Improving Online Conversion Rates

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If you’ve ever had the misfortune to work in telemarketing, you know it’s all about the conversion rate: how many of those dinner-interrupting calls are you turning into sales? Actually, the conversion metric can measure more than sales: it basically tallies the percentage of prospective customers who take any action that you want them to take. For example, you might want them to fill out a form with their contact information; sign up for a special offer; or of course, put something in their cart and checkout online.

Why is increasing your conversion rate such a worthy goal? Isn’t your time and money better spent simply getting more customers? Not necessarily. Improving conversion rates can lead to a dramatic increase in profits because your advertising costs remain static, while more of your web visitors turn into paying (or obedient) customers.

The question for business owners becomes, how do I increase my online conversion rates in 2014 and beyond? Here are our best tips for improving web conversion without breaking the bank.

  • Follow established rules for copy. Relevant copy on your landing pages is essential. You have to grab your visitor’s attention so they stay on your site and go where you want them to. The best way to do this is to educate using short sentences; avoid pompous vocabulary; focus on the benefits of your product/service to the client; and make an impact with a killer, attention-getting headline. Then, test and edit! There is always something you can add, tweak or improve. The basics, like copy that is well-written, advances your brand, and emphasizes your USP, should be a no-brainer.
  • Make buying easy. This goes for your whole site: the harder it is to navigate, the fewer people will buy from you, leave their email address, or join your cause. That means people should be able to access your site with IE, easily find product information and specs, and clearly see exactly how to buy. There are always improvements you can make: for example, retail sites can ensure that customers are able to continue shopping after they have added something to their cart without having to hit the Back button and resume scrolling through hundreds of products again to find out where they left off.
  • Prove it. Customer testimonials help establish credibility, but nothing says legitimate like a phone number, physical address, and even live chat to show that your company actually exists and has good customer service.
  • Be honest. If you don’t ship internationally, be up front about this (the amount of US sites that still don’t ship to Canada is enormous, but do they bother to tell you that before you painstakingly design your greeting cards/compare and research products/analyze sizing charts?) Be up front about things like shipping charges, return policies, exclusions to your special offers, and limits or conditions on your guarantees and warranties.
  • Give options, not orders. If you force someone to create an account rather than checking out as a guest, or demand a phone number before they can download a free pdf, you are turning people off. By all means create hoops – just don’t force your prospects to jump through too many unless there is a significant benefit to them.
  • Show you care. If you have done your research and bothered to learn your audience, their desires and pain points, then you have probably learned enough to overcome their objections and get them to do what you want them to do. Taking a client-centred approach and putting yourself in your client’s shoes will help you with everything from effective web design to captivating special offers.

Now that you know how to improve your online conversion…you have to track it! You should measure your conversion at least monthly to test campaigns and designs, but ideally you would be tracking daily, so you can instantly identify problems (such as a website that isn’t loading or a broken link). Conversion tracking tools like Guiding Metrics can help.

It’s easy to see there are fairly simple web fixes that can have a huge effect on your conversion rate at minimal expense. Happy implementing!

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