Let’s start by clarifying what we mean by a conversion, and why you should care.
A quick definition search in Google defines the word conversion as "the process of changing or causing something to change from one form to another”.
So in the case of our website we are interested in converting visitors into customers, how well we achieve this can be measured in something called ‘Conversion Rate’, if you are measuring sales and have 100 visitors to your website and 2 of them make a purchase, you would have a 2% conversion rate.
This is where it gets interesting, if you can convert more of the 100 visitors into customers then the effect on your bottom line can be massive.
For instance, let’s say we make tweaks to the website in the example above and manage to achieve a 6% conversion rate (out of every 100 visitors, 6 become customers and make a purchase) this amounts to an increase in sales of 300% (increase from 2 sales to 6), pretty impressive right?
This potential is why improving conversions should be a key focus of your website marketing strategy.
Step 1 - Define Your Goals
This might sound obvious to some, but you would be surprised at how many people overlook this vital first step with their website.
You may not have the obvious goals such as sales if you are not selling online, instead, think about the actions you would like potential customers to take after viewing your website, things like to send an enquiry or phone your store or download a product brochure.
If phone calls are important then our phone number needs to be prominent above the fold (without the need to scroll down) on every page.
Step 2 - Make an Impact
When a visitor comes to your website you have approximately 4 seconds to make an impact upon them, they should be able to look at your homepage and within 4 seconds it should be crystal clear where they are and what you expect them to do next.
If these questions aren’t easily answerable when you look at your website then it is time to make some changes if you are going to improve your conversions.
Start with a compelling headline and a clear call to action (CTA), these are perhaps two of the most important elements of your homepage and they need to spell out to your visitor how you can fix their problem (headline) and what they should do next (CTA).
Imagery can also be a very powerful tool to add into this mix, as the saying goes a picture paints a thousand words.
When all three of these elements work in unison together then you are on your way to better conversions.
There are other elements that also play an important part in making an impact during the customer journey on your website beyond those first few seconds, including tone and style of your website copy, social proof in the form of case studies and testimonials, ease of navigation, and consistency in your branding.
Step 3 - Website Structure
If new customers are going to find your website via the search engines then you need to make sure that it is coded correctly and ticks all the boxes for Google.
In other words, it needs to be search engine optimised, this means that the pages are coded in such a way that helps Google to index your page without issues, which in turn can help to push your site up the search results.
There are many diagnostic tools available for checking the SEO status of your website, one I like to use is called SEOquake for Google Chrome (it's free). The diagnosis option gives you a detailed breakdown of things that need addressing in your code, as well as hints as to how you could make things better.
In addition to SEO, make sure you have Google Sitemaps and register these with Google Search Console.
If you are on Wordpress there are plenty of free plugins available to implement this step, Google Search Console is a free service from Google whereby you can register and submit your sitemap, which again has a positive impact on the speed and accuracy with which your website is indexed.
If you are selling online then you need to think carefully about checkout page optimisation, there are a number of elements that you can introduce to the checkout page proven to increase conversions, such as, money back guarantee, customer testimonials etc.
Additionally, you need to make sure your site is secure (if you are collecting customer data) and that it is loading fast, delays in page loading are another factor that is often attributed to poor conversion rates.
Remember, you only have a few seconds of your visitor's attention so it is imperative you make the process of them converting as seamless as possible. Anything in the way, such as a slow-loading page or a lack of important information when and where it is needed are the conversion equivalent to barricading the checkout area in your store and making it super difficult for customers to get through to pay.
Your website should also be mobile-friendly since a huge portion of your potential customers will be viewing on a tablet or smartphone you must make the experience as effortless as possible for them to convert.
Don’t make them think or work hard, or they will simply disappear, never to return.
Step 4 - Leverage the Data
This step is all about the importance of using metrics to improve how well your website converts, and this could be as simple as making sure you have Google Analytics installed and active on your website so you can measure the effect of your efforts.
You can setup goal conversions, so for example, if you are looking to get people to sign up for a webinar, you could measure the number of people who get to the page, then the number of people who complete the form but don’t sign up, and finally, the big goal conversions of signups.
This would allow you to see where there are holes and potential areas for development in your site. If your homepage is driving people to the signup page but then there is a massive drop off, you should be looking at your signup page to see where the problem lies; are there too many form fields? Does the submit button work? Are we asking the right questions? etc.
That way the data is informing the optimisation and you are making decisions based upon the actions of your actual visitors.
You could utilise a variety of measures here, the possibilities are endless, depending on what your goals are some may include:
- E-Commerce conversion rate
- Sales growth
- List growth
Step 5 - Test and Improve
In addition to the analytics data, you could consider doing what the pros do, and that is A/B multivariate testing, or split testing for short. This is widely used by landing page creation software such as LeadPages and many Email Service Providers (ESP’s) as a way of measuring the impact of changes in a live scenario.
So for example, imagine we have our 100 website visitors, 50 of them are served version A of the homepage, and the remaining 50 are served version B which is different. At the end, we compare the conversion rates for both and then continue to serve the winning version of the homepage 100% of the time.
This is a sophisticated way to test colours of the call to action buttons, the impact of different images, button placement and the like to see what works best and can massively help to improve conversions on your website.
Another thing to consider utilising is user feedback, if possible ask your existing customers, your family, your friends etc. to give you honest feedback on what they see, how easy things are to navigate, how clear it is what action is required etc.
So step 5 is effectively the feedback loop that takes the results of what the numbers are telling us and then uses this information to make informed improvements to the content and structure of the website.
You can download a free mind map of this blog post to help you in putting the steps into practice on your website.
And remember, masterpieces aren’t painted with a single stroke of a brush, they are continually refined and worked on, the same is true of your website if you are to achieve your goal of better conversions.