Table of Contents
Chapter 1: What is Conversion Optimization?
Find out how conversion optimization can provide value to your business.
Conversion optimization is the practice of using strategies and techniques to improve conversion rates across digital channels such as websites, mobile apps, and other owned media.
The unique value to investing in conversion optimization is that businesses are able to make better use of their advertising campaigns and their existing traffic with a one-time investment that can yield 20% – 200% more revenue from the same acquisition costs.
Did you know: For every $92 spent acquiring customers, only $1 is spent converting them.1
What is a Conversion? What is the Formula for Conversion Rate?
Before we get ahead of ourselves, we first need to outline exactly what a conversion is – since it can mean so many different things in digital marketing. A business defines a conversion as a trackable and achievable goal. This goal is then counted by unit. This measurement divided by the total number of traffic or ad clicks is the conversion rate.
Conversion Rate (of a given period) = # of conversions / total traffic or advertising clicks
Here’s an example:
An ecommerce company is selling dog biscuits, and each time a user purchases a box of dog biscuits, the business counts it as 1 conversion. If 5 boxes of dog biscuits are purchased in one day, and the website received 100 website visits that day, then the conversion rate is 5%. Now imagine if each box of dog biscuits is assigned a profit value to the company of $5 or $25 total value for the day. By increasing the conversion rate on the website, we can maintain the same acquisition costs while increasing revenue. How much the conversion rate increases depends on the effectiveness of the methods used. Fortunately, it is possible to evaluate conversion optimization practices, which we will go over in the next chapter.
Chapter 2: Evaluating the effectiveness of your current conversion strategy
Learn how to identify opportunities to improve your conversion rate.
If you already know that your business could use conversion optimization, feel free to skip this chapter and head over to Chapter 3: Understanding Macro Conversions, Micro Conversions, and Your Sales Funnel.
The first step in evaluating your current conversion strategy is to ensure that your business goals and trackable conversions are well-aligned. If your goal is to increase revenue, do you have conversions set up to track sales, transactions, or other e-commerce data?
It may help to create overarching goals for your campaign, which you then break down into measurable metrics such as e-commerce revenue, number of transactions, contact form completions, newsletter sign ups, or any other goal which helps you determine the success of your marketing initiatives.
Google Analytics allows you to track any number of activities completed on your website, depending on which goals are most effective at tracking your progress.
Once you have identified that your business goals and conversions are well aligned, spend some time reviewing your analytics to ensure that the reporting is setup properly. Sometimes, conversion tracking can appear to be set up correctly, but it isn’t until further testing is done that issues preventing accurate data tracking are revealed.
Evaluating Your Current Conversion Data
Now that you have conversion tracking properly set up, take your data set and carefully determine an average conversion rate. Look at different data sets to see if there are any performance indicators you can identify, e.g., people are more likely to purchase dog biscuits on a Monday afternoon, users that see your Google Adwords ad are 2x more likely than a social user to convert, remarketing ads have the highest conversion rate, etc.
An in-depth perusal of your conversion data may provide you with invaluable insight into how you can better utilize your current acquisition costs to better reach your users.
How Does Your Conversion Rate Stack up?
The graph below shows average conversion rate by industry. How does yours compare? This could lend you insight into whether or not your business could benefit from conversion optimization.
Download this comprehensive report from Unbounce to find out more about these statistics and how the data was gathered.
Chapter 3: Understanding Macro Conversions, Micro Conversions, and Your Sales Funnel
Find out how your sales funnel can provide a blueprint for your trackable macro and micro conversions.
A typical sales funnel outlines the stages a prospective customer goes through during the conversion process. Each aspect of the sales funnel is an important opportunity to engage the customer by providing solutions, building trust, and demonstrating authority. While sales funnels may vary by industry and individual business, a good sales funnel typically has the following elements:
Each of these areas can take the form of different activities and measurable metrics. For example, in the case of our ecommerce store owner selling dog biscuits, her sales funnel may look like the following:
- Awareness: The prospect sees an ad on social media with a photo of the dog biscuits and a special offer for 10% off your first purchase.
