by: Thomas Young
In step four of the Four-Step Process we review ROI and tracking the results of your web marketing efforts. At the core of step four is website conversions. How you design and develop your site will impact its ability to generate online conversions. Let’s take a closer look at online conversions as they impact your design and development process.
The marketing goal of every website should be to convert visitors to customers. This is also the web marketer’s great challenge, as many websites are online brochures that focus more on describing the company than converting website users. It starts by developing a conversion strategy that is included in your web marketing plan.
This conversion strategy is the real measure of a website’s effectiveness and its ability to convert web users into sales. This is not an easy task and there are no quick fixes. It starts with learning the online conversion process and what works. Converting even a small percentage of your website visitors into sales can drive a very high ROI on web marketing work. Below are several important strategies business leaders should know to effectively drive online conversions.
Develop a Conversion Strategy
It is important to identify how conversions happen by getting inside the heads of the website users and understanding their needs, hot buttons and intent. The better one understands how to meet user needs, the higher the conversion rate. Website users are very focused on getting what they want, and website data is a key indicator of that intent. This can be tracked in your web stats and an online sales funnel, e-commerce data or goal completion. Survey the target market and conduct user testing to better understand user goals and use that information to develop the strategy.
The website should clearly communicate the value and benefits of doing business with your company. Translate to the web what your business does well and use that to drive a conversion strategy.
Define Your Online Conversions
Websites exist for conversions. Yet most websites do not fully take advantage of the variety of conversion options and strategies. Many types of visitor interactions should be measured and are considered conversions. Start the conversion process by clearly identifying the conversions most appropriate for your web marketing strategy.
Google Analytics can monitor a variety of conversions and pre-defined user goals and becomes the basis for defining and tracking conversions. It is a very effective strategy to allow for multiple online conversion points because web users prefer to convert through different means.
Any visit to a website which results in some form of interaction with the website visitor is a conversion. There are many ways to measure a conversion on a website. Here are a few examples:
- Direct website visits and targeted page visits
- Inquiries via e-mail, phone or web-based forms.
- Visits to the Contact Us page
- A direct sale via the website
- E-mail newsletter subscriptions
- Viewing or reprinting driving directions
- PDF download or application submission
- Webinar or event registrations
- RSS subscription to podcasts and blogs
- Sending content to a friend or coworker
- A phone call from a dedicated website phone number
- A form submission to receive something free
- An e-mail to the company from the website
- Driving out to your store or office
- Sending a link to a friend or referring a friend
- Viewing multimedia on the website
- Making an online donation or pledge
- Printing a coupon from the website
This is not a complete list and conversions are only limited by one’s imagination, business needs and user intentions.
E-commerce Versus Lead Generation
The vast majority of conversions fall into the two broad categories of either direct online purchases or lead generation. Most readers of this book will be primarily looking to generate leads from their online marketing efforts. All websites should make it very easy and intuitive to make contact. Keep in mind the Internet has replaced the phone book and many people will go to your website just to find a phone number and office hours.
In lead generation, the website content becomes the strategy. How you present and organize your online content will determine how well your site converts. Target a conversion rate of 1 to 2 percent. Follow-up or stay-in-touch programs will be critical to actually closing the lead. Without it, your web leads will not produce a return. More on stay-in-touch programs in later chapters. Use web content to develop a sales funnel and drive inquiries.
For e-commerce websites, the products become the strategy. Merchandising, or how products are presented, is critical. Follow best practices as there is no need to start from scratch. Understand seasonality and other online shopping trends and target a conversion rate of 2 to 4 percent for e-commerce sales. If you can sell directly online, then you should.
In our next Tip of the Week we will continue to review the key factors impacting website conversions.
Thomas Young is the CEO and founder of Intuitive Websites. He is an author, speaker and digital marketing consultant. Order Tom’s book “Winning the Website War” to get more digital marketing insights.