August 12, 2011
Any company selling online or generating leads is relying heavily on their website to convert their visitors to an action (i.e. a sale or an inquiry for more information). Most ROI-focused online marketing is tracked electronically to determine how many clicks it takes to result in a sale, which leads to a determination of whether the campaign is working out or not. Every company has their own average “acquisition cost” that they are willing to pay to acquire a new costumer, which determines how much they can pay to drive traffic to their website. Determining how many clicks it takes to make a sale or lead will give you your overall conversion rate, ex. 3 sales for every 100 clicks would be a 3% conversion rate. Every different type of online campaign will have a unique conversion rate based on how targeted it is. Targeted search on Google, Yahoo, and MSN should be the most targeted online advertising you can run. The nice thing about Internet Advertising is that most of it is able to be tested and measured on a small basis to see if it converts for you. If the profit out-weighs the spend you have a successful campaign! Some companies even run it to losing money in order to build their customer database, but most companies strive to get a return, or at least break-even, on their online advertising campaigns. Here are some ways any website can improve their overall website conversion rate:
2. Professional Look & Feel – all the A/B testing in the world isn’t going to make your site more beautiful, so make sure you have a really good web designer working on your site and doing your graphics. Study your competition and emulate their good design ideas, trying to improve upon them. Go for clean and professional looking and guess what: You don’t know what looks good! Have some people outside your company give their opinions on your website’s design and usability.
3. Capturing Information – one of the most frequent frustrations of companies I speak to is: why are 90-something percent of people leaving my website without taking an action? And how do I capture more of their information so they can be followed-up with? The old school answers are to add a newsletter sign-up box or a pop-under box so the visitor can get more information. The new school answer is encouraging them to join your Fan Page or Follow on Twitter. Another amazing newer methods is by using a 3rd party program like Wild Fire App, which allows you to run various contests and sweepstakes through Facebook, which can be promoted on in your site’s layout to capture their information. I am running an iPad 2 giveaway using it right now and it’s working amazingly at gather information and generating Likes to my Fan Page. This has become one of my top recommendations to clients.
4. Short check out – There is nothing worse than a multi-step check-out process to hamper your conversion rate. Make sure your check-out process or lead form is as short and painless as possible. There are also technologies that can capture information keyed into your check-out or lead form, so that if people abandon the check-out you can still shoot them an email with a promotion as a follow-up. Studying your abandonment rate and trying to counter it should be a focus of your internal efforts.
5. Trust & Security – In these days of cyber-crime, people want to feel secure that giving you their personal information and credit card info is going to be safe. As a merchant or lead generator, it’s imperative to make sure your site is properly encrypted and safe from hacking. Using companies like Thawte, Verisign, and other secured certificate companies is a must. Displaying trust logos on your site is a must. I like the BBB Online logo as well to emphasize trust with your visitors. The HackerSafe logo is also good to display. A couple important industry logos might be a good idea as well. Make sure all your security logos are up to date and take it seriously.
6. Behavioral Re-targeting – showing people banner ads when they leave your website is known as behavioral re-targeting and has become quite the fad in online advertising. You may have noticed that when you are shopping online and leave the site, you start seeing that companies banners following you around the Internet. Personally, I think this is great for merchants, but a little annoying for consumers. But it does server the purpose of encouraging more of the people not buying on your site to possibly come back and buy. Some of the companies that offer this service are: AdRoll, FetchBack, and Retargeter.
7. Special Offers/Promotions – running special offers on your website is a must because people like to get a deal, especially in this day and age. You should try different deals and run them through split testing to see which ones resonate most with your consumers. Don’t assume you know what special deal with work best, because you don’t know what will resonate best with consumers. Be creative with it…don’t be lame with it surely!
8. Email re-marketing – having really good HTML emails with a good strategy behind your follow-ups is essential to re-marketing effectively to your customer base and the people that have given you their information to be followed-up with. Make sure to review your website’s auto-responder emails and customized follow-ups quarterly to make sure they are well done and reflect your companies current promotions. Test out your subject lines and email copy. Include a special offer in your email follow-up. Encourage people to join your Fan Page in all your site’s emails. Make sure to personalize your emails as much as possible. Always be really friendly and attempt to build rapport with your clients at every turn.
9. Customer Referral Program – one of the best ways to maximize your conversion rate is by launching an awesome customer referral program. It can be as simple as giving away a $25 gift card when someone refers a new customer to your company. Recently, companies like CureBit have come out that add social sharing to your check-out process that encourages people to share it on Facebook for a special incentive, this is brilliant in my opinion. Integrating Facebook into your website as much as possible should be the goal so your site can go viral more easily. Use the Facebook social plugins on your site where ever you can.
These are some ideas that you can implement to increase your website’s conversion rate. The higher you can make your conversion rate, the more money you can spend on the front-end to drive traffic to your website. If you want to spend in Google, Yahoo, MSN, and on Facebook with the big boys, you need to focus on increasing your conversion rate. If you want to grow a large, productive affiliate program you will focus on increasing your conversion rate. For most companies there is a ton of traffic out there, especially in Search, you just have to be able to convert on it to maximize your overall spend to get more of the traffic, otherwise all those searchers will be going with your competitors and you will be losing the sales. Let me know if you have any questions at all on any of these topics…I would love to discuss it with you. Thanks and have a great day!