Optimizing website conversions is usually the least expensive way to increase online sales. Afterall, you are already paying for the traffic, and even small improvements in conversion rates usually results in huge ROI improvements.
While the specific tactics used changes from website to website, the approach to discovering the lowest hanging fruit is generally the same. The goal is to improve your website's relevance to the traffic you have, and to make sure the traffic you have is highly-qualified. The first steps are to understand where you are strong, where you are weak, and how to prioritize your activities to make improvements.
- Website Analytics - You can't manage what you can't measure, so the first step is to make sure the tools are in place to measure website traffic and provide actionable information about where the opportunities for improvement are. Without proper measurement, you'll never know whether you are making things better or worse.
- Emphasize the Strong Points - Most sites have a strong opportunity. It may be a strategic relationship with an influential business partner, or it might be a lucky break in the search engines. Identifying the strong point, and then working to make it even stronger is a central part of the optimization process.
- Fix the holes - Just as most sites have strong points, they also have weak ones. Perhaps there is a point in the conversion funnel that loses too many customers, or maybe there aren't enough opportunities for customers to convert.
- Incremental Improvements - Website optimization is not a "set it and forget it" type of activity. Unfortunately, it requires constant attention because the market changes, and there are always new opportunities. Any website that doesn't address these new opportunities has a "hole", even if it is converting a high percentage of traffic.
Call Ventures Interactive at 720-536-8268 to discuss opportunities to improve your ROI right now.
Low Hanging Fruit is Sweetest!
We all love the idea of making money on low-hanging fruit. Unfortunately, most websites leave traffic and dollars on the table by not addressing the fundamental issues that affect customers' decisions to buy or leave for a competitor. These issues are not universal, but they can be easily identified by looking at the website's analytics and making easy decisions that can have a dramatic effect on traffic retention and conversion optimization.
There is a very simple rule when it comes to advertising online: If you haven't figured out a way to measure the effectiveness of an advertising campaign, then there is no point in spending money on it. Period.
The measureability of web traffic makes it insane to spend money on unmeasured campaigns. While some tools like Google Adwords make it easy to make these measurements, other types of online advertising are not nearly so convenient. Don't rely on vendor-supplied data that may not be very accurate. Generally if it is available, then it is usually self-serving and provides a skewed perspective on the campaign. You need a way of auditing their numbers; if nothing else just to check their honesty!
Just as measuring your advertising campaigns is critical, it is also important to measure how traffic behaves from other referral sources. For example, you might have an important relationship with a blogger that is driving highly-qualified traffic to your site. You may well notice that this traffic is converting at a much higher rate than search-generated traffic. If you notice this type of phenomenon, then it would be prudent to cultivate a tighter relationship with this blogger.
On the other hand, you might be wasting time with some bloggers or strategic relationships that aren't resulting in enough traffic to justify the time you are spending on them. Since time is money, knowing the difference between sites that are valuable and those that aren't can be key to how you spend your time on these activities.
Sales Funnel Optimization
It is normal to lose some percentage of customers at every stage of the conversion process. The fewer steps to conversion, usually the higher the conversion rate. But the number of steps is only one consideration, and you won't know where you are really losing conversions until you build a funnel system and split-test solutions to improve it's performance.
The longer someone stays on your website, the higher the likelyhood that they'll buy something or fill out your soft-conversion form. Identifying where your site is bleeding traffic is the first step, figuring out how to keep their interest is the $64,000 question. For most websites, improving the quality of the content on each page is vital. Another improvement that almost always helps is to increase the amount of cross-promoted web pages. You have blog articles that can be linked from product pages (and vice-versa), so why not do that? It gives prospects a reason to continue the investigation of your website and improves your ability to prove to your prospect that you really do have the information or product she is looking for.
Maximizing Opportunities For Conversion
If you have mice in your house, you can set up a mousetrap to catch them. But if you only have one trap set in a closet with a piece of cheese, how likely is it that you'll catch a mouse? Not very. You might catch one per week that way.
If you set up a trap in every room with some cheese, you'll definitely catch more mice because they never have to look very far to find a trap. Maybe you'll get one per day that way.
But some mice don't like cheese, and others may figure out how to knock the cheese off without getting caught in the trap. So, you come up with a great idea: you set up some traps with cheese, others with peanut butter, and still others with pieces of cereal bars on them. If you do this, you'll catch a much higher number of mice because no matter which room a particular mouse might be in, there's always something of interest that it can easily find.
The same is true for your website; you need to make it easy for prospects to convert, and then always make sure they have a selection of enticing offerings that appeal to their varied interests.
Remarketing Is Key
Integral to any website optimization program is the remarketing effort. Rarely do customers purchase a product the first time they visit a site. It takes repeated visits and that's why soft conversions that collect user information are so critical (especially for complex sales or those involving high-priced products). Peppering your site with opportunities to convert on newsletter offers or "special deal" announcements is a great way to get the long term conversation started. Offering eBooks or free access to valuable information products are also commonly used. In any case, if you can't discover who is visiting your website, then you can't contact them later to bring them back to close the sale.
Building email and auto-responder campaigns is critical to this remarketing effort (see our Email Marketing page for information on ways to optimize your email marketing efforts).
Testing, Testing, Testing
The testing never stops. It doesn't matter whether you are looking at the conversion funnel, the referral sources, or the arrangement of elements on your content pages, you can almost always find ways of improving the performance of your website. Just as you should never run an advertising campaign without having a method of measuring it's results, it is a good idea to always have a way of testing more than one solution for each item on your website. By building the testing regime into the creative process, you ensure that you won't get stuck in a rut and continue to make the same mistakes again and again.
Get Started Now
If your website isn't generating customers, or if you are spending more to acquire customers than you are making in revenue then you have a serious problem that needs to be addressed immediately. In these cases there is usually low-hanging fruit we can identify that can turn a disaster into a manageable problem. At the very least, most companies find it useful to have their approaches reviewed by a third-party company to determine if there might be ways to make improvements. Call Ventures Interactive at 720-536-8268 today to get started on improving your company's website ROI.