It’s all about conversion, conversion, conversion
Even if you already have a good conversion rate from your website, it can always be better. More conversions mean more sales, more return on your investment and a stronger bottom line for your business. There are plenty of opinions about what works and what doesn’t, but we have the hard evidence to show that our method, a method that differs from many conventional approaches, can really make a difference to your conversion rate.
Everyone’s looking for a ‘recipe’
Many people will tell you that there are ‘best practices’ and conventions that you can follow to get conversions, but there’s no such thing as simple recipe that works for every website and every business. There are no ‘magic ingredients’ unless you count experience as being magical. We have the experience and we’ve tested every strategy that anyone has ever thought of plus a few more. Here’s what we found:
It takes hard work and a methodical approach
There are no shortcuts, no silver bullets, no miraculous secrets. If you want to increase your conversion rate, you need a methodological approach. You also need the skills, knowledge and experience it takes to implement it.
You need to have access to a wealth of experience in analyzing websites: their analytics, their user interface and how they are designed. You need to have a deep understanding of visual design, website design, usability principles and website statistics. Direct response marketing, the art of persuasion and an understanding of psychology must be second nature to you. The ROI Escalator model isn’t just a concept, it has been proven effective by real businesses in the real world.
How it works
- Why doing your homework pays
What strategy seems to have potential and will it serve your long term goals? How will you measure that?
A lot of companies use the ‘recipe’ approach. They may have found a combination that worked really well for one business, but your business is unique, so why should it work for you too? Here’s what you need to consider:
Your very first step is determining (rather than guessing) the exact parts of your business that aren’t performing as well as you may have hoped – and then you need to work out why.
A lot of companies come to us with a very rigid idea of what we should examine, but very often, the factors that contribute to conversions are found where they are least expected. We start with the basic nuts and bolts and work our way into the finer details. Our first step is to understand your strategy and vision. We also take a close look at what your competitors are doing and form a clear picture of your industry as a whole. Now we are ready to formulate the key performance indicators that show us what we should be aiming for.
Why don’t you get more conversions?
You may have some ideas as to why you aren’t getting the results you hoped for, but these need to be tested in terms of the available evidence. Evidence and hard facts are a much better basis for a conversion-enhancing strategy than so-called ‘best practices’ or something that may have worked at some point during the past.
Unbiased analysis is what you need
Being in the midst of business activities causes you to have pre-conceived ideas. Your website visitors don’t share your frame of reference. They don’t see what you see. It’s almost impossible for an insider to conduct an unbiased analysis, because they can’t forget what they already know about the business. However, your potential client knows absolutely nothing about who you are and what you do. This is the perspective that you really need.
- Analysis and optimization of current traffic sources
It’s not just a matter of looking at what’s happening on your web pages, you also need to know where the traffic is coming from. Supposing you had a physical shop selling handbags and you notice people walking into your store and then walking out again. What if by some accident someone was advertising your shop address as a delicatessen? That would explain things, wouldn’t it?
Before we can say anything about your conversion rate, we first have to look at the ‘who, what and why’ that’s drawing traffic to your site. Where are they being directed? What information drove them there? How did it happen and who or what caused them to end up on your site? Once you have the full picture, you’re ready to look for opportunities for improvement.
Get an understanding of your conversion funnel. It starts with the upstream information (where your traffic is coming from) and ends with the final step in the purchasing process – maybe that special touch that you hope will make a contribution that keeps your clients coming back for more. Create a diagram of your conversion funnel by mapping every action that a user completes before they finalize the sale.
Your strategy should focus on the areas of your business (and website) that directly impact your sales. You’ll also need to set priorities. The items that involve a little tweak in order to improve conversions can be tackled first and get quick results, while more extensive interventions may result in a lengthy process and can be left till later.
Think about the flow of information and what is causing blockages and bottlenecks. Use tools such as Google Analytics, Adobe SiteCatalyst, KISS Metrics, ClickTale and Webtrends to get the information you need.
Consider your conversion funnel: are you using all the tools at your disposal to make this complete? Chances are, you’ll find you’re missing some steps that could give you more conversions. For example:
- Transforming a single-step sale into a multi-step sale.
- Adding a conveniently placed ‘Refer a friend’ button.
- Using an auto-responder sequence to get more conversions.
- Offering post-sale extras.
- Developing an active online community.
- Unbiased analysis of your site visitors
Your conversion analysis will only be meaningful if it based on data analysis. This helps you to determine the real reasons why you are not getting as many conversions as you would like to see. For example, determining upstream traffic intention and the first impressions your site creates could provide you with some of the answers you are looking for. Well-structured analysis and thorough research are needed if you hope to improve your conversion rate and your return on investment.
- What are the roles and intentions of your visitors?
A beautifully designed site will fail in its intention if you are getting the wrong visitors, so your first step in this process is to understand the people who are visiting your site. What kind of people are they? What are they hoping to find and why are they visiting your site? Your analytics hold part of the answer, but you also need to examine the demographics of your visitors and their intentions.
