Understanding website conversions
Whenever I talk to local businesses about websites and internet marketing, the first things people usually ask about are Google rankings and website traffic. Of course, getting prospective customers to visit your website is critical, but visitors aren’t of any value to you unless they take some positive action. Internet marketers usually refer to “conversions” and these may take a variety of forms, e.g. completion of a contact form, a telephone enquiry – the specific actions vary from business to business, but essentially what you’re looking for is a lead that you can follow up to achieve a sale. If you sell online, you’ll be hoping to achieve enquiries about products or online sales.
Every visitor to your website who leaves without making contact with you is a missed opportunity, so rather than focussing all of your efforts on getting more traffic, think about the benefit you could gain from increasing your conversion rate, i.e. the percentage of visitors who take a specific action.
What is a good conversion rate?
There’s no single answer here, it very much depends on the type of business you’re in and your sales cycle. As a first step, you should understand what your conversion rate is, so you have a benchmark to measure from. Let’s take an e-commerce website, selling standard products online, as an easy way to think about this.
Let’s say you’re spending £500 per month on getting traffic to your website, through search engine optimisation, pay-per-click advertising, email marketing, or any combination of these, and you’re getting 1000 new visitors (i.e. people you haven’t sold to before), then each new visitor is costing you 50p.
You can only recover the cost if you make sales, for example:
|Cost per visitor||£0.50|
|If your sales conversion rate is 3%|
|No. of sales||30|
|Average profit @ £20||£600.00|
|If your sales conversion rate is 4%|
|No. of sales||40|
|Average profit @ £20||£800.00|
So if you’re getting sales from 3% of your visitors you’re probably just breaking even or making a small profit. If you can increase the conversion rate to just 4%, your profit increases by a third – so just think what you could achieve if you could get that conversion rate up even higher.
Measuring your conversion rate
The first step is to put some measures in place.
If you’re selling online, measuring sales is quite straightforward and you can use Google Analytics (or alternative website stats information) to measure visitor numbers.
If your business is B2B, you will probably receive enquiries and leads by a variety of methods. If you use Google analytics, you can set up goals for your online conversion actions, e.g. completion of a form. Phone calls can be more difficult to measure, and might need manual tracking, although there are also services available, which we use for some of our clients, to enable you to measure phone calls through Google Analytics too.
10 Tips for increasing your online conversion rate
This can be quite a complex area, with different considerations based on the type of business you are in and your typical customer profile, but here are some basic principles:
- Make it clear what you do, provide clear signposts to enable customers to find the information they need
- Appeal to your customers’ needs and talk about your products or services in ways which will address those needs – how will they benefit from buying from you?
- Make your contact information clear and easy to find, on every page of your website
- Offer guarantees where appropriate
- Display customer testimonials and case studies, to increase buyer confidence
- For physical product sales, use good images and provide all of the technical information people might want to know before making a purchase and make your delivery and returns processes clear and readily available
- Use effective calls to action. One of the key principles is that if you don’t suggest what people should do next, they probably won’t do anything! Make it easy for them to convert by having clear prompts, like “call us now”, or “click here for a quote”
- Instil a sense of urgency through the use of time based offers
- Offer free things where possible, e.g. samples, whitepapers, free surveys or advice. Anything which is of fairly low cost to you but helps to start a relationship with your potential customer
- Make sure your website works well on mobile devices – typically 30% of your website visitors will be using these to access your website – if it is slow or difficult to use, you’re unlikely to get an enquiry
The bottom line – increasing sales
Unless you’re selling online, your website has basically done its job once it’s given you a lead. There might be some more information on the website for people to refer back to later in the sales process, but apart from that, it’s over to you to get the sale. Make sure you follow up on any enquiries as quickly and professionally as possible, and be generous with your advice so that you can develop the personal relationship which your customer needs to make the purchase.
In part 2, we’ll look at understanding your target customer groups and how to appeal to the needs of different types of buyer. Coming soon…