What is Conversion Optimization?
The goal of any online campaign is to generate quality traffic, ideally consisting of visitors that convert. Conversion goals can vary depending on the desired action. A goal can include signing up for a newsletter, purchasing a product, making a phone call, clicking on an ad, or simply, just visiting a specific page for a certain period of time.
Within internet marketing, Conversion Optimization is the process of improving a goal’s performance. How can we increase the number of people who sign up for a newsletter? How can we generate more sales of our products? How do we encourage people to read the entire post? How do we generate more phone calls? How do we generate more ad clicks and leads?
Let’s Get Started
Before the campaign launches, the conversion goals must be established. A clear idea of what the desired outcome is will help establish the resources required to help convert the visitor.
Where Does the Engagement Begin?
We know the desired action, but what’s the path that a web visitor is going to take to reach the goal? That path should be as short and unencumbered as possible. Typically the landing page is going to do the heavy conversion lifting, but it starts with the very first click. How does someone reach the landing page? Are they going to see an ad, that’s tied to a keyword? Or are they going to see an organic result?
Psychology is important starting before the click. For a campaign to be successful, the ideal visitor demographic profile should be known. Who is your best customer? Sex, Age, Income, Education, Marital Status, Region? What is this ideal customer searching for online? What keywords will they use to find you?
Once your ideal customer types in a keyword, they will be looking for ad copy that resonates with them. If they search for “Widget A” then Widget A should ideally show in the Ad copy. What other text should appear? Talk to the customer, give them a benefit statement or two, then a call to action. Ask for their click, tell them to click or get started. Sometimes familiar words that provide a sense of comfort and trust are enough to get the click. Here are two examples.
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If multiple keywords are known to be searched for by your target customer, then a variety of campaigns should be created, each with a specific focus. Find out what keywords work, play with ad text, see which perform the best. What converts.
Your organic SEO strategy should pay close attention to keywords, but also to the copy contained within the page meta tags. The page title will get their interest, and the description will support the intention to click. Even the page URL will have a sub-conscious affect on the web surfers intention to click. Ensure the keywords are in the URL, and Page Title. Begin the description with a keyword. Talk to the customer, don’t just describe the page. Talking in a tone that resonates with a person will also go a long way to resonating with the search engines.
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What Else is Needed?
How much text content is needed? Are custom graphics or videos required, or will stock media suffice? Does a landing page need to be designed? What tracking mechanisms or third-party tools are required to help optimize and measure results. Once the resource requirements have been determined, it’s time to think through how to craft the message and design pages that communicate effectively.
Role of Text, Graphics, Layout and Color
Graphics and color draw someone in, but it’s the text that sells. It’s been said that as of 2012, people decide to take an action on a site or leave within 2.8 seconds. How do you convert a visitor so quickly?
Here are some key thoughts that help drive people down the conversion funnel.
Don’t fill a site with clutter, one big clear statement (as an H1), supported by a main graphic, a paragraph of copy, in a design that’s visually appealing is just about all that’s needed. If you find that more persuasive text could help, add a testimonial. People like bullets, but not too many, use 4 to 5. Some industries that need to communicate trust will typically add a row of corporate logos or certifications that inspire confidence that business is safe with them.
Back to color. Certain colors denote feelings and impulses in people. Pale greens are calming, bight red triggers intensity and even hunger, blues emanate trust, and orange is perceived as modern and progressive, white is modern, fresh, black is elegance. Try to choose a color pallet that reflects, your brand and your business.
What about buttons? It’s been said that certain colors convert better than others when used in buttons. Does a red button convert better than a green submit button? Or is it an orange button? Only testing will determine what’s going to work best on your site, but a rule of thumb is to make the button stand out. Use a complementary color. White button on a black site, red button on a green site, purple button on a yellow site, you get the idea. Yet, there’s more we can do with buttons. Button text. What text works best? Submit, Click, Sign-Up, Buy? Whatever the action is, whatever the purpose of clicking is, tell the visitor. If clicking the button signs them up for a newsletter, tell them. If clicking takes them to a purchase screen, or adds an item to the shipping cart, let them know.
Tracking Your Goals
How many people are visiting the site? How many people are clicking on the ads? How many people are buying your products after clicking on your ads? How long do people spend on your site before making a purchase? All the data you need is available, but the correct tracking codes need to be installed on the web site. Then goals need to be setup.
Google provides a free tracking with Google Analytics. You’ll need to add a snippet of code to every page of your website, or in the case of a CMS such as WordPress, add the Analytics ID to a plugin.
Google also provides conversion tracking within AdWords, which will show how many people complete a desired action. The goals can be setup with a value, to help show a return on investment. Conversion tracking helps answer the questions of “How many clicks, at what cost, compared to the revenue I made? Is what I’m doing online working?”
Google Analytics also provides the option of setting up goals. Included within goals are a list of URLs/web pages, in order of proceeding towards a conversion. First a user visits a landing page, then completes the form and arrives at a thank you page – goal complete. What percentage of people complete the form on the landing page? With a multi-step form, how many people drop out of the process at which step?
The data provided by tracking tools will give information that can be acted upon. If you see people are dropping out at the 3rd step of a 4 part form, maybe the 3rd step can be revised or the form shortened. Data provided the insight that can be used to test your optimization implementation.
Test, Test and Test Again
The site is beautiful, the landing page is simple and communicates your message, the buttons are the right color and the video overview is professional. Can the site be improved? YES! Testing and refinement will help insure you’re improving the ROI of your online initiatives. Change out the graphics, change the colors, change the text, change the form, change the button color and text. Change just about everything, but just one item at a time. Changing more than one element will not identify what change had a positive or negative affect. Change the button color and see the results. Modify the background image. Change the title of the ad copy.
Continual testing will help alleviate site burnout. If a site has a high number of repeat visitors or ads are shown to the same people over and over, then tendency towards boredom may set in. The ads or site may be ignored. Add fresh content and visuals, and keep engagement high. Testing helps here as well.
What Tools are Available?
I’ve mentioned lots of things to consider when planning and performing conversion optimization. It can be a bit daunting, but thankfully there are tools available to help make the process of conversion optimization easier. Rather than giving an exhaustive list of resources, here are just a few that are well proven and work.
Visitor and Goal Tracking:
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