One goal we consistently hear from potential and current clients is minimizing cart abandonment and increasing conversions on their websites. Conversion optimization has many facets and can be different for various business models and largely depends on what the brand’s predominant key performance indicators (KPIs) are.

The first step is determining your website’s KPIs.

Adjusting your KPIs may be in order. KPIs are actions taken on the website that enable you to assess engagement + sales on your site. For eCommerce sites, the most important KPI is generally a consumer purchasing a good. However, for sites like a city’s Visitor’s Bureau, the most important KPI may be completing a form asking for more information about the region. All of these KPIs can be monetized and ranked by importance, but it is first absolutely necessary to decide which actions on your site are the largest priority or of the most value; then you are able to optimize your website toward them.

The second step is assessing your collected data.

There are two authoritative sources of data related to your website. One is the marketing and ads that are directing users there. The second is your on-site analytics. They each can reveal information about what your user wants and may help you draw conclusions about what your site is lacking.

Marketing: Are your ads clear and relevant? If optimizing toward a purchase, list pricing, inventory, shipping and other availability details that could potentially filter customers, bringing in only those interested in purchasing after being given all of the information. In other words, an ad that reads: “Men’s Northface Jackets Now Available” may bring in more clicks, but an ad that reads “Men’s Black Northface Jackets – Now $89.99″ may ensure a higher conversion rate. In the first example, a customer might click on the ad and get to the website and realize that the black jacket is out of stock or that it is (in their opinions) overpriced. They click back to the search engine and begin again, leaving your site with a higher bounce rate.

Website: You’re examining website actions and user behavior in order to determine where the hang-ups may be. What is preventing these people from purchasing with you? Is your site’s navigation confusing or convoluted? Are your product descriptions as in-depth as possible? Is your purchase button easy to find on all product pages? Assessing website pathing reports is a great way to follow users as they navigate your site and find out if they are utilizing paths you intended. If they are going to disjointed pages, it is likely that there is a problem with your conversion funnel. This can be fixed by rearranging elements or changing functionality on the page in order to create a better user experience and more clear path. Perhaps in an effort to streamline, you made things more complicated (it happens).

The third step is conducting on-site tests.

To combat accidentally making things more complicated, you want to test changing various elements on your website’s “problem” pages or paths. Simple A/B testing can reveal a lot about user behavior and what experience they want when coming to your site. Once you have been able to pinpoint hang-ups in the conversion process, you are able to begin testing elements that could potentially affect the user experience. This can range from creating stronger calls to action across your site, changing the color of your conversion buttons, or adjusting settings on your shopping cart that will shorten the length of time users spend purchasing the product or service. Some users wish to create profiles on websites in order to save their personal information and shorten purchasing time, but others prefer to remain anonymous, what is often called the “guest checkout.”

Since not all sites are eCommerce, let’s say for instance that your website’s main KPI is filling out a “Request More Information” form, as on many B2B websites. These are qualified leads that can lead to business growth, so it’s important that the option to fill out this form is not only easy to find on your site, but once there, the form is intuitive. If using a captcha, do not make it overly complicated or you could risk losing the user out of frustration. It is important to marry user experience with logic.

Step four is implementing changes + following up.

Not only should you implement changes (quickly) once you have the results from your on-site tests, but you should also follow-up with your customers to create brand loyalty. Customize your marketing efforts with email and remarketing display ads in order to keep your brand fresh in their minds, even when they are high in the purchase cycle. Staying in front of your consumer, especially in digital, is most of the battle.

When you reach a comfortable conversion rate, it is likely that the user experience is also positive. When this number dwindles, it’s possible that it’s time for a website and/or marketing initiative refresh. It is important that you do not consider the marketing and website as separate initiatives, however, because the data collected from site analytics can often be used to improve marketing campaigns and thus, your business.