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Chapter 1: Optimising high-intent pages for conversion

Optimising high-intent pages is one of the quickest ways to improve conversion rates and generate qualified leads.

We’ll walk you through 5 tried-and-tested methods we’ve implemented here at Cognism, including optimising forms, creating a direct booking solution, enrichment, and much more. 

Fix Your Funnel - Chapter 1: Optimising high-intent pages for conversion

Every interaction and every funnel stage is important, but let’s start from the beginning.

Attracting and converting high-intent leads is key to sustaining a healthy sales and marketing funnel. 

Before making any contact with your leads, there are a number of ways to ensure you are set up to attract the best possible MQLs.

1. Generating high-intent inbounds

1. a. Splitting the funnel 

In order to understand how to attract more ‘good-fit’ prospects, it pays to understand what those accounts look like.

This was the first step we undertook at Cognism.  Splitting out the types of leads that came into the funnel to review and analyse which we should optimise for.

This meant looking at:

  • High-intent direct demo requests.
  • High-intent paid demo requests captured in paid channels such as Google, where people would also be searching for competitors.
  • And then separately looking at low-intent leads such as webinar registrations and content downloads. 

As Liam Bartholomew, VP of Marketing at Cognism, explained: 

“We found that the low-intent leads being passed to SDRs for them to follow up on were converting from lead to closed won at 0.2%, whilst the inbound direct demo requests were converting from lead to closed won at 4%. This meant we’d have to generate 500 content leads for every deal, compared to 25 inbound leads.”

“That’s a huge difference, so you can instantly optimise your funnel by focusing on those direct inbounds.”

“This also made us realise we needed to shift our focus away from generating content leads and find a way to generate more inbound demo requests. The funnel showed the stark difference between the two.”

This also enables your operations team to focus on getting those super high-intent people in front of the right salesperson rather than building a complex lead routing and scoring model to determine how much intent each content lead might show.

1. b. Being upfront about pricing

While of course we all want high volumes of leads flowing in through our websites, these leads also need to be of high quality. Or else our sales team is going to be wasting a lot of time speaking to bad-fit accounts. 

This is where the information on your landing pages becomes crucial. Prospective buyers can qualify or disqualify themselves based on what they learn about who your product is for.

One way to do this is by offering pricing information up front. This is an easy way for customers who can’t afford your product to be weeded out before coming inbound to speak to sales. 

This may mean you have less volume of leads through, but the traffic should be better-qualified. The prospects reaching your sales team should have the budget for your tool, understand its value and have intent to purchase it.  

In cases where pricing is more complex, broad, or customisable, depending on the levels of service provided, you may find it less easily implemented on a website.

In these cases, however, you can be upfront during discovery calls. Rather than waiting until this prospect has made it through to an account executive to discuss pricing details.

If your pricing is more customisable and specific to each customer, you can then provide more advanced and tailored pricing information on a demo call. Your sales team might also see better results by handling these pricing requests, as they can provide more context to your prices.

The key is to determine which method best suits your business needs.

1. c. Running a Product-led growth model 

Your product can speak for itself. Prospects testing out your platform will know whether or not they’ll get value from it, whether it solves their problem or whether it was built for their use case. 

In other words, running a product-led growth model with a freemium layer is another way you can improve qualification. 

Users get to test it out first-hand, see the value upfront and learn all the ways they could implement your product before committing. 

Again this will likely weed out any bad-fit prospects who would likely churn quickly anyway, and can make sales conversations much easier for those who see value in the product and want to upgrade to a paid service.

2. Optimising forms

You can do a great job driving traffic to your website, but if your inbound request forms are high friction, you’ll be leaking leads out the bucket before you’ve even started. The next step is making your form experience easy and low-lift for both your customers and the business.

2. a. Form positioning

The positioning of your forms on each page can make a huge impact. As Liam explained: 

“People always discuss whether you should be super aggressive and have your form straight in front of people’s direct eye-line as the first thing they see, or whether they should have it as a pop-up and further down the page.”

“This depends on the page and what you’re trying to achieve.”

For the best conversion rates on high-intent pages, such as your demo page, you want the form in immediate view at the top of each page.