- Interest: The prospect clicks on the ad to retrieve the discount code and research the product further.
- Decision: The prospect reviews information about the dog biscuits and finds out that they are all natural and made from wholesome ingredients that his dog loves. He reads rave reviews about the dog biscuits and decides that he wants to buy a box for his dog.
- Action: In order to receive his discount code, he enters his email, and then submits a code during checkout. He completes the checkout and purchases his first box of dog biscuits.
As we can see in the above scenario, there are a score of different measurable metrics that we can track to assess the effectiveness of the e-commerce store’s marketing initiatives. This is where we can sort our goals into macro conversions and micro conversions.
What are Macro Conversions and Micro Conversions?
A macro conversion is the primary goal of the marketing initiatives, i.e., making a sale, acquiring a new customer, etc.
Micro conversions are the smaller, ancillary goals which relate to the larger goals and are an indicator of upcoming macro conversions – newsletter sign ups, live chat inquiries for more information, etc.
While most businesses are tracking macro conversions to the best of their ability, micro conversions may be overlooked but can still provide valuable insight into the conversion process. Establishing some simple micro conversions can help you identify new opportunities to re-engage with prospects and nurture them through the sale.
For the above example, let’s list a few macro conversions and micro conversions.
Sales of dog biscuits – measured by number of transactions, revenue from transactions, conversion rate, etc.
Smaller but relevant interactions with the customer before the purchase of dog biscuits – measured by newsletter sign ups, phone calls for information, social page engagement, etc.
Applying Macro and Micro Conversions to Your Tracking
Take stock of your sales funnel and identify all of the relevant conversions that you would like to track3. Make sure that each conversion has a unique tracking URL – in the form of thank you pages specific to each conversion. (A thank you page is just as it sounds. Once a user completes the desired action, e.g., filling out a web form, they view a page that says, “Thanks for your submission.”)Take these thank you page URL’s and create unique goals in Google Analytics. Enable ecommerce tracking as well if applicable.
For more information about how to set up goals in Google Analytics, visit https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1032415?hl=en (or if you’d rather trust the experts to do it, contact Organically, as we are Google Analytics certified.)
Chapter 4: Creating Clean and Simple Paths to Conversion
Find the most direct path to conversion and smoothly lead your users through it.
Once you have a good idea of where your company stands, what your macro and micro conversions are, and how those impact your business, you can start creating clean paths to conversion. What is a clean path to conversion? It is a simple and effective process that enables users to complete desired actions (goals/conversions) on your website.
What are the components of a good path to conversion?
- It has as few steps as possible
- The user can easily follow each step in the process and there’s a clear chain of actions or steps the user has to take to complete the action
- It mitigates objections along the way and uses familiar, relatable language to sell the product
- It provides support and opportunities for re-engagement if users need time to consider their purchase
Let’s take a look at two examples to show you the difference between an effective and ineffective path to conversion.
You want to find a vacation rental for your next vacation. You’ve already decided on dates with your family, and there are a few things you want: access to a pool, at least 4 bedrooms, and you want to be able to walk to the beach everyday.
You visit beachvacationrentalsandmore.com. (Please Note: This is just an example and not a real website as of the writing of this guide.) When you arrive on the website, you see an image of the beach. You scroll down and see some text about why it’s a good idea to book a vacation rental for a beach vacation. You check the main navigation, and you see an option that says rentals so you click it and end up on a page with a list of vacation rentals. You’re not sure whether any of them have what you need. Frustrated, you start to click through a few of the vacation rentals, but you see that the photos are really small and the descriptions are short and don’t provide much information about the business. Unimpressed, you leave the website to find a better one.
