We have written several guides on various elements of online marketing, helping businesses plan their strategies, and execute different elements of an ongoing campaign. But so far, most of my work has focused on generating new traffic for a site or improving a brand’s reputation.
These are both important elements to any brand’s marketing campaign; if you want to generate any kind of meaningful customer interaction, you need a substantial amount of traffic coming to your site and ample brand visibility to support your reputation. But ultimately, these steps are only half the equation.
How does your traffic behave when it actually gets to your site? What steps do they take? And most importantly, how is that traffic translating into meaningful revenue for your business? Without this key step, you can generate all the traffic you like—and it won’t matter to your bottom line.
What you need is another step of the process: a way to convert your inbound traffic into paying customers (or at least get them further down the line in the buying cycle). Earning more “conversions” is vital for your brand to stay afloat, but conversions come in dozens of different varieties, and the process is somewhat complicated. I’m here to walk you through everything you need to know about conversion optimization, from what qualifies as a conversion to ongoing best practices for success.
First, we need to talk about what conversions are, why they’re important, and some general points to keep in mind when optimizing your site for conversions. This is going to serve as the basic framework on which we’ll build your direction and key strategies in the future.
You’ve probably “converted” or been a conversion before—and recently, too. Have you bought anything online recently? Your purchase technically qualifies as a conversion. Have you downloaded any free content in exchange for some personal information? This is a conversion too. Conversions aren’t just about getting people to pay you money; they’re about getting your users to make a meaningful interaction with your brand. SEO.co uses conversion optimization tactics, just like you should, even on our home page:
Conversion optimization is important because without any conversions, your traffic will pass through your site like water leaking out of a bucket. Once it’s gone, it can’t bring any value to your brand.
Conversion optimization itself is important because most of the time, conversions don’t happen on their own. Let’s say you have the “perfect” product; it’s cheap, it’s something everyone needs, and it’s something that generates mass appeal. You get plenty of traffic, but you never worked on your conversion strategy.
You’ll run into a number of potential problems:
The list goes on. On some level, conversion optimization is about making people want to buy your product (or engage with your brand), but even more importantly, it’s about giving them the power and opportunity to actually do it.
Before you get started in a conversion optimization campaign, you need to understand what your core goals are. Yes, you’ll obviously want to “increase conversions,” but there are some other important elements to bear in mind here.
Next, I want to explain the importance of relying on data. Throughout your conversion optimization process, from the beginning of your strategizing through the ongoing process of refinement and development, you’ll need to rely on the scientific method and objective data to guide your actions.
(Image Source: Investopedia)
Before you get involved with a campaign, you’ll be conducting significant research to ground your campaign direction in an objective vision. There are many types of research you’ll need to consider:
You have to keep working to improve your conversion rates, or else your campaign will stagnate, and you’ll miss out on some extraordinary potential. This section will explain the importance of experimentation, testing, measurement, and analysis in your campaign for better long-term results.
It’s not enough to opt for an “optimized” conversion strategy. You have to put your changes to the test in a live environment—and more than that, you’ll have to commit new changes to gradually improve your results as a kind of ongoing experiment. There are many values to ongoing experimentation:
One of the most effective ways to experiment is the classic AB test, so named because you’ll be comparing two different versions of your website, landing page, or CTA—the “A” version and the “B” version. This test is effective because it boils down your results to a simple apples-to-apples comparison, allowing you to determine what it is, precisely, that does or doesn’t work.
(Image Source: Optimizely)
Essentially, you’re going to follow the scientific method here. you’ll come up with a hypothesis; for example, you might decide that a change in font could increase conversions, or that a new image is what your CTA needs to get better results. Then, you’ll design a test that puts that hypothesis to the test, keeping your “A” version the same and applying the desired change to your “B” version. You’ll put both into a live scenario, compare your results, and form a conclusion about the effects of your change—and then repeat this process indefinitely as you come up with more hypotheses for improvement.
Though simple in concept, there are a handful of best practices you’ll need to follow for your AB tests if you want to use them effectively:
Independent of your AB tests, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your conversion rates, which you can do by setting up Goals within Google Analytics. Getting good results in a test is a solid start, but it’s a good idea to pay attention to your long-term trends. Changes in competition, seasons, trends, demographics, and traffic sources can all have an effect on your conversion rates, so watch for these fluctuations and monitor your performance over time.
Occasionally, you’ll want to take a pulse of your overall marketing ROI. You can tap this metric easily once you have a good handle on your conversion rates:
Conversion optimization is one of the best marketing strategies you can pursue because it, by extension, can improve the return of all your other marketing strategies. As you bring in more traffic with tactics like SEO, social media marketing, or even paid advertising, conversion optimization will help you maximize the potential value of those visitors.
Everything in marketing comes down to revenue, and conversions are the final gateway in getting that revenue. Don’t underestimate the importance of this strategy, and remain committed to your ongoing improvements.