Conversions are the bottom line for most online businesses. Search engine optimization can get you traffic, social media marketing can strengthen your brand relationships, and content marketing can filter leads, but if none of those readers and visitors convert, you’re stuck without a line of revenue. In some cases, it’s better to have a low amount of traffic with a high percentage of conversions than a high volume of traffic and a nonexistent conversion rate.
But the best-case scenario is always high traffic volume and a high rate of conversion, and this guide is designed to help you achieve that goal. A low conversion rate could be a symptom of any number of fundamental problems, usually at the design level or with the navigability at your site, but the only way to improve that conversion rate is to pinpoint the root of the problem, and for that, we need data on user behavior.
Getting the Traffic
The more data you have to work with, the more accurate your analysis will be. Getting a decent flow of traffic is going to be your first step if you’re starting from scratch.
Once you have a month of data or more to analyze, you can start looking at user behavior to determine the obstacles that are preventing user conversions.
Define Your Conversions
There are several different “types” of conversions—for example, an e-commerce site might define a successful conversion as someone who purchases a product, but a B2B service-based company might define a successful conversion as someone filling out a contact form. However you define your conversions, you can set up a way to track it in Google Analytics.
Head to the Admin tab, and click on “Goals” under the View tab. Here, you’ll be able to create, track, and manage goals within the system. There are several pre-formed templates you can use to define user conversions, such as “place an order” for e-commerce sites, or “create an account” for sites that require signup. You can create as many goals as you’d like within the system, and access them to determine your actual conversion rates.
Under the Reporting tab, you can access your Goal data under the Conversions header on the left-hand side. You can even set a goal value and determine how much revenue or potential revenue your conversions are winning you.
This data will objectively tell you whether your conversion goals are being met. Different companies can expect very different conversion rates, so what constitutes a low conversion rate for you may not constitute a low conversion rate for a different industry.
Still, conversion rates can always go higher, and your user behavior data should be able to give you some direction on how to improve your campaign.
The Behavior Flow section (found under the Behavior header in Google Analytics) will give you the most insight into how your average user navigates your site. It might look a little complicated at first, but if you work with it long enough, you’ll start to easily derive meaningful patterns. For example, you could find that your average user starts out on your home page, travels to your blog, and then eventually finds his/her way to a signup form for your email newsletter.
The Behavior Flow can tell you whether or not something is wrong with your traffic funnel. For example, let’s say your content marketing strategy is strong, and you rely on the authority and value of your content to convince people to ultimately convert. Most of your conversion lead-ins are found in the content of your blogs. Therefore, if your Behavior Flow demonstrates that most of your traffic comes into the homepage and leaves without ever visiting the blog, you need to close the gap by connecting your home page to your blog, or by stepping up you calls to conversion on the home page.
First, I’m going to assume that you’ve already performed enough market research to reliably know who your core target audience is. The entirety of your site—especially your calls to action—should be written and designed toward this target demographic. If you haven’t done this, you might want to start.
Otherwise, let’s say you have a great understanding of your target audience. Head to the Audience header in Google Analytics and check out the Overview and Demographics subheadings. Here, you’ll be able to get a good idea of the types of users who are visiting your site, including age, gender, and geographic location. If these metrics don’t match your target audience, you’ve just found your conversion disconnect. You can correct this by altering your traffic acquisition strategies or by revisiting your core target audience, and realigning it closer to your actual traffic makeup.
This is especially useful for dedicated landing pages. If you’re interested in seeing where your users are looking on your site, a heat map can tell you. For example, the heat map at Crazy Egg will demonstrate exactly where your users are scrolling and hovering their mouse pointers, giving you an indication of whether your landing page is capturing any relevant attention.
If your users aren’t paying much attention to your signup fields or your call to action, it could be because your call to action isn’t prominent enough. Try embellishing it with bolder colors, a bigger size, or even a series of pointing arrows to emphasize its presence. Conversely, if users seem to see everything on your page, it could be that your offer isn’t strong enough to encourage conversion. Experiment with changing up your offerings, such as adding an additional free gift or discount in exchange for a successful signup.
There are a handful of factors that could affect user conversion that have nothing to do with the behavior data you can find in Analytics. For example, if your design is hard on the eyes, users could be instinctively turned away. If your form contains too many fields to fill out, users might be too apathetic to bother filling them all out.
If you’ve already reviewed the best practices for landing pages and conversions, the best way to pinpoint your disconnect is to conduct a handful of user surveys. Pull a handful of select users—perhaps customers you already know well—and ask them to go through the typical web visit process. Ask them what they like and don’t like about their experience, and use that qualitative data to make adjustments to your strategy from there.
Raising your conversions rates is one of the best digital strategies you can implement. If you’re successful, you’ll essentially increase the dollar value of every web visitor you earn. With a solid conversion rate under control, all you’ll need to do is gradually ramp up your content and inbound marketing strategies, and your revenue will grow proportionately.