Original article was published on Artificial Intelligence on Medium
Your Marketing Know-How, Augmented: Introducing Conversion Intelligence
By Garrett Hughes, Copywriter at Unbounce
Just last year, almost a quarter of small businesses reported that finding the time and resources to focus on marketing is their top challenge. Another 33% said they aren’t sure if their marketing efforts are paying off.
Marketers aren’t just struggling to invest time in creating great campaigns. (More than 20% of small businesses have at least one person doing marketing in addition to other tasks.) There are plenty of folks wondering if the campaigns they create are even performing.
This struggle is especially relevant now with time and resources in short supply. Businesses are having to focus on crisis handling or retention, further limiting the time they’re able to focus on marketing.
We all know that optimizing for the highest conversion rate is vital, but the act of actually improving campaigns often takes a back seat. Lots of us don’t have the budget or experience to use pricey tools (or we might be using these tools incorrectly, pulling junk data). Without being able to draw on meaningful insights, many just don’t know where to start. Of course you want to improve your campaigns — but what should you change, exactly?
At virtually every conference, we hear about all the ways we can market better. But these recommendations don’t acknowledge the reality: campaign optimization is aspirational for most small businesses. It’s something to work on when you get some spare time or budget (if you ever get that spare time or budget). It’s something for someone else.
As Marketers, We Need to Evolve Beyond the Build
This is a big problem. We know growing businesses are far more likely to be optimizing (using advanced technologies for things like automation and personalization) than their stagnating peers. The highest conversion rates aren’t an accident — they’re the result of fine-tuning each element of your campaign on a continuous basis.
And yet optimization remains inaccessible, especially for small teams. Too expensive. Too time-consuming. Too complex.
The issue isn’t new. It’s been a serious challenge for marketers since we first pioneered the landing page space with Unbounce all the way back in 2009.
When Unbounce launched, we were focused on solving (what was then) your number one problem: quickly creating standalone marketing campaigns without relying on a developer, so you’d have more time to focus on other things. And even though we’ve facilitated one billion conversions (!) over these past eleven years, marketers are still having difficulty allocating enough time to optimization.
Despite having access to better technology than ever before, building and optimizing haven’t become equally-balanced priorities. (Heck, we see it on our own platform: fewer than 50% of our customers republish their pages on a regular basis with tweaks intended to get the highest conversion rates possible.)
For some, it’s the lack of time. Others, it’s budget, or skillset. Bottom line: As a marketing community, we’ve not yet evolved to a place where you spend the majority of your time improving your campaigns.
Your Marketing Intelligence Isn’t Enough
One way lots of us make up for the difficulties of optimization is by getting better at other aspects of marketing. We employ best practices — tactics for writing conversion-focused copy, or placing calls to action at just the right spot. Plus we try to incorporate learnings from past campaigns and implement them in the future. (After all, when we build things right the first time, there should be less to optimize.)
You exhibit this type of intelligence daily. At Unbounce, we’ve come to think of it as a sort of learned marketing intelligence. This is all the information you’ve absorbed about what influences a visitor to convert. It’s all the years of experience in your role, your market research, your ability to identify potential tweaks. It’s all your hunches and creative ideas that fuel the next campaign. But on its own, this type of intelligence is incomplete.
Your marketing intelligence is what tells you to run an A/B test, for instance, even though you know choosing just one “champion” means leaving conversions on the table. Your marketing intelligence encourages you to seek out insights and data, but may not reveal exactly what the data means or how to use it to get better results.
Marketing intelligence alone can kinda feel like driving blind. You do things because, well, they’re what marketers do. But it amounts to iterative, manual work that doesn’t leave you confident you’ve actually built the highest-converting thing or spent your budget (and time) wisely. It’s launching and testing, over and over, in a way that uses more guesswork than lots of people would be comfortable to admit. What you think you know — about your audience, about best practices — is often not verifiably, mathematically true.
Many of us have been getting by on our marketing intelligence alone. But now, we can reinforce and upgrade what we know with the efficiency and accuracy of a supercomputer. We can develop conversion intelligence.
What’s Conversion Intelligence?
Conversion intelligence is a fundamental change in your approach to marketing. It’s the pairing of your marketing expertise with AI insights to create and optimize the highest-converting campaigns possible.
It’s your creativity and understanding of human motivations, enhanced by the recognition of patterns and opportunities you simply couldn’t spot without the processing power of a machine. It’s amplifying the intuition and skills you already have to ensure the best-performing campaign every time.
Short answer: It’s you, and your marketing know-how, augmented by machines.
