We’ve discussed the importance of design, navigation and usability. We’ve talked about the role of content and audience in SEO. But there is one piece missing in this series about what makes a good website… conversion – getting the target user to take the desired action.
To paraphrase Alec Baldwin from the move Glengarry Glen Ross, your website should “always be closing.” To say it another way, the success of a website is not measured in hits or visitors, it is measured in outcomes.
Each page of your website should be built in such a way that there is an entry and exit strategy. You know how the visitor got there, what they were looking for and what you want them to do before they leave that page.
As visitors navigate through a website, certain conversion goals will either be met or missed. An achieved conversion could be one of the following actions…
- An online purchase
- Request for information
- Opt-in to an email newsletter
- Registration for an event
- Filling out a form for a free download – whitepaper, ebook or product demo
- Or simply clicking a link to a landing page
A website is not like a book with many chapters read in succession. It’s more like a series of events. Your job as the host of these events is to guide the user through their experience. Some of this we’ve already discussed in the usability and navigation posts. But, it goes deeper than guiding the user where you want them to go.
As you work on the sitemap for your website, start listing with each page a specific goal you need that page to achieve. As you include these you will see patterns emerge that show you how to get a user from one page to the next and eventually to the page where conversion happens.
Asking for the business
This is where it gets a little uncomfortable for some – asking for the business. Sales is something that people struggle with for whatever reason. But at the end of the day, your users will appreciate you getting to the point – as long as it happens at the right time and they have been prepped for it. Let me explain.
Throughout their time on your site, the user is generally motivated. They want something from you. And generally they expect to give you something for it – their contact information, more time on the site, a referral, an event registration or just plain old money – if they see the value.
If you’ve worked through the issues discussed earlier on in this series then you already have a well designed website with content the target user wants and needs structured in a way that makes it easy for them to find. But what do you want from them? Is it something from the list above or something else?
How do you “ask” for this? Generally, requests come when either an action is pending or something is desired; for example:
- Offering a service at the end of a helpful blog post
- Creating a compelling call to action on a landing page for a specific offer
- Asking someone to join your email newsletter list
Doing this will only be effective if you are direct. Don’t complicate a page with too many requests. If you need to have multiple calls to action, use design and content to make it clear which ones apply to the targeted user. This is mainly what happens on a homepage.
For example, in this homepage, you can see multiple requests which are segmented with design and qualified with content…
On this page there are 3 primary calls to action and then less prominent ones toward the bottom:
- The pop-up – this is a live chat offer. This is the primary call to action. It is rather aggressive, but that’s good. Through multiple tests done with this homepage, it was determined that the users were not always sure what they needed. They were familiar with the “cloud,” but really needed someone to walk them through it. It was decided that a live chat offer should be implemented. It’s been a huge success so far.
- The learn more links in the header image and the “What is Cloud Computing?” callouts – these are geared toward the users that still have questions but are not quite ready for the chat. These still get a lot of clicks.
- The three “identifier” callouts at the bottom – this piece area is interesting to note. The idea here was to develop a section where the user could identify in and the page they were sent to would be crafted to speak to that specific user. However, this area got the least amount of clicks. Through some further testing it was decided that in the future design, more emphasis needs to be place on the callouts at the top of the design and the rest would be supporting content. Testing works.
Looking back at the site map example, you can start to see how mapping things out based on conversion will help out when designing the home and sub pages.
Of course, in order to see real success and growth in the number of leads your site generates, you need to track your progress. Testing and adjusting pages and calls to action will tell you what’s working and give you a clear direction for what you need to do moving forward.
Conversion is relatively easy to track using offsite and onsite data…
Tracking leads is nothing new. Businesses have been doing it for as long as they’ve been selling – “how did you hear about us?” However, as long as businesses have been doing this, they have also been forgetting or neglecting to do this.
If a lead comes in through an online contact form, it’s easy to ask this question. But sometimes a lead will be generated from your website but get to you through another means like a phone call or direct email.
With phone numbers, you can try to use unique 800 numbers on landing pages, allowing you to track where the call came from. But your site’s visitors are not always going to follow the path you set before them. They may get the idea to contact you from visiting a page on your website, but when it comes time for the call, they might just do a search from their mobile phone on Google and dial direct from there.
You want to make sure that all who are tasked with fielding incoming leads and inquiries know to ask the question “how did you hear about us?” Even better, try to use trigger words in offers, in other words, name your offers something memorable, that, when asked, the hope is that the client mentions it.
Data collected directly from your website’s analytics reports are very useful if you know what to look for. Google Analytics (there are others but I’ll use Google for this post) allows you to set up Conversion Goals to track how well your paths to conversion are performing. A path to conversion can look something like this…
Google Analytics will allow you to set up specific goals to track based specifically on how a user navigates through your site. You can determine whether or not the goal was achieved by tracking the last page the user visited in the path they followed. In the example above the last page is the form confirmation page – meaning they successfully filled out a form on your site.
You can also assign monetary values to the goals. So, using the above example again, if the average sale of the product they are downloading is $500.00, you know that each successful conversion adds $500.00 to your sales funnel.
They are lots of other things you can do with Google Analytics and other software to track conversions. You might also consider running some A/B split tests. This is when you create 2 versions of the same page trying out different content, design and calls to action. Then, track the effectiveness of both and move forward with the winner.
Conversion is the clear goal of almost every website. Awareness is important but not a goal that most businesses should have at the top of their lists. Achieving measurable goals should be the underlying theme throughout everything you do with your website. And everything we’ve discussed in this series supports this…
- Design allows the user to identify on an emotional level. It gives visual cues telling the viewer what to do next. These two things move the visitor in the right direction right from the start.
- Navigation is the system that the visitor uses to follow the path to conversion.
- Usability is the driving force making sure that every step of the way the site doesn’t get in the users way. The website is structured and designed such that the user doesn’t have to work to get to what they want and what you want them to see, rather, it seems natural to them to end up there.
- SEO is important for conversion, because you can only convert a visitor to a client if they find the website in the first place. They get there because your site is optimized for specific keywords. And those keywords are directly related to the specific goals of your site because they are words the visitors would use to find the solutions you are offering them.
Remember, brochure sites are a thing of the past. Focus on goals and what your site needs to do to achieve them. Test, test and retest. A website with pretty graphics and flowery content is an electronic brochure. A website that converts is a powerful tool supporting the growth and success of your business or organization.
What are your biggest challenges with conversion? What do you think about the approaches outlined here? Let me know in the comments area below.
Is your website not achieving its goals? Perhaps we can help. Drop us a line and let’s talk.