A painter displays his heart and soul on a canvas. A business uses its website. As such, business owners should consider their websites “living beings” with the aim of engaging and building a relationship with their customers. The way to monitor your success at achieving this goal is by monitoring and measuring conversions.
So, how can you increase conversions? There is no one right or wrong answer, but here are seven proven suggestions:
- Thoroughly understand your business objectives, products and audience
- Focus on design, the navigation bar and taxonomy – looks matter
- Align creative choice with brand style and guide
- Prioritize SEO
- Share relevant content
- Sprinkle creative calls-to-action without being too salesy
- Think beyond the website
THOROUGHLY UNDERSTAND YOUR BUSINESS OBJECTIVES, PRODUCTS, AND AUDIENCE
The most obvious goal of your website is to sell your products or services. As such, you need to understand your key business objectives. I have found it beneficial to take each business objective and convert it into a website objective through an exercise like this:
Increase [x]% of [product] revenue [$xM] by expanding to [segment]
Website communications objective:
Achieve [xx] views per month or grow [xx] leads per month for [products] by making the website easy to navigate and facilitating the buying process.
Have a solid messaging framework to align the team about product features and benefits and provide copywriters with quick-and-easy messaging template.
The first template aligns the web team on key product messaging. The second one communicates the list of products or technologies will be on the website and their benefits to target audiences. These two templates will help copywriters to write copy for the website. Most importantly, create buyer personas that will help you both in your writing and in image selection. HubSpot offers this free resource to get you started.
Here is a one-page persona I use for my clients:
FOCUS ON DESIGN, THE NAVIGATION BAR AND TAXONOMY – LOOKS MATTER
There is no hard and fast rule about what kind of design works best for your website. A 2012 study by Google found that not only will users judge a site as beautiful or not within 1/50th of a second at most, but that “visually complex” websites are consistently related as less beautiful than their simple counterparts.
One school of thought argues that minimalist or simple websites are better. On the other hand, others opt for not-so-minimal, minimalist website designs, whereby you strip down the design to only focus on the basic necessary elements. However, those elements are used boldly and expansively, leaving no white space behind.
And still, there is a camp that says a messier, information-packed homepage can result in increased total page views and time on page.
In addition to design, another important factor is how to structure your website so that your customers can find information quickly and easily. A clear navigation bar and site taxonomy will guide them through your platform.
The key is to test, measure and re-test until you find what is optimal for you.
ALIGN CREATIVE CHOICE WITH BRAND STYLE AND GUIDE
Although color, typography and image selection are all part of design, it’s important to align your website look and feel with your brand style and style guide.
There is some leeway in how far you can deviate from this guidance. For example, if you have a standard brand font, you may need to mix serif and sanserif within the site to ensure greater readability. Or, you may want to bold or add italics to certain words or phrases to catch readers’ eyes.
It is common today to use icons or animated figures to showcase user benefits, even if that is not part of your standard print look and feel. You can also consider using stock images on lead-generating landing pages.
The key is to understand your boundaries and to stay consistent with the choices you make on all digital platforms, from outbound emails to the website.
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of search engine optimization (SEO). This is a journey.
SEO is important not only because it impacts how high you rank when someone searches for the keywords associated with your brand, but because following SEO best practices inherently increases the quality of your website, makes it more user-friendly, faster and easier to navigate.
For starters, it’s a good idea to make sure you implement consistent SEO tactics to increase your search rankings and attract organic traffic. These could include giving each page a unique title – one that helps both search engines and readers understand what the page is about – and description – what the searcher will see in the search engine results page.
Unfortunately, SEO is not a static process. But here are three steps you can take to get started:
- Make sure each page has a unique title that accurately describes the page’s content.
- Develop a permanent link structure, ensuring your URLs are simple and easy to understand for search engines and users.
- Make sure you have a breadcrumb (a set of internal links at the top of the page that aid navigation) on all your internal pages.
BONUS: SITE SPEED MATTERS
Consider these statistics:
- 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.
- 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
- A 1-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.
Page speed is now an official Google ranking factor because visitors hate interacting with slow websites. If you want people to engage, make the experience fast and efficient.
SHARE RELEVANT CONTENT
There are debates about quality vs. quantity when it comes to content creation. At the end of the day, it’s about relevancy: Is your content relevant to your customers?
Anyone can talk about their products and services, but marketing gurus present the product or service information in a way that makes customers feel they have solved his or her pain points and challenges.
Answer the question: What can my product do to help you? If the readers do not yet use your products and services, what expertise or tips can you provide readers so they come back to your site to get more?
There are all types of content that you can use to answer a potential customer’s question – tutorials, reviews, how-to articles, opinion pieces, blog posts, case studies and videos. There is no magic answer on what format you should have. In truth, you’ll need a mix of different formats depending on the page layout or the customer journey.
Headlines are also key. Use unambiguous headlines so readers know where to click and are not disappointed when they get there. Make titles captivating enough to pique curiosity and short enough not to be intimidating.
Buzzsumo analyzed 100 million headlines to help marketers know what constitutes an engaging headline. It found that the top phrases with which to start a headline are, “X reasons why…,” or “X things you…”. 10, five, 15 and seven in that order are the most engaging numbers in headlines. To get your creative juices flowing, check out The Independent’s list of top 10 clever and memorable headlines of 2017.
SPRINKLE CREATIVE CALLS-TO-ACTION WITHOUT BEING TOO ‘SALESY’
It is essential to provide strong and relevant calls to action to engage readers and get them to take action, such as joining your email list, buying your products or signing your petition.
A compelling CTA should grab the attention of your readers (i.e. big and effective placement) but also be strategic and creative. Use language that clearly defines what it is you want readers to do and why they should do it. If your CTA is under a headline, the headline and the CTA should work together.
Other forms of calls-to-action are various pop-ups: front-and-center pop-up pages or top, bottom or sidebar opt-in frames. I don’t like pop-ups, but the pop-up strategy has the highest rate of success of any type of email capture form, according to several studies.
THINK BEYOND THE WEBSITE
Increasing conversions goes beyond your website. Gathering e-mails is only the first step. Next you should nurture and build a relationship with those prospects.
Give your visitors what they want by surveying them and asking. There are many tools to help you. Qualaroo website survey software lets you target questions to visitors anywhere on your website. But you can also just create a simple reader survey with Survey Monkey or even Google Forms.
Once you collect such data, use that information in creative ways.
Here are two of my favorite content marketing ideas:
It’s both an art and science of mixing different calls-to-action on different pages, without sounding too salesy.
Remember, Picasso and Van Gogh didn’t create a masterpiece on their first tries or with one brush stroke. But they never would have become famous if they didn’t fill their palettes and paint.
Create a stronger digital presence by starting with one of these tips and working your way through the list. Happy conversions!
Image source: 123rf.com