What exactly is a conversion? Are there differences between different types of conversions? How do I increase the number of conversions? These are questions we at Contitude get when we meet with potential clients. Depending on how far along they are on their journey towards results-driven digital marketing, we have different types of questions when it comes to conversions. In this article, we'll go through many of the most common questions that relate to conversions but try to keep the focus on the difference between hard and soft conversions. This article is primarily aimed at those working in a B2B company where the goal is to generate leads but can provide inspiration for any type of business.
What is a conversion?
At Contitude, a conversion is when a visitor provides their contact details by filling in some form. It can be anything from a contact form to someone signing up to subscribe to a newsletter.
Many people want to measure a conversion as, for example, meeting goals set in Google Analytics where, for example, a goal could be clicking a button or staying on the website for a number of minutes. For us at Contitude, these types of goals are not a conversion.
A conversion should be something that is measurable and creates value for the company. Just as a conversion for an e-commerce business is someone making a purchase.
For even more information on what a conversion is, we have an entire blog post about what a conversion is here: What is a conversion?
What is a soft conversion?
For us at Contitude, a soft conversion is a conversion that is not so close to a purchase. Examples of a soft conversion are signing up for a newsletter or downloading a whitepaper. It's a conversion because it adds value to the company to get the contact details of someone who is interested in what you as a company are doing. (Assuming, of course, that the whitepaper or newsletter is relevant to your target audience :) )
Often, however, a soft conversion is contact data that is not ready to become a customer today but is in an early research stage. It is still of value as you can process these leads/prospects with e.g. marketing automation or manual processing. The recommendation is to work with marketing automation and lead scoring when there are too many leads to be able to process them manually in a reliable way. Where that line is drawn is individual to each company and is often based on how large an organisation is in place to process prospects/leads.
What is a hard conversion?
A hard conversion, in our view at Contitude, is a conversion that is relatively close to a purchase. Some examples of hard conversions are, booking a demo, booking an appointment or a quote request. These types of conversions are further along in the customer journey compared to a soft conversion. Hard conversions are by far the most common types of conversions that B2B companies have on their websites and are often taken for granted. A contact form is standard on a contact page and for SaaS companies the demo button is always visible. As hard conversions are closer to a purchase, they should be rewarded over soft conversions.
Soft conversions vs. hard conversions
When it comes to setting up conversion points on your website, it's all about creating opportunities for visitors to convert no matter what stage of the customer journey they're in. Therefore, soft conversions and hard conversions are not mutually exclusive, but there should be a mix that reaches the highest number of visitors.
As mentioned above, hard conversions should be prioritised but when comparing hard and soft conversions, soft conversions generate more leads than hard conversions. This is not surprising as the threshold to sign up for a newsletter or download a whitepaper is lower than asking for a quote. Over time, it tends to be soft conversion points that generate the most business in the long run. This is especially true if you use a structured nurturing plan where the leads/prospects that convert are followed up regularly to ensure that your company remains top of mind throughout the customer journey.
Hard conversions and soft conversions serve different purposes and both should be worked on. Although hard conversions are more valuable individually as those who convert through a hard conversion are often further along in the customer journey, soft conversions tend to create more value overall. This is because the barrier to converting via a soft conversion is lower and generally leads to more number of conversions which over time lead to business even if the converters are earlier in the customer journey.