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  Conversion Optimization is the art and science of turning more of your website visitors into customers.

Our goal is to be the best resource for digital marketing concepts (such as conversion optimization). Let us know if we can improve this guide in your comments at the bottom of the page. Just like Google, we are always looking to evolve and adapt as the digital world becomes more user-friendly and intuitive.

There are two main ways of improving and optimizing your conversion:
  1. Converting website visitors into leads.
  2. Converting leads into customers.

Most sites are designed to sell, but they don’t always consider what happens before the sale that converts visitors into customers. Conversion funnels are crucial for any site that plans to sell a product or a service.

Several components will help optimize conversions, but here’s a quick list of our favorites:
  1. Machine Learning (surprisingly affordable)
  2. Conversion Funnels
  3. Lead magnets
  4. Automated marketing
  5. A/B testing
  6. User experience recording
  7. Analytics

Conversion "Funnels" may be confusing at first, until you understand the five main buying cycle phases.

A conversion funnel guides your website visitors through a step-by-step process to help convert them into paying customers (one step at a time). 

You can view a conversion funnel as a lead generation process. Each conversion funnel is different. The steps of your own conversion funnel might be all on one page, or they could be spread out on multiple web pages and may include automated email sequences and ad campaigns.

Not every visitor is going to want to buy right away. 

It is important to understand that the vast majority of your visitors are not ready to buy something from you right away.  If they aren’t ready to purchase something yet, and your website has no way to continue communicating with them throughout their buying cycle, you could be missing out on a lot of solid leads that could eventually buy from you down the road when they are ready to make a final purchase.

On average only 3% off people in a given industry are ready to make a purchase (read that again).  So if your website is only designed for that 3%, you are missing out on the other 97%.

Every buying cycle is different. For your customer base, the buying cycle could last minutes, months, or even years.

There are four main steps to creating an effective conversion funnel:

The first step is to find out what your potential customers want in each stage of their buying cycle, so when they arrive at your website there is a mechanism to capture them as a potential lead.

Second, you need to design a conversion funnel to move your potential lead from one stage in their buying cycle to the next.  

Third, you need to optimize each step of your conversion funnel using machine learning to turn more visitors into leads as efficiently as possible.

Forth, you will need to have an automated marketing system to nurture those leads into customers.

5 Main Phases In Your Customers Buying Cycle:

  1. Awareness (searchers see your organic listing or ad and compare it to other options on Google)
  2. Interest (searchers show interest in your organic listing or ad and visit your website)
  3. Research (visitors compare your website to other sites they found on Google)
  4. Preference (visitors show preference towards your benefits and become a lead or prospect)
  5. Decision (visitors purchase your product or service and become a customer after being nurtured through the first four phases)

How does your website convert visitors into leads?

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Conversion Optimization Guide

Let’s say that your buying cycle has a lot of in-depth interest and research. 

In this case, it’s crucial that you optimize your lead generation system. The best way to generate leads is to provide valuable data for your website visitors. If you can add a free download, like a guide, checklist or pricing guide, you will be able to capture more leads earlier in the buying cycle.

Our site uses this same conversion strategy with a free guide to optimize and increase conversions. In fact, our conversion optimization guide can give you the chance to experience what a lead generation system looks like firsthand. With this in mind, don’t just download the guide for the sake of it -- make sure to look at each step of our lead generation system.

If you show your visitors that you can help them solve their problems, you have a good chance to convert them into leads. But how do you know what will work best to turn your visitors into leads?  

To start, you need to test multiple options to see which one works the best. We call this A/B testing, split testing, or multivariate testing. It might sound technical, but the concept is very simple (more on this below).  Machine learning is used to determine the most optimal way to turn more of your visitors into customers.

How does A/B testing improve conversion rates, leads, and sales?

A/B testing (also called multivariate tests) can make your website smarter and smarter using machine learning. 

With A/B testing, the software will show half of your visitors (called Group A) one conversion funnel element. The other half (called Group B) will be shown a different version. This type of approach shows why A/B testing can also be called “split testing.”

What is a conversion funnel element? It could be a group of words, a headline, a pop-up, call to action buttons, or even a multi-page funnel system (we’ll dive into these later).  

The winning option will be the one that enhances the user experience by getting the highest increase in conversions. Once the winner of the A/B test is determined another version is created to test against the winner.  Its kind of like how the best college basketball team is determined, think about the brackets you fill out at the beginning of the NCAA Tournament as a set of A/B tests.  The final championship game is the final A/B test and the ultimate winner is determined.