Next you visit vacationsatthebeachwithfamily.com (Please Note: This is just an example and not a real website as of the writing of this guide.) The first thing you see is the option to select your dates to narrow their vacation rental options by availability. Hooray! You’re relieved you won’t have to sift through a list of rentals that are already booked up for your dates. When you get to the page with rentals that are available for your selected dates, you see a legend that indicates featured amenities for each rental and the option to sort by bedroom. You immediately select 4 or more bedrooms, and then review the rest of the available options until you see that there are two with pool access and that are close to the beach. You look at both of these and see nice big images of all of the rooms in the home, which helps you easily select one. When you’re ready to book, you select a prominent “Book Now” button and fill out a short one page checkout process to reserve your vacation rental. You’re all done!
See how the second website, vacationsatthebeachwithfamily.com, smoothly guided you through the conversion process by anticipating your needs and providing exactly what you are looking for in a simple format? In the first example, you didn’t really know what the options were when you first arrived, you didn’t know what to do to find what you need, the process was long and required a lot of work on your end, and ultimately you were frustrated and decided to leave. That’s the sign of a poor conversion funnel.
What conversion optimization seeks to do is take the first website and turn it into the second so that all of the existing traffic to the website is more likely to make a purchase.
How can you create a clean conversion path? First you need to evaluate how your customers use your website, and from there, you can develop the simplest process for them to complete a conversion while also providing them with all of the information they need along the way. (The easiest way to figure out what the users need is to walk through the process on your site yourself, or have a friend do it with you. You can identify areas that need improvement based on how easy it is for you or your friend to complete a task on your website.)
In the case of the ecommerce store owner, here are a few possible conversion funnels.
- A: Landing page → checkout process
- B: Landing page → main product page with all products sorted by flavor → individual product page → checkout process
- C: Landing page → page with information about dog biscuits → page with list of products randomly assigned → individual product page → page to select flavor, box size, etc. → checkout page with multiple forms
As you can see, only conversion funnel B is suitable for the ecommerce store. We can’t use conversion funnel A, as the customers are not acquiring enough information about the product to help them make the decision to purchase. And conversion funnel C takes them on a tour of the website, but doesn’t usher them logically and efficiently through the website.
In the case of our ecommerce store owner selling dog biscuits, how might we apply our clean and simple path to conversion? Let’s say we are running some digital advertising campaigns to drive prospective customers to a landing page. On this landing page, we have a quick form above the fold that captures their email if they want to receive a 10% discount on their first purchase. As they scroll down the landing page, they are able to quickly view all of the available flavors of dog biscuits, and when they click on one, they are taken to the individual product page with a prominent “Add to Cart” button. Once a customer adds a box of dog biscuits to the cart, they are given the option to keep shopping or checkout. Once they begin the checkout process, it is quick, simple, and seamless.
So to recap, what are some good best practices we can use to create clean paths to conversion?
- Create the simplest and shortest path to receive the necessary information to make a buying decision and complete the purchase (or form if acquisition is the goal)
- Clearly and succinctly articulate your company’s value proposition
- Provide all of the information your customers need to make a buying decision (crisp, clear high resolution images; valuable content; live support; etc.)
- Make sure that each page has a prominent call to action that continues to guide users through the conversion funnel
Chapter 5: A/B Testing
Find out how to experiment with small changes to see how they impact your conversion rate.
Once you’ve developed a clean and clear path to conversion on your website, it’s time to start A/B testing to get to the best results. It’s important to remember that effective A/B testing can make a huge difference to your bottom line, and even simple changes, like the color of a “Buy Now” button, can have a significant impact on your returns. Make sure that for every experiment you collect enough data to make an educated guess on how that change has impacted your results.
The Fundamentals of A/B Testing
A basic understanding of A/B testing requires an understanding first of the two elements we are comparing.
A: The original version of the page
B: The altered version of the page
While you may want to give the page a complete makeover, that step should be done when you are creating clean paths to conversion. A/B testing involves making minor tweaks to your website to see what, if any, impact those very small changes have on the impact of your website on your target audience.
