Every website selling something, generating inquiries for more information, or even just registering new users, has a “conversion rate.” Your conversion rate is basically the number of sales you make per every 100 visitors to your site. So if you get 5 sales per 100 visitors, you conversion rate is 5%. Any website owner or company should be improving their actually website over time, the look and feel as well as the functionality and ease of use, but what ways can a website be improved and what aspects of a website are important to look at periodically in order to better capitalize on your website’s traffic? Most companies don’t spend nearly enough time looking at how well their website converts visitors into sales or leads. It actually should be part of monthly marketing strategy that is working on constantly to improve your conversion percentage. If it isn’t then there a problem in your marketing department or they just haven’t been turned on to conversion rate optimization.
However, in the last couple of years larger companies have been forced to invest money and resources into out-converting their competitors due to the rising cost of generating traffic (primarily PPC search) in order to take advantage of all of the search in their vertical, which can be a staggering amount in some verticals. The more companies there are vying for search traffic, the higher the cost and therefore that necessitates the need to improve conversion rates. Of course there are companies spending money on other types of traffic like: display advertising, Facebook advertising, media buys, newsletter placements, and performance-based marketing, so the importance of converting as well possible is imperative to growing traffic overall and capitalizing on those advertising expenditures, so you can spend as much as possible to drive traffic to your site. The better your website converts, the more you can spend to generate traffic and sales on the front end. Here are some ways I have used and that i recommend companies I work with use to improve their conversion rate:
1. Conversion Tools – Over the years conversion rate tools that facilitate what’s known as “multi-variate” testing and A/B testing have been developed to help improve website conversion rates. Companies specializing in this service cropped up to help merchants and advertisers improve their conversions, usually for a percentage of the increased revenue. However, the effectiveness of using 3rd-party “conversion optimization experts” depends squarely on the effectiveness of the conversion strategies for your site and there’s never a guarantee their suggestions will work well or well enough. I really love a newer conversion tool called Optimizely, which was created former Google engineers and was designed to be usable by you marketing department without any need for the tech department to be involved, aside from install a piece of code into your site once. Then, live “experiments” can be run on your live traffic, which allows for inserting variations of important page elements to see which work best, and it in which combination. For instance, you can try 5 different versions of your main homepage graphic, 3 different add to cart buttons, a few different logos, different promotions in the layout, bullet point variations, etc. and the tool will tell you which variation led to the most sales. Using this type of tool is a must to improving overall conversion rates. It’s really never a done process…your website can convert better and better over time by trying different things and see what really works with your consumers.
2. Good Design – using conversion tools is all well and good and definitely a must, but your site absolutely needs great design concepts to impress your visitors into purchasing. Over the years, what looks good on the web hasn’t really changed much, clean, simply, and modern usually works best. It definitely depends on the type of site you run and the theme, but generally speaking, a “clean”, professional looking site that doesn’t scroll too far is advisable. This usually means a white background, minimalistic page elements, and life-like graphics. Using people in your design is always a good idea so it doesn’t feel cold. Nothing kills your conversion rate like a cluttered site with lack of direction. “Calls-to-action” like Buy Now, or Start Here are good to use to direct visitors into taking the action you desire from them, or at least suggesting it for them. Pleasing looking graphics and a nice color scheme are also important to your conversion rates. Doing a competitive analysis of your top competitors is a must to see what other companies are doing with their sites. Of course, you have to have a good designer that can create the look and feel that will be effective and the graphics that can be rotated into your site optimization experiments. Once you have a nice design you can start running the optimization! A great design just isn’t enough.
4. Behavioral Retargeting – this is a relatively new marketing campaign that allows websites to show their banners to site visitors that don’t purchase from the site or complete the desired action when they initially visit the site. You are able to show your banner ads around the Internet through various “ad networks” that control a lot of the ad inventory on major websites. Google Adwords recently rolled out their own retargeting banners to make Google PPC advertising more effective. What’s nice about behavioral retargeting is that you can show the products in your banner ads that the visitor was checking out on your site, which increases the relevance of your ads and increases the likelihood an action back to your site will be inspired. Some companies providing behavioral retargeting are Steel House Media, Retargeter, Fetchback, Adroll, and Advertise.com. In my opinion this is a vital part of your overall online marketing mix and should be taken advantage of.
5. Re-marketing – one of the most neglected methods of increasing your website’s conversions is remarketing to your database, list, or abandoned traffic. Smart companies offer visitors newsletter sign-ups, free information in exchange for email address, sweepstakes, pop-overs/unders, and other clever ways to capture visitor information and build up a large database. Then, email messages can be sent to your databases depending on what list it is and whether the visitor has taken your desired action yet or not. Also, when people begin filling out your shopping cart check-out page or lead form you can auto-capture that information while they are filling it out, so if they abandon the page you can still call or email them and offer a special promotion. Having a good drip email system or just a good strategy for sending email messages to visitors and newsletter sign-ups is a must for increasing your overall conversion rate. Running frequent promotions to your previous customers is a great way to sell more product and create repeat traffic. Allowing your customers to share their purchases with their friends on Facebook and Twitter is great to allow the purchase to get shared socially.
These are some great ways you can work on and improve your website’s conversion rate. All companies should be focusing on these processes on a monthly basis if not dedicate someone full-time to improving conversion rates on-site. I even think it’s important enough to create a position in your company that focuses sole on this task, i.e. Director of Conversion Rate or something like that, because it really is that important to maximizing your overall traffic and potential to get more traffic. I hope this has been helpful and please let me know if you have questions at all about how to effectively increase your conversion rates! Feel free to share this post!