Search engine optimization is a widely-promoted marketing discipline in part because of how impressive it looks to generate traffic increases. For marketing sites that rack up four or even five figures in unique views per month, it can be easy to get caught up in those numbers and focus on meeting certain milestones or a specific month-over-month growth rate.

The problem with having such a strong emphasis on traffic and visitors is it ignores the part of your customer journey that’s equally (if not more) important: converting all those visitors into paying clients. As impressive as it may seem when SEO helps increase monthly views by 50% or allows a page to rack up thousands of additional visits, traffic generation is meaningless unless it leads to a positive increase in revenue.

Understanding Visitor Intent

Ignoring those who accidentally visit your site, are just researching, or have no intention of buying your product or services, every person who lands on your page is at a particular step in their purchasing process. Their current place in the process will govern their intent.

According to McKinsey, there are six specific customer journeys that B2B marketers should be most concerned with: identifying products or services that meet a need, selecting a supplier for an initial purchase, co-developing products with a supplier, dealing with an unexpected event, using and servicing a product, and reordering familiar products or services.

You can break down these individual journeys into sub-steps that take a prospect from start to finish. As you evaluate elements of your website and marketing campaigns, remember to view them through the scope of these steps.

For example, the first part of identifying products or services that meet a need is knowing what’s out there. A B2B company can ensure its brand is identified during this step in several ways, from in-person promotion to search engine optimization based on relevant keywords. The specific methods you use to meet prospects at this point in the journey aren’t as important as addressing the consumer where they are without attempting to push them along the journey faster. Make sure to map your marketing efforts to these steps to maximize results.

Consider Your Conversion Rate

Besides the amount of traffic you generate, you’ll want to consider your conversion rate. While conversion rate is impacted by traffic generation, it’s a separate metric that helps you understand both your marketing efficiency and the quality of your traffic.

HubSpot provides a simple explanation for calculating conversion rate: divide the number of conversions by the total number of visitors, then multiply by 100 for a percentage. If you receive 500 visitors and 25 of them convert, you have a 5% conversion rate.

While conversion rate is impacted by traffic generation, it’s a separate metric that helps you understand both your marketing efficiency and the quality of your traffic. Share on X

How do you go about improving your conversion rate? It varies greatly depending on what you’re selling, but there are a few general places you can start:

  • Blog. Posts on your site should be informative and well-written. If your blog is a thinly-veiled digital sales pamphlet for your products or services, prospects will catch on quickly and stop reading your posts for objective information and advice.
  • Forms and buttons. Experiment with different colors, fonts, sizes, etc., until you find one that works best to encourage visitors.
  • Social proof. This category is broad, so you may want to test several different elements. Consider testimonials, client interviews, security badges, and other indicators that you are a trustworthy vendor.
  • Facilitating communication. One critical element of marketing for B2B purchasers is a way to get in touch with an actual person from the vendors they’re considering. If the form you’re optimizing is designed for this purpose, remember to let users know they’ll be able to schedule a call or meeting with a real person. 

Again, these are a few recommendations based on the general principles of B2B marketing. You should adapt and apply them in a way that makes sense for your specific brand and the audience for which you’ve designed it.

Segment Your Site Effectively

Once you’ve spent some time analyzing visitor intent, you can start to work on addressing the top needs of the most relevant traffic that visits your website.

In a B2B purchasing context, one of the things prospects will seek most is education. This is particularly true for newer clients who may not have been through several purchasing cycles like industry veterans. One of the most common ways companies provide relevant education to prospects is through consistent blog updates, where they can share news and developments that matter to buyers. This can also be accomplished through a longer-form medium, like reports, white papers, ebooks, etc. 

Product demos and tests are other considerations – especially for software companies. Before committing a significant amount of their budget to a tool or application, buyers will want to see what it looks like while in use – possibly even use it themselves. 

The desire for a test run in the world of SaaS startups facilitated the creation of the “freemium” pricing model. Users are given free access to a limited version of the tool or product, eventually encouraging them to move to a paid plan. B2B freemium models are typically more complex and dynamic – they might involve multiple meetings or presentations and test runs.

For best results, treat these segments like any other conversion element on your website and consistently work on optimizing them. Do prospects seem more receptive to learning from short-form blog posts on your site or longer white papers emailed to them directly? When people accessing your page are looking to connect with someone, is it better to list the phone number or create a pop-in window that allows users to click to schedule a call?

These are the kinds of questions you need to ask constantly instead of solely focusing on attracting traffic that may or may not be interested in your offering.

Final Thoughts on Traffic vs. Conversions

Nothing written here is intended to minimize the importance of generating traffic for successful B2B marketing optimization. Without visitors on your site, you’ll struggle to meet your marketing and sales targets, even if you have a finely-tuned digital experience that helps your prospects deal with all their relevant issues and concerns.

Focusing on traffic and SEO only becomes a problem when it takes away from other crucial parts of your marketing plan. Ignoring everything that happens after someone lands on your site will decrease your conversion rate in the long run. Even if you generate more traffic with this approach, it’ll likely be little more than a vanity metric if your site doesn’t help visitors meet their goals.

As a provider of services or products for other businesses, failing to improve your conversion rate by optimizing your on-site experience can lead to severe problems meeting growth and revenue targets. If you’re looking for help from a team of conversion rate optimization specialists with experience making funnels more efficient and improving marketing efforts, fill out this brief questionnaire so we can learn more about how best to serve your needs.