But, if generating sign-ups is a secondary objective, the forms don’t need to be positioned in a super aggressive way. 

Here, they might be placed at the bottom of the page or linked through a CTA that takes you to a separate page.

You might also have forms that pop up, including exit pop-ups. If you want to be less aggressive, your forms could appear at the bottom in lightboxes after pressing a button, which is a bit more subtle.

Remember: this all depends on each page's intent. Most blog or high-traffic SEO pages won’t be paired with forms, while money-keyword pages, competitor pages, and paid landing pages will typically have a form in immediate view.

If the purpose and value of your product are not super clear, you might also have some information explaining your product before displaying your form.

Cognism competitor page

2. b. Form messaging

Forms are often placed on pages randomly without any information explaining the benefits of filling that form out. Why should a prospect take the time to request a demo?

If you’ve got a pricing page or a demo request page, you need to outline the key benefits someone will get from seeing your demo or from having a call to discuss pricing next to your form.

This should be simplified as much as possible and easily mapped out so that your customers know exactly what they’ll gain by completing the form.

For example, on a landing page offering 25 free leads to prospects, Cognism’s marketing team ensured that the messaging around the form on this page decreased any friction or anxiety that people might associate with filling out a form.

Here, Cognism clearly mapped out what was on offer and clarified the process in place. This saw an increase in conversion rates.

Cognism free lead landing page

2. c. Form fields

It can be tempting to ask prospects requesting a demo or chat with sales a lot of questions:

  • What are your contact details?
  • What is your role title?
  • What are your specific circumstances or use case?
  • What country are you based in?
  • Are you a decision maker?

The list can go on…

But every question you ask adds more work for your prospect. The more friction, the higher the drop-off rate.

The number of fields you might have on the form is a fine balancing act. As Liam shares: 

“I think this part is about balancing providing a good customer experience and meeting the actual needs of your business.”

“From our perspective, we’d love to only ask for a first name and email address, but then we wouldn’t be able to contact people as easily, which would then affect other conversion rates in the funnel.”

Too little information gathered from the form and you could negatively affect:

  • Ability to book meetings
  • Speed to lead
  • Ability to route leads to the right people in the right time zone and language. 

The key is to have the least amount of fields possible whilst maintaining the maximum business and customer outcome.

Top tip: You can also use this form as another form of qualification. If someone is not willing to provide their phone number when they ask for a demo, you might ask yourself why that is. 

Are they just browsing? Or are they interested in purchasing a solution? A buyer with real intent will want you to contact them and, therefore will take the time to fill in a reasonable form.

Cognism live demo request page

3. The direct booking solution

Once someone fills out a form, you want to speak to them as soon as possible. This is a high intent prospect, and the sooner you talk to them, the less likely they are to get impatient and choose a competitor instead.

At Cognism, we implemented a direct meeting booking solution to make the customer experience as smooth as possible. 

 Liam shared: 

“The worst thing is when you fill out a form and go to a ‘thank you’ page with no idea when you’ll be contacted again. This might not come at a time that’s appropriate for you, or you might miss it, which can delay your meeting.”

“Normally, you’re ready to speak to someone when you’ve completed that form, or you want to at least have an expectation of when you’ll be able to speak to someone.”

This solution allows customers to book in specific dates and times to be contacted.

That way, the speed to lead and pressure to contact someone immediately matters less because they’ve set their expectations and know when they will have that conversation.

Of course, you still want to be able to offer as many available slots as early as possible for those who do want to speak to you quickly.

But this expectation setting then has a positive domino effect on the following stages for the business:

  • When people can instantly book a meeting at a time that is set up by them and meets their preferences, they’re more likely to turn up to the meeting.
  • This helps to accelerate the sales process, which increases conversion rates throughout the funnel.

The impact of this at Cognism was clear, as this solution doubled our MQL to opportunity and MQL to meeting attended rates.

4. Enrichment

We’ve already covered why reducing the number of form fields and having accurate information on your leads is important, and a huge part of this is enrichment. 

If you can enrich your leads with more data - without having to ask the prospect for more information, then it’s a win win.

