awareness level where they are looking for answers to their questions or problems.
- Consideration – Middle of funnel (MoFu): In the consideration stage, visitors have a clearer understanding of their problem and they are evaluating the possible solutions.
- Conversion – Bottom of funnel (BoFu): Visitors in the conversion stage of the funnel have evaluated their options, are clear on their chosen solution or strategy, and are ready to make a purchase decision.
Yet, conversion rate optimization extends far beyond those initial three stages of the conversion funnel. For this reason, I like to also consider two bonus steps that happen post-conversion; loyalty and advocacy. The loyalty stage focuses on nurturing existing customers to encourage repeat purchases. Meanwhile, the advocacy stage engages loyal customers or potential partners to market the value of your brand and turn consumers into fans.
Users have different needs and challenges at each stage of the conversion funnel. As a marketer, it’s your job to identify any “leaks” in the funnel and work out which CRO tactics will help you plug those holes.
Conversion rate optimization tactics at the awareness stage
Education plays a major role in the awareness stage of the conversion funnel. Visitors are searching for answers. As such, they probably aren’t thinking about making a purchase just yet.
Conversion rate optimization tactics at this stage should prioritize getting visitors to progress to the consideration stage of the funnel.
1) Understand buyer’s challenges and goals
Help your customers make informed purchase decisions by first understanding their challenges and goals. Take a step back to get to know your target audience. Conducting buyer persona research can help with this.
Analyzing your buyer personas lets you gain a deeper understanding of their challenges and goals. Adjust your messaging, marketing materials, and sales approach to help buyers find solutions to their problems.
By taking a solutions-focused approach to your buyers goals and challenges, you will position your brand as the go-to fix. This makes it easier for customers to find the answers they’re looking for, and will ensure your company remains on their radar when they are ready to purchase.
2) Release quality educational content
During the awareness stage of the conversion funnel, customers are trying to absorb as much information as possible. Increasing the output of educational content (such as ebooks, webinars, and whitepapers) ensures your product or services get in front of those who need what you offer.
Informational content comes in many forms from eBooks and whitepapers to webinars, podcasts and blog articles. Incorporate awareness-focused content into your content marketing strategy to get your products in front of the right people.
At the awareness stage, people aren’t looking to buy anything straight away. Before they buy, they need to know what they are buying, who they are buying from, and why. Creating educational content is your opportunity to give potential customers as much information and value as possible. You want to show them that there are solutions to their problems and that you can be the one to help them.
SmartBox Company offers commercial snack boxes. Over on their blog, you’ll find several blog articles aimed at B2B customers including “the best office snacks” and “benefits of providing healthy snacks for your employees”. Plus, corporate prospects can sign up to SmartBox’s newsletter to receive a free copy of their “7 ways to boost employee productivity” eBook.
By providing commitment-free value and showing off your expertise, educational content will help move prospects further down the conversion funnel and bring them closer to making a purchase.
3) Amplify awareness through keyword, competitor and user research
This part of CRO focuses on understanding everything you need to know about how your users behave, what keywords will attract the right users, and what your competitors are doing to convert those users.
Conduct user research to analyze how people interact with your site. Take particular care to see their entry points and what type of content they consume during the awareness stage. Use this information to optimize your content engine and make sure you’re producing valuable content.
Meanwhile, keyword research lets you see what search terms get your products in front of your buyers. Use keyword research to identify awareness content topics and improve the organic visibility of your site.
Finally, dig deeper into competitor activity. Analyze competitor performance and explore their best-performing content and keywords to identify new awareness content opportunities to support your conversion funnel.
Together, use all of this information to ensure your awareness stage content is hyperfocused on the needs of your audience, visible for the terms they are searching, and outshines your competitor’s content.
- Lead with education – Focus on being helpful if you want to help visitors in the awareness phase convert.
- Don’t be overly-salesy – Save the sales pitch for later stages of the funnel and take an informative and educational approach for the awareness stage.
- Create shareable, evergreen content – Create valuable content that your target audience will want to share with others to extend the longevity and impact of awareness content.
