If you have a business website, you want to use that website to convert website visitors to leads and customers. This is your conversion optimization strategy: how effective your website is at persuading visitors to do something you want them to do, like sign up for your newsletter, download an ebook, or make a purchase.
Why a conversion optimization strategy is important for business websites
Many business owners may be unaware that website visitors are one of the best sources of potential revenue. Think about it: people visit your website for a reason. They want to learn more about your company, want to get more information about the people who run your company, or want to make a purchase. But what they do between the time they arrive at your website and the time they leave is critical.
You have anywhere from 10-20 seconds to impress website visitors and to get them to stay long enough to convert them into a lead. During this time, the average user makes a decision on whether your website is worth more of their time.
In making this decision, users draw on of information provided by your website to help them assess if they can get their needs met on your site. They may do so in any of the following ways:
1) Reading content in a very specific order. Users tend to focus on content that is at the top left, top right, and along the left side of each webpage, as the following heatmaps depict.
2) Trying to navigate through your website. Users get very frustrated with non-intuitive navigation. If they can’t find what they’re looking for in under a minute, they tend to look elsewhere or give up entirely. This includes your top-level navigation, search, and the way content is organized throughout your site.
3) Trying to use interactive features of your website. Users might go to your website to see how other customers have rated you, to use forms that enable them to request more information in exchange for useful information from them (typically their name and email), or just to compare your website to that of a competitor. Unless you are a very established website with a very good reputation, users won’t make that purchase on their first visit. And unless they have a good experience using your website, even if they make a purchase, they may never return for a second purchase.
How to measure your website’s conversion rate
Measuring your website’s conversion rate is easy. First, you need to be collecting analytics information from your website, such as:
- Total number of unique visits.
- Total number of page views.
- Bounce rate, or how many visitors find your site and then leave within a few seconds.
- Average time on site.
- Top pages that users visit.
- Average number of pages that users visit within your site.
- The percentage of visitors who are new to your site
- Top referrers, or other websites that enable users to find your website.
- Top searches, or keywords that users utilize in search engines in order to find your website.
Next, you need information regarding your conversions. You need to identify goals for users of your website that will count as conversions, which may include:
- User successfully signs up for a newsletter.
- User successfully downloads an ebook.
- User successfully shares a blog post on social media.
- User successfully posts a comment in a forum.
- User successfully contacts you through a contact form.
- User successfully adds an item to their cart.
- User successfully inputs financial information.
- User successfully completes a purchase.
Your conversion rate is your total number of conversions divided by the number of unique visits (total visits multiplied by the percent of new visits). For example, if you have 500 total visits for a period in which you have 80 conversions, and 80% of those visits are unique visitors, then your conversion rate is 20%. Of course, the more consistently you keep track of your conversion rate over the time, the more reliable it will be.
How to improve your website’s conversion rate
Improving your website’s conversion rate can be a bit tricky, but Chris Goward has recently written a great article for UX Magazine in which he lays out the following steps for conversion optimization:
- Analyze your conversion rate to try to understand what happens when visitors arrive at your site. Do they immediately leave (high bounce rate)? Do they engage with the wrong pages?
- Hypothesize why your conversion rate is the way it is. Make a statement about what the average visitor does when they get to your site, something like: “when a visitor arrives at my site, they read my blog but don’t sign up for my newsletter.”
- Test alternatives. The best way to test possible solutions for improving your conversion optimization is what is called A/B testing. Essentially, you put alternatives in front of your visitors (version A and version B), either through configuring your website to randomly serve alternative versions of specific pages to visitors and collecting results, or through controlled usability testing with target consumers.
The larger point, however, is that if you have a website for your business, you should care about conversion optimization. Try targeting one conversion you are trying to improve, such as signing up for a newsletter. If you’re doing all the hard work to create a newsletter for your customers, don’t you want to use it to improve your business? A website is an opportunity to build leads and to attract additional customers for your business. Make sure your website is performing the best it can.