Websites aren’t billboards, broadcasting generic messages to whoever happens to pass by. If someone takes the time to visit your website, they have a specific intention in mind. Converting website visitors into pipeline requires you to understand and engage that intention.
That’s why conversion optimization doesn’t start when you build or launch the site. Rather, it begins much earlier with the development of your go-to-market (GTM) strategy. Only when your tactics align with your strategic goals will you generate pipeline from inbound channels.
Why every website must start with a clear GTM strategy
To understand website conversions, you must first understand where your website fits into your GTM strategy. Otherwise, you’ll put the wrong messages in the wrong place with the wrong CTAs, wasting time and resources for little in return.
Unfortunately, marketing organizations often start with a website that may accurately reflect the product and service offerings, but doesn’t speak to the reasons why a buyer buys.
So the website may look nice and the copy sounds snappy, but you get no leads. Clearly, something’s broken. Consider the following data:
- It only takes 50 milliseconds (!!) for a user to form an impression of your website
- 46% of users report “lack of message” as the reason they leave a website
- Users spend an average of 5.59 seconds looking at your website’s written content
So what does this all mean? It means that if you’re going to get your message across, it needs to be clear, concise, and your website visitors should “get it” without much effort.
That last part—the “getting it”—is where many companies struggle. A report from HubSpot in December 2022 showed that most marketers don’t understand their customers. This applies not only to surface-level demographics, but learnings that are critical for effective marketing messaging & engagement:
- 71% don’t understand their audience’s pain points or challenges
- 76% don’t understand the social causes audiences care about
- 59% don’t understand where their audience consumes media
- 58% don’t understand the products they’re interested in purchasing
If you don’t understand your buyers, you won’t capture or keep their attention, drive them toward meaningful engagement, or convert them into leads or closed deals. Starting with your GTM strategy—messaging, value props, audience personas, etc.—is key to website conversion. Without it, visitors won’t stay on your website long enough to convert.
Website visitors: a consistent source of pipeline
Your website never sleeps. It’s on 24/7. Which means that whenever customers want to learn more about how you can solve their problems, you’re there. Anytime, anywhere in the world. You won’t find a salesperson who does that.
The misalignment between audience and messaging is often a key source of inbound conversion woes. This is problematic, considering that the website is a substantial source of pipeline.
Email marketing, while a powerful marketing tactic, works primarily for nurturing contacts you’ve already converted and have opted in. Social media, on the other hand, works well as a tool to attract contacts to your website. But it’s only once they leave social and visit your site that people end up converting.
So your website is the cornerstone of your inbound conversion efforts. Which means that it’s the most cost effective way to generate leads and revenue for your company. Consider the following inbound marketing stats:
- 61% less costly to acquire than outbound
- 300% higher lead volume than outbound per dollar spent
- 25% of leads generated from sales aren’t ready to talk to a salesperson (vs. ostensibly 90-100% of inbound)
How to tell the quality of your website visitors
So let’s say you have a solid GTM strategy, clearly defined value props, and messaging that is sure to engage your ICPs. You have a clean website design, and a mobile-responsive architecture. You have landing pages, CTAs, and inbound forms that people can use to learn more and get in touch with you and your team.
And let’s say, you start getting hundreds, maybe even thousands, of visitors per month. The leads will just start rolling in, right?
While it’s important to attract people to your website, it’s equally important to attract the right people to the site. After all, if 90% of your visitors are people who will never buy from you, then even the best optimizations won’t move the needle.
The ideal website visitor is someone who meets all three of these criteria:
- They have a problem that you can solve
- They’re aware of that problem and actively seeking to solve it
- They have the budget and internal resources to implement your solution
So the question arises: how do you know if the people visiting your website meet these criteria? Generally, you can look at four quadrants based on fit and readiness. Note, we’re not including current customers in this matrix—these apply only to the prospects visiting your site:
Let’s break this down in more detail:
- Qualified Leads. If your website is attracting a high volume of ideal customers, then there should be a high volume of qualified leads. This, of course, is the ideal scenario.
- Unqualified Conversions. If you’re converting a high percentage of visitors but they aren’t qualifying as potential customers, it means you’re attracting people who are excited about your product but they aren’t a good fit.
- Non-Bouncing Visitors. This is perhaps the hardest category to convert. You’ve got people who are deeply interested in what you have to offer and spend a lot of time on your site, but there just isn’t a sense of urgency to get them to buy.
