One of the most overlooked factors when it comes to the success of an online business is how well their websites convert. I have found that the reasons for this are mainly that most decision makers are too focused on simply generating a high quantity of traffic, are ignorant of the possibility of conversion rate optimisation, or simply don’t believe that the content and presentation of their marketing creatives can actually influence their success.
If you’re one of the non-believers, let’s try an experiment. Log into Google Analytics and find out the conversion rate of your website. Go on, I’ll wait for you.
Got it? No really, go and check it right now!
Got it? Good.
Now, take that number and compare it to the top 10 published conversion rates for online retailers.
How does your conversion rate compare? If you’re like 99.9999% of all online businesses, your conversion rate is below 3%, and quite likely below 1%. Imagine how much more you’d be making of your conversion rate was as high as Amazon (the lowest conversion rate on that list at 9.6%), even if you were not getting any more traffic.
What Factors Affect Conversion Rate?
Now, if that got you licking your chops – hold your horses. Not every website can get a conversion rate that high. And the ones that do have a number of things in their favour:
- Website design and content – This is the easiest factor to change. Simply put some time/effort/budget into how well designed your website is and how compelling your content is.
- Product – This is one of those simple-but-not-easy cases. The better your product, the more likely it is to get more sales.
- Exceptional offers – People buy based on great offers, either real or perceived. Having a free trial for a service or free return shipping (a la Zappos) will dramatically lower a potential customer’s barriers to convert. Also, remember that it is all about perception – the never-ending “offer ends soon” hook works as well now as ever before.
- Business model – This is similar to the product, in that it is all about how compelled people are to buy your product or service. A website that sells books or last-minute flowers will convert much more easily than a furniture website.
- Brand name – No-one doubts the integrity of Amazon, so they have no qualms about purchasing something off their website. A brand is built on both awareness and perception. A brand with a legendary reputation for low prices, exceptional service or amazing products (eg Emirates or Singapore Airlines) will always outperform one that has a shoddy track record (Jetstar or Tiger Airways).
- Generate super qualified traffic – Your website will convert higher if your traffic generation strategy focusses on pulling in only super qualified traffic. This can be done by focussing only on long tail buying keywords with a PPC campaign. The downside of this is that you potentially lose a lot of short tail sales (and brand awareness) from sheer volume driving keywords.
- Repeat business – people that have bought from you before (and are happy with you) will return to buy again. So don’t ignore the traffic that you have worked so hard to get in the first place. Keep them engaged with you by way of email marketing, follow up calls, social media and any other creative outlets you can think of.
Based on the factors above, the first thing you should realize is that a 10% conversion rate isn’t possible for everyone. Even if it’s possible for you though, the 10% conversion rate won’t happen overnight. It will take time, a huge investment in evolving your entire product offering and business and a lot of expertise. That may seem daunting to you, but always remember that progress is better than perfection. If you improved your conversion rate from 1% to 2%, that would double your online business. Isn’t that progress worth it?
So set some short and medium term goals and start picking off the lowest lying fruit – improving your conversion rate through relatively simple website re-designs, restructing of content and A/B testing. These are also easy to outsource (to a degree), so get cracking!