As an illustration with our ecommerce store, on the landing page, an A/B test may involve changing the photo of the dog biscuits, changing the color of the call to action button, or changing the text of the call to action. Let’s say that we have the words “Receive 10% Off Your First Order of Dog Biscuits” and we want to see if “Get 10% Off Your First Order!” is a more effective call to action. This is something we can easily test with A/B testing, and often, these small changes can be far more impactful to the conversion rate than you might think.
How to Setup A/B Testing
There are several ways that you can organize your A/B test. You can take your data from the previous period and compare it to the period after you’ve made changes to your landing page, or you can use 2 separate landing pages to run simultaneously side by side to be randomly delivered when someone arrives on a landing page. Depending on your business and the flexibility that you have with seasonality, you can choose one or the other as is applicable to your business.
(For example, a vacation rental company that has many more bookings in the last week of July than the first week of August cannot accurately predict whether the landing page is effective if you compare data from the first week of August to data from the last week in July. However, dog biscuit sales don’t operate with the same seasonality so changing one landing page rather than having 2 may be just as effective at determining whether the change has been impactful to altering the conversion rate.)
Pro Tip: If you are using two separate landing pages, make sure that you have unique thank you pages for each landing page so that you can track goal completions easily in Google Analytics.
Once you have your A/B testing campaign setup and you have applied the changes that you want to test to your landing page, go ahead and allow data to collect so that you can make comparisons. Depending on what your goals are, you can track both macro conversions and micro conversions to see which, if any, are impacted by the changes.
Once you see that a change has had a positive impact on your conversion rate, keep testing. Run another experiment to confirm your results. After you have confirmed your results, you can make the change permanent and begin conceptualizing your next A/B test.
Chapter 6: Mobile Conversion Optimization
Find out how to optimize your mobile site for conversions and see explosive results.
The number of hours per day that people spend on their mobile device has more than doubled since 2008 – from 2.7 hours per day to 5.6 hours per day in 20154. Mobile optimization can be divided into two main categories – speed optimization and mobile site optimization. User expectations on mobile are much different than they are on desktop, so it is important to understand how people use their phone to be able to provide the best experience.
A few mobile usability points to consider:
- Users expect sites to load quickly
- Users expect interactive multimedia, high quality graphics, and text that is easy to read
- Users are less likely to purchase on mobile, but they often use it to gather information about a product or service before purchasing
Mobile conversions have increased in recent years, and one reason for this could be that optimizing mobile sites has become a focal point of digital campaigns in the past few years.
Optimizing for Speed
A 1 second reduction in mobile load times accounts for a 7% decrease in conversions5. While we could spend an entire guide just discussing all of the ways to improve site load speed, we will just cover the basics in this guide.
First you will need to see how your site fares in terms of mobile page loading speed. Even if you think it loads pretty quickly, you may be surprised. Sometimes desktop loading and mobile loading times are very different (due to the difference in the connections used to load the data – Wifi vs. 2G, 3G, or 4G). Use Google’s Test My Site to evaluate your mobile performance. This tool evaluates several different factors to determine your mobile site speed. You can also download a report which gives a full list of changes that you can make (and send to your developer to implement) to improve your speed.
Common Changes that could Improve Your Site Load Speed
- Compressing and minifying images
- Minimize server response time
- Minimize critical resources on the site
- Load content above the fold before content that appears below the fold
Not only can improving your mobile site loading speed impact your conversion rate directly, it can also improve the performance of your Adwords campaigns and your organic positioning. If you are unsure how to complete the technical changes on your website, hire a developer that holds the Google Developer Certification to implement these changes for you.
Mobile Optimization Best Practices
Creating an effective mobile interface can be transformative in how your business handles mobile traffic. There are several best practices that can help you make the most from your mobile site.