Conversion rate optimization tactics at the consideration stage
Buyers that have reached the consideration stage should have developed a good understanding of the potential solutions for the problem they are facing or the goal they are trying to achieve. Consumers that have reached the consideration stage will be familiar with your product. However, they may need some additional support in solidifying why your product is the right choice for them.
Conversion rate optimization tactics at the consideration stage should focus on providing evidence for why your product is better than competitors.
1) Demonstrate proof with case studies and testimonials
Case studies and testimonials showcase the value of your product or service.
When making purchase decisions, many customers look to testimonials, case studies and reviews to help them make a decision. In a 2020 survey, online shoppers ranked reviews as the second most influential factor that impacted their willingness to trust a brand. Increasing trust is a surefire way to improve conversions.
Writing for Moz, Fractl’s Director of Marketing Kerry Jones explained how their case study page effectively drives traffic to their site and converts visitors into leads:
“Case studies were a huge game changer for our B2B marketing efforts. For one, our case studies portfolio page brings in a lot of traffic – it’s the second most-visited page on our site, aside from our home page. It also brings in a significant volume of organic traffic, being our fourth most-visited page from organic searches. Most importantly, our case studies are highly effective at converting visitors to leads – about half of our leads view at least one of our case studies before contacting us.”
In B2B eCommerce, buyers typically make informed decisions on their quest to find a viable solution to their problem. Whether it’s choosing a wholesale partner, buying office supplies, or integrating a SaaS tool, there’s several layers of approvals and considerations to make before they take the plunge. For this reason, in-depth case studies and testimonials can be valuable in helping buyers progress to the conversion stage of the buyers’ journey.
Use case studies to highlight how you helped similar companies overcome the exact issues or achieve the same goals that your target customer is facing. This helps buyers envision how your product or service could also help them. From here, prospects can qualify themselves as they move down the conversion funnel.
Be sure to add call-to-action to your case studies and testimonials to encourage visitors to book a call or make a purchase. Guide them toward the next step in the conversion funnel by providing clear instructions.
2) Invite interested consumers to webinars (and follow up post-event)
If you want to convert prospects into paying customers, don’t overlook the power of webinars. Webinars allow potential customers to get a closer insight into your products and services. As a result, webinars are an incredibly effective tool for converting viewers into qualified leads. These leads can then go on to be valuable customers.
Use webinars to bridge the gap between sales and marketing. While webinars should be used to help you reach your conversion goals, they should also focus on providing value for your audience. Strike the balance between being informative and persuasive and you’ll have a captive audience who are fully bought into your message.
The interactive nature of webinars also makes it easier for customers to ask direct questions and get more value from the webinar than other content formats. Webinar attendees can use this time to support their purchase decisions, determining whether or not your product is the right solution for them. You can even use these questions to create new awareness and consideration content for your site, further supporting your ongoing CRO efforts.
Encourage post-webinar conversions by following up with webinar registrants and attendees. Check in with them via email and inform them of the next steps — whether that’s booking a sales demo, browsing your online store, or speaking to a Sales representative for more information.
3) Set up visitor interviews and surveys
Speaking to people is the best way to understand their needs. Visitors interviews and surveys give prospective customers an opportunity to share their frustrations and challenges.
Rather than taking a numeric approach to CRO, take a user-centric approach. Speak to your visitors and find out what drives them forward, what’s stopping them, and what is missing from the journey. Do this and you’ll be able to improve the user experience and, in turn, help them convert.
Use a tool like Hotjar to set up exit intent surveys to capture feedback as someone leaves your site. Personalize the survey to ask people why they are leaving and what you could do to improve the experience. Use these answers to make informed CRO changes to your website.
T-Mobile for Business, for example, prompts visitors to answer a few questions during their site visit.
As well as surveys, invite prospects to user interviews and roundtables. These give you a chance to dig deeper into buyer motivations and challenges and explore their answers in more detail.
4) Create product comparison charts
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the paradox of choice when making considered B2B purchases. Do you need the standard or premium option? Should you buy this product or that one?
Creating easy-to-read product comparison charts can help your B2B buyers escape the paradox of choice. Your store visitors can use product comparison charts to compare product options side-by-side.
You can use product comparison charts to showcase your products side-by-side like Apple’s Mac comparison page. Alternatively, you could use comparison charts to compare your products against competitors.
