You can lead a horse to water… but conversion optimisation will increase its likelihood of drinking

Digital marketers are often short sighted, focusing too much effort on their external marketing campaigns and not enough on their digital assets. This leads to an ineffective use of marketing budgets and marketers end up paying too high a premium for a new customer.

Sure, external marketing can drive potential customers to your website, but once they’re there, it is up to your digital assets, CRM system and sales team to convert them to paying customers.

A marketing campaign can lead a horse to water, but can’t make it drink.

If you could increase your onsite conversion rate by even a fraction, wouldn’t it make a huge difference to your business? If you could track your media from click, through to a lead, then on to a sale and ultimately through to understanding the lifetime value of that customer, couldn’t you invest your marketing dollars more effectively?

With off-the-shelf and easy-to-use technologies, these techniques are no longer in the too-hard basket.

 

Conversion optimisation

There is nothing worse than having a HIPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) decide the way a landing page should look or how a conversion funnel should work. If you listen to your customers, they’ll tell you the best way to convert them.

How? Let’s break it down into two main stages – the landing page, and then the conversion funnel itself (for which the landing page is the entry point).

1. Landing page optimisation

Start basic, start small and use free tools like Google Analytics. Don’t test the colour of the ‘call to action’ to start off with. To inspire creativity, look at what more advanced competitors or markets are doing – and be bold. Create highly contrasting pages to understand what the base page should look like. Move the call to action around the page, change the hero banner’s size and position, remove the navigation bar, include or remove contact details.

Once you determine your best performing base page, you can start a more intricate test. You might even decide to conduct a Multi Variant Test as opposed to an A/B test. Does the call to action ‘sign up for a free estimate’ or ‘sign up for a no obligation inspection’ work better? What resonates with your customers more – your awards or customer testimonials? Should a tick or a bullet point precede your USPs?

The technologies available to do this are cheap and pretty much drag and drop. If Optimizely was good enough for Obama, it’s good enough for you.

2. The funnel

If we have a sign-up/sales process that is multi-stage, you need to conduct the above for all those pages. The starting point is to understand at what stage you see the largest percentage drop-out and focus your efforts there.

Can you change the sign-up process to one step instead of multiple? Does moving questions around increase your conversion rates? It may help to include some form of indication on how far through the process the customer is. I’d certainly recommend removing any form of distraction and make the process as easy and seamless as possible.

The conversion optimisation projects I have been involved in have had mixed success, but all have been successful. The better of those projects had a well thought-out plan, started basic and had a great designer at the heart of it.

 

Understanding customer life-time value

If you are a lead-based business or your customers have the potential to be repeat, you need to understand the whole journey of this customer. Do you think banks measure a home loan or credit card application and stop there? Or do you think they track them through to a CPAA (cost per approved application) or ALTV (average life time value) or ARPU (average revenue per user)? There is a reason there are so many acronyms for it.

Understanding your customers’ journey is relatively simple and can be done in a purely automated or slightly manual manner with little effort. When any customer fills in a form or buys a product online, they provide you with a unique identifier. In an ideal scenario it’s your CRM system providing a customer ID, but if that’s not possible we can use their email address.

That unique identifier is normally captured in two places: a) your analytics (so you can track the cost, channel, referrer, keyword or creative); b) your CRM system (so you can track them through to sale, repeat purchase or ALTV).

The part that is missing is the amalgamation of the information held in these two separate tools. You can quite simply download both into an Excel worksheet and marry up the unique identifiers to understand a myriad of things – whether one channel provides higher value customers than another; tracking an offline sale back to an online campaign; how your CRM system is converting customers; or even how an individual salesperson is or isn’t performing.

 

As competition increases and your competitors become more sophisticated, these techniques are becoming a mandatory part of success.

If you don’t have the budget, pull back on your marketing investment and use the savings to fuel this project – you won’t regret it!

 

Gary Nissim
BY Gary Nissim ON 8 April 2014
Gary is a digital marketing specialist with 13 years’ experience in a diverse range of channels and services. He is passionate about search marketing and believes that all digital marketing techniques have a foundation in search. His most recent venture is as managing director of Indago Digital, a marketing agency that specialises in running acquisition campaigns and the channels that drive low cost conversions.