Conversion optimization- a five-step methodology

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It’s all too easy to see online marketing in terms of the number of visitors that a search optimization strategy or an ad campaign generates over the course of a week or a month. And of course, it’s a numbers game. If your conversion rate runs at, say, 4.0% and your marketing campaign raises the average number of daily visits from 100,000 to 150,000 then you’re going to see a significant upturn in sales.  

But it’s important not to forget the other side of the equation – namely the conversion rate itself. Online marketing spend has been spiralling ever higher over the last few years, not least because businesses are diverting funding from more traditional channels. But competing with rivals in areas such as display advertising, social media campaigning and even SEO can be an expensive way to drive revenues. So it’s vital that when customers come to your site, you also take steps to secure the best possible conversion rates.

There are, of course, a lot of factors at play here, not least pricing. However, when you begin to look at the site itself the chances are that you’ll discover issues that effectively put up small or large barriers to conversion. These barriers range from poorly designed pages that customers find difficult to navigate to software components that are either functioning badly or presenting usability problems.

To a greater or lesser degree, all sites have barriers of this type and it’s essential to find and rectify them in order to optimize conversion rates. Or to put it another way, you know how many customers are dropping off before conversion – the stats will tell you that – but what you really need to understand is why they are doing so and the impact on revenues. Once you do know that you can fix the problems. 

UserReplay offers a five-step process for this:

Active Insight Methodology

1) Discover the problem

The first step is discovery. UserReplay enables you to capture and then replay customer journeys, page by page through the site. This provides a hugely powerful means to see the site as the customer sees it. And in particular it allows you to observe how the customer interacts with the various components – including page design, fields, forms, shopping carts – and identify where problems are arising. 

2) Analyze the impact

Not all the issues you identify will be major in terms of their impact on conversion rates and sales. Resources in all organizations are limited, so it’s important to assess the impact of the barriers that customers encounter and prioritise those that are having the most detrimental effect on revenues and perception of the brand. This can be done through the analytics tools packaged within UserReplay.

3) Rectify the problem

Once the priorities have been decided the next stage is to rectify the problems that are most pressing. This may involve a relatively simple redesign of a particular page or more time-consuming software writing. However, by identifying the problem quickly (by effectively using customers as site testers) the whole process of putting things right is much faster than it would normally be. Where a customer has a bad experience this is not wasted, the problem journey is captured with sufficient detail to rectify the problem without the time consuming process of replicating it in testing.

4) Track the results

At this stage you know that a particular issue has been addressed but you don’t necessarily know what impact this will have on future customer journeys. As such it’s important to track the journeys of customers to ensure problems don’t occur again and the proposed fix has been effective.

5) Share what you’ve learned

And finally it’s essential to share the insights from the above process within the organization, not least to improve design and coding over the longer term.

What this process provides is a methodical and evidence-based means to spot, quantify and fix barriers to conversion within a site and it can have a rapid impact in the form of higher conversion rates.

Photo: Highways Agency/ flickr cc