Improving Conversion Rates Through Sales and Marketing Alignment

October 24, 2018

Improving Conversion Rates Through Sales and Marketing Alignment

Let’s start with the basics: A conversion can be many things, but in this article, we’re defining a conversion as an action taken online that’s valuable to your business. If your business isn’t converting, it won’t be a business for long.

Common conversion points are sometimes obvious, like a purchase. Some are not so obvious, like downloading a piece of content from your website, submitting a form that grows your leads database, or registering for an event you’re hosting, can also be critical to your business’s success. Understanding what your online conversions are, the hierarchy of them, and having your sales and marketing teams aligned on what’s important and what’s not, can be the difference between end of year bonuses and end of your business.

What is a conversion rate and how do I calculate mine?

A conversion rate measures the effectiveness of your conversion. To calculate your conversion rate, take the total amount of people who were exposed to your conversion point (e.g., total visits to a landing page) and divide it by how many people completed the action (total conversions). For instance, if 100 people click an ad to visit the sneaker page on fakeshoestore.com and only two people buy the shoes on the page, the shoe store has a 2% conversion rate.

Put simply: Conversion rate = (Number of visits / number of conversions)

Why is a conversion rate important?

A conversion rate directly measures an action you want your audience to take, so there’s a lot riding on making your conversion funnel as uncomplicated as possible. As we mentioned above, your sales and marketing teams need to work in lock step in deciding what constitutes a conversion and how your business will measure it.

In the digital age, your business’s website is one of the most common places to capture conversions. You can sell things on your website, grow leads, or have your audience directly contact you via phone, chat, or contact form. You should measure all of those things, if applicable. Google Analytics makes it easy to track how your website is performing and what your audience is doing when they’re on your site. Adding on supplemental tools like behavioural heat-mapping and SEO monitoring will give you more data on your website.

How your landing page UX relates to your conversion rate

One of the easiest ways to improve your conversion rate is to deliver good user experience (UX) on your site. Good website UX is no longer a nice to have, it’s a mandatory. When you visit your website on a smartphone and it looks like a mutation, you’re in trouble. As a first step towards improving conversions, audit your entire website and find the weak spots, the purposeless pages, the empty content that offers nothing and leads to nowhere. Amplify the calls to action. Don’t ask the user to do too much. Get your landing page strategy on paper.

A website with good UX bears the following characteristics:

  1. It’s fast. 
  2. It keeps its messaging lean and focused with clear calls to action that move the website user to conversion content in quick and compelling ways. 
  3. It looks great and works well no matter the device (desktop, mobile, and tablet).

Businesses often use landing pages on their websites to capture key conversions. For instance, if you’re running social ads on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter selling your latest product or service, you’ll want to send the user to a place where they can interact more with your brand and complete a conversion.

Enter the landing page. The best landing pages are purposeful and easy to use. Common components include strong headlines, clear benefit copy, and a quick form that doesn’t ask too much of the user. Check out these examples of strong landing pages with smart UX. Does your business’s website do these things? Does it have a purpose? It better if you want to increase conversions.

What does a good conversion rate look like?

A good conversion rate is dependent on your industry, what you’re offering, your price point and more. There’s not some magic conversion rate you need to achieve to make your business the best business ever. If you’re selling $20,000 helicopter tours, a conversion rate of 1% might be considered great, whereas if you’re selling $1 toothpicks, you’ll need a lot of corn eaters converting to get a good return on investment.

Things like free content downloads or free trials should convert at higher levels since there’s no monetary commitment. Additionally, email signups, especially when you offer some sort of incentive, can see conversion rates as high as 10%.

As you decide what a good conversion rate is for your business, again, you’ll want sales and marketing to be involved in the conversation and speaking the same language. Goal alignment is important. If your sales team is sending prospects one place and your marketing is targeting the same prospects but sending them somewhere else, confusion is inevitable.

At the minimum, hold monthly meetings where sales and marketing can look holistically at the business, what’s working, what’s not, and make adjustments in approach and conversion strategy.

Improving conversion rates via sales

The sales team carries a lot of pressure when it comes to conversions. The sales team lives or dies by conversions. Sales can play a major role in improving overall conversion rate, independent of marketing, by doing the following:

1. Have a response to objections

Consumers expect your business to be active and ready to respond to any inquiry, at any time of night. You have to be ready for any crisis. Prepare for the worst. What are the worst possible outcomes for using your product/service? What if your website gets hacked and you lose customer information? If you’re running paid media (search, social, display, et al), what if your ad gets placed with unsavory content?

Have your sales team brainstorm ways that they would respond to these issues and work to assure customers and prospects that your business has control of the issue. Hopefully your worst day won’t be realized, but if is, at least you’ll be ready.

2. Focus on building trust

Your sales team is often the first impression. First impressions are everything. Trust is a foundational element to conversions. If your business can’t deliver an experience that builds trust, it will fail. Trust happens when your sales team, your product, and your marketing are all working together to deliver similar messages about your product or service. If one of the trio fails, you’ll all fail. Trust happens at every stage, from first impression to conversion to product/service usage to post-transaction thank you.

3. Make the customer experience frictionless

Creating a frictionless customer experience involves more than just good website UX. The whole sales process needs to be as seamless as possible. People make hundreds of little decisions every day without thinking. What to wear. What to eat. How to drive home from work. Your product or service should try to mimic these easy, intuitive decisions. Make it a no-brainer. 

A good sales team is organized and efficient, delivering a personalized experience for your business’s customers. Every interaction should end positively. It helps when your website is equipped with a strong customer relationship manager (CRM). LinkedIn offers tools like the Sales Navigator that can also assist your sales team in creating a streamlined approach that puts consumers first.