Product comparison charts should list the features and benefits of different products. Potential buyers can easily see which features each product offers. From here, they’ll be able to determine which product best fits their needs.
- Find the balance between education and sales – Your content and messaging at the consideration stage should be more persuasive than the awareness stage yet it should still be predominantly educational and supportive.
- Focus on providing solutions to possible challenges – Take a solutions-first approach by prioritizing content that helps people overcome their challenges such as comparison charts, FAQs, and case studies.
- Provide proof of success – Use testimonials, case studies, reviews and ratings to show prospective customers that your product works.
- Guide people toward the next step by being helpful – Don’t just expect people to figure out what to do next, provide clear instructions and guide them to the next step of the conversion journey.
Conversion rate optimization tactics at the conversion stage
The conversion stage of the funnel is when you can proudly don your sales hat and start persuading prospects to make a purchase.
By this stage of the funnel, buyers should have a clear understanding of what they want — they’ve done the research, reviewed the possibilities, and they’re ready to check out. Now, it’s your job to get them over the final hurdle with some smart conversion rate optimization tactics.
1) Use website recordings to improve UX
Website recordings capture nuanced visitor behavior that you might otherwise miss. With website recordings, you can get a firsthand look at how visitors interact with your site — and you just may uncover potential to improve visitor’s online experience.
Website recordings, or session replays, let you re-play exactly what visitors see and do on your site. From here, you can see any stumbling blocks or frustrations that prevent visitors from reaching their goal. Session replays could also show unusual behavior where visitors don’t act as you might expect.
Watch back session replays to see the “why” behind visitor interactions and resolve user frustrations and issues. FullStory’s user experience tool offers a session replay feature so you can watch as a visitor’s user journey unfolds. This is especially useful at the conversion stage where a small UX issue could be stopping visitors from taking action.
2) A/B test different page layouts to amplify performance
Go one step further than watching how visitors interact with your site by A/B testing different page layouts.
With A/B testing, you can compare the performance of two different elements in real-time. You may want to A/B test different page layouts or you might opt for smaller variables by testing different copy, images or call-to-action buttons, for example. Whatever variables you choose to test, the end result could help you amplify performance.
You can use a tool such as VWO to implement A/B tests and gain valuable insights for conversion rate optimization. Safety Gear Pro increased conversions by 11.84% thanks to iterative testing with VWO.
Because it happens in real time, A/B testing lets you see which variation visitors prefer and, by proxy, which variations lead to the most conversions.
3) Offer free trials or product demos
Sometimes, people need to get a taste of your product before they commit to buying.
Offering visitors a free trial or product demo is a great way to nudge them closer to conversion. Because they’ve already committed to trying your product or service out, they’re already further along the conversion funnel — this brings them even closer to conversion.
Free trials are a common sales and marketing strategy in SaaS — and there’s no reason why the logic of free trials can’t also be applied to eCommerce CRO.
The wholesale marketplace Faire offers US retailers a free trial to its monthly paid membership program, Insider. Insider members can benefit from great perks such as free shipping from selected brands and early access to Faire’s virtual trade shows and new brand arrivals.
Other wholesale retailers offer brands free credit off their first purchase. Whether you choose to offer free credit or upgrades, consider how these “freebies” could help get indecisive prospects over the line.
- Use more persuasive language – Increase conversion rate by effectively using persuasive language on product listings, sales pages, and content designed for the conversion stage of the funnel.
- Learn from consumer psychology – Brush up on consumer psychology tactics to learn how you can tap into the thoughts and motivations of your customers to boost conversion rates.
- Make it easy for people to take action – Don’t lose customers due to conversion funnel bottlenecks or UX frustrations. Analyze the customer journey and make it easy for people to take action.
Conversion rate optimization tactics at the loyalty stage
After customers have reached the conversion stage of the funnel, your next challenge is to turn one-time consumers into loyal customers.
Conversion rate optimization tactics at the loyalty stage should focus on nurturing existing customers.
1) Improve retention with loyalty programs
Loyalty programs are an effective strategy for retaining customers.
The impact of loyalty programs isn’t a new revelation. In fact, Harvard Business Review even reported on the power of rewards back in 1995. More recent studies uphold the impact of loyalty programs with a 2021 study finding that loyalty programs had a positive impact on customer retention.
