As the Internet continues to develop, it’s important for your website to be as effective as possible. It’s easy for potential clients and customers to move on to the next site as quickly as they landed on yours. Everything happens literally at the click of a button, and every aspect of your website contributes to either keeping people on your pages or waving them goodbye.
Conversion Rate Optimization
“Conversion rate optimization” is a relatively recent expression assumed to have evolved from “search engine optimization.” The idea is to make every webpage as effective as possible at getting customers to “convert” from one stage in the desired process to the next. This can mean anything from clicking on a page to buying a product.
There are two types of conversion rates: micro and macro. It’s important to differentiate between the two. Micro-conversion rates measure small-scale conversions. Macro-conversion rates measure larger conversions. Most macro-conversions are made up of several micro-conversions.
For example, the percentage of people who actually buy a product out of the number of people who view the webpage would be a macro-conversion rate. But this conversion might involve several smaller conversions, such as clicking from the home page to the product page, then to the pricing page, then to the purchasing page, and finally to the checkout to purchase the product.
I prefer to discuss business in terms of macro-conversion rates, which I also call “bottom line” conversion rates, because this equates to money ending up in your pocket. It doesn’t help our company if everyone clicks through to the pricing page but no one actually buys the product. However, it’s important to understand each micro-conversion is an essential part of the process and shouldn’t be ignored.
Why We Test and Track Conversion Rates
If your business uses the Internet as a means to gather leads or sales for your company, then tracking conversion rates and testing your website are both extremely important.
While the ultimate goal is to optimize the bottom line conversion rate, each contributing micro-conversion is a necessary step towards the goal. If you increase the conversion rate from the home page to the product page by 50 percent, that percentage will, in theory, trickle down to the bottom line conversion and increase the overall rate as well.
Now, in real life, we know increasing micro-conversion rates doesn’t always translate perfectly to the bottom line conversion. But if you’re looking at the same metrics at the same time, you can see how improvements in your micro-conversion rates are affecting your bottom line conversion rate. This will tell you where to focus your resources.
How We Test and Track Conversion Rates
The best way to test and track conversion rates is to split-test your current website or webpage with the new idea you think will increase conversions. There are many split-testing tools out there that divide traffic between your current page (the “control” page) and the new page (the “variable”). Half the people viewing your website will see the control page and half will see the variable. Google Content Experiments (formerly Google Website Optimizer) is a good free option. But my favorite testing tool at the moment is Visual Website Optimizer.
This method of testing allows you to see which site is more effective at getting conversions, so you can proceed accordingly. Whichever page is the “winner” is the one you keep. The best part about split-testing is it shows you real life, concrete examples of how people will respond. Then you can either start over with a new idea or move forward confidently knowing your idea will be successful.
It’s important to split-test your ideas no matter how good you think they are. I’ve seen countless examples of people who thought they had a genius idea, but it completely failed when they split-tested it. Many people have changed their websites without testing, and their sales dropped exponentially — Oops!
Optimizing conversion rates all comes down to new ideas for improvement combined with testing and tracking your rates. The more you test and track your conversion rates, the more aware you will be of what makes your website the most effective. The more aware you are, the more you can improve. And the more you improve, the more successes you will enjoy.
Stay tuned for part two of this article titled, “Optimizing Website Conversion: An In-Depth Look.”
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