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What is conversion?

Your conversion rate is a figure that represents the percentage of visitors who come to your site and take the desired action, e.g. subscribing to your newsletter, booking a demo, purchasing a product, and so on.

Conversions come in all shapes and sizes, depending on what your website does. If you sell a product, making a sale would be your primary goal (aka a macro-conversion). If you run, say, a tour company or media outlet, then subscribing or booking a consultation might be your primary goal.

If your visitor isn’t quite ready to make a purchase or book a consultation, they might take an intermediary step — like signing up to your free newsletter, or following you on social media. This is what’s known as a micro-conversion: a little step that leads towards (hopefully) a bigger one.

A quick recap

A conversion can apply to any number of actions — from making a purchase, to following on social media.

Macro-conversions are those we usually associate with sales: a phone call, an email, or a trip to the checkout. These happen when the customer has done their research and is ready to leap in with a purchase. If you picture the classic conversion funnel, they’re already at the bottom.

Micro-conversions, on the other hand, are small steps that lead toward a sale. They’re not the ultimate win, but they’re a step in the right direction.

Most sites and apps have multiple conversion goals, each with its own conversion rate.

Micro-conversions vs. macro-conversions: which is better?

The short answer? Both. Ideally, you want micro- and macro-conversions to be happening all the time so you have a continual flow of customers working their way through your sales funnel. If you have neither, then your website is behaving like a leaky bucket.

Here are two common issues that seem like good things, but ultimately lead to problems:

  1. High web traffic (good thing) but no micro- or macro-conversions (bad thing — leaky bucket alert)
  2. High web traffic (good thing) plenty of micro-conversions (good thing), but no macro conversions (bad thing)

A lot of businesses spend heaps of money making sure their employees work efficiently, but less of the budget goes into what is actually one of your best marketing tools: your website.

Spending money on marketing will always be a good thing. Getting customers to your site means more eyes on your business — but when your website doesn’t convert visitors into sales, that’s when you’re wasting your marketing dollars. When it comes to conversion rate statistics, one of the biggest eye-openers I read was this: the average user’s attention span has dropped from 12 to a mere 7 seconds. That’s how long you’ve got to impress before they bail — so you’d better make sure your website is fast, clear, and attractive.

Our problem

Our phone wasn’t ringing as much as we’d have liked, despite spending plenty of dollars on SEO and Adwords. We looked into our analytics and realized traffic wasn’t an issue: a decent number of people were visiting our site, but too few were taking action — i.e. inquiring. Here’s where some of our issues lay:

  • Our site wasn’t as fast as it could have been (anything with a load time of two seconds or over is considered slow. Ours was hovering around 5-6, and that was having a negative impact on conversions).
  • Our CTA conversions were low (people weren’t clicking — or they were dropping off because the CTA wasn’t where it needed to be).
  • We were relying on guesswork for some of our design decisions — which meant we had no way of measuring what worked, and what didn’t.
  • In general, things were good but not great. Or in other words, there was room for improvement.

What we did to fix it

Improving your site’s conversions isn’t a one-size-fits all thing — which means what works for one person might not work for you. It’s a gradual journey of trying different things out and building up successes over time. We knew this having worked on hundreds of client websites over the years, so we went into our own redesign with this in mind. Here are some of the steps we took that had an impact.

We decided to improve our site

First of all, we decided to fix our company website. This sounds like an obvious one, but how many times have you thought “I’ll do this really important thing”, then never gotten round to it. Or rushed ahead in excitement, made a few tweaks yourself, then let your efforts grind to a halt because other things took precedence?

This is an all-too-common problem when you run a business and things are just… okay. Often there’s no real drive to fix things and we fall back into doing what seems more pressing: selling, talking to customers, and running the business.

Deciding you want to improve your site’s conversions starts with a decision that involves you and everyone else in the company, and that’s what we did. We got the design and analytics experts involved. We invested time and money into the project, which made it feel substantial. We even made EDMs to announce the site launch to let everyone know what we’d been up to. In short, we made it feel like an event.

We got to know our users

There are many different types of user: some are ready to buy, some are just doing some window shopping. Knowing what type of person visits your site will help you create something that caters to their needs.

We looked at our analytics data and discovered visitors to our site were a bit of both, but tended to be more ready to buy than not. This meant we needed to focus on getting macro-conversions — in other words, make our site geared towards sales — while not overlooking the visitors doing some initial research. For those users, we implemented a blog as a way to improve our SEO, educate leads, and build up our reputation.

User insight can also help you shape the feel of your site. We discovered that the marketing managers we were targeting at the time were predominantly women, and that certain images and colours resonated better among that specific demographic. We didn’t go for the (obvious pictures of the team or our offices), instead relying on data and the psychology of attraction to delve into the mind of the users.

We improved site speed

Sending visitors to good sites with bad speeds erodes trust and sends them running. Multiple studies show that site speed matters when it comes to conversion rates. It’s one of the top SEO ranking factors, and a big factor when it comes to user experience: pages that load in under a second convert around 2.5 times higher than pages taking five seconds or more.

We built our website for speed. Moz has a great guide on page speed best practices, and from that list, we did the following things:

  • We optimized images.
  • We managed our own caching.
  • We compressed our files.
  • We improved page load times
  • In addition, we also customized our own hosting to make our site faster.

We introduced more tracking

As well as making our site faster, we introduced a lot more tracking. That allowed us to refine our content, our messaging, the structure of the site, and so on, which continually adds to the conversion.

We used Google Optimize to run A/B tests across a variety of things to understand how people interacted with our site. Here are some of the tweaks we made that had a positive impact:

  • Social proofing can be a really effective tool if used correctly, so we added some stats to our landing page copy.
  • Google Analytics showed us visitors were reaching certain pages and not knowing quite where to go next, so we added CTAs that used active language. So instead of saying, “If you’d like to find out more, let us know”, we said “Get a quote”, along with two options for getting in touch.
  • We spent an entire month testing four words on our homepage. We actually failed (the words didn’t have a positive impact), but it allowed us to test our hypothesis. We did small tweaks and tests like this all over the site.
  • We used heat mapping to see where visitors were clicking, and which words caught their eye. With this data, we knew where to place buttons and key messaging.

We looked into user behavior

Understanding your visitor is always a good place to start, and there are two ways to go about this:

  1. Quantitative research (numbers and data-based research)
  2. Qualitative research (people-based research)

We did a mixture of both.

For the quantitative research, we used Google Analytics, Google Optimize, and Hotjar to get an in-depth, numbers-based look at how people were interacting with our site.

Heat-mapping software shows how people click and scroll through a page. Hot spots indicate places where people naturally gravitate.

We could see where people were coming into our site (which pages they landed on first), what channel brought them there, which features they were engaging with, how long they spent on each page, and where they abandoned the site.

For the qualitative research, we focused primarily on interviews.

  • We asked customers what they thought about certain CTAs (whether they worked or not, and why).
  • We made messaging changes and asked customers and suppliers whether they made sense.
  • We invited a psychologist into the office and asked them what they thought about our design.

What we learned

We found out our design was good, but our CTAs weren’t quite hitting the mark. For example, one CTA only gave the reader the option to call. But, as one of our interviewees pointed out, not everyone likes using the phone — so we added an email address.

We were intentional but ad hoc about our asking process. This worked for us — but you might want to be a bit more formal about your approach.

The results

Combined, these minor tweaks had a mighty impact. There’s a big difference in how our site looks and how we rank. The bottom line: after the rebuild, we got more work, and the business did much better.

Source: moz.com

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