Is My Website Hurting my Sales? (10 Critical Website Conversion Optimization Tweaks)
Websites seem like extra load, extra stress. They are in fact going to be. When you create websites, you need to create blog posts, think of SEO and other digital buzz words. Its enough stress dealing with social media pages. Why add a website to the mix? And then you’ll have to find a designer who knows what they are doing. Not just put up a website that looks like a 90s newsletter.
So, its understandable that a lot of marketers do not have a website. But, your website will be the center of your online presence, not your Facebook page. Your Facebook page should lead people to your website. Your website is your own personal/business space.
When building a website, you should think of one thing primarily, not SEO, not boutique or minimalist designs, not the competition:
Everything else comes under website conversion optimization.
“In internet marketing and web analytics, conversion optimization, or conversion rate optimization is a system for increasing the percentage of visitors to a website that convert into customers, or more generally, take any desired action on a webpage. It is commonly referred to as CRO” – Wikipedia
Conversion optimization is basically asking the question; “how many of the folks who visit our website will turn into leads.”
i.e in mathematical terms,
CR (conversion rate) = Number of new leads/Number of visitors
Or in the case of a b2c or c2c salesperson, Number of new sales or sales calls/Number of visitors
Conversion rate optimization is how we improve this rate.
In this post you’ll learn the elements of a conversion friendly website. Then you’ll see how to measure conversion rate so you can put a value on how well your website performs.
Make Your Website Conversion Friendly
- Mobile Optimization. At a time when businesses are creating mobile apps to engage with mobile visitors, if your website presents a shoddy mobile experience, you’ll justifiably lose money to the competition. Conversion optimization is all about taking away the hiccups, even the little ones, that’d hinder a prospect from wanting to engage with you. The bulk of sales happen on mobile and more people visit websites via mobile, so creating a great mobile experience is a no-brainer. You should also consider complementing this first touch mobile impression with a mobile app that fits in with your branding.
- Targeted Messaging for the right buyer. Take the right time to develop a persona of people who might visit your website. What type of messaging would they find attractive. So, as a real estate agent, I have a persona that likes modern kitchens, instead of a generic CTA like “Check out my new listings”, I might link to a blog post like “20 of the best kitchen styles in 2019”. It makes it easier for prospects to stay long enough to view my listings. Housebeautiful accomplishes this by featuring their 5 best posts at the top of the page.
- Your Picture (or better still, your video). Put your image up front and anywhere else. Your image doesn’t have to be of an “all-suited up” briefcase carrying persona. I think that’s more common than ever today. It’s become generic. You should have an image that makes you easier to communicate with. The point is to create a relatable experience. And if you can introduce yourself with a video, that’d be even better because you’ll keep more people engaged. Keep your intro video short (about 1 min) and small-sized to create a fast user experience. Personal branding expert, Leonard Kim shows many sides of himself through his website.
- Fast Loading. Slow loading websites are conversion drainers. Think a first date! Slow load speed is like getting stood up for an hour on a first date. Most people would definitely close the tab and never come back. And Google takes the hint. If you work with a professional, they should already know the importance of this.
- More functionality. You want to give people more things to do on your website. The more things they can do, the longer they stay and the higher the probability that they convert. You can do this with a landing page, an app download or by offering freebies.
- A freebie that’s worth it. If you choose to include a freebie, make sure it’s worth something. Before giving it out, ask yourself, “would someone genuinely pay for this info?” Not “10 tips”. Google literally begs me to read the mass of content already written on “10 tips”. And don’t just offer something valuable, make sure you accentuate the value of what you offer.
- Easy navigation. Okay, I’d like to see your blog page. But why do I need to click on the “about us” drop down to see your blog post under “Our Las Vegas team”? Many big companies do this. It really wouldn’t hurt them anyway. But for small businesses, it could. First impression matters. Visiting a website for the first time, a hidden blog page tells the fact that the blog page isn’t important. This means there will be less traffic to that page.
- Value-packed content. Yes. If we’re talking about conversions. Then we should talk about value packed content. Value-packed content should explore all possible assumptions and should be one of the best sources of information on a topic. At least, some of your posts should fit this criteria.
- Good design. You don’t want it slow and you don’t want to create a UX headache, yet you need it to attract. Does your website attract? Or is it bland? Find a balance between speed and design. Make it easy to browse through but a place visitors would want to stay longer in. The Ogilvyone website communicates with visitors through a simplistic design.
