B2B Conversion Rate Optimization: What Is It, Why It's Important, and How We Do It
Websites are never a set-it-and-forget-it asset. They need to adapt over time, not only to keep current with design trends and accessibility standards, but also to continuously improve the conversion rates that reflect business goals. Just like your company, your audience is not static — its preferences and behaviors change over time. Your website should reflect that perpetual growth to continue to exceed your audience’s expectations. That’s where CRO comes in.
However, it can be challenging to predict whether a change to your website will result in a positive change in user engagement. Many changes are based on personal preference rather than hard data and an understanding of your audience. But with a Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) program, you can build a strategy that actually makes a difference for your user and your goals. It’s a process, not a quick fix, but it’s a process that’s rich in returns.
We’ve been able to deliver significant results with CRO as a Service for our B2B clients, providing critical recommendations and substantially improving conversion rates on desired actions. Let’s take a deeper dive into what CRO is, how it’s executed, and what companies can expect from an expert CRO strategy.
What Is Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)?
CRO is a strategy for getting a higher percentage of website visitors to convert into customers or to take a desired action on a web page, like downloading a white paper or signing up for your email newsletter.
Brief History of CRO
CRO vs. UX: What’s the Difference?
In a perfect world, brands should use both CRO and UX in combination to gather real insights, increase their user base, create test pages, and test against a control page.
Here's more on how we think about the differences between CRO and UX and when to employ them:
Who Should Care About CRO for Their Website?
A CRO strategy may be right or wrong for your website. It depends on a number of factors, like web traffic, domain authority, and how patient you can be.
An Established Website with Trackable Traffic
A CRO strategy is best suited to brands with higher levels of traffic and engagement. To get real results through testing, we need to reach statistical significance. It can be challenging to enact CRO in an effective way when there is limited traffic to test. Ideally, your site should be able to track at least 50,000 unique visits per month.
Limited Recent Web Design Work
Since CRO is designed to test the convertibility of certain elements of a website, brands that have recently completed a web redesign may want to wait on executing a CRO strategy. This will give the site’s new elements time to establish and solidify with users without creating even more variables for your strategy.
The same thought process applies to websites that have undergone a domain change. A URL change will impact your domain authority and, more often than not, sites will see a significant dip in traffic before it climbs back up. In this case, we recommend waiting for traffic to return to expected numbers before implementing a CRO strategy.
A Patient, Growth Mindset
A CRO strategy is a method for better understanding your users and growing with them over time. CRO is not an overnight process. It can be very time-consuming and involves reviewing extensive amounts of data and running ongoing rounds of tests.
If your brand is in a patient, growth mindset — looking to understand what motivates your users and ready to scale with your customers — CRO will benefit your site. If you’re looking for instant results, however, CRO may not be for you just yet.
Conversion Rate Optimization for B2B
There’s no way around it: B2B is just different. Desired web actions, events, and conversions are different for B2B than for e-commerce and other B2C business models. As a result, the design patterns and choices that we’ll look for in a B2B CRO strategy are vastly different than that of a B2C CRO strategy.
For example, when analyzing CRO events for an e-commerce site, we might look at cart abandonment numbers. For B2B, on the other hand, we’ll evaluate not only the designated conversion actions, but also demo requests, form submissions, and other critical engagement indicators in the B2B space.
For B2B CRO, we’re looking at very different audiences and behaviors to determine how we can position the product in such a way that allows it to stand out within the industry.
What Goes Into CRO?
When implementing a CRO strategy, it’s important to establish a clear process that begins with establishing what exactly your goals are for your website.
- Goals and strategy: Before jumping into testing, it’s critical to align on large, small, and micro goals. Goals can include increasing conversion rates, getting users to take a specific action, or even something as simple as setting a test success rate. All information is good information, so if tests result in learning more about your customers, that’s a win.
- Industry benchmarks: These benchmarks don’t refer to the web design itself, but rather the statistics behind the tests and the goals in your relevant industry.
- Research: Select which research methods make the most sense based on the goals you’re looking to achieve (check out the examples of research methods below).
- Hypothesize: Based on the research, benchmarks, and goals, create a hypothesis about the results you’ll see when taking a specific action. This could include changing a CTA color, moving a button to a different page location, or other specifically defined changes to the page.
- Test: Execute the change expressed in the hypothesis and collect data about the change. In our expert opinion, never open the test or look at the results until the test time is complete; peeking at numbers early can lead to biases before reaching statistical significance.
- Evaluate: Take a look at your findings and analyze them. Was your hypothesis validated or not? Consider your analysis and be ready to jump back to an earlier stage if necessary.
CRO Research Methods
- Analytics: Check basic stats, on-page interactions, and funnel journeys with analytics tools.
- Recordings and heat-maps: See what elements are being clicked on and how far the user scrolls down a page.
- Industry benchmarking: Dig into the industry statistics and goals and create benchmarks for your own goals.
- Polls: Take quick one-to-two-question polls to understand user intent.
- A/B Testing: Evaluate user preference by serving certain content and page differences to random batches of users.
A note about A/B testing: With B2B CRO, we may not perform a true A/B test. A true A/B test requires two pages to be live and for us to direct users to each page. On B2B sites, there often is not enough traffic to effectively measure. When true A/B testing is not viable, we will make other updates to measure, such as changing the messaging on a landing page for a set number of days and analyzing the conversion results.
