by Ian Bertie (MBCS) – 16/12/21
This is a common issue experienced by many small businesses and organisations. There are of course a myriad of factors responsible, for example, low or irrelevant website traffic, poor website design or usability, overcrowded or out of date web hosting to name but a few. (read 9 clues it is time to get a new website)
Those factors will be covered elsewhere, this article focuses on possible the most important element of your website marketing, conversion. That is to say, the process of converting a website visitor into a sales lead or directly into a paying customer.
You can pay through advertising to get relevant traffic to your website, but if your site isn’t converting those visitors into leads, then you are wasting your money! Fear not, we are here to help!
Before you start it is really important to understand your goals. Without having a clear idea of what you are hoping to achieve, it is very difficult to measure your progress. Think in small steps to begin with. Depending upon the type of business you are, perhaps aim initially to get an enquiry, or collect some contact information to follow up on and responsibly market to over time. (it may be months before they are ready to buy, but with careful follow up marketing you can be there when they are ready to buy.)
Decide how many leads and new customers you want and can cope with each month.
Be realistic about your web marketing and time scales, it is after all an ongoing venture that will with persistence bring the results you desire. Bill Gates famously said “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years”.
First and foremost is the humble call to action (CTA). Without a call to action, no one will contact you. Sounds obvious, but a tremendous amount of websites rely entirely upon a contact us button hidden away on their menu rather than using the myriad of other options available.
I am not going to go into detail here on all the CTA options available as I have written a piece that goes into covers all the options available and how best to use them to get your website visitors to contact you.
I will for now just list some of the various CTAs available that are covered in the article.
Read “How to improve your website conversion rate. Part 1 – The Call to Action” or alternatively get a copy sent directly to you inbox as a PDF to read later at your convenience.
Have you ever found yourself on a website that has what your are looking for, you have some questions and you want to make contact. First you struggle to find their contact form and then they ask for your life history? I have! and with monotonous regularity. (Read how to get visitors to stay on your website)
The first thing I do after my heart has sunk, is move on. Life’s too short for filling out long forms (unless you looking for your dream job or doing your tax return).
So what are we trying to achieve from a contact form?
Once you have established your website goals, and have a clear understanding of what you are trying to achieve from your website, you will also a clear definition of what a conversion means to you.
The typical definition of a conversion for a website is either to make a sale (usually of low price consumer items) or more usually to get your visitor to make contact, any form of contact. (for both lower higher priced items and services).
For the moment we will focus on persuading your visitor to make contact, because this applies to all types of business.
Essentially you are trying to persuade a total stranger to trust you enough to make contact, so that you can follow up later and make a sale. How much information is the right amount to ask for? How much personal detail are you willing to give to a total stranger?
Well, You don’t at this point need to know everything about them, you can entice more detail later once you have started to develop a rapport, for now keep it simple. The very most you should be asking for is a name, an email address and maybe a contact number. If you are able to respond quickly, strike while the iron is hot, then just ask for an email address. People are far more inclined to complete one box than 2.
We test everything to see what works best, A or B. We have found, and other similar studies have produced similar results, that for every form field you remove, your enquiries increase by about 10%.
It is worth noting that psychologically most people want to finish something they start so make starting simple.
Two caveats. When to ask for more information.
Continuing on the Total stranger theme, when a person lands on your website, there is a good chance they have either never heard of you before or never done business with you before so essentially you need to gain their trust. Social proof puts people at ease!
There are three tried and tested ways of doing this:
Ever landed on a promising looking website only to not be able to find what your looking for because there is just so much other information crammed into the same page? Awful isn’t it! A cluttered website is sure to have a high bounce rate!
If you taken the time and expense to get your web page found for a particular set of keywords, keep the content of your landing page relevant and uncluttered.
Your landing page should be clear, concise and easy to navigate. If it is not essential to the page, do not include it. Stick to what your visitors need to know and no more.
Where you can, implement the following (and little else):
The main point is, remove any and all distractions, anything which takes away from the offer you want your visitors to respond to.
How do I know what is a distraction and what is great content? There are a number of both free and paid tools available that will build a heat map of your web page. These will essentially track your visitors movements on your web page, show how far down your page visitors scroll, what links they click, where their focus is centered. Eliminate cold areas or improve the content and you have a more focused page. It takes time but can work wonders. I plan to write a more detailed article on this with examples at a later date.
I touched upon this earlier when I mentioned keeping contact forms short and simple. If your website is the sort where you want people to subscribe, or join or sign on in some way, you should try and make this a simple as possible too.
There are a couple of options here.
You see it so often, a long dull form followed by a Submit button. I don’t like to submit, if feels like I’m losing or giving in to something. Others like Sign up and Join are all very committal sounding too and a bit generic.
When you are asking a visitor to complete a form, you are literally asking a question, give them a nice psychologically friendly response like Yes Please.
Try it out, it;s real and it works!
A call to action that starts with a positive affirmation is highly effective psychological tactic. As with all these suggestions, testing will eventually find the most effective tool for your site.
The majority of people are a little risk adverse, especially when dealing with a new untried service or product supplier. It is your job to gain your customers trust and one effective way of doing this if offering a money back guarantee. People want to be sure they are getting what they paid for.
There are multiple benefits:
When offering a money back guarantee, there are a few considerations that should help reduce the number of returns.
So you’ve made lots of tweaks to your website, you are using some kind of heat map software or analytics to follow where your visitors are going and what they are clicking on. Your conversions have improved but they can always get better right?
The next stage is to test each element of your web page to see what works best.
If for example you are running an offer and your conversions are not as good as you expected, then change the offer, see what works best. Keep cycling through different offers until you find the one that resonates with your users the most. Keep experimenting, eventually you will find a winner!
Test your headline.
As stated elsewhere on this website, statistics demonstrate that the average site visit is about 7 seconds. That is about long enough to read your headline and make a decision whether to stay or go. Typically 9 out of 10 people will decide to leave unless your headline grabs their attention enough to want to find out more.
How do you improve this conversion rate? Test different headlines until you find a winner. Eventually you will find a headline that will leave you visitor wanting to find out more.
When testing your headline, use variables such as tone, length, authority, use of numbers and statistics.
Remember before you start, set your goals and you time frame. You can’t have an accurate picture of how your website is performing if you aren’t constantly monitoring your what’s working and what isn’t and where you want to be.