- A/B tests. Increasing conversions isn’t a one-time thing. There are tools to check the performance of different aspects of your website. Heatmaps will show what places users are clicking on. Analytics will show the big picture results. You should change one thing at a time on your website to see what works. Would a red “Click me” button convert better on your lead form? Don’t just guess. Test it. This might require that you be in constant communication with your web designer.
Having a website is no guarantee to sales. In fact, your website may be hurting your sales. This is a major reason why you want to A/B test singular aspects of your website at a time and see the results you get. This means you have to know how valuable to your business your website is? And how different changes affect website conversions.
Now that you’ve seen 10 ways to improve your website’s conversions, it’s time to see how you can measure these changes to your conversions over time or in real time. There are three ways to do this:
1. Website Surveys
2. Google Analytics
3. Traffic Heatmaps
Surveys when done right will give you the best insights about how your website impacts your business. Yet, relying solely on website surveys is tricky because person A’s experience will be different from person B’s. But when you find commonalities in suggestions, you need to take action. There are three ways to implement a website experience survey, depending on the size of existing traffic you get:
- If traffic to your website is low, add a web survey form that pop ups whenever a user is about to leave your website. They’re leaving anyway so it’s less of an interruption. If they leave feedback, great.
- If traffic to your website is high, you should reach out to a small section of your customers about their experience on your website.
- In any case, you can list your website on user testing websites like usertesting or respondent and get views from real people about your web and mobile experience.
Website Experience Surveys
When starting out, it’s easy to ignore the obvious facts like organization and usability, you just want to increase traffic without taking any thought to how well they’d convert. Website experience surveys are like app surveys that pop up ideally when a user is about to leave your website. You can create a website experience survey with tools like Survicate and Pendo.io and set up predefined criteria to select whom the survey will display to.
These tools will help you capture user sentiments in real time both on web and mobile. They’ll help you optimize your website for increased conversions at the early stages. Here are some tips if you plan to implement this:
- You don’t want to ask many questions. Ideally, one to four questions is good.
- Always ask how they found your website. This will give you real insights into what marketing channels are working for you to help focus your efforts.
- “Use targeting to adjust the message to the context. Example: don’t ask a question ‘How would you rate your overall experience?’ right after a person enters your website. Trigger this question when a person is about to leave the website after browsing at least a few pages.” – Lucjan Kierczak, Survicate
Customers are the best sources of actionable insights for your business. A customer represents an ideal prospect for a business. When we know what they want, we can improve their experience on our website and optimize to attract people with similar interests.
Again, the best surveys have these in common:
- They are short. Nobody wants to spend 10 minutes asking questions they aren’t getting a certification or payment for.
- The questions are clear and easy to answer. Most people would answer a rating scale question because it’s easy. You can take it a notch further by finding out the “why” behind the rating.
- They are not just ideas filed away. Customers see the effect of their responses and they’ll more readily offer them next time. That is, the company takes action using insights from the surveys.
User Testing Surveys
Customers might not want to hurt your feelings. Having random people give unbiased information about your user experience based on selected usability criteria will be money well spent because you’re going to get long term value from these insights. Websites like Usertesting.com vet users to answer questions about your website experience. The price is set at $39 per person. Without having to install code or create surveys, you can see where real problems lie with your website in real time. For each person that visits your website, you will receive a video response and metrics to help you take quick action. The best part is that, the user tests can be run on select platforms e.g iphone, android, PC… to see your website’s usability on a wide range of devices.
Here are some points to bear in mind with user testing surveys:
- It’s easy to get muddled up in a bulk of information. You want to focus on trends and commonalities.
- Test participants should belong to your target audience. Don’t just recruit based on demographics. But recruit folks who would engage with your brand.
When you hear about Google analytics, you get a tingle of fear. No that’s for the pros to deal with, you say. I know I used to feel that way. Used to ignore measuring alltogether. So I understand that noobness. The thing that befuddles most people when it comes to analytics is the set up and the time it takes figuring out what to measure and how to measure it.
Let’s cover these quickly:
1. Setting Up
2. What to measure in Google Analytics
3. How to measure these.
- Create your analytics account
Here you want to login to your google account and navigate to the the Google analytics sign up page. Fill in your account name, your property (website) details. Once you’ve filled in the details, you want to click on Get Tracking ID. Your tracking ID is unique to your website. It’s like an identifier for pages of your website. Anywhere the code is, Google tracks.
