‘If you build it, they will come’, so the saying goes. But with more and more business being conducted online, you need to think about what visitors do on your site once they arrive.
Are they doing what you want them to do?
Conversion Optimisation is the practice of optimising your website to achieve your business objectives.
This could be to drive leads to your business, create a community around your organisation or to sell products or services.
The problem with many SME websites is that they are not developed with the customer’s needs in mind. They are usually a combination of the likes and opinions of the web developer, graphic designer, and you, the business owner.
It is important to remember that for you to achieve your objective, visitors to your site must first be able to achieve theirs.
Enter Conversion Optimisation. The big brands have embraced it and so should you. The great thing is, it’s cheaper to convert existing visitors than it is to attract more.
There are a number of tools out there which allow you to test your existing website pages and navigational flow against alternative designs to gain an understanding of how subtle and sometimes dramatic changes can influence user behaviour.
Once armed with this information you can keep improving your website, provide your users with a positive experience, and achieve your business objectives.
Not convinced? Have a quick read of the hypothetical below:
The Hypothetical Business Case for Conversion Optimisation
Your professional services company gets 10 new leads for every 500 visitors to the website. Your team is able to secure 60% of those leads, or an average of 6 new clients for every 500 visits. Each client is worth $500, which means your website is bringing in $3,000 for every 500 visitors.
Armed with this information, most business owners would spend more money on advertising to attract more visitors.
What very few people realise is that with a few subtle changes, your website conversion rate could increase, so you don’t have to spend money attracting new visitors, you just have to make sure your website is useful enough to them that a visit becomes a sale.
A Conversion Optimisation Example
The case study pictured here gets bandied about a lot but it’s a great example of how website optimisation can work.
Highrise tested two distinctly different home page designs using Visual Website Optimizer and the results were impressive. The alternative design (on the right) saw a 102.5% increase in sales during the testing period.
Obviously, a friendly face will not work for all businesses. But such a startling increase in sales should get you testing your own site to see if it can deliver better results.
Where you can start with Conversion Optimisation
Step ONE: Identify your objectives
Identify exactly what you want potential customers to do when they get to your site.
You should have primary and secondary objectives. A primary objective could be to sell products or have a visitor fill out the contact form on your website. A secondary objective could be to have a user subscribe to your email newsletter or follow you on social media.
Step TWO: Understand how to track your objectives
If you can’t measure it, how do you know it happened?
If you are using your website to sell products, for example, you want users to end their visit on the ‘checkout’ page. Even a novice Google Analytics user can find visits to this page and track where a buyer came from.
If the main purpose of your website is to collect enquiries, tracking can be a little trickier. A simple workaround is to create a ‘thanks for your enquiry’ page and have successful contact submissions redirected to it.
Using the hypothetical above, if you’re closing 60% of all leads and each new client is worth $500, each visit to the ‘thank you for your enquiry’ page is worth $300. You can use this information to calculate your ROI on your various campaigns such as Adwords and social media.
Step THREE: What is the best tool for you?
There are a few ways to determine how effective your website is; usability testing, eye tracking, heat maps, split testing and visitor recordings, to name a few.
The most common is split testing, which is used in the example above. Split testing provides real users with alternative page designs. The difference could be as subtle as the colour of a tab, or you could offer completely different page structures.
By offering alternatives, you can see how certain designs influence user behaviour and make changes to your site based on what converts more visitors.
Leading split testing services include Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer. Bear in mind, however, that significant results depend on how much traffic your site attracts; if you receive 500 visitors a week, it is worth signing up to either of these services.
UsabilityHub provides an audience to give you more quality feedback on your website design. You have three options with these guys; the 5-Second Test, the Click Test, and the Nav Flow Test. Upload screenshots of your website and get useful feedback from a certain number of users to help you decide how to improve your site.
The 5-Second test for example, asks you to upload a screenshot of the web page you want to test as well as a screenshot of an alternative to that same page. Users are given just 5 seconds to view the screenshot before answering the questions you set out for them.
Inspectlet allows you to track your site’s visitors. Install the code snippet on your website and it will produce heat maps and record visitor sessions to help you determine how to improve your user’s experience.
Because you don’t have a lot of traffic, it’s best to leave Inspectlet to do its thing for a few weeks before viewing the heat maps. Three different heat maps highlight where on your page users’ eyes are landing, where on the page they click, and finally how far down your web pages they scroll. From this information, you might find that your ‘sign-up’ or ‘contact’ button needs to be moved so it is being eyeballed by more visitors.
Inspectlet also records visitor sessions. It allows you to view screenshots of your site as a user browses it, to give you a better idea of their experience. This is a great way to understand whether or not people are struggling to find certain information on your site. If you can improve their experience, you will increase the chances of them achieving their objective. If they achieve their objective, you achieve yours.
Step FOUR: Hypothesise first
There are hundreds of tests you could run on your website. So don’t rush off and start testing just for the sake of it. Understand any potential hurdles your user faces by understanding your Google Analytics or talking to your customers, then test accordingly.
If your data tells you that you have increased traffic to your checkout page but sales are still slow, it’s worth testing.
Step FIVE: Wait for real improvements
Don’t rush out and make changes to your website based on a week of split testing or 20 responses to your 5-Second test.
You should wait for data-significant results that can only be achieved with more extensive sample sizes. Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer will make this easy for you and tell you when you have a winner. So wait for that. Ideally, you need a minimum of 150-200 responses to each of your variants for results that are worth acting on.
Step SIX: Monitor any changes and keep testing
If you do make changes to your website because you were able to identify areas for improvement, make sure you monitor these changes to see how your site performs in the months ahead.
Maybe the numbers drop to a point where it’s worth creating a new test. Maybe you uncover a new opportunity to improve conversions once again.
Keep using Google Analytics to identify any hypothetical hurdles that may stop your users from achieving their objectives. Keep listening to customers, face to face and online, to determine if you can improve their online experience.
If your user has a positive experience, your website is doing its job. It’s important to understand however, that online consumer behaviour changes all the time, and as a business owner you should be aware of how they browse the net and what devices they prefer to use. Keep testing to ensure your existing and potential customers find your site quick and easy to use.
If you’re looking for a couple of tips to help you implement changes straight away, check out ‘7 Hacks to Optimise Your Website’, which begins with getting rid of that stupid slider!