Using better focus to optimize conversions

Using better focus to optimize conversions

November 22, 2019

Many B2B marketing teams are oversimplifying conversions. They calculate their conversion rates with a simple formula like this one:

# of leads / total # of visitors

You see this kind of metric on marketing dashboards everywhere, reporting on conversion for goals like free trial or account signups, demo requests, or ebook downloads — based on how many people saw your marketing (like a webpage, ad, email, etc.) and then took the desired action.

But you're not trying to convince every single person who saw that marketing message. You're trying to convert specific segments.

By now, it's marketing gospel that one message does not fit all. But in too many of our marketing channels, we continue to operate — and evaluate — for the masses, instead of focusing on specific, ideal audiences.

Let's explore why relying on blanket conversion metrics can lead you astray, how to bake quality standards into measuring performance, and three personalization methods to get higher-value conversions from target prospects.

Rethinking the catchall conversion equation

Catchall conversion thinking sets you up to optimize for the wrong crowd. Trying to improve an overall conversion rate for a bulk audience means you're likely letting the behavior of bad leads or the wrong type of leads dictate your plans for improvement. It's the pursuit of a suboptimal goal, which sets the whole ship off course.

Imagine your business is targeting enterprise customers, as you make the transition upmarket. One month, you check the metrics on your marketing site and notice that signups have increased significantly ... but almost entirely from SMB customers. So conversions are way up but from a segment that is no longer the focus of your business. This mismatch causes costly downstream effects, from diverting the efforts of sales and success to smaller-than-ideal accounts to failing to gain traction with the segments you're pursuing to hit revenue goals.

If you could see how enterprise leads behaved on your site, you'd probably start problem-solving in a different way, building a different experience for this smaller, more focused subset of visitors.

Add a quality filter to measuring conversion

To break down how you think about lead conversion, it may be helpful to think in terms of the Pareto principle, which states that 80% of effects come from 20% of causes. Whatever the actual figures are — if the great majority of your productivity, revenue, and impact come from specific segments, it doesn't make sense to try to appeal to and move a number for 100% of everyone at once who comes to your door.

First, you need to be able to identify anonymous site visitors at some level in order to measure conversion for specific target segments (and personalize your site for those segments). With a reverse-IP solution like Clearbit Reveal, you can understand which companies are browsing your site and zoom in on target segments based on firmographic details like: company size, industry, location, or company name.

This revealed information enables you to get a sense of quality and quantity. You can now dig into the behavior of a more targeted group of inbound prospects, the ones who get the most value from your product and bring your business the most value.

Your new conversion formula could then look like this:

# of conversions/ # of certain type of high-value visitors

Learn more about how to tell if your marketing is on the right track and improve marketing ROI.

Hone in on high-value website visitors with personalization

In setting better conversion goals by focusing on target audiences, it's easier to see that a generic website strategy doesn't cut it. Instead, you can work towards those goals by personalizing the site experience for those audiences and gather better signals for measuring performance and making further improvements.

Customize key sections of your website

Personalize key elements of your marketing site (like the headline or customer logos) for your ideal customer segments to improve the chances of resonating — all from the very first visit, right when their motivation is highest and without the friction of requiring them to enter any information.

Livestorm, which makes a webinar software, needed to talk to two different groups: startups and smaller companies versus enterprise companies. As growth engineer Thibaut Davoult says, "They're so different that it's not possible to have one website that addresses all these needs."

Using Clearbit Reveal and the personalization software Mutiny, Livestorm could serve up a tailored experience for enterprise visitors to their site. By customizing the homepage messaging to larger companies and steering enterprise leads to sales by removing pricing, they tripled enterprise signups and increased deal size. Plus, as Thibaut reports, this site experience paved the way to better sales conversations.

two versions of Livestorm homepage

Focused conversion improvements also add up. When the product analytics company Amplitude personalized their website for key segments of their broad customer base of different company sizes and industries — they saw their overall sitewide conversion rate increase by 40%.

Automate parts of the buying journey

B2B companies often provide a "choose your own adventure" experience, where you have to self-select into an appropriate path. You have to choose which button to click: the free trial for a self-serve experience versus a CTA for demo request to get a higher-touch treatment. Or you have to get yourself to the right industry-specific or enterprise landing page from the homepage.

Depending on your business model, it may make sense to automate some of these choices by deliberately creating fewer opportunities for people to drop off, choose incorrectly, or for bad leads to never get into high-touch funnels in the first place. A common, non-personalized example of this type of design in action is a B2B website only accepting work email addresses, since there's a higher chance that someone is a qualified lead if they're not using a personal or throwaway email address.

Here's another simple example but with a sophisticated twist. When the video collaboration software company saw how visitors would default to trying the lowest-tier plan, they made a subtle tweak to their signup flow to automatically shuttles prospects into the correct pricing and service tier. From the moment you get onto the signup form, you're set for a trial for the right-size plan, based on company size.

Visitors who work at larger companies see the right plan in the signup

With just half an hour of work to make this change, raised the number of the higher-tier "Team plan" signups by 7%. "In the grand scheme of things that doesn't sound crazy big," VP of Growth Kyle Gesuelli comments, "but for us, it means over half a million dollars in incremental ARR every year. So 30 minutes for half a million dollars in ARR, I'll take that every day."

Without tactics aimed at specific segments like this, making progress towards business goals like acquiring higher-value accounts is inaccessible.

Tailor your retargeting ads

Once site visitors bounce, retargeting efforts kick into action to try to re-engage leads who haven't converted. The problem is that retargeting, too, may be set to reach a blanket crowd — everyone who's ever dropped by your site. What if you could retarget very specific segments of visitors instead of retargeting everybody (and spending money to retarget irrelevant leads)?

Efficient retargeting relies on being able to exclude current leads and customers — everyone who you've already convinced to move further down the funnel. As Emily Kalen,'s Senior Manager of Growth Marketing, says about engaging and nurturing net-new leads:

If you can't exclude [the right] people, whether they're purchasing or recently signed up, then it's impossible to scale your paid efforts. Otherwise, those campaigns are always going to favor the people who are continually visiting your site, working within the app, or continuing to make payments.

Using Clearbit, you can zero in on who you actually want to reach, like your ideal customer profile, and keep out who you don't (like existing customers or unqualified leads).

The more precision you have over who you reach with your retargeting, the more precise and persuasive you can get with the content you show them. This not only saves money by keeping out irrelevant audiences but enables you to invest in more activities that convert the leads you care about most.

Better focus for better leads

Gaining a bunch of new users or new leads who aren't actually qualified or meaningful for your business is vanity conversion — and such leads can take away resources for growth down the line. As the bestselling author of the book Atomic Habits James Clear puts it, “What often looks like a problem of goal setting is actually a problem of goal selection. What we really need is not bigger goals, but better focus.”

If you have an ideal customer profile or any other types of target audiences, you won't be able to reach your marketing goals without focusing on and catering to their specific needs. Select better goals by measuring and building for what actually matters.

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