How to Improve Your Conversion Rates Without Expensive Market Research


Bruce Harpham SaaS Marketing Consultant

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Your marketing isn’t bringing you the results you want. It’s taking longer to get more customers. Your return on ad spend (ROAS) numbers are moving in the wrong direction. If you don’t do something different, your business is going to crash. You could solve this problem by commissioning in-depth market research. However, these projects can cost thousands of dollars and take weeks to analyze.

Article 5 Minutes
How to Improve Your Conversion Rates Without Expensive Market Research

What if you don’t have time for expensive market research? Here’s how you can approach conversion optimization to make improvements without draining your bank account.

First, set a realistic conversion rate goal based on industry data

Does it make sense to set a 10% conversion rate goal? No. Very few marketers have achieved that level. To avoid discouraging yourself, set a conversion rate goal based on industry benchmarks. Here are some guidelines for conversion rate goal setting:

  • 2.35% average conversion rate for landing pages across all industries -WordStream
  • 0.09% email conversion rate (i.e., orders placed/number of emails delivered) - Klaviyo
  • 2.6% to 6.1% average lead generation conversion rate by industry - Unbounce

Now you have a reasonable conversion rate goal, this article will focus on landing page conversion rates, though the same principles apply to other types of marketing.

Your next step is to optimize the “big rocks” of conversion.

Phase 1: optimize the three “big rocks” of conversion rate optimization (CRO)

Have you ever heard of the “big rocks” theory of time management? The concept has been attributed to multiple authors, including the late Stephen Covey.

Imagine you have a pile of big rocks, small rocks, and water to put into a container. You should start by putting the big rocks in place because they take up the most space. Afterward, you can fit the small rocks around big rocks, and then fill the gaps with water.

The same principle applies to CRO; start with the big rocks first.

Listen to the episode via your preferred pocast platform:

1. Test your conversion tracking technology

Your conversion rates may be low if your systems aren’t set up to gather conversion data effectively.

The first time I ran a Google Ads campaign, I made this mistake. I sent traffic to a landing page where conversion tracking wasn’t set up. Ouch! Fortunately, you can avoid losing money by ensuring technical conversion tracking is in place.

Verify your conversion tracking by checking the following:

  • Use Google Analytics to set up your website analytics and conversion tracking. Take a look at Google’s article on how to do this.
  • Each advertising platform uses different tools so make sure you’re familiar with how to set up conversion tracking for each one.
  • Use Google Chrome extensions (specifically the Chrome Tag Assistant) to verify that your tracking is in place.

Don’t assume that you can check the technical lever for conversion rate optimization just once. Other people in your company are going to make changes to your website. For example, the IT department might restore your website from a backup if you suffer a hacking incident, which could eliminate your tracking codes. Mitigate this risk by checking your technical conversion tracking each month.

2. Change your conversion goal

Your conversion rates may be disappointing if you’re asking too much from prospects in one step. Here are a few examples:

For example, provides software to manage facilities, which is a big investment. This is why’s homepage doesn’t ask you to buy. Instead, we see different types of conversion goals on the home page:

  • Request demo. This conversion goal is well suited to highly interested prospects who want to see inside the product.
  • Chat engagement. In the bottom right corner of the home page, there is a chat inviting customers to engage.

ServiceChannel's homepage making use of more specialized conversion goals than just asking people to buy

If your marketing is asking prospects to make a large purchase immediately, your conversion rate is going to be extremely low. In this scenario, adjusted their conversion goal to focus on lead generation by offering a free demo instead.

Switching your conversion goal from ‘immediate sale’ to ‘lead generation’ is one of the easiest ways to improve conversion results. However, it does create more work for you. Specifically, you’ll need to create follow up processes to close the lead.

Phase 2: optimize your conversion rate with small steps

Use these small-scale experiments to improve conversions across your marketing channels.

1. Increase your website speed

Slower websites tend to produce lower conversions. Based on Google research, websites need a load time of three seconds or less. You can use Google’s free PageSpeed Insights to measure your website speed.

Let’s take a look at Salesforce’s website.

Google PageSpeed Insights analysis into Salesforce's website

The desktop version of the website scored at 56 out of 100, while the mobile site scored 11. This tells us that Salesforce has room for improvement in terms of page speed and they may be losing conversions as a result.

2. Reduce the risk in your offer

Choosing to spend money, especially with a new vendor, can be scary. To address concerns, you need to reduce risk. Let’s take the software industry as an example. Many software companies offer a free trial of their product. You can reduce risk by not asking for credit card information when offering a free trial., an email software company based in France, doesn’t ask for credit card information in order to start using their product. offering a free trial to customers without asking them to enter their credit card details

3. Use more credibility markers

Despite their high social status, many doctors, dentists, and lawyers display their degrees in their office as a simple way to reinforce their credibility. Ask yourself what else you could do to increase credibility. For example, if you have earned media coverage, consider adding the media logos to your website. Alternatively, you could display customer reviews and testimonials.

Braze, a marketing automation software company, has a customer page filled with case studies. Notice the “Connect with Sales” button in the lower right-hand corner. That’s where a prospect can reach out to the company.

Braze's 'Customers' page consisting of case studies with former customers to reinforce their credibility

Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a SaaS marketing consultant in Toronto, Canada. He has worked with companies like CanIRank, and Monitor Backlinks to get more leads and traffic. To get early access to his forthcoming book on growth strategies for Software As A Service (SaaS) companies, visit his website.


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