What are the Major Components of a CRO Strategy?
Since conversion rate optimization mainly deals with optimizing every stage of the marketing funnel, it is important we discuss each funnel stage individually. The marketing funnel is divided into three parts or stages:
- Top of the funnel – Awareness or discovery stage
- Middle of the funnel – Consideration stage
- Bottom of the funnel – Decision or conversion stage
Each stage of the funnel carries a specific function; if one stage of the funnel is optimized, more prospects trickle down to the next stage, and this process continues. Contrary to what many marketers believe, the marketing funnel doesn’t end with a click of your landing page call-to-action button. Instead, it continues down to the retention stage:
Top of the Funnel Strategies
The purpose of top of the funnel content is to engage your prospects and help them discover how your product is the optimal solution for the problem they’re experiencing. This is the funnel stage where you look for indirect customer acquisition and brand awareness (e.g. soft sell) — so the content used at this stage is primarily educational.
Top of the funnel is recommended for soft sell content, i.e. the marketing materials work to acquaint prospects with your product or service without asking for too much personal information in return.
Top of the funnel marketing involves the following content formats:
- Blog posts
- Email newsletters
The offers included in this part of the funnel are “free” so to speak but contain short-form lead capture forms on their respective landing pages to redeem.
Here’s an example of top of the funnel content Instapage uses to educate prospects about landing pages and marketing trends:
The landing page has a two-step opt-in form so that visitors aren’t intimidated by providing their information as soon as they come to the page. The opt-in form asks visitors to enter their name and email address in exchange for a guide on marketing trends.
Another example of top of the funnel content comes from Marketo in which they use a webinar to educate prospects and how they implement personalization via email, web, and mobile:
Remember, this stage of the funnel is about educating your audience and maximizing brand awareness. It’s not about convincing prospects to buy your product; that comes later in the funnel.
Middle of the Funnel Strategies
The goal at this stage of the funnel is direct customer acquisition because at this stage you’ve already engaged your leads with basic information about your brand — and now you need them to buy.
You should produce and promote content at this stage to align a buyer’s need with relevant products in your arsenal.
Some middle of the funnel content techniques are:
- Targeted email marketing
- Marketing automation
- Product demo webinars
- Live events
- Case studies
The content at this stage revolves around customer-relationship management through segmentation. When you segment your audience based on age, gender, geographical position, professional role, etc., you are better equipped to offer them targeted content that interests them. Hence, they move further down the funnel.
Here’s an example of a targeted email from Optimizely:
The email addresses the prospect by name and persuades him to join a webinar that will teach how to optimize customer experiences at every touchpoint. This is the webinar landing page connected with the email:
The form on this landing page is the appropriate length for the middle of the funnel offer.
The form on this landing page is the appropriate length for the middle of the funnel offer.The page asks for the visitors’ company name, and because they’re already familiar with the company, the prospect isn’t hesitant to share more personal information with Optimizely.
In contrast, HubSpot uses an ebook on B2B vs. B2C Content Lessons to push leads further down their funnel. You will notice this ebook landing page’s form is quite detailed and asks a lot more information from the visitor, such as how many employees, their role, and which CRM they currently use:
It’s also worth mentioning that retargeting prospects who have shown some interest in your offer at one time is also included in this stage of the funnel (retargeting strategies will be discussed at length later in chapter 7).
Bottom of the Funnel Strategies
This is the place marketers want all of their prospects to end up as soon as they enter the funnel, and it can be achieved if you’ve checked all of your optimization boxes up until now. The conversion phase of the funnel deals with transactions with customers, which means you need the most targeted and valuable offers at this stage.
- Customized content (e.g. emails, newsletters)
- Free trials
- Live demonstrations
- Competitor comparison sheets
- Q & A sessions
- One-on-one live chat
- Customized pricing
The offers at the conversion stage are straightforward and full of value — designed to convince prospects to complete the funnel (i.e. purchase).
The Hatchbuck demo page is an example of a bottom of the funnel offer:
The offer persuades customers to sign up for a demo and learn more about how Hatchbuck helps them with their marketing.
The journey from prospect to lead to customer is complicated, but when you have a sound CRO strategy in place, the process becomes simpler.
With the help of conversion rate optimization, you’re able to design a marketing funnel that doesn’t have any conversion friction, and the prospect seamlessly transitions from one funnel stage to the next.
Here’s what a standard conversion funnel flow looks like:
- The prospect clicks an ad (this could be display, PPC, or banner) or a link (this could be in an email or your homepage)
- The prospect is sent to the landing page
- The lead comes to a thank you page, from where they can go to the company’s website via a link
Your ad, landing page, and homepage are the most important pit stops in your customer’s’ journey. Optimizing them guarantees an increase in conversion rates and this is what CRO helps you achieve.
The next chapters of this guide are going to show you how you can optimize your ads, landing pages, homepage, and increase your conversion rates.