- Copy your tracking code/ID
Once you got your tracking code, copy it into a notepad.
- Install a plugin like Analytify and paste your tracking ID
Without using a plugin, you’ll need to manually add the tracking code containing the tracking ID into every page of your website. A plugin like Analytify automates this process and displays basic results in your WordPress dashboard. To set up Google Analytics Dashboard for WP, activate the plugin, then click on Insights. You want to go to settings and click “authenticate with your Google account”. Once you login, the plugin would be able to access your analytics account and display results via your WordPress dashboard. You can still view your website analytics data when you login to analytics.google.com
What to Measure in Google Analytics
Forget the the complex stuff. Essentially, you should be interested in knowing four things the number of visits (unique traffic); what page the bulk of this traffic goes to (Visitor behavior); where the bulk of traffic comes from (Outbound traffic) and what part of your page they spend the most time at (Bounce rate).
You’ll get most of this information by clicking on the Home tab.
This article is most concerned with conversion rate. Page conversions. When it comes to measuring page conversions i.e how effective your lead magnets/forms are, you would need to set up events/goals.
You need a Google Tag Manager account to set up events that can be viewed in Google Analytics reports. The fact that you need to set up Google Tag manager doesn’t provide an exciting prospect. But event reports are more comprehensive than goal reports and wouldn’t need much tweaking after they’re set up. For example, you can set up an event to track all downloads on your website, or an event to track page scroll depth within all your pages. Goals, on the other hand, need to be set by someone with admin access (if it’s a company website) and manually too. Setting up goals for more than 10 pages would be time intensive, in which case events would be better.
Measuring Traffic, Visitor behavior and Conversions in Analytics
There are so many tabs and they are all very important. However, to avoid information overload, you should be interested in traffic, visitor behavior and conversions at this stage. By the way, this article (https://neilpatel.com/blog/google-analytics-reports-to-improve-marketing/), touches on the intricacies of Google analytics. You can check it out. For beginners, you want to keep your attention on these three insights, most of which can be gotten from the Audience – Overview tab. Enlarge your screen to avoid distraction and get a clearer view of your reports.
To understand traffic activity, you need to understand the following terms:
Sessions: The total number of visits to your website, including both unique and repeat visits.
Users: The total number of unique IP addresses that visit your website.
Page Views: The total number of times your pages or posts have been viewed.
Obviously, the users tab presents a good estimate of unique traffic. At the audience overview tab, you see the overall performance of your website measured in terms of bounce rate i.e how long people stay on your pages. You want to aim for a bounce rate of 40% (depending on total traffic).
You can measure traffic by device also:
In fact, you shouldn’t ignore measuring how your website performs on mobile. On the audience section, navigate down to find Mobile> Overview.
If you already set up goals, you can measure the performance of each goal set on different devices also. You want to look at the engagement metrics in the behavior section; bounce rate, pages/session and average session duration.
A high number of pages viewed per session is good since it means visitors are spending more time on your website, which would consequently translate to more conversions.
A significantly lower retention rate (i.e higher bounce rate) on mobile devices is a red flag.
Traffic by Page
WordPress plugins readily display traffic and bounce rates by page/post. If you use a WordPress plugin like analytify, navigate to the dashboard and view the stats. To see the number of users browsing each page or post of your website on the Google analytics website, click on the Behaviors tab, go down and open up site content. Then select All pages.
Visitor behavior in Google analytics
Before we talk about conversions, wouldn’t it be great to be able to direct your customers to perform specific actions on your website? It’s possible to do this using insights from the visitor behavior section on the analytics dashboard.
As mentioned before, there are three primary insights you should be interested in, the number of unique traffic each page gets; what visitors do once they get to each page; what page the bulk of traffic goes to and where the bulk of traffic comes from.
To glean summarized user behavior insights, click on the overview tab under behavior.
You can view a snapshot of activity by page in “Behavior flow”. The behavior flow shows what pages of your website visitors enter from (landing pages). A landing page isn’t necessarily a home page, it could be a long form post. Behavior flow shows the progression of web visitors from landing pages to starting pages to interactions and then exit pages (where they leave). Using the behavior flow chart, you’ll discover what pages of your website visitors people find most engaging and which pages are least engaging. This is useful if you’ll be setting goals.
