Conversion optimisation; why you need to start putting the afterthought first
For a marketer, taking a step back and attempting to view your situation from a fresh perspective can be one of the most valuable things you do. This is especially true when it comes to looking at the behaviour of customers on your website.
When you’re familiar with your brand and its website, it’s easy to assume that you know what your customers are up to online. While this may be the case, it can be difficult to know for certain without on-going insight and analysis, as customer behaviours will often change over time.
When you’re driving a good amount of traffic to your site, generating leads and then converting them, the usability of the site can often be an afterthought. In fact, optimisation is so often overlooked that 63% of companies surveyed by ConversionXL in the 2016 State of Conversion Optimisation Report stated that they have no structural approach to onsite optimisation.
So what would a structural approach look like? A comprehensive conversion strategy needs to be based on more than just quantitative data, it needs to draw on a range of sources including in-depth qualitative customer research.
The best people to inform how you should improve your online presence are your website visitors. They are your best source of information and should be included in every step of the process, whether you’re re-designing or building your website, or simply performing routine updates.
Tools such as Google Analytics can be used initially to identify opportunities to improve the user experience, while tried and tested means of user testing, such as eye tracking and focus groups, will provide the insight needed to make and implement data-driven recommendations.
Combining customer data with different research methods allows analysts to create a bespoke testing strategy tailored to a brand. Simply following best practice site design doesn’t allow a website to fulfill its objectives, whether that’s converting a visitor to a sale, capturing data, downloading information, signing up to a newsletter, or simply engaging with the brand and the website for a significant amount of time.
The research should also focus on the whole customer journey to understand what motivates users; how they have arrived on the site, what they want to do on the site, for example make a purchase or search for a specific piece of information, and what they intend to do afterwards.
Using this information can help to improve the user experience for visitors across the board. This activity can be focused on improving micro-conversions such as phone calls, in-store visits or email subscriptions.
Investing the time in the insight phase pays dividends when it comes to creating more successful testing recommendations. While Google suggests that a success rate of one in 10 conversion tests is a good result, Epiphany’s tests to date have delivered a 75% success rate, which have driven an additional £850k of testing revenue alone for clients.
Conversion shouldn’t be approached as a one-off project, it requires on-going testing and refining to make a website as successful as it can be. Ensuring conversion is considered when making any changes to the site is vital in maximising any opportunity.
Expanding content with thought to the user journey increases the chances of turning each visitor into a customer. Likewise, testing all new hero banners and messaging will ensure all additions are made with the objective of the website in mind.
Given that the cost of building a new site can be quite high, it’s perhaps understandable that factors such as hierarchy structures, brand messaging and the “look and feel” of sites are often prioritised above conversion.
In the end though, the key factor for judging the success of a website should always be its ability to meet the objectives set out initially.
Michael Ellis is head of CRO at Epiphany.
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