You’ve figured out website traffic. People are showing up, lots of them. But how do you turn more of them into actual paying customers? Website conversion has long been and still is a hot topic, and for good reason. Studies show that businesses that include conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategies in their marketing plan tend to do significantly better. But, many companies don’t have a set strategy to take advantage of the traffic coming to their website. For those that spend marketing budget on things like SEO and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Ads, optimizing for conversions is key to not wasting money.
This article will first dive into what website conversion means and how conversion rates work. Then, we’ll get to the good stuff – how to optimize your website to increase conversion rates. In other words, let’s boost those leads and sales!
So, what does website conversion rate mean?
Conversion rate is a ratio or, typically, a percentage. It defines the percentage of total prospects that actually convert into a customer or lead. It’s always based on some kind of goal, and as such it’s often discussed in relation to e-commerce. This is because with products, conversion is super simple. How many people came to your website last week? How many of them converted into purchasing customers? Divide the former by the latter and you have your conversion rate for that week.
That said, it absolutely applies to businesses that aren’t product based as well. If you’re a service business and use your website as a lead generation tool (as you should), conversion goals would typically involve some sort of lead acquisition. This can mean turning traffic into email list subscribers. Or perhaps scheduled consultations, or a basic inbound email.
So then, what is conversion rate optimization (CRO)? Exactly as it sounds, it’s the strategy behind optimizing your website for the highest conversion rate possible. Most successful strategies involve a lot of analytics and testing, as they help nail down the optimal setup for turning traffic into conversions.
What’s the average conversion rate?
The average conversion rate in general is about 2.3%. That means, for every 100 consumers coming to your website, about 2 convert into actual paying customers. This, of course, varies widely by industry, product, and much more. But, it’s a good base rate to reference. If you’re under that, you need to put some work in, because you could do a lot better. If you’re right around that ballpark, optimization could still help greatly. Most businesses with well-defined strategies to increase their website conversion rate do much better than the average, often pushing into double digits.
So, what are the steps of conversion optimization and what does a successful strategy like that entail? Let’s get into it.
Website Conversion Rate Optimization Fundamentals: 6 Key Steps
Conversion optimization for a website involves a number of elements and requires a consistent, focused strategy. The serious nuts and bolts of that would require a more in-depth guide. Companies often choose to pass that hat to experts specializing in conversion rate optimization services. Today, we’re just going to nail down some of the overarching aspects that should play into any conversion strategy.
1. Have a compelling, professional and functional website.
Often there are specific pages (landing pages) that you’re hoping will convert. Other times, like with multi-product e-commerce or service-based business, there are countless pages you might convert from. As such, visitors are likely to browse several pages before taking any action. In fact, it’s very common for consumers to have more than one browsing session on your website before acting. So, for many reasons, your overall website design and functionality are crucial.
First, consider design. Studies have shown that visual design is one of the most important factors for user’s first impression. And, when it’s not a good impression, they usually bounce in less than 10 seconds. On top of that, browsing might occur from all kinds of devices. So, ideally you have a responsive web design (multi-device friendly) that is clean, consistent and professional.
Also, consider loading speed and overall user experience. Is it easy for people to navigate around the site and find what they’re looking for? Do pages load quickly and properly? Slow loading time means high bounce rates, as do confusing websites.
This is one of the first things to consider when building your conversion rate strategy. Before spending time crafting landing pages and conducting optimization testing, ensure the overall site is ready to convert. In some cases, like HubSpot, a website redesign is a game-changer for conversions.
2. Have clearly defined goals and a conversion funnel – and track everything.
As mentioned in the intro, the whole concept of conversions is based on “goal completion”. So, if you don’t have clearly defined goals, what are you converting anyway? Whether you’re selling products or services, your landing page should be designed with a specific goal in mind. And, just as important, you should be tracking any data that relates to your conversion goal. How are they interacting with the page? How many are making it through the funnel?
Offering tutoring services for an architecture exam? Perhaps your goal is direct signups for the tutoring course. Or maybe you’re hustling the long-game and offering free value like an eBook in exchange for their email. Whatever it is, define the main goal as well as the funnel that directs people from landing on the page through completion of your goal. Sometimes it can be useful to have a series of mini-goals on the way to the main goal, depending on your funnel. This can be powerful in that it helps track where people are getting stuck or dropping off. Just be careful not to overcomplicate things – a landing page should be clear and concise.