LoyaltyLion is an eCommerce loyalty platform that helps brands create meaningful customer relationships and drive greater customer lifetime value. Increasing customer lifetime value can improve conversion rates in the long-term. Look at it this way: if your average order value is $50, encouraging customers to make repeat purchases will naturally boost your overall revenue. It’s an easy way to increase conversion rates after the initial conversion funnel.
2) Re-engage customers with remarketing
Remarketing helps you re-engage lost visitors and customers. Whether you have a customer who hasn’t ordered from you for a while or a prospect who visited your site then vanished without converting, remarketing is one of the best ways to bring them back into the conversion funnel.
Engaging in remarketing increases your chances of converting visitors into customers. The average click-through rate (CTR) for retargeting ads is 10x the CTR for display ads at 0.7% versus 0.07%.
Build remarketing campaigns into your marketing strategy. These remarketing campaigns may include the likes of Google Ads, email marketing campaigns, and social media ads. The goal of remarketing ads should be to convert viewers into customers. With this goal in mind, focus on creating persuasive ad copy, creatives and landing pages.
- Focus on nurturing existing customers – The success of the loyalty stage relies on nurturing existing customers and building meaningful relationships that encourage repeat purchases.
- Prioritize customer retention and engagement – Make customer retention and engagement your priority during the loyalty phase by focusing on marketing tactics that add value for your customers.
Conversion rate optimization tactics at the advocacy stage
The advocacy stage of the funnel turns your marketing strategy on its head. Rather than your marketing being brand-led, the advocacy stage focuses on how other people recommend your business to others.
Conversion rate optimization tactics at the advocacy stage of the funnel should raise the voices of past customers, brand ambassadors and partners.
1) Encourage conversions with brand ambassadors
Brand ambassadors are the people who will stand on the rooftops and shout about your business.
Brand ambassadors could be past customers, celebrities, or content creators. Typically, brand ambassadors will be paid to endorse a company’s products or services.
Some brands, such as the John Lewis department store in the UK, use employees and partners as brand ambassadors. John Lewis’ ambassadors then share their favorite John Lewis purchases and hacks over on Instagram. With follower counts in the thousands, these ambassador profiles get even more eyes on the John Lewis brand, increasing conversions from new prospects and customers.
Commenting on their advocacy program, John Lewis’ social marketing senior manager said:
“The passion and knowledge of our partners is very powerful and inspiring… Giving them a way in which to connect personally with customers online provides a deeper more meaningful relationship.”
Finding authentic ambassadors from your customer pool is a great way to encourage word-of-mouth recommendations and advocacy from existing customers. Meanwhile, working with well-aligned celebrities and content creators can lift your advocacy strategy to new levels.
2) Invest in brand partnerships and collaborations
Pair brand ambassadors with a well-designed partnership strategy to really amplify positive noise about your brand.
Brand partnerships and collaborations help you enhance customer experiences and improve CRO. Team up for a complementary brand in your industry to deliver collaborative campaigns and content for your audiences. These brand partnerships act as advocacy signals by signifying that each brand recommends the other.
Devising well-aligned brand partnerships helps you strengthen your brand image in front of your partner’s audience, opening you up to even more customers and conversions.
- Leverage your relationships to create “value-added” content – Work with customers, content creators, celebrities, and partners to create unique “value-added” content that people can’t access anywhere else.
- Put your customers at the heart of your brand – The advocacy stage should focus on the voices of other people — put customers at the heart of your brand and shine a spotlight on their experiences as a way to drive conversions.
Wrapping up — Utilize these conversion rate optimization tactics at every stage of the funnel
There’s no quick fix for conversion rate optimization. If you want to convert visitors into customers, you need to make intuitive CRO tactics at every stage of the customer journey.
From prioritizing educational content at the awareness stage through to making it easier to convert at the conversion stage and, finally, encouraging post-purchase conversions with greater brand advocacy, a lot goes into optimizing conversion rates.
Conversion rate optimization is an ever-growing process. Stay analytical and always question the reasons behind visitor behavior if you truly want to turn those visitors into customers.