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The Pros Agree These Are the 2 Best Tools for Conversion Optimization Sometimes you have to trust your gut. Online marketing is not one of those times.

By Rohan Ayyar Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Olu Eletu | StockSnap.io

In the last decade, as digital marketing has consistently usurped marketing budgets from traditional media, marketers have realized that without a lean and mean website, their digital marketing expenditures are all in vain. Businesses spend thousands of dollars on promoting them across the internet – social media, PPC ads, display ads, email marketing, the complete works, so to speak. However, once a potential user arrives on your website, are you able to convert her into a paying customer? Is your site up to the challenge?

The logic is so simple, I'm surprised how it took us so long to give conversion optimization the pride of place it deserves.

However, now that conversion optimization is part-and-parcel of most digital strategies, businesses try to cut corners by using their own unique concoction of "optimization" techniques, hoping at least some of it works. From a more prominent call to action, to simplifying web forms to even fiddling around with font sizes in the hope of better conversions, the average digital marketer out there has tried it all. But there are two (open) secrets that bring the real conversion optimization pros see results that the rest of us can only hope for.

1. They trust A/B testing more than their gut.

Conversion optimization, more than any other digital marketing function, is rooted deeply in science. Every decision is based on empirical results rather than gut feel or creative flair. This is reflected in the performance of businesses that have truly adopted conversion optimization. An Adobe survey in 2014 found that more than two-thirds of the top 20 percent companies across the world use testing to make decisions.

If you drill it down to its basics, A/B testing essentially involves pitting two versions of a web page against each other and observing how well each version works in converting a test audience. An A/B test to determine a new look for your home page can happen in the background, even as everything else remains unaffected. A statistically significant proportion of your visitors are randomly chosen to be displayed a test version or "variation" of your home page while the rest see the old or "control" version. With no other changes in the marketing mix during the experiment, one can attribute any spike (or drop) in conversions to the new page design.

Related: 7 Tips to Improve Your Site's Conversion Rate -- Fast

Tools like Visual Website Optimizer and Optimizely help businesses discover the winning elements on their webpages. They offer recommendations on which options will resonate best with a test group of users. Once a statistically significant number of users have voiced their opinions regarding your site changes, these can then be implemented across the entire site.

The mushrooming number of simple and quick landing page builders that eliminate coding from building a landing page has made A/B testing more efficient and result-oriented.

2. Eavesdropping is not such a bad thing.

We spend hours promoting our brands on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and their ilk. We are thrilled with every share, like and comment that our posts generate from our audience. That's awesome. But besides measuring our social media engagement, what are we doing about the conversations that our users have with each other about our brand? Are we in touch with the latest trends shaping our industry? Do we know the reason why users prefer a competitor's brand over ours?

Related: So, What's the 'X-Factor' in the A/B Testing Formula? (Infographic)

While social media management platforms like Buffer and Hootsuite showcase all the conversations your audience has about your brand in real time, they do little to help you understand the conversations that are exploding across cyberspace. Enter "audience intelligence.''

Audience intelligence helps you discover which ones among your audience are influencers, allowing you to reach out to them directly. Data about the topics that interest your audience can be used to create content that engages them better and aids conversions. Listening in to engaged users on blogs, forums, review sites or any social media network helps you identify the gripes they have with your product and fix them before they balloon out of control.

How does this work? An audience intelligence tool like Brandwatch allows you to define keywords that matter to your business. This could range from your own brand name, to that of a close competitor's, to technical terms in your industry or niche, to names of top executives from your company. These tools then scan the entire marketing ecosystem for mentions of each of these topics. They generate reports about changing market sentiment, telling you exactly which way the wind is blowing for your brand. They offer directly actionable insights, like demographics of your perfect target audience, that can be used to modify or strengthen your existing strategies.

The savvy conversion optimization pro balances the science of A/B tests with the nuance of audience intelligence to constantly fine tune the strategy and execution of their brands' marketing campaigns.

Related: 5 Lessons Learned From Running 2,652 Facebook Ad Campaigns

Rohan Ayyar

Regional Marketing Manager

Rohan Ayyar is the  Regional Marketing Manager India, SEMrush. He is an avid blogger, with posts featured on MarketingProfs, Social Media Today and Business Insider, among other places.

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