The economics of online marketing pivot almost entirely on conversion rates. Tweet This! If you can acquire more conversions for your same advertising, email and social marketing spend, you win.  You increase your revenue performance while also lowering your cost per acquisition. Let’s tie this into your conversion strategy. There are basically 4 types of visitors that come to your site, and each of them is at a different stage of the buying cycle. By getting smart about the different ways prospects convert at each stage, you can tailor your marketing strategy based on buying stages and increase your conversion rates.
With marketing automation technology, marketers have the ability to measure and track the leads they generate through their marketing efforts. Marketers are always concerned with increasing the quantity and quality of Sales Qualified Leads (SQL). Widen your Sales Qualified Lead funnel by understanding who your website visitors are and what stage of the buying process they are in. Tweet This!
Successful websites have a conversion rate of about 3%.  This makes sense because at any given time generally 3% of your market is buying. These buyers are the prospects/companies calling for proposals, requesting demos, and engaging your sales staff.  These active buyers are in the sales funnel and willing to commit within the next 90 days. But what about the rest? The remaining 97%?

Tailor Content to Customer Buying Stages

The remaining 97% represent those people who might not be ready to buy today but will most likely be buying at some point in the next 6-12 months, and if they don’t buy from you then they’ll be buying from one of your competitors. How do you convert these website visitors into qualified leads so you can stay top of mind with targeted, timely and relevant messaging (and avoid losing prospects to your competitors!)? It all starts with a strategy based on where your visitors are at in their buying process. Once you know where they are, then you can create an offer or call-to-action that appeals to them. Convert prospects to the next stage of the buying process through targeted conversion strategy methods.
Typically, there are four types of visitors who are on your website; and each represents a different stage in the buying process (and converts differently):

people with binoculars

1.    Browsers

Who they are:
Browsers are people who are early in the buying process and thinking about how they can improve their business. These visitors haven’t identified a business need yet, but they are curious to “see what’s going on.”  Looking for as much knowledge gain as anything else, they are trying to stay up on all the positional technologies or solutions that can help their business be successful. They are always on alert to take their company to the next level by advancing their own knowledge and abilities through trending technologies.
How Browsers Convert:
Browsers  are most interested in short educational pieces. Newsletters are a good type of content to offer because they are specific to your company and up-to-date with current trends. They let the reader know about your business while keeping them informed about the latest in your industry.
If you gate the content targeted for Browsers, make sure your form is short (just ask for an email address) with a privacy statement to encourage them to educate themselves via your content. Don’t ask for too much information. These individuals will not see the value in providing a lot of personal information, as they don’t have a pressing need at the moment.  In the content you share with them, make sure to include points that raise problem awareness.  That way when they’re ready to take the next step in their sales process,  the valuable content and education you provided will encourage them to seek you out.  By providing relevant content you establish brand expertise and trust without any direct selling at all.
Women looking over a book

2.    Researchers

Who they are:
Researchers are also early in the buying process, but a little further along than the Browser.  They have identified their business goals and disparities and are starting to look for solutions. Maybe they have heard of your company or arrived at your site via keyword research.  These people most likely have a business issue they need to solve, but they aren’t ready to “pull the trigger” on a solution just yet. They’re still trying to identify the right solution from various companies.
How Researchers Convert:
Offer content for this crowd in the form of e-books or guides. These should focus on the solution the researchers are looking for.  They don’t want a “why we are the best vendor” message, but rather some best practices on how to manage and/or solve their issue.  With subsequent communication, you can nurture them through their buying process and share relevant success stories of how you helped solve other clients’ problems that are similar to theirs.
Case studies are another great content option to offer Researchers. Place some teaser text next to the offer, such as “Learn how ABC Company, a global manufacturing company, saved $X.” Or you could provide a short summary of the case study. Require the visitor to complete a short form to access the entire case study. For these visitors, you should feel comfortable asking for more information than what you asked of the Browsers, because the content you’re providing is valuable and specific to their needs.
Lastly, Researchers are good candidates for content detailing how your solution is different from others available. This doesn’t mean talking about you vs. your competitors though, it means talking about your field vs. alternative solutions. This is especially applicable if you are in a new or disruptive space. Offer your business as an alternative solution and take the opportunity to demonstrate your ability to think outside the box. By offering solution-based content, you can cater to Researchers’ desire to find the best solutions for their problems and make a case for your company as the source of that best solution.
2 men having a lunchtime discussion

