Have you been noticing that no matter what you do, your conversion rates are starting to plateau? If you have already done all the onsite fundamentals - testing creative, copy, and calls to action - maybe it's time to shift your focus away from simply increasing site traffic and reconsider your segmentation strategy.
For many marketers, setting a segmentation strategy becomes a one-time tactic, often done in line with a site redesign, technology change, or annual marketing campaign. This can be a big miss - especially as marketing tactics, targeting partners, and segment behavior can often change over time.
If your traffic volumes are satisfactory relative to historic norms, consider that you may be getting the wrong type of traffic - or improperly classifying them. A few factors may be working against your targeting strategy:
Disconnect between behavior and reality. Could it be that your own judgment or view of your organization is impacting the construct of your segment? If you are in the mid-market, is your plan of converting luxury shoppers a brilliant idea to increase marketshare, or is it time for a reality check? You may be spending high dollars driving volume of this premium audience, with little chance of recouping your media spend. Growth in bounce rates is often a leading indicator of this. Take a moment to ensure that your tactics are not all based on "reach goals" - but on demonstrated user trends.
Are the calls to action too aggressive? Could you be forcing your visitor's hand too early? While promotions, time sensitivity, and limited volumes may help convert a visitor nearing the end of the buying cycle (especially in the B2C space), strong-arming visitors may backfire. Consider testing offers with multiple tones and levels of urgency - you may find that the lighter touch may actually perform better.
Getting too personal. Are you asking for too much upfront? It's possible that you may be overvaluing the demand for your premium asset (i.e., white paper, video, webinar). If your form completion rate is low relative to other conversion points, consider asking for less data upfront. Many organizations are finding that for items with a longer sales cycle or multiple touchpoints, a "less is more" approach to form data is more successful. Prove the value of your content - and consider a repeat visit a better option to ask for that next set of data points.
Partner problems. Are you relying too much on external data to identify and segment users? Are you over-reliant on your partners to funnel visitors into the appropriate segment - without onsite validation? Consider that for many ad networks, its takes ongoing updating of the profile to reach the right segment. Revisit your current segment definitions with your media partners (both search and display) to ensure you are both in sync with not only the customer segments you are targeting, but the behaviors you expect these visitors to exhibit. Compare onsite behavior across segments and you may find that certain media providers or vendors are not as diligent in delivering high-quality traffic. It may take fine-tuning of site exclusions, saturation points, and changes to your recency policy to ensure the right set of rules for each unique segment.
Keep it simple. Are you overcomplicating the user experience - making it too difficult for users to complete their desired task? If you're seeing an increase in page views but decrease in conversion, you may not be having segmentation issues, but need a rework of your user interface (UI). Alternatively, you may be misclassifying these users and creating additional work for them to find the right product within your solution set. Whether it's too hard to find the information, or you are driving users to the wrong solution, you have a problem. Consider simplifying the UI to make it easier to navigate - and consider driving users to pages higher up in the site hierarchy.
Andrea Fishman, VP of strategy and a partner at BGT Partners, leads BGT's Chicago office and has extensive experience in marketing and management consulting. She and her team drive value to BGT's clients through the development of behavioral marketing programs, web analytics, measurement programs, industry benchmarking, competitive assessments, and the design of integrated marketing programs.
Andrea has been with BGT since 2003 and is credited with strengthening partnerships with such clients as ADT, Sony, ADP, and Avaya. Prior to joining BGT, she served as global vice president at divine, inc. She's also held strategic positions within marchFIRST, The Lewin Group, and the office of U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy.
A graduate of Brandeis University, Fishman was awarded the Wasserman Scholarship for academic achievement and was named a 2010 Stevie Awards Finalist as Best Executive in a Service Business. She is a frequent judge for the eHealthcare Leadership Awards and is involved with the Special Olympics and Chicago Cares, a community service organization.