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#CBR2021 Talking Points
The 2021 Conversion Benchmark Report from Unbounce is the marketing report that proves optimizing doesn’t need to be hard. Back for another year and opening the door to all-new insights - see how your landing page conversion rates stack up in your industry and finally answer the question ‘what’s a good conversion rate?’.
Some people dismiss them, but benchmarks are a window into what success looks like. They can help you energize your post-pandemic strategy.
➣ Benchmarks are a form of competitive intelligence. They help you identify gaps between your performance and what the rest of your industry considers to be a good conversion rate.
➣ Paired with AI, they let us deliver insights you can apply today. The data doesn’t just show how you’re performing, it can be the starting point of finding out why you’re performing that way—and then making smart changes.
➣ They reveal which best practices are supported by data, and which aren’t. You’ll waste less time and traffic testing unproven optimizations that our machine learning analysis shows don’t necessarily work.
➣ They help you build a culture of continuous improvement in your organization. It’s harder for your team to be happy with “just okay” if they’re seeing something to strive for.
When it comes to reaching their conversion potential, our research tells us that marketers are very ambitious.
There’s a real desire to improve conversion rates. In a survey we ran in 2020, most marketers told us they expected the average conversion rate for pages in their industry to be below 10%. But when we asked them what types of conversion rate they consider acceptable, the majority told us they want to achieve rates above that line.
Some marketers are very ambitious. They want to be top performers. More than 15% of the marketers we surveyed told us they wouldn’t be satisfied until they were converting at 26% or above. For reference, the average conversion rate across all industries in our report is 11.88%.
The marketers we spoke to use landing pages for all kinds of campaigns, but delivering highly relevant experience remains their biggest challenge.
In our survey, lead-gen activities, like pages promoting ebooks, newsletters, and webinars, still top the charts. But many respondents said landing pages to connect more directly with prospects by scheduling appointments (42%) and phone calls (37.2%).
The number #1 obstacle they told us they face is matching the right page to the right audience. They struggle with relevance. Fixing it can involve traffic optimizations further up the funnel. But how do you also make sure that each visitor hits the landing page that’s right for them?
The number #2 obstacle is A/B testing. Marketers feel they don’t have time to optimize their pages using A/B testing. Sometimes they may not have the data or expertise to make meaningful choices when it comes to improving their conversion rates.
Using The Benchmark Report
With more and more small businesses taking their marketing online, especially in the wake of COVID-19, the Benchmark Report is part of a bigger push to help them overcome these challenges.
It’s slam-packed with insights to help them build more relevant campaigns. We used machine learning to analyze more than 44 thousand landing pages and over 33 million conversions, refining a (near-literal) mountain of data into actionable recommendations that make optimization way simpler.
We want to help level the playing field. At Unbounce, we don’t believe that massive swathes of data or new technologies belong solely to enterprise-sized businesses. We want to empower small and medium-sized companies--short on time, money, and expertise--to take on the big guys and win.
We’re supporting marketers across 16 industries, including SaaS, eCommerce, finance and insurance, business services, travel, home improvement, and more.
Beyond industry averages, the Conversion Benchmark Report contains dozens of data-backed insights that you can use to build variants and boost your conversion rates.
What Channels Deliver the Highest Converting Visitors in Your Industry? A lot of marketers invest heavily to run ads in paid search, but our data shows that in a lot of industries this channel is outperformed by others. Sometimes it’s better to spend on social or invest more time in building slick email campaigns because they convert better.
How Does You Best Communicate with Your Target Audience? Based on the Flesch-Kincaid scale, we identify the optimal reading level for landing pages based on the correlation between reading ease and conversion rate. We did the same thing with word count. It’s usually true that shorter pages convert better, but for some industries that’s not the case.
How Do You Choose Which Types of Landing Pages Convert Best? It may seem obvious that a click-through page is going to outperform one that asks your visitors to fill out a form. But there’s actually a lot of nuances when it comes to conversion types that can be effectively applied to your campaigns to improve campaign performance.
