In the last section, I walked you through the steps of creating an “optimal” conversion opportunity—essentially setting the stage for the average user to want to convert. But not all people behave the same, or have the same needs; in fact, we’re all pretty darn unique. That’s why one of the biggest factors in conversion optimization success isn’t the stage you set, but the people who come to that stage in the first place.
One of your biggest priorities should be making sure the right types of people make it to your conversion opportunities, and catering to them to maximize the potential for conversion.
Most of your online marketing efforts (other than conversion optimization) will focus on exploiting external platforms like search engines, advertising opportunities, and social media sites to funnel traffic to your site or landing page. Your first step should therefore be choosing the “right” platforms—the ones with the highest likelihood of sending appropriate traffic to your site.
(Image Source: Pew Research)
There’s a kind of “pre-party” that happens before the actual CTA, which can influence whether you’re successful in getting a conversion. You’ll have an advertisement, or a piece of syndicated content, or some other external post designed to get people to your site. How you frame this can influence whether or not a person clicks through, and once they get there, can influence whether or not they stick around to convert.
Your new and returning visitors will likely behave differently, based on the type of business you run. For example, with an eCommerce platform, a returning visitor has likely already been through the ordering process once, from start to finish. Accordingly, they know they can trust you, so you’ll have less of a need to prove your trustworthiness through social proof, trust badges, and similar factors. For a B2B service, a returning visitor will likely be further along in the buy cycle than a new visitor, and they’ll want to see a different list of benefits. In almost any case, returning visitors are more likely to convert than new visitors.
Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to serve returning users differently than you serve new users, such as directing them to a different version of your website. What you can do, however, is set up a separate flow for your new visitors, creating specific landing pages for visitors you know to be unaware of your brand that work on building trust and awareness. You can also use the behavior flow chart in Google Analytics to better understand how your new and returning visitors behave differently once onsite, using this information to refine your optimization efforts.
Bounce and exit rates are distinct, but for our purposes, they mean the same thing; a user has become disinterested with your site, and leaves before converting. Bounce and exit rates are valuable pieces of information that help you understand where your users tend to leave your site, and possibly, why they tend to do it.
Why is this important for conversions? With so many conversion opportunities throughout your site, and a user population that’s likely going to explore your site somewhat thoroughly before converting, the longer the average user stays on your site, the likelier they’ll be to eventually convert (or at least walk away with a good impression of your brand). A high bounce and exit rate could mar an otherwise solid conversion optimization campaign, so it’s in your best interest to improve your site’s performance here.
I won’t spend much time digging into the logistics of improving your bounce rate, as this could be a topic worthy of its own guide, but KissMetrics does a pretty good job of outlining the basics here.
(Image Source: KissMetrics)
I want to end this section with one peripheral consideration—a variable that can influence your overall effectiveness in conversion optimization. It’s all about the value of your conversions. Not all conversions are equally valuable, and emphasizing an unprofitable conversion could cause you to spend too much money on an ineffective strategy.
Your greatest tool here is awareness—you need to understand exactly how valuable each of your conversion opportunities is. Combined with knowledge of your total number of conversions and traffic, you can make a good estimate for your marketing ROI—but I’ll get into that later. For now, let’s look at how to calculate the value of a given conversion in three dimensions:
With greater knowledge of your audience, your conversion values, and the moving parts of your strategy, you can move onto the ongoing elements of successful campaign management.