Just imagine if:
- Throughout the entire campaign creation process, you were confident that the page you were building was the most impactful it could possibly be for a given audience and industry.
- Each of your visitors had an increased chance of converting on your call to action because they were shown the most relevant landing page variant and messaging for them.
- You could prioritize your time with confidence and focus on the parts of your landing page most likely to increase conversion rate, instead of relying on long testing cycles or essentially guessing at each component.
But neither a machine’s ability to inform your campaigns or your innate sensibilities are truly effective without the other. It’s like if you were to exhibit a high IQ with absolutely no emotional intelligence. (You’d function fine, but you’re not necessarily at your best.) These two intelligences combining is where the magic happens.
As many of us explore AI’s progress to date, we know that machines — while undoubtedly ambitious — are still learning.
Conversion intelligence requires a change in your mindset. A willingness to pair up with the machine, so to speak. It’s about getting insights and expanding upon them with your own sensibilities.
And it’s where things are headed — both for marketing as an industry and for us at Unbounce.
How You Can Apply Conversion Intelligence to Your Marketing
It’s no secret that Unbounce has been making huge investments in machine learning and artificial intelligence. We’ve been talking about it for years and launched our first AI-powered product feature, Smart Traffic, in 2019. One of our goals has always been to uncover insights that complement your smarts as a marketer. And what’s clear is that machines are great teachers.
Here are a few examples of the insights our Unbounce Conversion Intelligence™️ deep learning model surfaced in the last few weeks:
- We’ve verified that your landing page copy is twice as important to conversion rates as your design. (That doesn’t mean design isn’t crucial, too, but you’ll wanna make sure your copy is especially persuasive.)
- We’ve learned that ecommerce landing pages with less than 300 words and written at a middle-school level tend to have higher conversion rates.
- We’ve seen indicators that design is slightly more important to conversions for landing pages in ecommerce, SaaS, agencies, and legal. (But design is less important for finance and insurance, catering and restaurants, and media and entertainment.)
These are things most marketers (including us) could’ve only had hunches about. Now you can point to insights like these as verifiable facts, and they can start to help you build more impactful marketing campaigns. By inviting natural language processing to inform your campaign copy, for example, you can improve your conversions.
But the applications of conversion intelligence go way further. Optimizing with AI means getting better results with the same ad spend, allowing you to reinvest budget for growth elsewhere. It means higher-quality leads that convert to recurring revenue faster. It means improving campaign performance automatically and having more time to focus on your overall strategy.
Conversion intelligence doesn’t just make you a smarter marketer — it makes you a better marketer.
What’s Next for Conversion Intelligence at Unbounce?
“Okay, okay, but what does all of this mean for me right now?”
The good news is that through 2020 and beyond, you’re going to see Unbounce Conversion Intelligence™️ continue to show up in our product. Plus, there some new places you’ll see conversion intelligence in the very near future:
→ Optimize with insights from the 2020 Conversion Benchmark Report
This is the absolute mother lode of conversion insights. Our proprietary machine-learning model has analyzed 186,000,000 visits to 34,000 customer landing pages and we’ve got tons of information on how to crank up your conversions in almost every industry, from finance and insurance to education and lots more.
While the first benchmark report we released in 2017 was fueled by machine learning, our models have had three more years to marinate in our customer data. This report covers more industries and includes more actionable insights than ever before.
→ Turn on Smart Traffic and start optimizing your landing pages with AI
This is our first product implementation of Unbounce Conversion Intelligence™️, and at least 2,200 customers are already using Smart Traffic to boost their conversion rates. Our team is also working to surface more insights in the dashboard to help you better understand how you can build high-converting pages for your audience.
→ Keep an eye on the Unbounce Conversion Intelligence blog
How do you combine machine smarts with your own? Get the highest conversion rates possible?
Our blog has always focused on these things, but typically through the lens of marketing intelligence — not conversion intelligence. You may have already noticed some AI-influenced content coming your way, but now you can expect even more in-depth resources on exactly what conversion intelligence is and how to start applying it to gain an advantage over your competitors.
If you wanna start talking about conversion intelligence with other marketers, consider getting involved in our community, where we’ve opened up the discussion and will be sharing tips on how you can put these tactics into action today. Or, join the conversation on Twitter.
Conversion Intelligence Is the Future of Marketing
We hope you’re as excited to take this next step as we are. Be sure to subscribe to the 2020 Conversion Benchmark Report on Product Hunt and we’ll let you know as soon as it’s available on May 28th.
And rest assured, there’s lots more coming your way soon.