29 July 2013
Conversion Rate Optimization Best Practices

Here’s a trick question for you: How long did you search for a conversion rate secret, before you gave up? I’ll tell you why it’s a trick below, but the tl;dr (too long, didn’t read) answer is: there is no secret, it takes work.

There’s a lot of hype about conversion rate optimization, but it never answers what you want: How do I convert more of MY website visitors into paying customers? The barebones reason is this: the hyped up conversion rate results (statistics, guides, studies, etc) don’t include your visitors.

Experts can talk numbers all day, but if they aren’t your numbers, they aren’t relevant to your website.

I don’t have a secret, but I can help you learn the best practices. You’ll have to work for it, and I won’t promise perfection. Why? Because your conversion plan requires control of your goals and your analytics. Consistent, profitable conversion results depend on how well you understand the process. Optimizing conversion rates for your website takes learning, time and experience with your website data.

What I share with you below is a (3 Part) overview of conversion rate optimization best practices. If you still want more help when we’re done here, I’ll leave my free consultation link below this article.

Your Conversion Goals

What are you visitors doing?

Analytics tell you what visitors do on your website.  Analytics data includes webpage information such as: bounce rate, average time on page, pages per visit, arrival keywords. Where do you start?

Do you want to know how to improve your bounce rate?

No you don’t. What you really want to know is:

  • How many of my visitors are potential target leads?
  • How can I improve my webpages for my target leads?

Your analytics don’t clearly label which visitors are your target leads. Instead, you’re given a mass load of data to sort and filter. Sorting through the data (and knowing what to filter) takes work, but honing in on your target lead conversion rates is what helps you optimize pages to best solve their problems.

Below, we’ll discuss best practices for optimizing webpage content for your ideal visitors. First, let’s make sure you have analytics in place. This assumes that you already have Google Analytics installed; if not, start here (Get started with Google Analytics).

Next, to focus on conversion rate optimization, you need to review Google’s official guidelines, listed under Fundamentals and labeled: “Goals in Google Analytics.”

Google Analytics offers (4) conversion tracking goals:

  • URL destination
  • Time on site
  • Pages per visit
  • Event

When you talk about conversion rate optimization, you need to specify which goal you are tracking. Your main goals will usually be an event or URL destination. This is because you need to control your traffic. You need a target page (aka landing page) tailored for each target lead. Your landing page content will focus on benefits that solve their specific needs.

The goal of conversion rate optimization is attracting and engaging target leads. Your business may offer numerous services, but you need targeted pages that meet each need individually. You don’t want to waste time trying to convert every visitor. Remember this next time you study bounce rates on your webpages. Any changes you make should be based on better meeting expectations of your target leads.

Your Target Lead

What do they gain?

A new visitor arrives on your website.

What they do next depends on how well your landing page answers these two questions:

  1. Do you prove you understand their problem?
  2. Can you solve their problem?

If your copywriting clearly presents your intentions, these (2) questions will quickly be answered. A visitor who isn’t your target lead may leave, but will appreciate your transparency. With a positive experience, an off-target visitor now may choose to return later.

A visitor who is your target lead, will:

  • feel welcomed, confident they are in the right place
  • be engaged with what you say, not question why you say it
  • be receptive to what you offer, since you share some value for free

To successfully convert a visitor into a lead, you need to offer what they want. An email address, sales request, or referral is worthless if their need is not your business. Plus, sifting through bad leads will waste your time.

Your Desired Result

What do you gain?

We were talking numbers earlier, but forget about numbers for now. The reason is because you need a clear mind to answer this: What is your desired result? In other words: What do you gain when a visitor “converts” on your website? Your first answer might be generic, so go a step further and describe it.

For example:

I gain an email address. Too simple, so describe it as:

I gain a way to contact a visitor directly. They are still only a prospect, not a lead yet. I plan to share a timed series of helpful email newsletters and build their trust as a future customer.

I gain a sales lead. Too simple, so describe it as:

I gain a customer request for more information on a specific service or product.  I still need to convert them from a lead into a paying customer. I plan to talk with them directly and answer any questions.

What does this tell you?

Being honest about what you gain reveals what your intention is. Unless you are a government website or non-profit organization, visitors expect your business to make money. Be clear about what you gain or your visitors may wrongly assume your intentions.

Don’t hide your intentions; share why what you do benefits them.

Why is it a trick question?

If you’re still searching for a secret, you’re wasting time.

If you gave up searching, you either found an answer or stopped caring about your conversion rate.

You should care about your conversion rate. Converting target leads is what makes you money. You obviously have the motivation, you just need direction. Fine tuning your conversion rate takes time, but it’s time well spent (if you have reliable guidance).

Review the conversion rate best practices guidelines above. Then, take some time to study and understand the material. If you need more guidance, contact me for a free 30 minute consultation. I won’t waste your time with hype and secrets. What I will do is share my conversion rate experience with you, as it relates to your website.

10 ways to improve your e-commerce conversion rate
Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

 

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