Whether you operate a Fortune 500 company or a home-based jewelry boutique out of your garage, the success of your business ultimately hinges on one thing:
Literally every piece of content you create, every new software you buy, every industry report you read, is to help you eventually convince prospects to convert, whether you realize it or not.
You want your website visitors to download your ebook so you can capture their email address on your landing page form.
Then you want them to click through your email to join your webinar, so you can teach them about your product.
After that, you want them to give up their credit card information in exchange for a two-week free trial of your software, in hopes that they decide to subscribe for a year when it’s up.
Then, when that yearly subscription expires, you want them to convert again — to renew it — and so on and so forth.
It’s this reliance on conversions that birthed an entirely (relatively) new niche of marketing that businesses are increasingly leveraging today.
That niche is called “Conversion Rate Optimization.” And while it’s always been an offering of most full-service marketing agencies, teams like the one at Conversion Rate Experts and WiderFunnel make it their business to specialize in it — helping clients to better capitalize on their website visitors.
To do so, the methods they use vary.
In some cases it takes rearranging a cluttered homepage to boost conversions. In others, it could simply be about removing a form field or two.
And sometimes, for CRO marketing agencies, it takes building a great landing page to get the job done.
How landing pages fit into CRO agencies’ marketing strategy
If you’re a seasoned conversion rate optimizer, we shouldn’t have to explain to you how landing pages fit into your agency’s marketing strategy. But, if you’re new to the industry, we’ll refer you to HubSpot’s definition of CRO to help explain:
CRO, aka conversion rate optimization, is the process of creating an experience for your website visitors that'll convert them into customers. Conversions happen all over your website -- on your homepage, your pricing page, your blog, and of course, landing pages -- and you can actually optimize all of these conversions. That process is of optimizing those conversions is exactly what conversion rate optimization is -- taking, say, your visit-to-lead rate from 22.2% to 25.4%. Or your lead-to-customer conversion rate from 1.4% to 1.7%.
“And of course, landing pages.”
While CRO marketing agencies aim to convert more website traffic all over client websites, their best work often happens on landing pages.
And the reason for that is because landing pages are the only type of web page built specifically to convert visitors.
Homepages can convert, but they’re designed primarily to offer a broad overview of your business.
Blogs can convert, too, but their main purpose is to educate readers.
Only the landing page can boast a design centered around conversion.
Let’s take a look at an example of a landing page to pin down what makes them so powerful and persuasive when it comes to convincing prospects to take action.
Here’s a landing page from email marketing software, Campaign Monitor:
From the top down, it’s effective at convincing prospects to start a free trial because:
- This page isn’t connected to Campaign Monitor’s main navigation, which means when prospects land here they either provide their information, or exit-out. The only ways off the page are through conversion, or by clicking out of the browser.
- The headline conveys the benefit of using Campaign Monitor’s software. “Elegantly simple email marketing” means “This software is easy to use, but it produces professional-looking results.”
- The copy is brief and concise, written to convey the benefits of using Campaign Monitor without boring the reader.
- The word “free” is mentioned on the call-to-action button (like it always should be when you’re giving something away at no cost, because the only word more powerful in copywriting than “free” is “you”).
- The CTA button’s color contrasts the page well. The bright green really “pops” against the blue, making it clear where prospects need to click to start their free trial.
- They leverage social proof by using the phrase “Loved by over 2 million people at 150,000 companies around the world.”
- Below that, company badges showcase the widely known publications that Campaign Monitor has been featured.
All of these elements are arranged with one thing in mind: convincing the prospect to provide their email address and click that CTA button.
Now, let’s quickly compare the conversion effectiveness of this landing page to Campaign Monitor’s homepage and blog.
This is Campaign Monitor’s homepage:
It has some of the same elements as the landing page, doesn’t it?
Among other things, this homepage is designed to convert prospects. But will it do as well as a landing page?
Not likely. That’s because it contains way too many links that could potentially drive the visitor off the page.
But what about the blog? Will it convert potential customers as well as a landing page?
As a conversion rate optimizer, we’re pretty sure you already know the answer.
Here is a Campaign Monitor blog post that we checked out earlier:
Check out the slide-in lead capture bar at the bottom. That’s designed to capture visitor email addresses.
And when we scroll all the way down to the end of the article… there’s another CTA:
And another at the bottom of the page!
But, while Campaign Monitor has done a great job of turning their blog into a lead generation machine, the chances are slim that this page is going to convert prospects at a rate as high as the landing page we showed you before.
