You’ve done everything you’ve been told to do, to increase traffic to your website and it’s working.
The only problem is that nothing else seems to be happening – no conversions, no sales, no business growth.
What’s going wrong?
When people come to one of your pages, you want them to do something. This could be…
- Provide an email address to subscribe to a newsletter
- Leave contact information for a sales person
- Download a whitepaper
- Make a purchase
When a visitor takes the desired action on a web page – that is called a conversion. Unfortunately, getting more traffic does not always mean getting more conversions. This is why it may be a good idea to look into conversion rate optimization (CRO).
Conversion rate optimization is the process of optimizing your landing pages to get the highest number of conversions possible. You do this by gathering as much data as you can, researching what is working for other websites, and then applying needed changes to your web pages.
If CRO is a goal for you in 2016, here are some great tips that you can put to use today.
1. Gather and analyze web traffic
Don’t do anything until you know where you stand. To do this, take a very close look at the data you get from Google Analytics or another website analysis tool. This will give you the insights you need into your web traffic, so that you know where to begin.
These analytics will tell you a lot about who is visiting your web pages, when they are doing so, and what devices they are using. It also gives you insight into what they are doing once they get to your website.
Knowing this information is much more important than ever. Multiple device use is on the rise, and you will really need to pin down user behavior and activity in order to target them appropriately and know where you need to do the most work when it comes to optimization.
Once you have your data in place, you can divvy up your pages that get lots of conversions, pages that are failing to convert like they should, and pages that are somewhere in the middle.
Then subdivide each of three categories into pages that draw more mobile traffic and pages that draw more desktop traffic. Once this is done, you can begin pulling ideas from the high performance pages that have heavy mobile traffic and using those on the lower performing pages with heavy mobile traffic.
If you don’t have enough landing pages to compare, knowing whether or not you have more mobile users visiting a page will give you a starting point for your conversion efforts.
You can also use analytics data to find pages where people are bouncing out. If someone visits your website, and then clicks into another page, but then quickly bounces, it is time to do some investigating. Chances are, something about that page is making people drop out.
2. Don’t ignore the smaller conversions
If you are only focusing on the ‘bigger conversions’ in your conversion optimization strategy, you may be guilty of a bit of myopia. Yes, the big conversions, e.g. making a purchase or signing up for a subscription are important. They are after all, what impacts your bottom line. However, if you focus solely on these and ignore the smaller conversions, you may ultimately be cheating yourself out of the big conversions.
Here are a few examples of smaller conversions that you should also make the focus of your CRO strategy:
- Downloading a free trial
- Clicking on a link to view a detailed product description
- Watching a video
- Liking or sharing content
- Requesting further information by email
- Clicking on social media icons to check you out there
If a customer converts in one or two small ways, there is a much greater chance that they will convert in bigger ways.
It may help to think of your website as if it were a brick and mortar store selling high end chocolates. Sure, you will have customers who will simply walk in your door, look around for a few moments, grab what they want, and make a purchase.
However, you will also have many customers who take a slower approach. On their first visit, they may just take a look around. On the next, they may ask a few questions and walk out with a sales flyer. They may come back and ask for a sample. Eventually, if you treat them right, throughout all of those little actions, they will come in and make a purchase.
This is why smaller conversions should not only count, every effort should be made to make the user experience during these small conversions as great as possible.
3. Monitor user behavior on your website
There’s a second type of data that you should be collecting about your customers. This is behavior analysis data, and it gives you information that is a bit different from what you get from analytics software.
Behavior analysis software uses heat maps and other tools to give you some great insights into what customers are doing each time they visit one of your pages.
For example, if you have a page where users are required to scroll through a lot of information, behavior analysis will tell you where they stop scrolling and leave. You can also use the information to determine which information on a page is being read (as indicated by the amount of time spent on that part of a page) and which is being ignored. You can even learn where users are pointing and hovering their mouse pointer. This is a good indication that they are interested in that part of your web page.
4. Give your visitors a personalized experience
Chances are, you are already tailoring your content to the various customer personas that you have developed.
The next question is, are you also customizing the user experience on your website for each of these personas? If not, why not? If one size fits all doesn’t work for content, why would you think it works for web design?
What many web designers are doing is creating an entry page that allows users to select the experience that works best for them.
For example, let’s say that you sell art supplies for young children. Your website visitors might include parents, preschool and elementary school students, and children themselves. Are you serving any of them well if you give all of them an identical user experience? Probably not!
Why not ask visitors who they are, or what they want? Then, direct them towards the experience that they truly want to have.
5. Don’t ignore trends
In the time it takes you to read this sentence, a website visitor forms an opinion on the look of your website. That doesn’t give you much time to make a good impression.
This means that not only do you need to offer a great user experience and design that works, you have to convince visitors that they will have that great experience almost immediately.
In order to make this happen, you have to keep with the design trends that are most popular with internet users today. Because, whether or not you like a particular trend, popularity is an indication that many people do.
This doesn’t mean that you have to embrace every new thing that becomes popular in web design, but your overall strategy should include the understanding that trends drive expectations. If you consistently fail to meet expectations, you will lose conversions.
Alfred is an example of a website using animation (combined with parallax scrolling) in an attempt to stand out. Click to try.
It is important to remember that many design trends aren’t fads that are all flash and no substance. Many become popular because they work. They result in improved user experience, better optimization, and web pages that simply work better. These trends eventually become design standards.
To begin, simply view your website from the perspective of a visitor. Ask yourself the following questions
- What information is too difficult to find?
- Which functions do I most want users to perform and how easy is it for them to do so?
- Do the visual elements on my page add to or detract from the user experience?
- Have I seen techniques used on other websites that would work on mine?
Once you’ve done that, you can begin to identify changes to be made and trends to apply to your website. Then, you can A/B test those changes and implement the ones that increase conversions.
So, have you got any of your own tips to add to this post?
Guest Author: John Unger is a UK native writer, a digital marketing guru with strong entrepreneurial underpinnings and a love for helping businesses succeed. As a difference maker, John hopes that his articles inspire and help readers. You can find more on his social networks. Follow John on Twitter and Google+