We are in an era where every company of every size and description is competing for your attention, not only among themselves but with every agenda-driven individual. Every webmaster wants you to find them, follow them, read their blog posts, and subscribe to their e-mails. And, we are in a place now where the method to break through this noise is not necessarily to do the same things louder or more frequently but, rather, to do the same things better.
Thus, to help you be the found, followed, read, and subscribed to, I give you the following six ways to improve your website’s conversion rate:
1. Earn Trust
The source for all conversions is trust: When a person subscribes to your newsletter, they trust you won’t spam them; when a person follows you on Twitter, they trust you will share relevant and useful content; and, when a person clicks your site’s link on a SERP, they trust you will have an answer to their question.
How do you earn trust, you ask? Easy. Be relevant and helpful.
Forget about top-of-mind awareness
Top-of-mind awareness is a historically popular imperative of marketers. This notion of maintaining a sustained level of attention has been the goal of many for decades, with the thought being that when a potential customer develops a need for your product or service, it’s your company—your product or service—that the customer thinks of trying out first. In action, this typically means a ton of social media posts, a stream of constant e-mails, and a rush of web copy.
But, in today’s world, any level of awareness is difficult to maintain. Therefore, your goal should be to shift from strategies purposed at maintaining a specific level of attentiveness to strategies that capitalize when any level of attention is captured. In other words, earn your attention each time and convert as efficiently as possible.
And, be relevant
Consumers are progressively savvier than they once were. We are wary of messaging and awake to empty or sneaky promises. We have become accustomed to filtering out irrelevant noise while seeking for solutions.
Websites that only publish relevant content—answers to questions being sought—are the websites that earn and maintain visitor trust. Be that website.
2. Define What Constitutes a Conversion.
In the terms of a layperson, a conversion is anytime a goal is reached—for example, obtaining contact information from visitors, gathering form-based information, or selling a product from your website. These are the popular ones, but there are a slew of other actions that could be considered conversions in certain situations:
- Clicks on a specific link—maybe to a new webpage or video
- More comments on a blog post (my current goal-numero-uno)
- An increase in printing or downloading a new e-book
Ultimately, any track-able success metric can be considered a conversion. Once you’ve established what could and should be considered a conversion, you can start tracking and improving.
3. Track Your Progress Using Google Analytics.
With that point stated in all of its flawless glory, you’re ready to start tracking your conversions. Obviously, if your website has form functionality, then it most likely comes with some form (pun intended) of tracking the inputs—even if it’s not that advanced. However, the cream of the crop in tracking technology (especially for conversions) is the Google Analytics.
Track your “Events”
Of course, before you set-up Event Tracking, you need to set-up Google Analytics on your website. Once you’re site is verified, you’re ready to go:
Event tracking is done by inserting a “_trackEvent ()” string into the source code of a link. The formula for the string is as follows: _trackEvent (category, action, label) . The different “tags” are as follows:
- Category – This is a required field, and represents your preferred name of a group of links or objects. For example, your category might be “Video,” “Landing Page,” or the like.
- Action – Another required field, this is typically used to describe a specific type of interaction. Google’s example for an Action of a Video might be “Play,” “Pause,” or “Stop.”
- Label – An optional field, the Label allows you to add additional dimensions if you’d like. For example, I’d put “Small Businesses” for the Label of my Small Businesses Should Start Marketing Online video.
When you’re ready with your tags, locate the source code of the page within which the target link is located. You’ll be looking for lines of code that appear to be the following: <a href=”http://www.evanvanderwerker.com”>Check out my website!</a>
And, if I wanted to track this link as an Event, I’d alter the source code to look like the following: <a onclick=””_gaq.push” href=””http://www.evanvanderwerker.com””>Check out my website!</a>
Lastly, to view the success of your different Events, go to the Content section of your Analytics dashboard and view Event Tracking.
4. Improve Conversion With Your Website’s Design.
Ultimately, the thing to keep top of mind while you design and set-up your website for conversions is to keep everything as easy as possible for your visitors (and potential customers): Make actions concise and obvious; Keep multi-step call-to-actions as minimal and easy as possible; and, don’t be afraid to direct users with seemingly-insipid text or visuals.
Another cool tip I’d recommend is using a different design for your landing pages: Not anything crazy, but noticeably different to motivate a bit more attention from visitors.
5. Oh! Perfect Your Landing Pages.
Improving landing pages is one of best ways to improve your website’s conversion rate, because it’s one of the, if not the first thing a visitor will see when they visit from an inbound link. It’s your website’s first impression (don’t make me say it) and, therefore, you want to make sure you’re covering all of the basics:
- Keep your headlines clear and concise. There are a few landing pages out there that have been quite successful disobeying this rule (such as Dave Navarro’s “How to Launch the **** Out of Your Ebook” landing page); however, the general best practice is to show the visitor what the point of the page in as clear a fashion as possible.
- Keep your call-to-actions clear and concise. Needless to say, your call-to actions must be expected and quickly distinguishable visually.
- Limit your number of links. A link is a channel away from the page and often less productive than the call-to-action. If you must link away, than link away, but think long and hard before doing so!
- Keep your pages simple.
6. Optimize Your Forms.
The following tips will help you optimize your forms and make them easier to use:
- Minimize the number of fields to only those that are truly necessary. Even unrequired fields give the impression that the form will be tedious and not worth your visitors’ effort.
- Employ real-time feedback with AJAX as the forms are being filled out. For example, confirming correctly formatted e-mail addresses or passwords.
- Be very specific with unconventional form fields as to what you want. If you’re interested in knowing, for example, the biggest marketing-related challenge of your prospect’s company, make sure you’re labeling that field with more than just “Challenges.” Leave nothing up for interpretation.
- Make sure fields are large enough to show the entirety of entered text without having to scroll or use the arrow keys.
- Accommodate shortcuts, like copy-and-paste and tabbing from field to field. This will make filling it out quicker and, at least, not less enjoyable.
- Always send a confirmation e-mail to the visitor, thanking them for taking the time to fill-out the form and providing any additional, useful information (such as when they’ll receive a response).
Conversion rates are a difficult beast to tame, as they often change from website to website and sometimes even from month to month. Your goal, as the savvy webmaster that you are, should be to get a good handle on what conversions are within your realm of tracking ability and which ones are the most relevant to the success of your site. From there, you’ll play the try-track-refine game until you’ve established your own best practices for improving your site’s conversion rate.