Imagine paying to bring in bus loads of tourists to your shop promising them exactly what they need but when they arrive they have trouble getting into the shop, trouble getting any service, and no way to purchase easily, so they go next door to your competitor and buy there.
You wouldn’t would you?
If you aren’t optimising your site for conversions then maybe that’s exactly what you are doing. In my latest two posts I have brought up conversion optimisation as a very important part of managing and developing your web site or app. So important, it is one of the two things I recommend you should focus on for your site this year.
So why is conversion optimisation so important? And what is conversion optimisation?
Firstly, conversion optimisation is the ‘process’ of making changes to your website to improve the positive interactions with your site. These interactions are the conversions, which aren’t always sales. They could be signups to a newsletter, or other actions that you want the user to take.
Why Optimise for conversions?
Essentially optimising is improving the way people interact with your site and, by doing so, improving the results you want to get.
So the reason you would do this is to get better results for your business.
Importantly though, using the tourist and bus analogy, is to make sure you aren’t wasting your efforts in attracting people only to get a small portion actually doing what you want them to do.
No one opens their business to get the least amount of transactions possible.
The easiest way to think of it is in a physical store mindset. If you are running a store and you have 100 people come in a day and only 1 buys, eventually you are going to think about what you need to do to increase that to 2, then from 2 to every 10 people out of 100.
How would you do that?
There are many things you can try to do including changing the layout, the stock, the pricing, specials, interacting with people differently, placing items in certain locations, or putting related items together to make them appear better.
There are a myriad of ways retailers look at making sure their stores work better for them, and these stores operate differently based on products sold, demographics, locations, time of year etc.
So the big question: Why would it be any different for your online “store” or site than it would be for your offline store?
It shouldn’t be.
You need to adjust what happens on your site just as much.
In fact, maybe more.
In the store you have to make changes and see if they improve then either revert and try something else or make more changes. On your website you get the ability to trial changes for groups of users while leaving the baseline unchanged and compare results.
In its simplest form this is known as A/B testing. You test your baseline (A) against a change (B) and then based on some rules determine which variant or version gets the best results.
That is a great benefit because now you are able to make decisions based on real user data.
Instead of convincing different people in your business of why something needs to change we have the ability to clearly demonstrate what works better.
Importantly this can be quite a quick and inexpensive process as well.
Saving money with conversion optimisation.
While it will cost you something to go through the optimisation process, ultimately it can end up saving you a lot of money.
I will assume that you are aware of how much time, effort and cost it can take to generate new traffic to your site using a variety of methods including SEO, PPC and other forms of marketing.
One of the goals in getting new traffic is to help grow your business e.g. more sales.
If you sell only 1 item per week and you want to sell 5 per week then you have several choices in achieving this.
- Change the offer / price etc so that those people coming are more likely to buy (a sale or other offer).
- Attract 5 times as many new prospects to your site by the logic that if 1 in 100 (1%) convert, then if you get 500 new people you should make 5 sales.
Conversion Optimisation adds another option:
3. Change the conversion rate to get more sales per site visitor. If you change your conversion rate to 5% then you get 5 sales from the same number of visitors.
Attracting new traffic is extremely hard, especially qualified / interested visitors. It stands to good reason that doing more with the ones you have already attracted is good logic and can be an easier path than finding new traffic.
It also means that if you do grow your traffic the benefit is magnified.
This is how you save money, if you don’t have to continually try and grow your traffic, and for the traffic you do acquire you get a better return on it, then you are in fact saving money. You spend less to make more.
Additionally as you go down this pathway you start to learn more about the traffic you are getting. If as you optimise you start to understand more about who is coming to your site and too many aren’t really ever going to convert because they are the wrong targets, this helps you to change your traffic acquisition strategies as well.
Conversions aren’t just sales.
There are a number of ways you can get a conversion for your site and this is just as important for sites without online commerce.
Your site has to have a purpose and your goal is to make it achieve that purpose to the best of its ability.
If your site is a lead generation site then you are looking for inquiries and signups. Making sure you optimise these to get as many qualified people filling in your form is your goal.
You might be wanting to increase likes on Facebook, increase your newsletter subscriber base, or any number of interactions that should have a meaningful benefit to you and should be useful or helpful to the person interacting with you.
In some cases you might be adding one of these items into a sales process to increase your interaction with that customer.
Each of these additional conversions increases the likelihood you can help them further in the future.
How do you optimise your website?
Optimising your website is about testing hypothesis to see what options actually work.
Too many decisions are made based around gut feel or the highest paid or longest serving person in the room. Optimisation throws these decisions out the window and starts using a testing process that allows you to get answers to which option works best.
Using A/B testing and / or multi variate testing the process involves making changes to pages or elements on your site and testing them against each other to see what change happens in the conversion process.
It can be as simple as changing headline copy, creating confidence elements, or reworking a page or form completely.
There is no one thing that typifies how conversion optimisation will improve your site, except that you will need to use your analytics to understand how your site is being used now and to be able to measure improvement.
There are some great articles to get more understanding:
- What is Conversion Optimization? (Qualaroo)
- 12 Best Practices (Visual Website Optimizer)
- The Definitive guide to Conversion Optimization (Quicksprout)
Ultimately the process takes time to do it right, involves many modalities (copy writing, design, analytics etc) but can create significant long-term benefits over guess work.
When you review your site in this depth, make small adjustments, and progressively improve the experience, you will get a much higher return on your investment and will remove the need for a major site overhaul as you will be more concerned on how to tweak your site for better profit than the ‘visual’ feel of your site.
At the end of the day in business sales talk when a client of ours tells us their latest site has increased their sales two fold we know we have done something right.
As I recently said to them, “That’s great but we can’t stop there. There is always room to make it even better”.