CVR Optimization: Optimize The Offer, Not The Ad

29 November 2021

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Olga is a digital marketing specialist @Viden, delivering results for brands through data-driven strategies and result-oriented tactics across Google & Bing Ads, Facebook Ads, Amazon Ads & more.
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What Is Conversion Rate Optimization?

Conversion rate (CVR) optimization is a process of refining all elements of your funnel – from marketing campaigns to website design and functionality – to minimize the drop-offs that happen at every stage of a customer journey. It’s also seen as an efficient way to increase profits from sales without raising the advertising spend. And with ever-increasing customer acquisition costs, marketers and e-commerces start to double down on CVR optimization, not only focusing on gaining new customers, but retaining the existing ones as well.

The basics of CVR optimization are well-known and pretty straightforward:

  • Compelling ads
  • Ads’, keywords’, audiences’, and landing pages’ relevance
  • An optimal landing page design
  • Powerful remarketing
  • A smooth & streamlined customer journey
  • Quick, easy, and convenient website navigation, checkout process, purchase and delivery options

We’re not going to delve into any of these points, though. Instead, we’re going to consider a much less talked about aspect of CVR optimization: the offer. 

Today it’s not enough to continuously optimize the ad, testing flashy creatives and top-notch ad copies to bring in new customers. People are becoming somewhat desensitized to advertising, which comes as no surprise, since the average person is now estimated to encounter between 6,000 to 10,000 ads every single day, only needing a second to determine if the ad is a fail or a pass.

Average global social CTRs are also going down 30%, year over year, which leads to the ever-improving standards for ads in a scramble to win against the competition and gain attention from their target audiences. For users, those standards are a given. They expect high-quality engaging ads, specifically tailored to their preferences, so, unless you’re employing innovative ad formats (using the VR technology, for example) or getting creative with how you present your brand and your product (resorting to humor, relevant social messaging or shock value), you’re unlikely to impress your average and most likely very bored viewer.

Which is fine, because your goal isn’t to impress them. It’s to make them curious enough to click and give them a reason to follow through with the purchase. And, fundamentally, curiosity doesn’t stem from how good is the package (though it certainly helps), but how good is the deal. It’s all about delivering the right offer to the right audience and ensuring your offer wins against your competitors.

So what can you do to stand against the slew of promotions and ramp up your CVR? Let’s dive in.

types of marketing offers

#1 Research

Before launching into any sort of optimization head-on, you need to determine if your offer will land with your customers. It means gathering actionable data on digital touchpoints of the customer journey and learning users’ behaviors, preferences, and causes for drop-offs. 

It’s also crucial to ensure your marketing campaigns align with the business goals of the company. Whether that’s increasing transaction volume, driving cart expansion, or brand lifting, campaign objectives should be set in line with what drives core results for the business.

Once your goals and audiences are clear, you should determine what it is that you want the customer to do. What are the specific actions that you want them to complete, or behaviors you want them to follow? 

For example, for first-time website visitors, you might want to set them on a path of digital onboarding and generate initial engagement. For cart abandoners, you’ll need to determine how to incentivize them to complete the purchase. For inactive app downloaders, it could be finding ways to reignite the user’s interest in the app and encourage engagement.

Based on this, you can develop user paths, requiring customers to make different purchases or complete tasks in order to unlock a discount, inciting them to return to your website or app again and again. 

You could also use incentives to encourage prospective customers to behave in a certain way. For example, if you want more orders to be placed via the web, or via the phone, or if you’ve just launched an app for your online store and want more people to download and use it, you could offer incentives like discounts for customers who order via those channels or app installers.

#2 Offer Optimization Software

The easiest route you could take would be to use offer optimization software. Some companies offer software that can “memorize” which ad placements performed best with a specific offer, and the next time you promote the same offer, the algorithm would adjust traffic delivery to use the most efficient ad placements, based on the collected data.

Such tools are incredibly useful in refining the delivery of your offer and boosting the performance of your ads across Display networks, for instance. A good example of it would be the Propeller Ads’ Offer Optimization Tool. 

Besides that, by using artificial intelligence and machine learning platforms, marketers can automatically create segmented or personal offers to activate their customer data and provide relevant and meaningful offers to every customer across their channels.

