According to a new report from Econsultancy and RedEye, three out of five businesses (59%) believe conversion rate optimisation is crucial to their overall digital strategy. A further 40% of respondents consider it to have varying degrees of importance while, in contrast, a mere 1% of businesses believe CRO to be an unimportant factor in their overall digital approach.

While these numbers make it seem pretty clear that businesses are aware of the importance of CRO, many still have yet to implement it into their digital strategy, especially in the B2B world.

Many B2B digital marketers don’t consider themselves to have anything to convert and CRO is better left for the boys in e-commerce. It’s true that the B2B sales cycle is a long one: it has several stages of procurement and the final decision is made by committee, not an individual click of a mouse; but that doesn’t mean B2B sites lack conversion points, they simply have a more subtle, nuanced set than their B2C counterparts. Generating sales leads, qualifying and filtering these leads, supporting research queries and generating positive feelings towards your brand are all vital touch points for potential customers. And all of them can be improved using CRO.

The following are a few tips to help B2B companies effectively use conversion rate optimisation.

1. It’s not an option

Optimising your website for user interaction is not an optional add-on to your strategy. It is your digital strategy. Marketing disciplines of organic search, search engine marketing (SEM), advertising, content, PR and social media are interdependent — and best practices in one discipline will engender best practices in another. Be sure your content is succinct, meaningful and reflects the real-world language prospects use to find you. Good content encourages shares and likes, which in turn creates links and rankings. The main point is this: good content propagates engagement, leading to form fill-outs and sales inquiries.

2. Action and goals

No different from an e-commerce site, the webpage presented to a user should have a distinct hierarchy of your business objectives. If you are looking to drive users to complete a form, make sure this is given prominence (i.e. a high-contrast, attractive looking button or a clear text link), ensuring nothing else is competing for attention with this call-to-action.  If your priority is to drive phone traffic, a prominent phone number along with the times of day the lines are manned is key. If you have live chat, make this a standout feature of the page. If a white paper or case study download is a main action of yours, pages with these a central action point should prioritise downloads over form inquiries.

3. Analyse and measure

In the business-to-business world, it is difficult to quantify the contribution the web makes on company revenues, and therefore is rarely recorded or measured. A culture of analysis and the ability to benchmark is essential for successful CRO, which means it’s imperative to allow your web analytics team more influence. Have your analytics team regularly meet with your main business intelligence team. This will help you to understand how to assign value to leads acquired online.

4. Digital is different

The way users consume your digital property is different than a physical interaction. For instance, if you have a large inventory of products, how should you group these products together under category headings? The categories laid out by your corporate communications team may not contain words or phrases used by consumers in the real world. Put your users in control and feature a prominent site search feature. It’s also important to consider how tablet and mobile impacts a text-laden site; here again, internal site search is vital to the user.

5. Design

You site should have a clear brand proposition and a clear logo within the masthead; photographic assets should support the message you want to convey to you prospects and customers. Ensure each page leads to an evident user action, whether that is a form inquiry, download or progression to another step.

6. Content

Corporate copywriting is enjoying a renaissance as we’ve experienced a strong resurgence in content marketing over the last five years. The number one rule when writing copy is always quality over quantity as research suggests that only 20% of text is actually actually read, not just skimmed. So make sure your important product features in the opening sentence(s), or better yet, use bullet points for emphasis. Steer clear of overuse of product codes and excessive amounts of technical product detail — it’s a sure-fire way to lose your audience. Infographics and video draw the eye and encourages sharing, so long as it is succinct with a strong message outlining business benefits.

7. Culture

If you have an international customer base, keep in mind that users in different areas of the world respond to design that is conducive to their respective culture. For instance, where the colour red may sometimes be an indication of danger in the West, in China it’s a symbol of good luck. To prevent your cultural wires from getting crossed, think about a local approach to design that appeals to your international clientele.

It’s a new year and a perfect time to kick your new digital plan of action into high gear. If you thought conversion rate optimisation isn’t for your B2B company, think again. These seven tips will get you off to a great start and give you better insight into where you are finding success and failure within your digital strategy.