Tracking metrics and measuring the success of a CRO strategy depends on a number of factors, one being the most important: your success depends on your goals.
Better understanding your users is a very different goal than achieving 5% more demo requests, which means these goals would have very different success metrics. This is why it’s essential to have clear-cut goals and intentions for analysis before beginning to test.
Here are a few metrics and important data sources to pay attention to:
- Heat-maps and click-maps: These tools allow you to see where users are clicking on individual pages as well as how far down the page they are navigating. You can use this data to understand where there may be a misunderstanding of elements on the page and any obstacles to conversion.
- Analytics tools: Tools like Google Analytics enable you to see the most important site data all in one place. Also, certain content management systems, like HubSpot, will have substantial analytics capabilities, as they are tapped directly into user behavior on your site.
- Bounce rate: This metric is important, but maybe not for the reason you think. Rather than seeing a high bounce rate and assuming that something is wrong, bounce rate can be related to a number of different factors, not all of which are bad. Be sure to analyze bounce rate alongside other metrics such as time on page to get a better sense of what the user is thinking.
- Integrated database: When tracking different metrics, be sure that you have one centralized location from which you can see all the data. Each metric is only one piece of the puzzle, and you need to see all the data together in order to get the full picture of how your CRO strategy is performing.
Quantitative vs. Qualitative Data
When measuring CRO, we’ll use a wide range of tools that collect varying types of data, all of which are useful for understanding user behavior. While it’s tempting to get hung up on hard numbers, both qualitative and quantitative data contribute to the entire picture of CRO.
Quantitative Analysis is, generally speaking, the “what.” This is data that we can gather that tells us what users are doing on the website. We can report on what they’re doing, where they’re doing it, when they’re doing it, and how they’re doing it.
Qualitative Analysis is the “why.” This is where we can talk to users and truly understand the whys behind all of their actions. This is where real insights occur.
Conversion Rate Optimization Examples
There are a lot of different changes that could be considered when optimizing for conversion rates. Here are a couple of conversion rate optimization examples and what the testing process might look like.
1. Updating a CTA
This may feel small, but the color, message, location, and many other factors of your CTAs can have a major impact on each one’s conversion rate. The ideal process is to update one variable at a time in order to discern exactly which change made a difference and apply the strategy throughout the brand. For this example, we’ll change the location of the CTA from the bottom of a page to the top of a page.
After hypothesizing that changing the location will increase clicks on that CTA, page views of the corresponding page, and overall conversions, you’ll make the adjustments and collect the relevant data. You’ll want to prioritize looking at:
- Clicks and movement: Looking at recorded heat-map sessions, you can see what percent of users clicked on the CTA, as well as whether users moved the mouse or tapped in the area of the CTA.
- Page-views: Analyze the page-views of the page that corresponds to the CTA — whether it’s a contact page or drives to a piece of gated content — and determine if there is a noticeable lift.
- Bounce rate: The bounce rate of the corresponding page will help you decide what to do next. Maybe the CTA clicks and page-views went up, but so did the bounce rate. You may want to make some adjustments to that landing page or the CTA messaging to ensure users know exactly what they’re getting when they click through that CTA.
2. Changing Landing Page Messaging
Another CRO example is to adjust the messaging on a landing page. This can be a great place to start if you notice that the landing page is receiving a satisfactory number of views but users are not converting through the form at as high a rate as you would like.
Start with one element of the messaging at a time. For example, you could change the headline on the page from something formal to something snappier and more concise. By updating just the headline and leaving the other variable untouched, you can determine the exact factor of the conversion rate difference. After implementing the change and collecting data, you’ll want to pay attention to:
- Scroll, clicks, and movement: Looking at recorded heat-map sessions, you can see what percent of the page users scroll to, where users clicked throughout the page, and where users move their mouse or tap throughout the page. It’s all part of getting to know your user better.
- Time on page: Did the user land on the landing page and immediately leave? Or did they hang around for a minute and take in some content before bouncing? This data will help you understand if your messaging is capturing their interests.
- Form incompletes: Many users will begin to fill out a form and then move on before completing it. If that’s the case, perhaps your messaging captured them but the form was too daunting or asked for information the user didn’t feel comfortable providing.
CRO the Beacon Way
Our deep knowledge of B2B web design and our extensive experience in B2B digital marketing give our team a unique and specialized perspective in offering CRO for B2B companies. We have a track record of delivering significant CRO results, including a 64% YoY increase in form conversions for a major player in the AI-powered customer service space.
When implementing a CRO strategy with Beacon Digital, we’ll prioritize critical KPIs specific to B2B needs:
- Increased rate of form submissions
- Increased rate of engagement
- Increased quality of leads on demo requests and content downloads
- Validated decisions and minimized risks when making web changes
- Better understanding of users
- Insights to create or adjust new services and products
Kirsten is a UX Designer on the Web team at Beacon Digital Marketing. She is a natural born problem solver and embraces the ‘everything is figure-out-able’ mindset. She looks forward to learning something new with every client and project. In the past, she has worked in the wellness and publishing industries. While working in wellness, she had the pleasure of working for a female-only boutique studio and developed a passion for women’s rights and empowerment.