Obviously, one of the most important insights you’ll want to measure in Analytics is where traffic comes from. This means you can get factual information about which of your lead generation efforts pay off in the short term. This is good because it helps you become more efficient at driving leads to your business. A good place to start is scrolling down to search i.e Behaviour – search. This shows you how many people visit your website from search engines. The next best thing is to to look at the search terms they are searching for i.e Behavior – search – search terms.
If you want a full summary of websites or platforms bringing in traffic to your website, navigate to Acquisition – Overview or click on Acquisition – All traffic, then select Source/Medium. If you use WordPress, you can track this directly in WordPress using a plugin like Google Analytics by MonsterInsights.
Measuring Conversions with Goals
One of those terms that make it all seem like a complex puzzle is goals. The word goal simply means what it stands for literally. Asking a question like, “what do we want to achieve? and are we achieving that?”. It’s one of the chief perks of using Google analytics. You can put a value on your goal and see how close or how far you are.
On the analytics page, you’ll see this intro:
“Goals are a versatile way to measure how well your site or app fulfills targeted objectives. You can set up individual Goals for discrete actions like sessions to a Thanks for registering! page, a Download completed screen, a minimum session duration, or a specific purchase amount.”
They show you how well your website does what you want it to do i.e convert visitors into leads or customers.
You can measure conversions, or completion rates, for each Goal you set up. Combine Goals with Funnel visualizations to analyze user actions leading up to a Goal. If you set a monetary value for a Goal, you can also see the value of conversions.
You can set up to 20 goals.
Simply scroll down to conversions – Goals.
The standard goal templates cover acquisition (sign ups and downloads), revenue (purchases or appointments), inquiry (more information), engagement (bookmarks and shares).
You can also create a custom goal type. After selecting a template, give your goal a name under Goal description, select an ID and a type, fill in more detail under the goal detail and enter details e.g destination URL. This would be great if you wanted to see how many users got to your thank you page; you could also measure how many users visited three or more websites.
Google Analytics Signals
Google is planning to bring some deeper customer and demographic reporting features into analytics. According to Google, “this allows advertising Features are being enhanced to help you better understand your customers across devices using Google’s signed-in data”.
Here are some things to expect:
- New Cross Device capabilities: Including new Cross Device reporting and remarketing.
- More insights using Google data: Provides deeper insights on your customers using Google data such as enhanced Audience and Demographics reporting.
- All existing Advertising Features: Includes all existing Advertising Features such as Display & Video 360 impression reporting and remarketing, Google Display Network impression reporting and remarketing, and Remarketing Lists for Search Ads.
Heatmaps are much useful for optimizing landing and home pages. You can see how people interact with your CTAs, their scroll patterns and eye movements. This is useless if you have a small website with a few couple thousand blog readers. But with much more traffic, you’ll be able to see patterns that can help you make great user experience decisions. Getting the data might be easy but interpreting heatmaps can present a challenge.
“If you don’t know what you’re looking for in your heatmaps, you’re basically screwed” HotJar CEO, Dr. David Darmanin
This is why you should combine data from Google Analytics with your heatmap findings.
There are basically 5 types of heatmaps:
- Clicks and taps (displays what people are clicking on in your pages)
- Scroll maps (Shows how far people scrolled before dropping off pages)
- Movement maps (Mouse/hover patterns/movements)
- Eye-tracking maps (Must be viewed with specialized equipment – shows eye movement, i.e what more people tend to look at)
- Screen recordings
The eye tracking maps would be great for research. Movement maps only possess 64% accuracy, according to Google. And screen recordings are essentially not maps, they might not lead to a useful conclusion since you’re dealing with a lot of data. So you want to focus on clicks and scrolls. The clicks show you which of your CTAs and links are most clickable or attractive. Scroll depth gives the visual representation of how far people scrolled down your page before dropping off. This represents how engaging your content or content elements are on the page.
The best use for heatmaps would be to confirm your findings from Google analytics. From Google Analytics, you should have a series of questions or hypotheses, then use results from your heatmap tests to make fact-based deductions. Tools like Hotjar, CrazyEgg or Zoho’s WebAnalyzerPlus will give you the data you need.
Now, I hope we’ve not dabbled in a lot of complex stuff. The goal is to make it simple. For most uses, it’s okay to go with the Google Analytics basics and ignore the rest. But as you grow, you’ll find other tools worthwhile.