Conversion optimisation is the rate at which a website or a campaign is successful in getting a user to take a particular action – this could be to sign up, to make a purchase, to make a second purchase after an initial one (upsell).
It is very difficult to get a user to buy a service or product online on the first contact. For this reason having a well-defined online profile – website, blog, social media, YouTube videos, etc – that allow prospects to “experience” your company or product a number of times before being asked to buy is very important.
So, the exact moment that you ask someone to buy is as crucial as how you ask them – the analogy often used is as follows;
when you are attracted to someone you don’t walk up to them and say;
“I think you are great – please marry me and have children with me.”
Most socially aware people would first invite them out to coffee and only after dating for a number of years would they raise the possibility of marriage.
Online sales is the same – you have to woo your prospect, make them feel comfortable, show them how great your product is for them and then ask for the sale!
There are exceptions to this to some degree – for example low-cost, well-known products that are disposable in the short to medium-term, that are sold on e-commerce websites generally do not need a lengthy or complex sales process. I’m thinking here of things like office supplies, school stationary, etc.
However for service-based businesses and bigger ticket products there is a lot of competition and the prospect is much more careful about where and from whom they buy.
So how do you optimise for conversions on a website?
First of all you must decide on the action that will count as a conversion – this could be a sale, or simply that the visitor clicks through to a particular page.
For example; on the home page there could be a banner advertising a new service and the conversion rate would be the number of visitors who clicked on the banner and through to the new page.
Once on that page, the next desired action might be to request more information by entering an email address.
Finally the third step would be to send an email with all the information and at some point ask for the sale.
In this scenario there are three different desired actions and each one has its own conversion rate – the number (as a percentage) who take the desired action.
Lead Generation or Sales?
Before you have a sale you must have a lead and for that reason the most successful business websites focus on generating leads - it is easier to generate leads online for a service-based business than to generate sales directly from a website.
So the goal is to generate leads which can then go into your sales funnel to be converted into a paying customer.
So, how do you optimise your website for generating leads?
A business website needs three things to generate leads;
- A useful and relevant offer
- A compelling call-to-action.
- A lead capture form
How successful your website is at generating leads will largely depend on how well you know your prospect, their needs and desires.
If you know your prospect very well then it is a fairly straightforward process to come up with a useful and relevant offer.
The offer MUST be connected to the product or service that you ultimately want to sell. I have seen many businesses offer financially valuable but thematically irrelevant items as a lead
generation device and they always fail.
For example, if you are a civil engineering company trying to get subscribers onto their email list, offering entry to a prize draw for free tickets to Kew Gardens is very random. Some of your prospects may be into gardening and flowers but there is a massive disconnect between the service and the offer.
Furthermore, the above offer is only giving a chance of getting something as it is a prize draw – so the offer is barely an offer at all, is irrelevant and therefore useless in relation to the businesses core services.
So, what should the offer be?
It should add value to the core service or provide a chance to experience the service without actually buying it.
So in this scenario a report, written, or on video or PowerPoint, examining the mistakes that people make when hiring a civil engineer and offering solutions to these common issues would be
more useful and more relevant.
Other ideas might be a case-study document showing how the company had to innovate to deliver a particularly difficult project, or a white paper detailing forthcoming implications of new legislation or new technology in the industry.
Now, you might be thinking that you don’t have the time or inclination to start writing reports or making videos. One answer to that is to outsource content creation; another is to go down the free consultation route.
Offering a free consultation is my preferred offer, especially for service-based businesses.
A free consultation as an offer is great for the following reasons;
- It doesn’t cost time or money to prepare
- Often businesses already offer one but aren’t leveraging it fully
- It allows the prospect to experience part of the service and the delivery of it without buying
- It allows the business to get into a 1-2-1 situation with the prospect, which means...
- ...it is an opportunity to sell the full service to the prospect
Lead Generation Websites built a website and created a marketing campaign for a local high street solicitor’s practise.
They already gave new clients a free 40-minute consultation but this fact was not really publicised or advertised widely.
On the home page and indeed every page of the new website a banner was placed at the top of the page, between the navigation and content, which said;
“To claim your complimentary 40-minute consultation just complete the form. We will call you back to arrange a convenient appointment.”
On the banner a large arrow was placed under the writing pointing to a form placed to the right of the banner.
The form asked for the following information;
- Phone number
- Nature of enquiry
It has been an unqualified success, generating many leads which have converted into new clients at a very good rate.