From there, you’ll start building meaningful data. These analytics will be crucial in understanding what works, and what doesn’t.
3. Use the 3 ‘C’s: Clear, Concise, Compelling.
When it comes to crafting the landing page, stay focused and on-target. Statistics show that you have on average about 7 seconds to capture users’ attention before they bounce. Your messaging and the layout that delivers it should be easy to understand and digest, and draw interest out of the audience.
Your landing page should be built around showcasing your Unique Value Proposition. Use the 3 ‘C’s to lay out exactly what you’re offering and why it’s enticing to your prospect. What problem are you solving for them? Why should they feel compelled to take action today?
This involves having a combination of great Headlines, Call-to-Actions (CTAs), and concise copy. Plus, again, well-defined goals. Sometimes it’s really worth it to utilize content experts that can help you craft compelling copy. If you’re not a writer, you might end up wasting a lot of time and money with landing pages that don’t convert largely due to lackluster on-page content.
4. Test, test, test.
Whether you wrote the copy yourself or not, you should never follow a “set it and forget it” attitude. Testing is one of the most important aspects of conversion optimization. You’d be surprised how much some little changes can affect how consumers respond.
Utilize A/B (split) testing to try out different headlines and CTAs. A/B Testing has actually been shown to be one of the single most effective strategies for CRO. Dig deep into your analytics and look for differences in engagement. And, of course, differences in conversion rate. Once you find something that seems to be improving conversions, don’t stop. Keep following that direction. Keep testing. The process of ongoing testing is what will ultimately lead to epic conversion rates. And that’s why split testing is a native capability built into every website we design – we’re always ready to optimize for our client’s success.
Some people go as far as A/B testing entire pages. Think new headlines, CTAs, copy, images, layouts… everything. If you want to really get down to the nitty gritty, you can start by split testing full, unique landing pages. Once you find the one that works best, hone in on testing just the headlines and CTAs to further optimize.
5. Make the conversion quick and easy.
Whether your conversion involves filling out an email subscription form, going through online checkout, or simply making a call, you should make it as quick and easy as possible for users. Nothing will kill conversions quicker than a complicated process.
If it involves a form, keep it short. Only ask for what you really need to lock the conversion. We’ve all come across the form with well over a dozen fields – it’s often a sigh and bounce situation. This is also something you can A/B test. Try out different form setups. Test forms with varying numbers of fields or other varying elements.
If your website’s conversion goal involves checkout, make it easy. The shopping cart should be obvious, and the path from selecting product(s) to checking out should be as streamlined as possible. This is why many online stores offer guest checkout these days. Some people don’t want to go through the extra time to set up an account. Maybe they’re expecting it to be a one-off purchase. Not ideal for you, but you’d rather lock that sale in. Plus, you still get their email address and can have an option to send future offers and specials.
On the other hand, if the goal is simply inbound calls or emails, make it obvious! They should be able to find contact info within a couple seconds of looking for it. Even if the main goal isn’t direct communication, having readily available contact info at all times is a good rule of thumb. It makes you appear accessible and cuts down the barrier between you and people who won’t buy without getting their questions answered.
6. Utilize ratings, reviews and testimonials.
Any type of user-generated content that puts your product or service in a good light can help greatly. Most people check ratings and read reviews before they make a purchasing decision. And 84% of consumers trust reviews as much as friend recommendations. So, if people have vouched for your company or your products, show it off! It’s no joke that good reviews can make the difference between someone converting into your customer versus your competitors.
When it comes to e-commerce, utilizing product ratings on your own site is great. It not only allows existing or past customers to provide feedback that can be crucial to bettering your offerings. It also provides prospective customers with third-party indications of value.
As stated previously, these are somewhat broad fundamentals. Every business, industry and market is different. That said, apply these fundamentals to your website and marketing strategy and you’ll be well on your way to more conversions.
Have more questions about conversion best practices, or want some help increasing your website conversion rate? Get in touch – we’re happy to help and love to see our clients succeed.