#3 Optimize Pricing Strategies

Pricing is a continuous dynamic process that should adapt to the ever-changing demand and preferences of your customers as well as the value of your competitors’ products against your own and other market factors. While low prices usually mean better value for the customer, and high volumes of sales for the business, essentially they could be a loss to the business in terms of revenue that comes from each individual sale. Higher-end prices, on the other hand, could bring in a higher overall profit, yet sales volumes are likely to be lower, especially if customers see the higher price as representing lower value for money. 

Optimizing your pricing strategies is meant to help you find that sweet spot between value and volume. Establishing this balance could have a major impact on customer satisfaction, loyalty, sales, as well as profitability and growth.

Most pricing strategies hinge on determining the right starting price of your product or services, followed by setting up any discounts or promotions you can offer.

The launch price of your product is vital to establishing it in the market and in the minds of consumers. Starting at a low price point may gain you early traction and a sales boost, however may lead to a decrease in revenue and volume if, as you start to up your prices, customers consider their value no longer corresponding to how much they’re willing to pay for it. With a  too-high price, however, you could miss out on the sales from the early segment of customers.

One of the effective pricing strategies is considered to be value-based pricing, which aims to determine how much each customer is willing to pay for your product, so you can maximize revenue by charging each customer exactly what they’re willing to pay. Other common pricing strategies include:

  • Competitor based pricing – Price based on competitors pricing
  • Cost plus pricing – Price based on cost of goods or services plus a markup

Utilizing customer data and understanding how consumers will react to price changes is key in mapping out the right pricing for your products. Gather data on demographics, psychographics, inventory, supply and demand, historical market specifics, sales metrics, churn rate, product features, and price sensitivity. You could also turn to customer surveys and speak to existing or potential customers, asking questions to determine your competitive advantage as well as their thoughts on current sales tactics, loyalty programs, promotions, discounts, and pricing.

By activating your data and using A/B testing, you can ensure you’re at the top of your game with your product offer.

#4 Determine & Push The Winning Offer

It’s always a good idea to go through your historical data and see which offers worked best for your brand throughout its run, if there was anything that always helped bring in the deal, and if it’s something you can prominently feature on your website or in your marketing campaigns.

Creating or adjusting your landing pages with a heavier focus on the historically best-performing offers could not only increase the conversion rate but also significantly boost your sales. 

But what makes a good offer? 

Usually, an offer is meant to address a relatable pain point and should be tailored to your target audience, making them realize their need for your product or prompting interest in it. Furthermore, it should clearly communicate the value prospective customers would be receiving for their money, while not inciting doubts regarding the quality of the products offering a cheap deal.  If you convey these things well to your audience, you’re likely to succeed in convincing them to take action.

Ultimately, a strong knowledge of your target audiences’ desires is key to creating the perfect offer, allowing you to build your messaging around their problems and demonstrate how they can improve their life with your product, and boost the conversion rates as a result.

#5 Improving The Existing Offer

Sometimes the best approach is not to scrap everything and start anew, but to tweak what you already have. Just changing the way you describe your offer can make a significant impact on your click-through and conversion rates.

Build trust

One of the techniques that work rather well is positioning yourself as the prospects’ advisor, someone who acts in their best interests, whose voice is reliable. Earn the awareness, respect, and trust of your audience, and choose the tone of your messaging carefully, translating these points well to your prospective customers – this way you’ll have a much higher chance of converting them.

Display prices differently

Another way to boost your offer’s CVR is to change the way you display your pricing. Depending on your goals, you can make prices look larger by displaying the decimal points (e.g. “Get a free gift – a $30.00 value”) or lower by hiding them (e.g. “order now for only $30”). It’s also important to note that odd prices tend to work slightly better as consumers perceive a $19.99 price tag to be disproportionately lower than a $20.00 one. 

Explain why you’re making this offer

At times, when you offer contains high-value products or services at little to no cost, consumers might consider it too good to be true, distrusting the brand and the promotion. In that case, you can either reinforce your messaging by mentioning the crux of the offer several times, in different ways (e.g. “Get it now for free, no hidden costs or charges”).

