A new client came to me for help in increasing the number of visitors to her website since she was disappointed in the sales it generated. She was already funding a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) account costing over $300 per month, and was willing to pay (me) even more. After reviewing her site usage statistics, I found that only 10% of her visitors were getting past the intro page of her site. The only content on this page was a large graphic containing the name of the company and a few attractive images. Clearly this was not enough to encourage new visitors to enter the site. Once this intro page was replaced with a robust, content rich home page, sales increased…and so did her SEO!
Another client, a financial institution, wanted to increase the number of loans generated by their website. Like many other financial institutions, they had a listing of their more popular loans posted on the home page along with current rates. They decided to add an “Apply Now” button next to each loan listed, which linked directly to the online loan application. And sure enough, the number of loans applications increased, however, so did the number of declined loan applications –at almost an astonishingly one to one rate. We determined that most good loan candidates tend to first understand the terms and other loan details before applying. They don’t rush in and apply blindly. The “Apply Now” buttons were changed to “More Info” and linked directly to a page with the full loan details and other options, including ways to get a better loan rate. Only from this page could users access the online loan application. This resulted in a 300% increase in the total number of APPROVED loans.
These true stories are just 2 great examples of the possible hidden potential within many websites –perhaps even yours! Clearly, the improvements made in these situations had nothing to do with generating more visitors, but rather improving the conversion process with current, existing visitors. Often these conversion rate improvements can cost much less, and pay bigger dividends than merely increasing additional traffic to your site. Obviously, there are definite benefits of drawing more relevant visitors to your site, but if your website is failing to convert these new visitors into customers, then your efforts are like taking two steps forward, and one step back.
Before you pour more money into a PPC accounts, banner ads, and other traffic generators, take a good look at your site’s conversion rate and look for ways to improve it. One place to look is your website’s usage statistics, and see how people navigate the site, and which pathways tend to result in sales. Try to determine how you might revise your site to encourage people to take those paths. Look for ‘roadblocks’ where it seems people tend to bail, or leave the site before making a purchase, and try to determine why they stopped. You might discover that a well intentioned promo you added may be distracting your users away from the sales process. Perhaps your users may need additional information before committing to the sale. Look for ways to minimize or eliminate roadblocks and add any additional information your users want before they decide to buy in.
You may not be able to find all this information in your web statistics. You might want to add an online survey to gather user feedback, or use social media or email to open up a dialog with them. You might also consider conducting a user testing study.
Once your changes are in place, watch your conversion rate (percentage of your visitors that respond to your call to action), and see if it improves. If not, you may need to do further research and additional revisions, unless you have reached the limit of what is a typical conversion rate in your industry.
Once your site is fully optimized and efficient in converting users to customers, your time and money spent on attracting more new users will provide more bang for your buck.