- People visit the blog to read, not to take action. They want to be educated, not sold to. When they arrive at your landing page, it’s often because they’ve clicked an ad related to your product or service. Their intention is different. What they want is to quickly and easily find a solution to the problem that drove them to click your ad in the first place.
- There are TONS of distractions on this blog page. There are links to other Campaign Monitor pages, a comments module, social media buttons, and more.
But these conversion deficiencies are to be expected, because blogs and homepages aren’t designed specifically to convert. Using them in place of a landing page to convince prospects to take action is like trying to hammer a nail with a screwdriver.
It just doesn’t work.
You should have the right tools for the job if you expect to get it done right. And for CRO agencies, landing pages are an essential part of the arsenal (or at least they should be).
Earlier this year, when Salesforce conducted a worldwide survey of 5,000 marketers, they found that more than half of all businesses plan to increase their spending on landing pages:
That’s not surprising, considering most marketers claim their two biggest goals are developing new business and improving quality of leads.
Landing pages can help CRO agencies reach both of those goals, and even overcome a lot of the challenges that they face today.
The biggest challenges businesses face when it comes to CRO
When it comes to optimizing for conversions, businesses have it far from easy. There are still many obstacles that stand between them and the results they want to be seeing.
A report from Econsultancy indicates that while many marketers have made conversion rate optimization a bigger priority, they lack the resources, integration capabilities, and budget to make it happen.
Here’s the full breakdown of the challenges they face:
For the most part, across the board, many report that things are getting easier compared to the year before.
Today marketers have better technology, a more detailed strategy, and more resources than they
did in 2014. However, that doesn’t mean it’s all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to CRO.
As you’ll notice, the only significant positive change can be seen in the “lack of resources” category, where 12% fewer businesses report that they lack the means to implement a conversion rate optimization strategy.
Even still, almost one in every two marketers says that resource deficit is a problem. And this year, even more claim that integration between systems, company culture, and reliance on third parties are major hurdles.
So how do CRO agencies overcome those hurdles?
By using a landing page software like Instapage.
4 Ways conversion rate optimization agencies can meet its goals in 2016
1. Do more with less resources
According to the report, almost half of all businesses face a problem with resources. Today CMO’s are demanding more of their employees without giving them more to work with.
So what happens if you don’t have the money to hire another developer, or the time to manually make changes to all the landing page designs you’re testing?
You use a landing page software, of course.
With a dedicated software, you’ll no longer have to rely on a team of marketers to get pages created, published, and tested.
Instapage’s software is so easy to understand that when I started using it, I was able to create and publish pages in less than half an hour. Compare this to the week-long process I was used to when I was forced to collaborate with tech staff. And believe me, I’m no techie.
Even the least software-savvy folks on your staff will be able to create and publish landing pages in a matter of minutes.
2. Integrate seamlessly with other marketing software
In 2014, “Poor integration between systems” was a problem near the bottom of the list above. A year later, it’s skyrocketed to number two.
Probably because of the large influx of marketing technologies we’ve seen since. Here’s an obscenely cluttered infographic that really drives home just how many marketing technologies on the market right now.
So the challenge today becomes, how do you get them all to work together if they’re not always built to work together?
Here’s an idea: Specifically pick software that already integrates with the tools you use currently.
At Instapage, we’ve made sure our software does so seamlessly with a lot of the most popular solutions on the market, like MailChimp, Constant Contact, Salesforce, ZOHO, Google Analytics, WordPress, BigStock photos, and more.
3. Save money
This problem seems to pop up in nearly every report we read. As marketing technology gets pricier, it becomes harder to afford all the tools that help your agency get the job done.
And while some experts have suggested “borrowing” budget from other departments, we suggest you cut back on the hiring of web designers, coders, developers — the tech staff that’s costing you the most money — and teach your creatives how to use Instapage’s fully customizable tool.
With it, your writers can make text changes, illustrators can upload and position images with a click, and you’ll eliminate any need for IT development on the back-end.
4. Upgrade your technology
More than one in five survey respondents claim poor technology is hampering their CRO efforts.
Using Instapage’s software you’ll be able to A/B test with ease (an optimization method that CRO’s claim is one of the most valuable), create landing pages faster than ever before, and prove your ROI with the industry’s most powerful analytics dashboard.
That means more time for other business, and, when you consider that proving ROI is the number one factor contributing to a higher budget, even more money for you as a CRO to spend on fun new marketing tools.
Does your CRO agency have a plan for 2016?
As far as conversion rate optimization goes, 25% of survey respondents indicated that their lack of strategy is one of their biggest challenges.
So what’s yours?
Upgrade your strategy by making Instapage a part of it, and generate leads for clients more quickly, affordably, and easily than ever before.