What Emotions Might Relate to Better Conversion Rates? Our data scientists performed what’s called a “sentiment analysis” to detect the presence of certain emotions on landing pages by analyzing the proportion of words associated with those emotions. With this data, we can sometimes identify what sentiments correlate with higher conversion rates and which ones might be negatively impacting you.
COVID Insights. While we don’t think they’re as actionable, we know a lot of people were curious about the impacts of COVID-19 on the marketing landscape. So we’ve included a section that provides year-over-year comparisons to how marketers did in 2020 versus the same period in 2019.
Using A/B testing or—much easier, if you’re short on time or traffic—Unbounce’s Smart Traffic, you can have variants running today based upon learnings in the report.
AI-derived insights are only part of the equation. In the report, marketers are able to learn a lot of valuable info about how they’re performing versus their competitors, and also what changes they could be making to improve their campaigns.
Using Smart Traffic (or traditional testing), we recommend marketers create variants around some of these insights. If you learn that your pages may be too long, for instance, create a shorter variant and see how it does.
AI-powered Smart Traffic is perfect for small businesses. Unlike A/B testing, you don’t need a ton of traffic for it to work. You can create a variant or two based on the CBR, turn it on, and Smart Traffic will automatically start routing the visitors to the variant that’s most likely to convert them.
Pages powered by Smart Traffic see an average lift in conversions of 30% compared to an A/B test.
Major Year-over-Year Themes in the Data
Our year-over-year research revealed a lot of instability in 2020 that’s likely attributed to COVID-19 (though that’d be speculating).
Despite a rocky year, we saw an uptick in the median conversion rate across all industries has increased (4.55% in 2020, 3.28% in 2019). Additionally, the mean (average) conversion rate in every industry has increased to 11.88%.
The improved performance we saw wasn’t uniform. Some industries saw more improvement than others. The industries that saw the largest increases in median conversion rates (more than +2%) were catering and restaurants, media and entertainment, and finance and insurance. The industries that saw the smallest increases in median conversion rates (less than +0.5%) were SaaS and Real Estate.
In industries that we expected to be impacted by COVID-19—like real estate, travel, events and leisure, and fitness—we don’t see negative changes in industry conversion rates. However, the overall number of landing pages being created has decreased, as has the proportion of overall traffic to many of these industries..
The greatest increase in the number of pages is seen for Fitness & Nutrition at ~7.5% and Legal at ~5%. Whether or not it’s the result of the pandemic is speculation, but it could be that marketers in these industries are taking more of their efforts online.
Despite the higher conversion rates, it’s been a year of winners and losers. There’s a wider variance in page performance for 2020 versus what was seen in 2019. This appears to be true of most industries. In other words, the difference between the best-performing pages and the worst-performing pages has grown.
We saw a few other changes in the landing pages we analyzed that might suggest changing behaviors from both marketers and their customers.
Landing pages got longer in 2020. Though (generally speaking) shorter pages tend to convert better, marketers may be trying new ways of winning conversions. The median word count across all pages analyzed is 331, while the mean (average) word count is 445. This represents an increase in the word count of +7.6% over last year.
Pages got easier to read in 2020, suggesting marketers may have taken our advice last year. Reading ease has improved over last year by +10.8%. It could be that our message from last year is getting out. In most industries, shorter sentences and a more basic vocabulary relate to more conversions.
There’s been an increase in emotional copy (i.e., copy with an emotional sentiment), especially negative ones. Notably, we saw big spikes in language related to disgust (+47.7%), fear, and sadness. In reviewing the data for specific industries, it seems that many have seen big increases in the negative emotional language specifically.
Some industries saw an increase in desktop traffic versus mobiles, like SaaS, agencies, business services, real estate, and home improvement. This may be the result of more visitors who are working from home.
Industries that draw the bulk of traffic from social media apps still see more mobile traffic than desktop. For instance, fitness and nutrition continue to see an increasing majority of traffic from mobile devices.
Individual Major Industries in the Data SaaS
For SaaS companies, visitors coming from emails are most likely to convert on forms, while people coming from search ads are the least likely. You might wanna rethink how you’re using your Google Ads budget.