Improving conversion rates via marketing

When it comes to improving your conversion rates, your marketing team admittedly has a leg up on the sales team. High-powered inbound marketing platforms like Hubspot and Pardot allow you to quickly capture conversions through easy-to-build landing pages. But with great power comes great accountability. Here’s how your marketing team can earn their keep while supporting both team’s conversion rate objectives:

1. A/B testing

A/B testing is a way for your content marketing team to test out everything from special offers to landing page design and the optimal length for online forms. Via website coding, developers are able to tell your site when to serve up one version of yourbusiness.com to a certain type of user and a different version of yourbusiness.com to another.

The same goes for offers -- with A/B testing, you can showcase different types of products and sales language to predetermined user personas, adjust your CTA (call-to-action) buttons, and more. This is a great way to squeeze every last conversion from your marketing and worth the time it takes. Don’t believe us? Just ask President Obama.

2. Speak clearly & concisely

Long gone are the days when sales people could get away with hiding behind vague product descriptions and technical jargon. The same no-nonsense rules apply to your marketing team, as well as your SEO and SEM strategy. In the nascent days of the Internet, a lot of clever people realized that by stuffing their sites with SEO buzzwords, they could game search engine algorithms, thereby ending up on page 1 of search results.

Thankfully for us all, Google et. al have wised up. Because of changes made to search engine algorithms, websites that are concise and transparent are rewarded in search results, and those that aren’t are penalized. If you haven’t updated your site since the days when keyword stuffing your business URL was en vogue, it’s time for a reboot of your SEO and content strategy. Your sales team will thank you, your marketing team will be able to put their skills to good use, and your conversion rate should see a nice spike, too.

3. Add incentives for action

Lagging conversion rates can be caused by any number of things -- many of which we’ve already mentioned in this piece. Whether it’s your content, your UX, or your underlying SEO and site infrastructure, high conversion rates should be seen as a reward for a holistic site strategy rather than something you can game by spending big bucks on paid media or pay-per-click.

If you’ve worked hard to reboot your website strategy but the conversions still aren’t coming, it’s time to consider how your marketing team is approaching your site’s content and microcopy. Are they taking advantage of opportunities to engage and entice through special offers or incentives? Whatever offer you decide on, your site should make it easy and enjoyable for users to take the plunge.

Improving conversion rates via sales & marketing alignment

Of course, all of this is moot if your sales team is positioning your brand one way, and your marketing is messaging in the opposite direction. Finding ways to bring both sides together will make your team -- and your business -- stronger in the long run.

1. Align on value proposition & communicate consistently

Once you get both teams in the same room, get them talking about the value propositions they want to make both online and off. Once your teams reach an agreement on how they’re going to prioritize and evangelize your company’s key value props, make sure that they’re using consistent language across all mediums and platforms -- whether that’s on in a print ad, on LinkedIn, or on your homepage.

2. Align on the buyer journey

There are probably as many ideas out there about how customers find you as there are people on your payroll. While not all conversions take place online, many businesses find it helpful to consult their site analytics to assess users’ conversion funnel. Data may be the only way you'll begin to achieve common ground when it comes to your buyers’ journey. So use it.

3. Build case studies together

Case studies are business’s way of stepping back after a job and seeing what worked and why. Case studies are also a great way for both teams to have a say in shaping the outcome of work. Imagine being a part of a huge company success, but then having no say in how that success is portrayed to the outside world. That stings a bit, right?

When doing case studies, make sure that you treat your sales and marketing teams as equal stakeholders in the process. Be sure to also involve the client that’s being featured as they’ll need to sign off on the final version if you use their real name (and you should always use real names, if possible).

Improving conversion rates on LinkedIn

For businesses who advertise on LinkedIn, setting up conversion tracking is an absolute must. But after the set-up, being able to read the data that comes in will be crucial to making LinkedIn ads work towards improving your overall conversion rate within the LinkedIn ads platform.

1. Reporting & Analytics

Before you start blindly changing your ads, take a look at your LinkedIn Analytics. Pull relevant reporting from within the platform, or ask a more qualified counterpart to do it for you. Without knowing how your ads are performing, you won’t be able to correctly identify weak links or add emphasis to the ads that are working.

2. Conversion Tracking

Once you’ve confirmed that your conversion tracking has been set up appropriately, there are lots of ways to optimize your conversions from within the LinkedIn ads platform. Specifically, our bid auto-optimization feature bases future Sponsored Content bids on past ad performance without you lifting a finger.

With the help of behavioral learning, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions is able to understand the profile of your most-likely-to-convert audience, and then automatically adjust your bids to more efficiently reach similar LinkedIn members, while dropping bids for members who have been less engaged with your ad campaigns. Over time, you should experience a lower overall CPA (cost-per-acquisition) and a higher conversion rate.

Additionally, advertisers in our platform have the ability to adjust their attribution model, compare conversion rates of all campaigns, and A/B test top performing ads in order to produce the best possible return on their paid advertising.

Improving your conversion rate is a long-term strategy

While conversion rates can improve overnight, in most cases, it takes time and dedication to yield results. Don’t fall victim to short-term-ism by abandoning important conversion points because you’re not getting the results you want. A good, long-term conversion rate strategy is constantly evolving. Look for opportunities to improve each month. Have your sales and marketing teams continuously talking and reporting on what works and what doesn’t. If you stay the course and your sales and marketing teams are aligned on overarching business goals, your conversion rate will improve.

For the ultimate resource on how to align your sales and marketing efforts for a seamless customer experience, download The Art of Winning eBook.

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