If you haven’t heard, conversion rates are a big deal. Fail to optimize them and you’ll miss out on golden opportunities. But what do you need to know about conversion rates, and what methods can you use to boost them? Let’s take a more detailed look.
They’re not just for e-commerce
As evidenced by the featured image, conversion is often considered a topic for e-commerce marketers to obsess over while they toy with their UX designs, but it’s more than that. It’s important for every business with an online presence of some kind, with very few exceptions. Just imagine how many companies there are that genuinely neither need nor want anything significant in return for the resources and entertainment they provide: a handful, maybe?
Whether you sell products, market a service, or seek to collect data, the everyday operation of your business relies upon the visitors to your website doing what you want them to do: choosing, knowingly or unknowingly, to help you out in some way. Fail to inspire the level of action you need, and your website will sink.
What counts as a conversion is up to you
The reason this can get tricky for non-ecommerce sites is that it isn’t always obvious what exactly should be considered a conversion. With a product purchase, it’s simple: when someone places an order, that’s a conversion. But what about with a promotional site for a service? Does someone sending an email query count as a conversion? What about someone calling you directly? Is that more or less significant?
It all comes down to the likelihood of any given conversion leading to a more classic conversion (i.e. the contribution of money). The most sensible way to approach conversions for a non-ecommerce site is to have a tier of connected conversions, with each one assigned a different value.
If someone reaches out to you in some way, that can be a conversion — once money exchanges hands, that can be a more valuable conversion. It’s better than only considering the profitable exchanges as conversions because it highlights the difference between those stages.
These days, marketing campaigns can be very broad, supporting more traditional forms of promotion with social media activity (typically Facebook ads or Instagram marketing) to create more varied traffic streams. If you’re getting plenty of email, phone call or social media conversions but not ever winning any new business, that will suggest that there’s some problem with your follow-up procedure.
They need more than superficial changes
When it comes to product pages, landing pages, and even checkouts, you’ll find plenty of people talking in great detail about how minor alterations can make huge differences. For instance, you changing the color of a primary CTA from blue to orange might raise the conversion rate by 2%, and a comparably-minor change a font size might have a similar effect.
This is entirely true, of course: minor changes can make major differences. But the problem with getting too hung up on this truth is that it can limit your ability to improve by getting you stuck in a cycle of simple A/B testing. One month you change the CTA color to good effect, but the rates go down the next, so you tweak the image style, and so on. You get into a habit of making mostly-arbitrary changes to see what will happen.
And while you’re spending all that time on those speculative tweaks, you’re missing out on other issues that would take much longer to address but might prove even more effective if you did. If you’re simply using a site as a short-term digital asset, as website flippers do, then it won’t be worth your time to get so in-depth — but if you’re sticking with a website for the long haul, you will eventually need to ramp up your analysis to make a difference.
It’s entirely understandable that this happens. If you’re casting a critical eye over a site and you come up with two ideas, one being to radically overhaul the payment system and another being to pad out the product tiles slightly, you’re likely going to do the latter first because it’s much easier. Just make sure that you go deeper than that and look for broader ways to improve.
The best way of measuring conversion rates is by setting up goals & filters within your Google Analytics account. Here is an awesome video that will show you step by step how to set up your own goals within Google Analytics by David over at The PPC Machine. He’s graciously allowed me to embed it below:
They can ruin otherwise-excellent sites
Frustratingly, it’s perfectly possible for a site to have a highly effective marketing funnel right up to the point of conversion, only to drop the ball and see all that hard-earned traffic slip away. It’s such a waste, especially since the flaws responsible for the damage are sometimes remarkably simple and cost-effective to address.
As such, a catch-all solution to your website woes is to find ways to improve your conversion rates. Until you’re entirely sure that you’ve polished all the conversion-relevant elements of your site to a mirror shine, they fully warrant a lot of close attention.
Let’s recap what we’ve looked at here:
- Conversion rates are vitally important for all websites, not just ecommerce stores.
- You get to decide what metrics they track.
- They require in-depth analysis to optimize.
- If you get them wrong, they can undermine great sites.
My suggestion for an ongoing conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategy is to combine basic A/B testing on all the small elements you can easily adjust (colors, sizes, ordering, etc.) with more detailed reviews of specific functions. Those improvements (both small and big) will add up, leading to better rates — and thus better business.
Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to giving through growth hacking. Visit the blog for your latest dose of startup, entrepreneur, and charity insights from top experts around the globe. Follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.