3.    Recommenders

Who they are:
Recommenders are in the comparison phase of the buying process.
They are visitors who have done their research, know what they need, but aren’t ready to talk to a salesperson just yet.  These visitors are looking for more information about your services or product and are often building a short list of vendors to contact.
How Recommenders Convert:
If you sell a SaaS product, an online demo or free trial will appeal to this type of visitor. They are working on narrowing down their list, so showing them how your solution works will appeal to them. They want to see the user interface or get an idea of how easy the product is to install or use.  If you sell services, provide details about your services.  What value do you provide? How does your product/service – and you – differ from other providers?
This is often called “brochureware” and many company websites and content offerings only focus on this type of information to get conversions.  While clearly very important, this self-promotional information should just be a part of the overall content needs of your website if you want to optimize conversion rates. Think about what a Recommender would be interested in. They are well-informed and comparing you with your competitors, so you want to come across as strong, confident and reliable. Landing pages for specific content are a good way to reach Recommenders for conversion because they often come to your site through a very targeted search. Instead of wasting their time with having to navigate through your entire site, they can get the information they are looking for on this highly focused page.
wealthy man in a bowler hat

4.    Buyers

Who they are:
Buyers are at the end of the buying process; they’re ready to pull the trigger. They are the holy grail of website traffic. However if you have not tackled the areas of interest for the other three visitors effectively, the majority of your prospects will never make it this far. Being cognizant of the other 97% of the visitors to your site and paying attention to their content needs and conversion habits will enable you to engage with more prospects, which will drive engagement and ultimately increase your number of buyers long-term.
How Buyers Convert:
Offer these folks a short form that says something like “Got a Question?” or “Please Contact Me”.  Don’t make the mistake of trying to have this form do too much.  Many people make the mistake of having long forms, thinking that the form rather than the salesperson should do the sales qualifying.  Remember that web visitors are often impatient, so don’t ask for too much information. Let the salesperson take it the last mile. Tweet This! If the form is too long, resulting in a high exit rate, then you’ve completely missed out on the opportunity to speak with a qualified lead. This is a devastating situation because if you lose them you can be certain that a competitor got them.
The vast majority of the marketplace and your traffic will be in the first two persona categories on this list, but many websites only target the prospects that are in the last two stages.  The problem is, if you do not engage your prospects in the early stages you may not even be considered by the time they are ready to become a SQL.  You need to target your audience early in their buying stages, and then use marketing automation to nurture your prospects methodically so that you are the top-of-mind vendor they consider when they reach the later stages.
Always remember that visitors to your website are in different stages of the buying cycle and you cannot and should not treat all of them the same. To prevent leads from falling through the cracks, make sure you have offers that appeal to all of them.  Adjust your conversion strategy by tailoring pages and content to appeal to each stage.  That does not mean you should have multiple calls to action on each and every page. It means you should analyze each page on your site and understand what types of visitors typically view that page. Offering an applicable call to action will increase your lead conversions both quantitatively and qualitatively.
Tailoring  your content and conversion methods to your visiting audience will provide you with the winning foundation to a much higher conversion rate, and in turn will drive greater revenue and returns on marketing investment. Hey, and maybe marketers will start getting some credit for real leads!
What do you think? Is 4 the right number for types of visitors or do you define them differently? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
This blog post morphed into a brilliant joint effort between Matt Filios and Chaz Daum. No, it had nothing to do with the fact that they’re both Cal Poly alums. Ok, maybe a little bit…

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