- Create a responsive design
- Create useful call to action buttons that are easy for your customers to find and use
- Make sure your menu categories are simple and short so that they are easy to use
- Create submenus with additional options if necessary
- Make the logo clickable to the homepage
- Clearly delineate promotions from calls to action and ensure the promotions do not overpower the design
- Enable site search and make sure that the search results are useful and easy to navigate
- Use filters to improve the search experience
- Create a simple mobile conversion experience with auto-fill, click to call for difficult entries, and an array of payment processing options for simplicity
These are just a few of the mobile optimization best practices you could use to improve your mobile presence. Optimizing your own mobile site for conversions can be tricky, so if you need assistance, please contact us for a free consultation to see how we can help earn you more conversions.
Chapter 7: Identify Issues that could be Leading to Lost Conversions
Explore this list of common issues which could be leading to lost conversions and how to fix them.
In previous sections of this guide, we have already covered a number of issues that could be leading to lost conversions, but we thought it would make a helpful section of this guide to list them one-by-one so that you can go through them to see if any are applicable to you.
We will list some of the most common reasons that websites are losing conversions, but do be aware that each website may present unique challenges. If you are unsure which problems are applicable to your website or you just need a professional to give your website a complete evaluation, Organically can help.
Common Issues Leading to Lost Conversions
- Business goals and trackable conversions are not aligned
- Conversion tracking is not setup properly
- There are too many steps in the process to conversion
- Users are not sure where to go from one page to the next and are left trying to figure out how to navigate the information without clear calls to action
- The website doesn’t provide the necessary information to encourage a buying decision
- The website is not responsive and is not optimized for mobile
- The website does not have a site search feature
- The website has small, low res images and is not interactive
- The website looks outdated and does not convey credibility
- The checkout process is long and/or arduous to complete
- The conversion path is not a focal point of the website
- The website doesn’t offer immediate support for customers with questions in the form of live chat or phone support
- The main navigation/mobile menu is too long and complicated
- The website doesn’t use familiar language to pull the customer in
- The website loads slowly
- The landing pages have not been tested (A/B testing)
- The content does not mitigate common customer objections to encourage a sale
Many additional granular issues could be impacting a website’s ability to convert users into customers, and it is important to take a step back and assess your website with a critical and objective eye to identify possible causes of lost conversions. Some additional resources that can help you identify lost opportunities include the following:
- User Testing – With user testing, you can hire people to use your website and provide a complete usability analysis which can help you identify specific impediments that prevent your customers from converting. This is a great way to identify the ‘human’ elements which could be impeding the close, rather than the technical elements which can be identified in the ways outlined below.
- Heatmaps – Heatmaps are a great source of information to let you know how people use your website, which areas capture the most attention, and by extension, where you have opportunity to improve the flow of users through your conversion path. A great heatmap we have used in the past and highly recommend is Crazy Egg.
- Users Flow Report in Google Analytics – This report allows you to, at a glance, determine your current sales funnel on your website. It can answer questions such as how users are navigating your site, how smoothly they are moving through your conversion funnel, and the pages they are most likely to drop out of which can be particularly useful in determining pages to focus your conversion optimization efforts.
Chapter 8: Quick Tips for Instant Results
Find out a couple of small changes that can make a big difference in earning you more conversions.
Conversion optimization can be a huge undertaking, as you’ve probably learned while reading this guide. There are so many interworking elements that determine how effectively your website converts users that it can be difficult to drill down on the most important focus areas to look at and which tactics will give measurable results. In the next 2 chapters, we will go over quick tips to help you achieve instant results with your conversion optimization as well as common mistakes to avoid while you’re optimizing.
Tip #1: Make Every Step in Converting Easy and Obvious
How quick and easy is it to complete your conversion process? Try it out for yourself then have a friend or family member that has never looked at your site before try it. See how easy it is for them to take the desired steps to complete the action (make sure not to tell them what to do!)
An easy rule of thumb is to make sure that every page has a prominent call to action that leads the customer closer to a conversion.
