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Thursday, March 5, 2009

9 Hot Tips to Increase Site Conversions

By Gary Klingsheim (c) 2009

"Site conversion" is a very dry and unexciting way of saying "how to get more profíts from the same amount of website traffic." Isn't that a more upbeat way of expressing it? Who doesn't want to get more profíts from the same number of visitors?

Increasing your conversion rate is a straightforward, even dramatic way of positively impacting your bottom line. It really cannot be emphasized too much that any improvement at all in your conversion rate means additional revenue that is total profít.

Remember this fact when you are told that the way to "make more money" is to invest in more traffic-generating schemes (and dreams, at times). Before you start spending more money to generate additional traffic, you need to do as much as you can with the traffic you are already getting. If you keep the horse ahead of the cart in your planning, you will have an efficient, stable, measurable conversion rate from which you can extrapolate x amount of additional profit from y amount of new-traffic generation.

The following tips are not in any particular order (except for Number 1), and can be modified and reordered to suit your particular situation. Take ownership of the change and improvement, and make sure everyone involved understands the importance of maximizing every revenue source, beginning with the existing ones!

1: Before you can repair or improve something, you have to have a good way of measuring where you are, what you're doing, where you're going, etc. You can sign up for a free Google Analytics account and use other low- and no-cost tools to develop your "analytics" and "metrics" - essentially fancy words that tell you how you're doing with numbers.

2: Create landing pages that are both keyword- and campaign-specific. Try separating any related pay-per-click keywords into smaller and tighter groups, and then create the landing pages for each of those new subgroups. Conversions will almost certainly be better if keywords, advertising approaches and landing pages are thematically related and tightly integrated.

3: Test different headlines and copy writing. This might be the most effective way of quickly showing improvements. Therefore, you need to write compelling copy or find someone else who can do it for you. There is plenty of free advice about this (much of it worth every penny you pay for it), but the importance of copywriting as it affects site conversions cannot possibly be overstated. This is key.

4: It is very important to test your pricing, as it really does make a huge difference in conversions. If your goal is to maximize customer value, then the highest converting price may not actually be the optimal one. In other words, if you raise your price by 50% and only see a 10% reduction in conversions, you will more than compensate for the drop. Going the other direction, if you lower the price 15% and this doubles or triples your ratio, your gain compensates for your price reduction. Test your prices, and test them in both directions.

5: Website load time has become an oft-overlooked item in this age of "broadband everywhere." Load time is critically important in reducing your "bounce rate" on landing pages. There are various online services that will measure your load speed (websiteoptimization.com), and when you know what it is, you can reduce it by compressing images, removing redundant items, optimizing your style sheets (CSS) and HTML code, and so on. The referenced website will also give you advice on other ways to improve your site's load speed.

6: Clearly identify the sales path(s) and discard any points of resistance, or bottlenecks. Even if you have just a single product, there may be a number of different "paths" that lead to a sale. Perhaps you have a landing page to acquire visitor contact data, which then takes them to a sales page, thence to an order page, and so on. Check your metrics and analytics carefully and you should start seeing patterns in how your visitors navigate your site. If you can see when, where and how visitors are leaving the site, you can delete unnecessary steps, enhance the sales copy or the "call to action," insert a few testimonials, emphasize your warranty or something else to capture that business. Do everything you can to keep the sales process simple and straightforward. The less confusing it is, the less resistance visitors will display.

7: Let your praises come from others' lips. Sometimes talking about oneself can sound egotistical, and it has been clearly proven that third-party testimonials boost conversions. In marketing it is called "social proof" when you bring in statements and assessments from others to buttress your message. If you add testimonials - short blurbs, highlighted quotes, letters - to your various landing pages, sales pages and even shopping cart pages, you will almost invariably notice an improvement in your conversion rate.

8: You need to understand the mind of your market, and your customer's experience with your website. Place an order on the site yourself as you step into the mind of a first-time visitor. Identify the hang-ups, inefficiencies and confusing or missing components that hinder your conversions. In concert with step #6 above, you want to identify why you are not converting, so that you can make the necessary improvements, whatever they may be, to improve your ratio.

9: Some people believe passionately in the power of media on landing, sales and order pages to raise conversions considerably. Others are not convinced, and there is not much hard data from controlled studies to consult. You should consider testing this idea yourself. You should try pages both with and without automatic play engaged. The idea is to lower buyer resistance, and if media helps, all the better. Music, motion graphics and video do add life and personality to your website, but there is a "sweet spot" (balancing point) and the fact remains that different age and cultural groups respond differently to the media. You need to make changes here in the context of your site's demographics. You wouldn't put rock music on your page of ladies' perfumes, probably - unless you have a 20-something demographic and it's a signature fragrance from U2 or some other chart-topping band.

Aren't most of these lists called the "top 10" this or that? You can count this tip as a bonus, then: Keep track of everything you do! Nothing "goes without saying" anymore, so you are hereby reminded that all your hard work can go for naught if you do not keep good records of what changes you are making, when, where, why and how. Chart your progress, review it regularly and don't be afraid to make continuing refinements as you move along your strategic path.

Finally, as a "super bonus tip" - use some kind of sales accelerator, "offer intensifier" or other method to move people faster through the sales process. It could be a special "one time" or "limited time" offer, a limíted quantity offer or even a "special event" promotíon. Research what's going on at other sites in your industry and others, and stay abreast of what seems to be working. Add your creativity to the mix, tailor things to your company's situation and you should start seeing increased conversion rates in short order.

Good Stuff!!!

About The Author:

Moonrise Productions is a custom web design company specializing in custom web development and design. Whether you need web application development or social network design - contact us and we'll get it done right.


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Anonymous said...

These are all good stuff! Search engine optimization is really about increasing your web traffic in order to get to the top landing pages of search engines

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