Let’s talk about the performance of your website and marketing campaigns (the keys to a powerful inbound marketing program). Do you know how your assets are converting leads that deliver company growth?
In this article, we’ll offer insights and guidance on determining reasonable conversion rates from top-of-the-funnel to bottom for complex B2B industries. Our goal is to help you better predict your inbound performance and marketing pipeline.
Determining the effectiveness of your B2B marketing efforts
That’s the big challenge of the marketing world, isn’t it? And the answer may vary depending on how you measure effectiveness. Quantitative thinkers are interested in the numbers. Creative folks want to know perceived impact. Regardless of your personality, the best measure of marketing’s effectiveness is both quantitative and qualitative; it’s called “a conversion.”
There’s no standard set of marketing conversions. The quality and measure of conversions depends on the company, its goals for growth, and its sales team’s effectiveness. In addition, how you measure conversions depends on your marketing tactics, the approach of your sales team, and the level of consideration a typical prospect goes through when buying your product or service.
The goal here is to understand your marketing pipeline; when are prospects in varying states of sales-readiness. A conversion is a change in your relationship to prospects, beginning with your very first encounter. So, every digital action on your website should be to direct visitors toward the next conversion. A conversion rate tracks how many visitors actually convert and bring some sort of result to your business.
One tip: don’t focus entirely on the end goal of your strategy. Instead, consider how close you are to achieving that goal. The most effective way to measure how close you are is to track your conversion rates.
Benchmarking compares conversions against established standards and identifies improvement areas. Yet, in order to properly analyze your current performance, metrics must be documented over time.
How do I calculate conversion rate?
Expressed as a percentage, the most common conversion rate we measure for clients is sessions-to-conversions. This calculation compares a site’s (or a single page’s) total number of visits/sessions with the number of people who converted.
Here’s an example:
Total visits: 10,000
Number Converted: 100
Conversions divided by Total Visits: 100/10,000 = 1% conversion rate
When you measure conversion rates during every stage of the buyer’s journey and track visitors’ progress through the funnel, you’ll discover friction points and opportunities will show themselves.
OK, so why benchmark?
Benchmarking positions your business against your competitors. It helps evaluate their conversion rate, how they conduct marketing, and where in the buyer’s journey they lose customers. Once you know that, you can tweak your strategy, which should improve how your marketing executions perform.
We’ll dive deeper into benchmarking later in this article. But first, we’ll define some common conversion metrics based on an industrial buyer’s journey.
Setting Your Conversion Metrics by the Buyer’s Journey
Which conversion rates should you measure? Chart out your typical buyer’s journey. For industrial companies we often see the following steps in a buyer’s lifecycle:
A website visitor becomes a contact by filling out an online form or engaging with a chatbot and providing information about themselves; the contact has given consent to send them information; once you have their job title, you may be able to assign them a persona Conversion: Traffic → Inquiry/Contact
Leads that demographically fit criteria that qualify as a good fit for your company — the right company role, industry, and buying position within their organization — now require a follow-up (to meet initial sales-ready qualifications and schedule a meeting) Conversion: Lead → MQL (marketing-qualified lead)
MQLs that cross the requisite threshold of desired interest and readiness to make a purchase; at this point, ask yourself these questions: “Is there a good chance they’ll choose us as their solution?” and “Do we even want to be their solution?” Conversion: MQL → SQL (sales-qualified lead)
Note, for most niche industries, such as specialty equipment manufacturing or industrial supply chain, there’s very little reason to filter out online inquiries from leads because website traffic is such that your visitors are likely highly qualified from the get-go.
Benchmarking Conversion Rates
Setting realistic, but goal-oriented, benchmarks isn’t always clear. If you need help, there are plenty of answers to be found from marketing automation software companies such as HubSpot, Eloqua, or Marketo. A word of caution though — while these companies are experts in lead generation conversion rates, marketing automation platforms are widely used by B2C and B2B industries, so not digging into conversion rates for your industry can often cause bloated expectations.
What are good conversion rates for different stages of the funnel?
Conversion rates vary widely from one market segment to another. The only way to know if your rates are good or not is to compare them to numbers in your industry.
To really understand the buyer's journey and your marketing pipeline, focus on benchmarking against robust but reasonable lead conversion rates for your industry to measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. There are numerous sources of information and benchmarking tools out there that can help establish a standard for your analysis — including some from us and Thomasnet below.
The big takeaway: your conversion rates should always be increasing. That happens with consistent monitoring and lots of optimization work, such as updating your contact page.
At Weidert Group, we recommend our industrial clients set a top-of-funnel goal for converting traffic (total session-to-contacts) at 2%, but benchmarking somewhere along the lines of 1.6%. Our clients fall between 0.6% and 3.8%; a large range, yet that’s considering all of our clients are successfully attracting high-quality leads that have a high likelihood of qualifying as MQLs.
We also agree with this 2020 research from Thomas that provides benchmarks for industrials at various conversion points:
Average pages per session: 2
Average session duration: 60–90 seconds
Average bounce rate: 30–60%
Average conversion rate on a “Contact Us” form: 10%
Average conversion rate for an eBook download: 25%
The average conversion rate on an RFQ form: 20%
The average email open rate standard: 20%
The average email click-through-rate: 2%
So, how are you doing against these benchmarks? See any red flags? Even if you’re meeting benchmarks, regular monitoring can still spark ideas on improving your conversion rates.
When it comes down to it, conversion rates are what justify your entire content marketing program. It’s expected that you invest in tactics to boost your conversion rates if they’re falling short.
Posted by Megan Hansel Megan was most recently a marketing assistant at Neuroscience Group. She brings experience across a broad range of marketing functions for employers in healthcare, B2B industry, and finance. Her experience includes research, digital and social media marketing, podcasting, graphic design, e-commerce, and customer care.