Try this A/B test out yourself:

Refresh the page to see the button change between Test A and Test B. Then click the one you like the best.

Use machine learning affordably so your conversion system will get more effective over time.

When done right, A/B testing can double, triple, or even quadruple your conversion rate. Imagine being able to drive four times the revenue just from implementing an effective conversion system.  We use machine learning to make our web pages and conversion systems smarter and smarter over time.

What can you do to convert more of your new leads into customers?

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Your best options for lead conversion depend on your customer's buying cycle. 

Short buying cycles work best with on-page elements. On the other hand, long buying cycles work best with lead magnets and nurturing campaigns. Once you have a lead magnet, you can start to capture email addresses and nurture those leads with an automated email marketing system.

After capturing an email address, you will need to “tag” their interests to let your system know what data to use later on. Old ways of “spammy” email marketing blasts no longer work. Today, email lists should be based on interests and behaviors. This lets you create a system that sends the right message, to the right person, and at the right time to help advance each individual lead through their buying cycle phases.

When creating an automated marketing system to nurture your leads, make sure your emails are not “spammy.” 

Emails should have valuable information to provide an answer to a problem. This means that you will have to know what your potential customers want, and what they will need. If you can make it a habit to send valuable information on a routine basis, you will be "top of mind" when your potential customers are ready to buy something.

Your email can have clickable elements, which will help you decide if your potential customer is close to making a purchase. Once your lead is close to the “bottom of the conversion funnel,” you can include a sales page link inside your next email. This is how an automatic system can guide leads through each step of a conversion funnel.

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Photo by Rainy Lake on Unsplash
Although it may take time and resources to set up, an automated system is an affordable way to nurture potential customers for any size of company. 

Over time, these systems become an asset that pays for itself many times over. The result is a consistent, steady source of customers and lead conversion, all without any effort from you.

If you want to optimize these systems with A/B testing, you will want to make sure that both groups are in the same lead segment. They should have the same interests and the same behaviors. Send Group A and Group B two different emails. Track their progress each month and keep testing to determine the email that works best.

You will find that your system grows smarter over time and helps your site increase conversions through nurturing leads.  An automated email marketing system can be set up to automate the A/B testing process for you and leverage machine learning.

The first step to growing your leads is understanding search intent (the intent of someone when they pull up Google and type specific words into the search box).

Once you know the intent of each search keyword, you will know what lead magnets to test. As soon as you know the lead magnet, you will have all of the tools you need to start an automated marketing system.

Don’t forget that, without a clear solution to your potential customers problems, it’s likely that your leads will unsubscribe and fail to become a customer. At the same time, if you focus on value and give them the solutions that they need, people will reward you by trying your products and services.  Great marketing automation systems mimic how real relationships work.

By providing useful and relevant information in your emails, you will encourage your leads to try your products and services. At this point, you can also include “call to action” elements during each phase of the buying cycle. These come in the form of call to action buttons and links to landing pages that are designed to make the final sale.

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User experience recording and Google Analytics can help you understand how effective your conversion funnels are. They will also show any problems (or “leaks”) where you are losing potential customers.

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If you don't have the right analytics tracking set up, you may have leaks in your funnels. 

Google Analytics will not only track the number of visitors to your site (and their origin), but it will also track conversions into leads and customers. 

The conversion goals in Google Analytics will help you see what percent of your visitors are completing your conversion funnels. You can also track the progress of your conversion optimization over time and discover “leaks” or “drop-off points” in your funnels where you are losing customers.

You can choose to use special software to optimize conversion rates and track the ways that each visitor interacts with your site. We use machine learning and other tools like Hotjar that record mouse movements and clicks. This helps us analyze website interaction and determine the most effective way to convert visitors into customers at a very high level.

When all of the components of your conversion optimization system are combined, your conversion rate can double, triple, or even quadruple because of the snowball effect. 

As an additional bonus, your "bounce rate" will decrease and your website visitors "session duration" will increase as your conversion rate goes up (learn about "bounce rate" and "session duration" in our free Search Engine Optimization Guide).  This is a massive bonus and should not be overlooked.  Essentially, the higher your conversion rate goes, the higher your website may rank on Google (which will in turn bring more visitors to your website and convert them into customers at a higher rate, creating a snowball effect.

Not sure how to optimize your website for conversions?  Apply for a free conversion optimization audit with one of our digital marketing experts.

You can also download our free conversion optimization guide to learn step-by-step how to convert more visitors into customers.

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Conversion Optimization Guide

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