The upcoming year is bound to be one that is full of challenges and opportunities for online marketers. To help our readers navigate throughout these treacherous waters, we asked some of our most popular contributors for their thoughts on what will be ahead throughout 2011 in a variety of different arenas — SEO, PPC, Conversion, Local Search, Email Marketing, and Social Media. Each week for the next six weeks, we will present their thoughts on one of each of those fields to help you get off on the right foot in the new year. Two weeks ago we read suggestions regarding Search Engine Optimization (SEO), last week the topic was Pay-Per-Click Marketing, and this week the topic is Website Conversion.
As we head into 2011, what will be important to consider for increasing conversions?
Andrew Follett of Concept Feedback — “Website testing and optimization, whether it be A/B, multivariate, or more advanced personalization and segmentation (e.g., maxymiser.com), is going to become more and more commonplace in companies small and large, partly driven by the growing number of affordable, easy-to-use online testing tools. Also contributing to the growth is the increasing recognition that conversion rate optimization has been receiving for the role it plays in reducing customer acquisition costs and increasing per visitor revenue.”
Andrew Bernero of Relevancy Media — “The same principles basically apply in 2011 – make sure that your call to action is prominent, make sure that your buy flow is as simple as it needs to be, and be sure to have the appropriate tracking measures in place to easily understand performance and optimize based off of that data. Consider testing call tracking, live chat, etc., if you have not already.”
Bill Slawski of SEOByTheSea – “Getting a better grasp of how to effectively use analytics to make changes to a site, rather than just generating reports that end up dusty on executive desks. There have been a lot of improvements recently to the reports shown in both Google Analytics, and Google’s Webmaster Tools, and the actionable information found in those shouldn’t be ignored.”
David Chapman of Webrageous Studios — “Look folks, this isn’t rocket science. Make it easy for people to contact you. Don’t make people search for your contact information. Your phone number should be listed clearly on each and every page of your website in LARGE font. you should also have a contact form on every page of your site.”
David Rodnitzky of PPC Associates — “A conversion cannot just be measured by whether a customer was acquired, but by whether that customer is retained. Creating incredible landing pages that get customers to do what you want them to do, and then treating them poorly after the conversion is a fast track to the poor house. Companies like Amazon and Zappos understood this years ago – now its time for the rest of the online marketing world to get with the program too.”
Charles Nicholls of SeeWhy.com — “Abandonment rates have been steady at around 70% for the last 10 years. Given the improvements in on-site experience, this shows that customers are getting more sophisticated. 88% or 136m people abandoned shopping carts this year (Forrester). What can brands do to make a significant impact on their conversion rates?”
Jaimie Sirovich of SEOEgghead – “Faceted navigation.”
Guy Hill of DroidINDUSTRIES — “I have been pitching a few different angles to clients on conversions. Here are some examples:
1. How many ways could your customer possibly spend money with you? Even if it’s unlikely they will show up at your door with a check, what other ways could they spend money or start the sales process? Brainstorm on that. Think of your own consumer preferences. Come up with a realistic list of ways a customer could begin a transaction. Then, take a step back and think about your search marketing (or other online efforts). Pay special attention to your landing pages and homepage. If you listed three reasonable ways for a customer to contact you, but your LP only has one way to convert, you might be able to improve.
2. Don’t force the customer to convert “your way.” Let them convert any way they want. Let go, acknowledge that your customers are smart and have choices. Give them those choices and they’ll convert at higher percentages.
3. The role of the phone – as in “inbound phone calls from search marketing initiatives” – is a very interested conversation that many advertisers ignore/resist. If half your inbound leads from online efforts actually come via the phone, but you only acknowledge “completed web forms,” etc., you are kidding yourself about existing conversion rates, and probably using the wrong data to optimize your spending. This conversation is worth having, but the resistance is thick.
4. When you think about conversion, think beyond your “web form” and web-only conversions. If you can see *all* your conversions, your ROI improves, and you’re in a position to make better decisions from there.
5. Lastly… “the second bite at the apple.” This is “lead nurturing meets search marketing.” Not all conversions happen in the initial transaction.”
Hallie Janssen of Anvil Media, Inc. –
- Use a third party tool to examine how users interact with your site and shopping cart (UserTesting.com) – make improvements based upon feedback to reduce barriers, increase confidence, and improve conversion performance
- Conduct simple A/B testing or more complex multivariant testing on your landing pages – never think that your landing pages are good enough.
- Don’t forget to factor in competition when examining your conversion rate – a lot of people are comparison shopping, if your pricing isn’t as good as your competitor’s (including shipping too!), customers are likely to go elsewhere.
Magnus Nilsson of BraveNewMe — “The biggest thing is still to just do it. Web site optimization is a key element that is often not budgeted for separately by brands, but can reap tremendous long-term benefits.”
Patrick Hare of Web.com Search Agency — “Improving site trust and streamlining the sales process will always be critical for increased conversion. Monitoring your prices on comparison shopping sites can also be a great way to bring in high converting customers who can be upsold with value-adds and accessories.”
Tim Ash of Sitetuners.com — “With the advent of ConversionConference.com (and similar sites), the industry is really growing up. New positions are being created inside of companies to focus specifically on conversion improvement. Mobile landing pages will become more important as people’s usage patterns move away from computer monitors.”
Watch for next week’s entry which covers what is ahead for online marketers in 2011 as far as local search is concerned.