Alternatively, you can give your prospects a reason why you make such a great deal. While shoppers don’t always look for the cheapest option, they do want a bargain. Whether it’s a launch sale, an end-of-year event, or a special offer for loyal customers, give the prospective an insight into the rationale behind your deal. 

Use comparisons

One more technique is to use comparisons in your copy to illustrate the value of your product. If you’re selling a training course, you could compare it to the cost of a college education in the same area, highlighting the benefit through examples and success stories of your students.

Use timed offers

A deadline works great for people that don’t want to miss out on good deals and might urge them to make a purchase decision quicker. You could use pages with a promo code already applied, and a timer, showing for how long the promo would still be eligible.

#6 Expanding The Existing Offer

Reshuffling

You can further improve the value of your offer by expanding it. For example, you can pick out a premium range of products or services, designing a special deal for them, or provide more variation of products that are included in your marketing offers. Consider what the customers are looking for when coming to your website or browsing for products or services you sell, and adapt to what they might be expecting.

Bundles & Complementary Products

It’s also a good idea to try “bundling” your products and services or adding them to complement your existing offer – for example, adding a free case to a pair of glasses; promoting a complete set of bicycle gear at a lower price than a total of individual set elements purchased separately; or offering reduced-rate servicing for the first few years on a newly bought car.

Upsell and cross-sell could also be powerful tools, engaging potential and existing customers with offers of better or quicker service, extra information, features or any other additional products you may sell. To create the most efficient offer, you could turn to the existing customer data, studying what products are often bought together, or run customer surveys, asking what other products or services they’d like you to offer and what other related services they currently use or products they’re interested in buying.

Making the most out of “bundling” and complementary products is especially easy if you’re selling on a platform, optimized for such deals, for example, Amazon. 

Bundles and Complementary Product

Added Value

Another option to ramp up the CVR is to offer added value to your customers through benefits that come with the purchase – for example, free delivery, technical support, free returns. Some of those benefits or special offers could be exclusive to repeat customers, strengthening loyalty to your brand and fostering interaction across your app or website.

#7 Versioning: Offer Different Deals to Different People

Most people have a price in mind even before they begin shopping, stemming from consumers’ common belief that “you get what you pay for” – a price that they’ll pay regardless. If a customer comes looking for a $1000 wedding dress, they’re unlikely to change the original plan and settle for a $100 one.

That’s why, when considering the offer you could make to your target audience, it helps to have clear segmentation of your potential customers and different pricing and promotions for each category. For example, you may choose to have different prices and promote different packages for enterprises or small businesses; expert, professional or amateur-level customers for software solutions; different age groups, if applicable; customers looking to use your services long- or short-term. It’s crucial to optimize and account for all types of users and buyers across your website or app.

With consumer segmentation and different levels of pricing, you are more likely to meet the customer at the price point that they’re expecting to pay and make them an offer they’re most likely to go for. 

It’s a good idea to start from the point of view of the customer: begin with the price they’d be prepared to pay, then work out what the product or service could be at that level, and what could be the deal-breaker to drive them to the purchase.

For example, a 15-20% off discount could be the deciding factor for a customer, looking at lower-end priced products, while it might not be the case for the user, browsing the luxury category of your online store, for whom value is the drive behind the purchase. However, a free gift, personalization options, limited edition bundles, or an invitation to a VIP event could just be the key to closing the deal. 

You could also reward your most dedicated customers by creating a loyalty program, offering better deals or free gifts down the line, which prompts them to return for more, thus forming a habit, and increasing your lifetime customer value. 

#8 Create Offer Sequences

Sometimes it takes more than one offer to convert a potential customer, in which case using offer sequences is a powerful strategy, used to re-engage users and provide them with the right incentive to complete your conversion goals. Your sequences could consist of email or ad campaigns, offering different deals for customers at different stages of the funnel, whether they’re unfamiliar with your brand or if they’re website visitors, product or video viewers, cart abandoners, or past purchasers you want to bring back to the site.

There are different sequences you could employ, each with a separate user goal:

  • Lead

This sequence is meant to generate leads and introduce prospects to your brand, providing them with social proof and establishing value. It could be achieved through social media ads, leading prospects to an opt-in landing page, where they can sign up to your mailing list.

