Your paid and organic marketing efforts are doing the business — click through rates, or CTRs, have never been higher and record numbers of visitors are finding their way to your website. Time to put your feet up and stick the kettle on? Not so fast. If that traffic isn’t converting, all of your hard work has been for nothing. Whether you are just starting up and running the show solo or if you are a seasoned marketing director who has signed up to some pretty ambitious KPIs, optimizing your webpages to increase conversions is plainly a must.
Naturally, every online marketer will measure successful conversions differently based upon their business model and specific goals. Across all verticals, conversions are expressed simply as visitors who perform a desired action: for an online publisher this would be the submission of a form on a subscription page; for a digital retailer this would be the addition of products to a cart. However, whatever industry you’re working in, a 2% conversion rate should be the baseline goal for your website: reaching this number and beyond is the very foundation of high sales volume. In this article, we outline four tried and tested tactics that, if put into practice effectively, will be sure to get you the conversion percentages you covet.
1. A/B Testing
On search engine real estate it’s all about gaining prime location for your ads. When it comes to optimizing conversions, it’s all about continuous testing. The nature of experimentation by definition dictates that some tests will succeed and some will fail: either way, both outcomes represent great learning opportunities. It is the best way to mitigate the risks that come with decision making while simultaneously affording your creative teams room to do what they do best – design, discover, innovate, explore.
The first step of any meaningful test is to study the statistics and data available to you to isolate an element that has the potential to improve customer engagement. Speaking generally, some components on a webpage tend to have higher effects on conversion rate and numbers than others, so begin by focusing on these things:
- The headline. Are you getting your message across instantly? Is it providing immediate and easily digestible value?
- Page design. Are you packing a visual punch? Are your images streamlined, easy on the eye, and independently adding value?
- The offer. Take a step back and consider what the customer is getting for their money. How is it presented? Is the information on the page still relevant? Is the message conveyed clearly?
- Call to Action, or CTA. Does it guide your visitor to the metaphorical finish line? Is it concise and synthetic?
Testing should be a never-ending process. As soon as you’ve optimized one aspect of your webpage, shift attention and build out variations of something else. The more you integrate A/B and multivariate testing into your core marketing strategy, the more your decisions can be influenced by real-time data rather than ideas and opinions. If you’re leaving things to chance, you’re leaving precious dollars on the table.
2. Communicate Value
A common mistake among digital marketing practitioners today is that they do not provide a distinct and compelling value proposition up front. If your homepage or landing pages are simply dominated by your logo or ineffective “welcome” messages, you are missing out. The importance of nailing your core messaging cannot be overstated in the environment of saturated online marketplaces — while you are likely to match your competitors in a number of ways, you need to outperform them in certain key areas and sell that to your prospective customers.
Of course, crafting and refining your value proposition is a facet of your business that goes far beyond the pages of your website — it is the very essence of what you stand for and what you do. It requires reflection and a constantly open dialogue both internally and externally. But once it has been defined, it must be communicated efficaciously in order to achieve optimal results across your entire organization — from marketing to sales and everything in between. Ideally, your value proposition should be articulated in a single, credible sentence that leaves no space for ambiguity. However well-defined and eloquently expressed you think it may be, though, to understand it’s true resonance, you must be repeatedly measuring how it performs (scroll back to point number 1). While many marketers first look to things like font size, button shapes, and other elements to tackle lagging conversions, the first step has to be analyzing the value you are communicating.
3. Build Trust
For anyone to part ways with their sensitive data by filling out a form, or their money through a purchase of a product or service, they need to feel confident in your brand and secure in the transaction. One of the most straightforward ways to boost conversions is to make it easy for the visitor to verify the accuracy of your content through articles in renowned publications, citations, reviews and case studies. We’ve all seen the traditional before-and-after type testimonials — when done well they are an extremely effective marketing tool, triggering emotional responses in viewers and providing tangible examples of just how consumers can benefit from your offering. The effects of such endorsements have been the source of great industry debate, with some reports suggesting that the inclusion of videos on landing pages will increase conversions by a massive 80%. That is a compelling number and certainly justifies giving it a go if you’re not already.
While the above would undoubtedly be part of your long-term strategy — video testimonials are not cheap or easy — there are some quick fixes around your website that you can implement to build credibility. Start by listing a physical address, showcasing photographs of your offices, listing your affiliations with respected organizations, displaying biographies of your leadership team, and making it easy to get in touch. Then take into consideration the navigation and ease-of-use — nothing kills trust quicker than an outdated, amateur-looking website. When constructing your webpages, be sure to update all of your visible content, remove any peripheral distractions (pop-ups, blinking banners, etc), stay consistent, and avoid errors of any kind. You’d be surprised just how many seemingly minor things can hurt your credibility.
4. Make the Process Easy for Conversions
Now this sounds like a given, right? But again, you’d be amazed at the number of companies who make doing business difficult. In short, your visitors should not have to figure out how to sign up, buy, or where to click — the desired action should be apparent. On every page that contains a CTA, everything should be geared around guiding the user toward the action you want them to take. If it’s a sign-up, ask them to fill in as few fields as possible — don’t ask for any information that you don’t need to know to complete the process. If it’s a product order, don’t bombard them with similar offerings that can detract attention and do not force guests to sign-up before checking out.
You should also keep in mind that regardless of the quality of your offering or your webpage, there are always going to be visitors who are not quite ready to make that all-important click. To keep these visitors engaged, consider providing a second CTA. In addition to saving those potentially lost conversions, they’re great for progressing leads through the funnel and supporting other company goals that could involve social sharing or signing up for company updates.
Every visitor comes to your website for a reason — most likely because they clicked on an ad or an organic search result that they liked or was appealing. Each of them arrives with wants, needs and expectations. Displaying value out of the gate, building up trust and encouraging conversions through simple navigation are the basic strategies you can employ that will ultimately compel your audience to take action. Getting traffic to your website is one thing, but getting that traffic to convert is another thing entirely. And understanding the difference is the key.