Tip #2: Keep Conversion Paths Above the Fold (Where Possible)
Most of your users will focus on the content above the fold so position your calls to action as close to the top of page as possible. Find unique and interesting ways to feature your calls to action, even if they do end up below the fold, to capture your users’ interest so that they do not get bored and exit. Providing the right amount of information with a well placed call to action is a great way to seamlessly move users through your conversion path.
Tip #3: Create Clear and Effective Calls to Action
When you are driving conversions, all calls to action are not created equal. This is a great area to do some A/B Testing because some calls to action may work better than others. Use strong action verbs and a clear, concise phrase to signal what the next step in the process should be. Consider the difference: “Explore Packages & Pricing” vs. “Offerings;” “Reserve Now” vs. “Next;” “Take Our 1 Minute Assessment” vs. “Assessment.” Even minor adjustments to the wording you use to encourage users to click can make a big difference. Experiment with different versions of the same text to find out the wording that resonates with your users.
Tip #4: Use Live Chat to Answer Questions and Nurture Interested Prospects through the Sale
Providing instant answers to prospective customers’ questions is a great way to mitigate objections and nurture the sale through the close. Live chat is the easiest way for your customers to contact you on your website, and it gives people a quick and easy way to learn more about the products and services you offer and gives you a great opportunity to engage prospects to communicate with them further and encourage them to buy.
Bonus Tip: Use a Heatmap to Determine User Behavior and Identify Opportunities
Want to kick your conversion optimization techniques up a notch? Try a heat map. Install a heat map on your most used pages in the conversion funnel to see how your users are using those pages, where their attention is, and how well your calls to action are grabbing their attention.
For more great conversion optimization tips, we recommend checking out this article from QuickSprout.
Chapter 9: Mistakes to Avoid
Find out the most common pitfalls to avoid when attempting to improve conversions on your web assets.
Optimizing your website for conversions often requires a lot of planning and testing. With that in mind, we put together a list of a few mistakes to avoid so that you can spend your time testing the most important aspects of your site and planning the conversion optimization changes that will be most impactful for your business.
Mistake #1: Looking at Things from a Perspective that is too Granular
While it is often fun to experiment and test many smaller aspects of your landing pages to see which can make the most impact on your results, it’s important to also make sure you focus on the larger changes that will often be more impactful, e.g., taking new high quality photos rather than changing the color of your call to action button. The latter can have an impact, but if your photos aren’t very good, it won’t be as impactful as it could be.
Mistake #2: Missing the Big Picture
Make sure that you don’t lose sight of the larger picture. If you are doing small tweaks to a website that is not well optimized for conversions to begin with, you will have a terribly designed website that you’ve implemented some minor tweaks. Don’t be afraid to overhaul your design, upload all new photos, reinvent the conversion path, or make larger, big picture adjustments to your web presence first. If you start with a great foundation, you will be much more likely to see the results you are looking for from your conversion optimization efforts.
Mistake #3: Undervaluing the Role Speed Plays in Your Website’s Conversion Rate
Don’t make the mistake of forgetting how important the speed of your website is in terms of conversion rate. Study after study supports the notion that a faster website will almost always convert better than a slow site. There are myriad ways that you can improve mobile site speed, although it may be best to hire a developer to assist with most of these changes unless you are adept at making those changes yourself.
Mistake #4: Forgetting about the Role Great Images Play in Your Conversion Process
No matter how great your website is, how well-written your calls to action are, or how great your product is, if customers don’t have a good visual to go along with your product, you are going to be fighting an uphill battle for every sale. Make the investment to update your photos so that you can enjoy more conversions and a better ROI.
Mistake #5: Having Too Many Elements Vying for Attention on One Page
Lastly, we’d like to caution you to make sure that your design is clean, simple, and doesn’t contain too many elements vying for your users’ attention. Make sure that your promotions are not overpowering, and that your layout/design is consistent and easy to follow.
This concludes our conversion optimization guide. We hope that it helped you learn more about how to optimize your website for conversions. If you have any questions or would like to talk with a conversion optimization expert about how you can transform your ROI through the use of strategic CRO techniques, contact Organically today.