- Bounces. This is where your marketing efforts are bringing people to your website who aren’t a good fit.
If you can move people from Quadrants II, III, and IV into Quadrant I, then you’ll have a website that’s actively converting visitors into pipeline. We’ll talk about how to make that happen in the next section.
How to convert website visitors into pipeline
Once you have an idea of which quadrant your website traffic lies in, you can start to take steps to move that traffic into Quadrant I. The specific tactics will vary by Quadrant, so let’s tackle each one individually.
Qualified leads: Route, schedule, nurture
If you’re generating qualified leads from your website, but they aren’t going to the right place after conversion, they won’t turn into pipeline.
That’s why lead qualification, while important, is only the first step. If your lead capture tool only collects data, but doesn’t automatically schedule and route the leads to the appropriate next step, you’ve got a problem.
Believe it or not, minutes delay in responding to inbound leads loses you dollars. If you respond to inbound leads quickly (less than 30 minutes), you’re 21X more likely to qualify that lead than if you waited even half an hour. And if you do so within 5 minutes, you’re 100X more likely to reach them.
Closing that operational gap, then, is the best way to ensure that the quality leads you’re generating actually convert to closed deals.
Unqualified conversions: Learn from them
There’s undoubtedly a percentage of your website traffic that is excited about your product, but isn’t in a position to buy it. This could be for a number of reasons:
- Your solution isn’t a line item in their budget
- You’re talking to a user, but not the buyer or decision maker
- The company won’t benefit from your product or service
In this case, you shouldn’t just ignore these interested leads that come to your organization. If a lead is unqualified, you should determine the next best step. For example, you could send them to a product manager to provide market or user insight to improve the product.
Non-bouncing visitors: Create urgency and close operational loops
If someone is a good fit but isn’t converting, generally there are two reasons why: there’s no sense of urgency, or your lead funnels aren’t set up to efficiently convert and route these leads.
In terms of urgency, this is generally a messaging problem. Your content may be speaking to the general issues the website visitor is facing, but you aren’t addressing the root problem or prompting them to take action.
However, your low conversion rate could also be due to operational loopholes. For instance, a visitor lands on a webpage that explains your solution, entices them to learn more, but there’s no clear CTA, so they bounce.
Worse, you could have a lead form on your website, but no automated next steps set up—so the lead languishes while you wait for the bottleneck to clear.
In either of these scenarios, there are clear actions you can take to fix the problem and move these visitors into Quadrant I:
- If it’s a messaging problem, communicate the urgency and risks in the messaging—this may require adjusting your GTM strategy based on market feedback
- If it’s an operational problem, find every opportunity where a visitor could fall off the conversion train (e.g. CTAs, scheduling, followup) and fix them
Let’s be clear: high traffic volume is a good sign. It means that you’re hitting a nerve and engaging the audience. The question is whether it’s the right audience. Starting with a clear GTM strategy before you implement inbound motions can help you ensure you always answer that question with a yes!
Bounces: Change your targeting
If you’re attracting a lot of bouncing traffic to your website, it means that you’ve simply got the wrong people finding you. Rather than try to convert them, take it as a sign to inspect your marketing source.
Your goal here is to modify who your marketing channels target, so you can bring the right people on board.
- Adjust your website’s messaging to speak to your target audience’s problems, pain, and struggles—and if you find your GTM strategy is way off, modify it
- Target different keywords to rank for search terms your target audience is actually searching for
- Change your social media strategy to target and engage with ideal customers
- Modify your ad campaigns and target different segments and demographics
Once you start to target the right people, you’ll see that bounce rate go down. From there, you can implement the strategies above to push them the stage you want.
Checklist: converting visitors to pipeline
To sum up what we’ve discussed so far, here’s a checklist of the questions you should ask when optimizing your website to attract and convert visitors:
- How many visitors are visiting our website?
- Are these visitors aligned with our ICPs? If not, then is the problem with our website messaging—is it not aligned with our ICPs?
- Which pages are most effective at converting visitors?
- Where are visitors falling off? Are they bouncing immediately upon visiting the site? Or are they spending a lot of time on the site, but just aren’t converting?
- What opportunities exist to provide strategic sales touchpoints to contacts at target accounts to drive website visitors?
- Which playbooks are most effective at converting leads?
Default can help you convert non-bouncing visitors into your pipeline by closing operational loopholes, automating scheduling and routing. See the platform in action here.