Why was it so successful? Because as well as being a useful and relevant offer it also overcame certain fears and objections the prospect may have had.
It was notable that some people were putting a lot of information in to the ‘nature of enquiry’ box. One person wrote almost their whole life-story and it was at that point that it became apparent what was actually happening!
For some people using a solicitor is simply a matter of process - when buying a house or completing a business transaction - but for others it represents huge personal and/or employment issue.
For example getting divorced, having a dispute at work, dealing with debt issues, etc – things that are very difficult to talk about with strangers.
In fact these things are difficult to talk about with anyone, so having a 'nature of enquiry' box allowed people to give a lot of info about their situation in a fairly easy and impersonal way.
It is easier, emotionally and psychologically, to write these issues down rather than say them to another person.
It is also easier to get a call-back than to make the call. Many times when you call offices you have to explain everything to a secretary and then get put through to the right person and go through it all again. With the call-back form, once it is completed and sent the prospect will get a call-back from the relevant person.
As well as making the process of enquiring easier, the free consultation also allays the fear of being charged for the initial enquiry or consultation – this fact encourages people to book a consultation because they know they will not be charged.
So, this offer ticks a number of boxes;
- Useful and relevant
- Experience the service before buying
- Easy to set up
- Overcomes certain doubts/objections the prospects may have
- Business gets the prospect's telephone number for quick and direct contact (emails are easy to ignore)
And the great thing about the call-back/consultation offer is that most service businesses offer it already and even if they don’t it is easy to set up.
It can work for certain products too – could be reworked as a product demo, or consultation on the results, etc. The principle remains the same, just the details change depending on the business, product/service and prospect profile.
Note the use of the word “complimentary” rather than “free” – “free” can attract the wrong type of prospect and some businesses would not want their brand to be associated with the phrase.
The call-to-action is fairly simple if the offer is useful and relevant. At its most basic the call-to-action is just simply telling the prospect what to do – click here, enter your contact details there, etc.
To make a call-to-action more compelling it needs to articulate a benefit.
For example, for the civil engineering company offering a report on the common mistakes companies make with their civil engineering hires, the CTA might be;
“Download our report and stop making the common mistakes that are costing your business money every day!”
The benefit of the report being that the company can understand the mistakes and become more profitable by not making them.
The Name Capture Form
This is a technical point. There are many options.
You could use a simple web contact form to do this.
Or an autoresponder sign up form such as aWeber, MailChimp or GetResponse.
I have used Google forms before, although they can be quite convoluted to set up.
Personally I would recommend using an autoresponder form because they generally look better and they also store sign-ups in a database which you can then leverage in other ways.
They also provide stats on the number of displays and the number of sign-ups so you get your visitor-to-sign-up conversion data automatically calculated.
Testing and Tracking
The whole point of knowing your conversion rate is so that you can test different elements and arrive at the optimum configuration.
The different elements are;
- Overall page design, placement and visibility of the banner and the lead-capture form
- The offer content
- The wording and presentation of the offer
- The call-to-action (CTA)
- The design of the banner
- What info requested on the form
- The traffic source
Questions to ask
- Is your page too 'busy' and is the message getting lost in the ‘noise’?
- Is the offer useful and relevant and is that highlighted in some way?
- Words are important – does ‘complimentary’ convert better than ‘free’?
- Is the CTA strong enough, or is it too strong and comes across as desperate or 'salesy'?
- Does the banner look attractive and professional?
- Are you asking for too much information on the form?
- Are any issues a result of the quality of traffic rather than the page/offer/CTA – for example are you sending untargeted social traffic from Facebook to a sales page?
- Are you ranking for the wrong keywords and so not getting qualified visitors?
- Identify what is useful and valubble to your prospects and craft and offer based on this.
- Craft a call-to-action and create a banner or video, or even just use regular text if technical limitations are holding you back.
- Add the call to action to your website togther with a lead capture form – this could be a regular contact form, or something more elborate like a custom form created through software or a 3rd party service such as LeadPages.
- Monitor results and after a period of time make a change to something if results are not satisfactory – this could be a change to te call-to-action, the presntation of the offer, or indeed the offer itself.
Whilst it’s true that it is necessary to get a lot of things right to generate leads – existing businesses with websites will already be a long way down the road and it is often a case of just making a few tweaks to see some results
Of course bigger changes are required to really scale this up but doing the things discussed in this podcast will set you on the right course and provide proof of concept that the strategy works and is worth investing in.
Next episode we are talking about on-page optimisation with the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress