Part One: Identifying Conversion Killers
What is conversion rate optimization?
A conversion occurs when a visitor completes a specific action on your website – purchasing a product or service, submitting a quote request or contact form, or signing up for an e-newsletter. Your conversion rate is simply total conversions divided by total visitors (for more on average conversion rates, read this post from Kevin Gold). Conversion rate optimization is the process of analyzing, improving and testing your website to increase conversion rates. In this series of articles, I’ll help you develop a simple, straightforward plan to figure out why visitors aren’t converting and how to fix it.
Why is conversion rate optimization important?
If conversion rate optimization is not yet a part of your standard routine, it should be. Depending on your traffic, a slight increase in conversion rates can have a significant effect on your bottom line. To put it in perspective, if a website like Amazon were to increase their conversion rate by a fraction of one percent, it would contribute millions of dollars in extra revenue each month. While your site may not quite be at the same level as Amazon, generating more revenue per visit means more efficient and profitable pay-per-click campaigns, affiliate networks, SEO and more. This additional revenue will allow you to spend more on scaling up traffic and increasing market share.
How to start identifying conversion killers
Figuring out where visitors are getting stuck, or why they’re losing interest in your website, can seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps and affordable tools that make it a relatively painless process.
If you don’t have one already, now is the time to set up a web analytics tool on your website (like Google Analytics). Web analytics allow you to track and analyze visitor behavior, including how long people stay on your site, which page they enter on and which page they exit from. Having analytics in place from the day you launch, and ensuring the tool is properly set up, gives you invaluable insights in to the performance of your website over time. Take the time to properly set up conversions (or goals), as well as funnels, to get the most value out of your analytics package (for detailed instructions on setting up conversions and funnels in Google Analytics, read this post).
To start identifying the web pages that are in the most immediate need of conversion optimization, set the date range in your web analytics package to a period of time that includes a significant number of visitors (at least 1,000, but the more the better). Make sure to account for major design and development changes on your website which could have significantly skewed the statistics one way or the other. Once you’ve identified a proper period, sort web pages by bounce rate to determine which pages are causing the most “bleeding.” To help you focus on the most important pages, use filters to limit results to web pages with significant traffic.
Utilizing web analytics and additional heat-mapping and conversion funnel tools, like CrazyEgg and ClickTale, you should be able to quickly come up with a list of critical web pages that deserve your attention. Once you have a list in hand, it’s time to start generating, prioritizing, implementing and testing improvement ideas.
Stay tuned for more conversion rate tips and tricks
In the next post, I’ll discuss tools and techniques for determining how to fix your critical pages, as well as methods for organizing and prioritizing website improvements. In the third and final post, I’ll present how to successfully test and validate the changes, and how you can run a consistent, continual and effective conversion rate optimization program. In the meantime, let me know what I missed, what else you’d like to know about conversion rate optimization and any tools and methods I missed.