The real measure of a Website’s effectiveness is the ability to convert Web users into sales. This is not an easy task and there are no quick fixes. It starts with learning the online conversion process and what works. Here are seven important strategies to effectively drive online conversions.
1. Define a Conversion
Websites exist for conversions. Yet, most Websites do not fully take advantage of the variety of conversion options and strategies. Many types of visitor interactions should be measured and are considered conversions. Google Analytics (GA) can monitor a variety of conversions and pre-defined user goals and becomes the basis for defining conversions. It is a very effective strategy to allow for multiple online conversion points. Here are a few examples:
- Direct Website visits and targeted page visits.
- Inquiries via email, phone or Web-based forms.
- Visits to the “Contact Us” page.
- A direct sale via the Website.
- Email newsletter subscription.
- Viewing or reprinting driving directions.
- PDF download or application submission.
- Webinar registrations.
- RSS subscription to podcasts and blogs.
- Sending content to a friend or co-worker.
This is not a complete list and conversions are only limited by one’s imagination, business needs and user intentions. The next step is the development of a conversion strategy and a Web marketing plan that supports overall organizational goals.
2. Develop a Conversion Strategy
It is important to identify how conversions happen by getting inside the head of the Website user and understanding their needs, hot buttons and intent. The better one understands how to meet user needs, the higher the conversion rate. Website users are very focused on getting what they want and Website data is a key indicator of that intent. This can be tracked in GA as a sales funnel, eCommerce data or goal completion. Survey the target market and conduct user testing to better understand user goals and use that information to develop the strategy.
Four common conversion strategies include:
- Branding or building trust in target markets.
- Converting visits into leads.
- Selling online.
- Building a competitive advantage.
The Website should clearly communicate the value and benefits of doing business with your company. Translate to the Web what your business does well and use that to drive a conversion strategy.
3. eCommerce versus Lead Generation
The vast majority of conversions fall into either direct online purchases or lead generation. All Websites should make it very easy and intuitive to make contact. Keep in mind, the Internet has replaced the phone book and many people will go to your Website just to find a phone number and office hours.
For eCommerce Websites, the products become the strategy. Merchandising, or how products are presented, is critical. Follow best practices as there is no need to start from scratch. Understand seasonality and other online shopping trends and target a conversion rate of 2-4%. If you can sell directly online, then you should.
In lead generation, the content becomes the strategy. Target a conversion rate of 1-2%. Follow-up or stay in touch programs will be critical to actually close the lead. Without it, your Web leads will not produce a return. Use Web content to develop a sales funnel and drive the inquiry.
4. Website Usability
Many Websites are difficult to use and actually barriers to online conversions. The easier your site is to use, the higher the conversion rate. User testing is a highly valuable form of market research that provides data on accomplishing this goal. Ask people to visit your Website, ask them what they are looking to find and give them tasks you can observe. Here is a summary of how users interact with Websites:
- Form an instant impression of your company.
- Start in the upper left hand corner.
- Look at photos, especially people, and look for captions.
- Ignore ads, clutter and marketing-speak content.
- Quickly move to the navigation system.
- Scan the content and move fast.
- Most leave the Website quickly.
The solution is to be brave and keep it simple! Focus on two or three conversion points and include them on all Web pages and especially navigation menus. Avoid heavy graphics, write in the language of the user and conduct user testing to verify your assumptions.
5. Get Qualified Traffic
This should be obvious, but is not as most Websites have bounce rates over 50%. It is better to have less traffic, then the wrong traffic. Great content and a solid traffic generation strategy will achieve this goal. Review your stats to make sure the right traffic is coming to the Website and realize that low conversion rates may mean poor traffic. Make sure your company value, benefits and focus are clear in the content throughout the site and that search engine strategies match conversion goals.
6. Call to Action
All Websites must have very clear call to actions located near key content areas and on the main navigation. Thumbnails are a great design approach for combining content areas with call to action buttons or conversion links. Include a contact us or buy now button on every page or in every thumbnail.
Avoid “marketing speak” brochure copy and keep your content brief and action focused. Here is an example of marketing speak content: “We provide excellent service, innovative solutions, cutting edge products and top notch support.” Here is a more action focused approach: “A proven productive tool that saves you 30% and improves accounting results. Click here to learn how it works.”
Call to actions can be in taglines, captions, content, navigation systems and more. Follow best practices and meet the comfort level of your target market. Bigger is not always better, so avoid large ads or graphics to drive conversions.
7. Measure Results
All conversion points must be measured and tracked in GA, including your eCommerce sales data. The bottom line with conversions is ROI and all conversions can be measured against ROI in great detail. We have an ROI tool on our Website that can help you run the numbers on your Website to determine ROI. Click on this link to try it out:
Develop conversion points based on estimated ROI and track Website activity towards this goal.
Action Plan and Resources
Here is an action plan to get you started.
- Develop a Web Marketing Plan that clearly identifies Website conversions.
- Include in this plan a strategy and process for online conversions.
- Conduct user testing.
- Schedule a weekly or monthly Web conversion meeting.
- Review www.FourStepProcess.com.
- Visit www.IntuitiveWebsites.com for Webinars, podcast and more resources.
Thomas Young is CEO and President of Intuitive Websites, a Colorado Springs based Internet marketing, Website design and development firm. He is a Vistage speaker and member for over 10 years. To learn more about Tom visit www.ThomasVYoung.com. He can be reached at 719-231-6916 or firstname.lastname@example.org.