For SaaS, readability drives conversions—especially for marketers selling apps. We said last year that SaaS pages perform best when they’re short and easy to understand. That still holds up, especially for anyone marketing mobile apps.
Emotional language doesn’t help when it comes to capturing more conversions on SaaS landing pages. Landing pages in the software space have a lower percentage of sentiment words than the baseline for all industries, and we saw no strong correlation between emotions and conversions..
Expressing pessimism isn’t a sales secret on eCommerce landing pages. Last year was kind of a bummer, and that showed up in eCommerce copy with increases in overall negative sentiment. But our research suggests this type of language is probably harming your conversion rates.
If you’re a SaaS marketer, our data suggest that paid search ads may not be your best bet. Although the bulk of traffic to form-fill ecomm pages is coming from search ads, our analysis of channel performance shows that you’re more likely to get conversions from social and email visitors.
We pointed out in our 2020 report that easier reading and fewer words seemed to lead to higher landing page conversion rates. That’s still true—only now, the trend is even more pronounced
If you’re looking for leads for your business services pages, you’ve gotta get social. Paid search makes up the bulk of traffic volume for both click-through and lead generation pages. But the median conversion rate for social visitors is about double that of people coming from a search engine.
Emotions have no place in business—at least, not according to the data. Our research shows that landing page copy evoking just about any emotion correlates with a neutral or negative impact on conversion rates.
Last year, we didn’t see much correlation between the length or complexity of your copy and your conversion rate—but that’s changing. Even in business, this year’s research shows that short and simple messaging increasingly looks like the way to go.
On education landing pages, you’ll sign up more students on social media platforms. Most of your visitors come from paid search ads, but they don’t convert as well as you might think.
Our research showed that most emotions correlate with fewer conversions. People have got lots of feelings about a school—apparently, nearly all of them lead to lower landing page performance.
A short and simple copy can improve your page performance, no matter the level of students you’re targeting.
As a rule, short copy converts best on legal landing pages. Although the legal profession is all about debating some pretty complex topics, you probably don’t want that on your landing page.
Our data shows that negative language could correlate with lower conversion rates. Times might be tough for your visitors, but they don’t need you to remind your visitors about it.
On form-fill pages, the median conversion rate for visitors coming from platforms like Facebook is almost twice that of people coming from search ads (6.1% over 3.5%). If you’re generating leads for your law firm, think social.
Finance & Insurance
When it comes to paid ads for businesses in the finance or insurance industries, social might be a better bet than search.
Our analysis shows that although finance and insurance have more emotional language than other industries, it’s not translating into more conversions. We’d recommend dialing down the emotion to focus on the nuts and bolts of your product or service.
Finance and insurance forms convert better than the baseline for all other industries, so they’re worth the investment.
If you work in the travel industry, ads on platforms like Facebook and Instagram are more worthy of your dollars. The majority of traffic to travel form-fill pages comes from paid search—but social visitors seem to perform better.
Avoid negative sentiments because they often correlate with lower conversion rates on travel landing pages. Compared to the overall baseline, travel pages have far fewer words related to disgust (-100.0%), anger (-31.54%), and sadness (-20.1%).
Lower investment in landing pages, and some shrinking demand. When looking at the proportion of overall traffic, travel saw a decrease of 1% reduced from 3.5% in 2019 to 2.5% in 2020. This is perhaps unsurprising due to the lack of travel being possible for the majority of 2020. They also saw a dramatic decrease in the number of pages published in 2020 of -17.84%.
There’s a whole lotta form-fill pages in this industry, but not a lot of conversions. Reducing your form fields and adding more ways to convert could clear a path to more leads.
Social users only make up one-tenth of traffic to form-fill pages in real estate, but they’re converting better than those coming from other channels (like paid search).
The use of all types of emotional language—positive and negative—increased in real estate this year. But our data shows that it might be better to just get straight to the facts.
The dominant channel driving traffic to landing pages is Paid Search. While 55% of traffic still comes from this source, this is down 10% from last year. At the same time, referral traffic has increased by 15%. (It now makes up 25% of overall traffic.) Have real estate companies started collaborating with others to collaboratively drive traffic?