It’s All About Conversion

by Aug 5, 2014Blog, Marketing, Strategy | Entrepreneurship

Every now and then, as a marketer working with small business websites, I get to be a mad scientist. I can test titles, calls to action, page layouts and types of offers across entirely new sites. Each experiment improves my understanding of  what makes people take the next step in the sales process. 

We call the process of testing and adjusting behavior-encouraging variables on a website conversion rate optimization (CRO). All of this is just a fancy way to explain how we dig down deep into what your customers are truly interested in and how to provide them with what they want on every page.

As you look at your website, what plans do you have in place to turn visitors into customers? Do you know how to test what works and what doesn’t when it comes to audience engagement on your site?

The New Frontier

Simply driving web traffic to your site is no longer enough. To transform prospects into customers, small business owners are relying on inbound marketing, landing pages and CRO as their weapons of choice.

How does the process work? You can think of current inbound marketing strategy in this general order:

  1. Push traffic to your site through search, advertising, or outreach
  2. Traffic lands on a page built to meet specific needs and gather contact information, usually with an offer or download
  3. Follow-up with newly captured leads to move them towards buying

Getting traffic to your landing pages is just the first part of the marketing equation. CRO comes into play between steps 2 and 3 as you try to figure out how to get more people to interact with each page.

What happens if only a very small percentage of the traffic to your website is moving from Step 2 to Step 3? Stop and ask yourself “What’s preventing them from moving closer to the point of sale?”

Is it the page layout? Are you asking for too much information up front? Is the offer confusing, or simply not something people really want? The only way to know is to test, test, test. Luckily, it’s relatively simple to figure out which parts of any given page are working and which ones don’t spur customer interaction.

Testing Tools Make Optimization Easier

There are a few very affordable options out there for small, lower volume sites (under 20,000 visits a month). My two favorite options, Unbounce and Optimizely, let you or your web team pick and choose which elements to test, using your actual web pages in real time. Pretty neat!

However, these platforms can get pricey if your web traffic is above the 20,000 visit threshold. For Optimizely in particular, rates jump from $17/month to $70/month at this threshold, and $360/month when your monthly traffic exceeds 200,000 visitors.

Another way to try your hand at CRO without an upfront price tag is with Google Experiments. You can use this with your (hopefully already installed) Google Analytics. Google provides an awesome set-up guide for experiments, but it gets a little technical.

While your web team can handle the set-up, you need to think about the two versions of the same page you want to test. To make the test valid, only one small item should be changed between the two pages. Once you have created two versions, start showing them to your online visitors.

Now you are ready to start your test:

  • Pinpoint one clear call to action or other interactive element on a page and change it
  • Just like in science class, test one variable at a time against a non-changing variable (aka the control)
  • Show 50% of your visitors the control and the other 50% the variant- your analytics should prove which one is best
  • Permanently change your site to display the variation with the best outcomes
  • Test something else!

Once you’ve gotten comfortable with the basics, I recommend checking out these 666 regularly updated tips for conversion rate optimization from Unbounce, one of the experts in the optimization industry.  The bottom line? Your website is a work in process. Using these techniques, you’ll convert quicker and more often


think your website is up to snuff?

Go ahead, audit your site to find out