There are 3 different types of enrichment: form enrichment, instant enrichment within the CRM, and scheduled enrichment.

Cognism runs all three types of enrichment, as every layer of enrichment ultimately provides an additional layer of information.

4. a. Form enrichment

Simon Heckhuis, Marketing Operations Manager at Cognism, shared:

“The holy grail from a marketing operations perspective is a form enrichment.”

“Here the enrichment happens whilst someone is filling out a form, which means down the line you can start to reduce your number of fields because the enrichment already knows the data you need, so you don’t need to ask for it.”

In addition, if you have something like a meeting booking solution, you can use those additional data points to route your leads to the correct calendar.

The main problem when enrichment happens later is that when someone wants to book a meeting, and you’ve only asked for a first name, email and phone number, the meeting booking solution has very little data to go off when deciding who the meeting should go to.

At Cognism, Simon enriches the following:

  • Company size
  • Sales headcount
  • Industry 
  • Annual revenue 
  • Company name
  • Department 
  • Job title 
  • Seniority

This ensures that your leads are sent to the right person, in the right region, and the right language without requiring too many form fields.

4. b. Instant enrichment

Form enrichment can be technically tricky, so the next solution would be to enrich the form just after it has been filled out.

This means when a lead doesn’t book a meeting or instantly select a time, which happens around 30% of the time, you can get additional information on your prospects through enrichment and ensure those who are harder to reach get followed up by the right person.

This includes being in the right time zone with the right language capabilities and being the best person from a sales process perspective. 

Some inbounds are more likely to convert down the funnel than others. If a prospect matches your ideal customer profile, you can send them directly to an AE because they are most likely already prequalified from a marketing and sales perspective.

4. c. Scheduled enrichment

The last layer is a scheduled enrichment. 

This is all about keeping your data clean and constantly up to date. As Simon explained: 

“This can help you when you analyse your funnel and look at the big picture with a full set of updated data. Sometimes, people might input out-of-date data or misspell a company name, and everything goes off slightly.”

“If you enrich all these data points, when you do your final analysis, you can see where your high-intent inbounds are coming from, what the key path of success is, and drill down on those areas.”

5. Creating a feedback loop

Creating a feedback loop to ensure marketing, sales, and operations regularly catch up and examine both the data and qualitative feedback is essential. At Cognism, that is represented by both bi-weekly and monthly meetings.

5. a. Bi-weekly meetings 

Bi-weekly catch-ups help stakeholders stay updated and aware of anything that changes quickly that they wouldn’t be able to see in larger data trends over time. 

This might be: 

  • Inbound reps letting marketing know about the quality of the leads generated
  • AEs letting marketing  know about meeting volume over the last couple of weeks 
  • AEs and inbound reps discussing the handoff and qualification process at the earlier stages. 

This also enables marketing to communicate what they’re working on and how they will bring in more qualified traffic and get feedback to understand if this is working. 

Liam adds: 

“This also gives operations the time to figure out what data we’re missing.” 

“That’s the best way to get that quick qualitative feedback, which is just as important as looking at what the data, the sales team, and the operations team are saying."

5. b. Monthly meetings

We then use monthly meetings to look at the overall data trends throughout the month and quarter.

This is to understand the progress toward targets set throughout the funnel and the conversion rates we’re trying to achieve.

This is also the dedicated time to figure out any problems and anomalies that have been identified. 

For example, if you’ve changed something that has led your MQL to meetings booked rates to drop, but your meetings attended to SQO to increase.

This might mean you need to change assumptions or forgive that you’ve missed a target because something exceeded further down the line.

This meeting also provides a great forum to discuss what levers to pull to change those conversion rates to achieve your goals. 

Liam explained: 

“These meetings have been fundamental for us, enabling us to keep all the departments talking and make decisions collectively based on data and experience.” 

These meetings help marry together the data and anecdotal evidence.

Simon added:

“These meetings allow us to take sales and marketing feedback seriously, which is important when looking at data. It’s really easy to get into a loop on the operations side when you present the numbers and dictate where there is a problem because, in reality, not everything can be shown in the numbers.”

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