An analysis of your inbound traffic and the way in which they behave would include:
- The number of new visitors and the number of return visitors.
- Determining which sources are sending you traffic that has a high conversion rate.
- An analysis of user personalities and other indicators within your target market.
- Determining the effect of branded keywords as opposed to generic keywords.
By understanding your site visitors, you can ensure that you are offering them relevant content, tailor your calls to action to appeal to your market and begin systematically optimising your conversion funnel.
- Are there problems or issues in the user experience?
All websites have at least some visors who don’t convert because there is some sort of obstacle to finalising the sale:
- Your website may not be compatible across platforms and browsers.
- Pages that are slow to load and other technical issues make users lose patience.
- Site taxonomy and information architecture may be unfavourable.
- There may be problems with the website copy.
- Forms are no optimized for easy use.
- The impression you make may not match the users intention.
ROI Escalator uses highly specialised software to analyse your website to determine whether any of these obstacles are getting in the way of your success.
- Determine what your site visitors’ concerns may be
You may have noticed that you have a high bounce rate as well as lower than expected conversions. What could be causing it? Trying to guess at the reasons is too hit-or-miss, but you can’t ask them why they are ‘walking out’ on you either. However, there are ways and means of getting the feedback you need if you use the right tools. Once you have the data, it should be compiled and carefully analysed.
Countering the concerns of potential clients by making an effort to understand their online experience can help you to improve your conversion rate, and to do this, tools such as Kampyle, Qualaroo and Ethnio make your task a whole lot easier.
- Advanced data analysis to understand your market
To sell to your market, you first need to identify and understand your market. You will gain valuable information by beginning with an analysis of your competitors, discovering what experts have uncovered through their research and finding out what your potential clients are saying in social media and on forum threads. This information can be used to draw up a SWOT analysis that helps you to identify areas that need improvement. Information resources include industry journals and reports, Google and Yahoo Answers.
- Discover which of your resources are underperforming
Al businesses have elements that could perform better if they were correctly marketed. They may be targeted at the wrong market, or they may not be made available at the right time during the purchasing process.
You also need outside input to show that you are adding value for your clients. Make a list of the proofs you need to acquire, for example:
- Press coverage
- User endorsements and reviews
- Famous-brand (Marquee) clients
- Determine which tactics will be most effective
The important thing to understand is that small changes will only generate small results. If you’re serious about making a significant difference to your conversion rate, you will be implementing significant changes. Assuming that you want to optimize your profits and your ROI, you will have to be prepared for some fairly sweeping changes. Obviously, these changes need to be tested to gauge how effective they will be in practice. Rank your ideas by benchmarking them against the following three questions:
- Is there a strong probability of doubling or even quadrupling your conversions?
Obviously the changes that offer you the best chance of making a big difference to your conversion rate are the most important items to test and should be your starting-point.
- How difficult will it be to implement these changes?
Some of the big changes you are considering will be easier to implement than others. Big and easy changes should be prioritised against more complicated alterations.
- Has your strategy been tested?
Each change needs to be tested to determine how effective it will be in increasing conversions. This testing process must be conducted scientifically and the results must be recorded.
- Test your alternatives
Most people jump into the process at this point without carrying out the first six steps that inform it. As a result, they don’t get the results they hope to see. But now that you have all the background that you need, you are ready to test your new content.
Developing a new wireframe for the page is an essential first step. You need to offer improved user interfaces and a better customer experience. The content must also be carefully crafted. Headlines must grab attention, the introductory paragraphs must hold it and the calls to actin must be relevant and compelling. After you have tested the usability of the wireframe, the test can go live and you can begin measuring the actual results. We have seen improvements in lead generation of up to 400% when using this methodology.
- Analyze your results
A variety of different software is applied when recording and tracking results. You do need to know how to analyse the information, but getting the raw data is not too difficult. We use software such as:
- Google Analytics
- Visual Website Optimizer
- Adobe Test & Target
Do remember to test your software to ensure that it has been properly installed and ensure that you inform your team as to:
- Why you are performing this split-test
- How it fits into the site
- What you hope to achieve with it
- How you will measure your results
Now it’s a matter of waiting for the results to come in. One of the easiest measurables is conversions. Using this data, you can easily determine which of your ‘challenger’ pages is giving you the best results.
Discover fresh opportunities every time you test
Just going through this process once will boost your conversion rate, but what if you do it again, and again? After testing, you will see an improvement and your new material can be used as the basis for further testing. As your conversion rate improves, new opportunities arise spontaneously – your business begins to enjoy the returns and growth it deserves.
‘Best practices’ and the advice of so-called ‘experts’ won’t give you the kind of results you will get by implementing a methodological approach that uses hard evidence to analyse your website and the factors that impact on your conversion rate. Improving your conversion rate isn’t simply a matter of applying this or that principle – it requires specific analysis of your website, a range of data-gathering activities, unbiased analysis of data, and the implementation of thoroughly tested changes.
If you’d like to find out more about how we increase your conversion rate and help you to grow your business, or if you have any questions, contact us now – we are here to help!