As online marketing becomes increasingly mainstream in NZ it’s clear that any successful online marketing strategy needs to address a variety of factors, not just traffic generation. While it’s certainly important to see your daily/weekly/monthly visits graph trending upwards over time, you also need to pay close attention to what’s happening with your website’s ‘conversion rate’ - the percentage of visitors who take a desired action on your site, such as submitting an enquiry, signing up for an offer, providing you with their email address, or making a purchase etc.
In this post I’ll introduce you to the concept of ‘Conversion Rate Optimisation’ – the process of testing, tweaking and refining your site in an effort to get a higher percentage of visitors to take the actions you want them to take on your website.
Recently we’re seeing more and more websites that have a good volume of traffic, yet are possibly not performing to their potential when it comes to generating the volume of business they could be. Of course, the actual quality of traffic a site receives has a lot to do with it (it’s better to get 500 targeted visitors to your site per month than 5,000 untargeted ones), however many websites are not doing all they could be when it comes to enticing their visitors to take a desired action.
As you can imagine, Conversion Rate Optimisation is a broad and somewhat complex subject. It’s a little bit art, a little bit science, and a lot of testing. Unfortunately there’s no silver bullet or predefined blueprint that will help every website convert more visitors into customers, but if you’re focused on converting more visitors into customers then read on – below you’ll find a list of simple guidelines that will help get you started with improving your website’s conversion rate.
- Make sure your site has a professional look and feel - an unprofessional or outdated image and poor website design can be a huge turn-off for visitors.
- Keep your content simple - Most customers will be asking what your service/product includes, so don’t make them read through long blocks of text to find the information they need. Make sure your site uses simple straightforward language that is filled with benefits, not just products/service features.
- Use bullet points instead of long paragraphs of text - Bullet points are an effective way to communicate quickly and convey the benefits of using your product or service at a glance. Keep information short and to the point to allow for quick consumption.
- Use visible 'calls to action' – 'Calls to action' are among the most important elements on your site when it comes to getting visitors to convert. Make sure you have a clear call to action (e.g. 'Buy Today', 'Sign-up Now', 'Order Now', 'Get a Quote', 'Instant Quote' etc) located prominently 'above the fold' and in a consistent position throughout your website. It’s widely accepted that large, brightly coloured call to action buttons often convert better.
- Put your best content 'above the fold' - a surprising number of visitors might not scroll down on your page, so make your offers as compelling, persuasive and relevant as possible and position them early in your page content.
- Use simple navigation - make sure your site is very easy to navigate – complex navigation menus can confuse your visitors and make them navigate away from your website.
- Simplify your online forms - when it comes to online forms, each input field can act as a barrier to conversion. Remove any non-essential fields and capture only the information you really need in order to take your relationship with the customer to the next stage.
- Position contact details prominently - make it easy for prospective customers to get in touch with you, whether it is by phone/skype, email, or an online enquiry form.
- Display testimonials – displaying customer testimonials on your website makes it easier for visitors to choose to take action on your site once they see that other customers are satisfied with your product/service. If your business involves business to business relationships, it can also be a good idea to have testimonials from recognisable companies that also use your product/service.
- Include trust graphics and logos – for example, if you are an accommodation provider and you’ve got a Qualmark rating, then include the Qualmark logo on your website.
- About Us page – use your 'About Us' page to provide visitors with a brief, factual history of your company and business. Mention how you started the business, who is involved in operating it and so on. It can also be a good idea to include office photos and/or pictures of your team members. If you are a member of a reputable organisation, be sure to highlight it.
- Check for typos and grammatical errors – even small mistakes in your content can cast doubts on your professionalism.
- Make use of FAQs - include a comprehensive FAQ section on your site. Depending on your business/industry, your visitors might have a lot of anticipated questions. Be prepared for this and provide visitors with a well-written and well-organised FAQs page.
- Speed up your website – the quicker a page loads for a visitor, the better the chance you have of converting them into a customer. Implementing changes designed to speed up your web page will most likely require the help of your web developer.
- Terms & Conditions - Add a well-written terms and conditions policy to your website. Make sure it highlights your product return policy, refund policy and delivery/shipment policies (if applicable).
By working through the basic tips listed above you’ll go a long way to improving your website’s conversion rate, plus you’ll also create a better user experience for visitors to your site. Remember too that even small changes can make a big difference - you certainly don’t need to make lots of changes all at once. In fact, when it comes to making changes we recommend taking small steps and measuring the results along the way. By taking a controlled approach you’ll be able to tell which changes had the biggest impact.
The key to successful Conversion Rate Optimisation is refining, testing, tweaking and measuring your results. Keep an eye out for my next post on this subject in which I’ll cover off how you should go about testing and measuring the impact of your changes, and the tools available to help you do so. Stay tuned.