At this stage, the offer could be information-based, offering free guides or templates, for example. Alternatively, you could offer the prospect access to special deals, a low-tier promo code or discount. A lot depends on your target market and what value they’re looking for when visiting your website. It’s important to account for your audience’s interests and expectations, tailoring your offer to them. 

  • Engagement

This sequence is meant to build interest for the prospect and establish rapport with them, urging them to engage with your content, building off of previous ads or emails with added calls to action or activities suggested for your audience to complete independently.  It might help you identify the most engaged segment of your audience, who open, click and take action on your emails or ads so that you can enroll them in other sequences tailored to their specific journey. Those who remain engaged deserve the most of your effort and focus.

Here, you can turn up the heat on your call-to-action, highlighting the problems or pain points of your target audience and showing the solution, while also providing value with content: it could be a download, a quiz, or video – anything that fosters action. You could also increase the value by providing additional benefits and removing the risk, like a money-back guarantee or a no-commitment free trial. 

  • Conversion

This sequence is used when you’re asking something of your prospect (e.g., booking a call or meeting, scheduling a demo, making a purchase, etc.). The entire copy would be built around a single call-to-action, the entire sequence prompting the recipient to take that action. At this point, you probably have already established a relationship with your potential customer, and they have an awareness of your brand and products or services. Now is the perfect time to make your strongest offer, which may vary, depending on your audience and business. 

  • Follow-Up

Even though a prospect might not respond to an outreach email or an ad right away doesn’t mean they’re not interested. They may need a few “impressions” before noticing and taking action. This way, a follow-up email sequence or a retargeting ad campaign could loop back and touch base with your prospect.

More so, depending on your business, a customer could remain engaged even after making a purchase. This sequence continues the relationship with your customers by thanking them for taking part in your services and leaves them with additional value that they can continue using. This also creates an opportunity to share other potential services or products that would complement their recent purchase. 

Alternatively, a follow-up sequence could contain a reminder of an upcoming event the user might be interested in, or an exclusive offer reaching the deadline. It is a low-friction way to ensure the prospective customer doesn’t forget about the event or the discounts you offer.

  • Re-engagement

As a last-ditch effort to win back some of the past prospects that lost interest, you could deploy a re-engagement sequence. The goal is to prompt the user to open emails or click on the ad and take some kind of action.

At this stage, you could test some new offers to your retargeting audiences or build upon the ones you’ve made to them before, enhancing them with additional value or benefits. You could also make use of data on their activity across your website or app and deliver a personalized offer – a good example of such a strategy is how Spotify ties your listening history into their email campaigns, focused on selling the Premium upgrade.

Re-engagement Premium Update

When it comes to email sequencing, however, it’s important to keep in mind the pacing at which your emails are being sent out. If your emails come off as spammy, you’re likely to lose any chance of building a relationship with some of the prospects ever again. 

The same principle applies to ads as well – the last thing you want is for your impression frequency to skyrocket and cause frustration for potential customers. However, you do need to be mindful of efficiency – if you’re getting great ROAS or CPAs for your business at a high frequency, and see the performance deteriorate when it decreases, most likely you’d be better off sticking to the original numbers.

Overall, using sequencing could prove to be a successful strategy for your business, creating leads and engaging prospects through a strong brand narrative and impactful offers, tailored to your sales funnel.

One of our clients, an educational platform that sells access to online courses, improved their CVR by ~11.5% in the first few months of employing versioning and email sequencing as part of their strategy. 

One of the tactics they used was using pop-ups, designed to match whatever landing page the user was on, increasing the relevancy and appeal of their offers to potential customers, and employing timed promo codes, applied to landing pages along with a countdown. 

They’ve also created a 10-day sales funnel, targeting leads, generated through their website, and an offer sequence as a basis for their email campaign, consecutively offering 1 free video, 3 free videos, a 30% discount and a 50% discount.

Conclusion

Optimizing your offer could make a great impact on your sales and conversion rate. It’s important to continuously test different versions and alternatives to your existing offers, tailoring them to price segments, your target audiences, and products, to find the option that would deliver the best value for your businesses and your customers.

Start now by activating your data, and gain insights into user behavior across your app or website to design the winning offer for your brand.

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