Why conversions are more important than clicks

You built your website and are driving traffic to it. You wrote compelling copy and set up an analytics program to monitor traffic trends. Now it's time to sit back and reap the rewards of all your hard work, right?

Wrong.

Now it's time to analyze all those charts and graphs within your analytics program, and optimize your site for lifting conversion rates.

A conversion occurs when a user visits your site and takes the desired action (makes a purchase, subscribes to your service, submits a form, downloads an eBook, etc.). Your conversion rate is the percentage of your overall traffic that takes the desired action. The reason to optimize your conversions is to increase the percentage of users who do what you want them to.

Three years ago, conversion rate optimization was the new kid on the block; a few people were listening, and a few people were preaching, but most were more interested in how to get the click than how to convert them.

Last year, conversion rate optimization became the hot shot on the block with everyone discuss-ing it online, in conference rooms, and at marketing conferences around the world. Today, conversion rate optimization has arrived in all its glory, and is fast on its way to becoming the leading strategy for online marketing. 

Old strategies should be tossed out the window like failed resolutions, and the focus should shift to creating a solid plan for moving users past the initial click toward conversion.

The hot shot
Online marketing is no longer an adjunct channel. In fact, for many businesses it is now the primary channel to their markets. As we move deeper into 2010 and beyond, it's time for management and the executive level of organizations to embrace conversion rate optimization, and send it into action in order to improve the bottom line for their organizations.

Along that same line, executives should be passing the hard results down through management and beyond. How your media and marketing is performing isn't something to hide under the table. Everyone should be focused on performance, and performance data should be distributed through the entire organization in order to keep innovative ideas pulsing through the bloodstream of the company.

If your executive team isn't focusing on conversion rate optimization, get them there. The great thing about conversion rate optimization is that it produces numbers -- really great numbers that are sure to make execs sit up and take notice. While individuals or teams can find small successes on their own, executive sponsorship can bring optimization onto the main stage.

If you are dealing with hesitant executives, pitch them the numbers. Show what the ROI could be through proof of concepts (lower cost per acquisition, increased revenue, and increased leads). Try running a pilot, or use an ROI calculator to model various conversion lifts. Present the execs with case studies and whitepapers that show what other companies have been able to achieve. Use your inside knowledge to tailor your pitch to hit exec hot spots and don't forget to tie conversions into the overall business objectives.

Finally, don't give up. This is the year of conversion rate optimization, and sooner or later your executive team will jump on board. When they do, be ready to hit the ground running with a solid plan.

Content is king, but conversion is queen
Once everyone is on board, it's time to start thinking about the relationship between content and conversion.

In order to achieve significant ROI from online campaigns, marketers should be thinking about how to get users into the funnel and out the other end. Here are some great ways to increase your lift and become a conversion queen:

  • Use campaign-specific landing pages.
  • Echo the message of the ad on the initial landing page.
  • Employ continuous testing for continuous conversion improvement.

These strategies will help you go outside the box. Keyword substitution, multipage experiences, and behavioral targeting can make your pages even more relevant.

Additionally, you should ensure that all of your pages are focused, and that the copy and headlines are well written. Your headline should be outcome-focused, not featured focused, because people are interested in the end result your widget will produce for them, not so much how it will do it.

You will also want to make sure your overall design matches the message. If you're promoting online class enrollment, don't use a picture of an in-person classroom -- it sends the wrong message.

The final note I'll leave you with is to remember to test, test, test. No one thing will work for everyone, so try everything at least once.

Conclusion
Ignoring conversion optimization best practices in today's personalized, online world would be committing marketing suicide. Just don't do it.

Anna Talerico is executive vice president, ion interactive.

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Comments

Anna Talerico
Anna Talerico March 11, 2010 at 12:14 PM

Thanks for your feedback Jeffrey.

Jeffrey Epstein
Jeffrey Epstein March 11, 2010 at 9:12 AM

I think you nailed it. It is exactly my presentation to our hotel associates. Thanks for writing it down!

Anna Talerico
Anna Talerico March 2, 2010 at 11:42 AM

Thanks Sharon, I appreciate your comments - and love your new "Marketing dream team" blog post!!!

Sharon Mostyn
Sharon Mostyn March 2, 2010 at 9:22 AM

I really appreciate your insights, Anna. I agree that conversion rate optimization is extremely important and love your final admonition to test, test, test!