In my last post I explained why web analytics are important in business. But many companies, large and small, sill struggle with some of the crucial subtleties of analytics.
A not-so-subtle challenge is the nature of online conversions from website traffic.Conversions are the desired outcomes from a website visit. For instance,outcomes that would be considered conversions include:
- A click on a purchase button
- Submission of a membership registration
- A sign-up for a newsletter subscription
- A download of an app, software, presentation, or video file
- Pressing the play button of a video player
- Arrivals on a unique landing page via a QR code or email marketing campaign
Many of the above actions can be tracked using an analytic feature called “event tracking.”Event tracking is a bit of code that activates whenever a person interacts with a tracked outcome or event, like the ones mentioned above. Conversions are measured as a percentage called a conversion rate, whichis calculated by dividing the number of outcomes by the number of unique visits to the site.
A conversation about conversions can hold several benefits your strategy. First, it is another opportunity for your team to agree on the goals of your website. Individual marketers, web developers, and other stakeholders have different needs, so deciding the goals together builds team consensus on the content. Second, discussing conversion rate methodology can influence an overall marketing plan by helping to solidify the role your site plays in marketing your business.
But measuring conversion success is debated among experts and has its pitfalls. Why? For one, reported conversion rates stats have been historically low, ranging from 2 percent to 20 percent and varying among industries. Most of the time, conversion benchmarks are treated like profit margin, so results are not always easily disclosed. Thus it is difficult to compare how well or poor a conversion trend change really is.
Also, while many agree that conversions can provide an initial benefit, paying too much attention to conversion improvement can distract from the non-converting visitors. Their engagement can indicate where you can make potentially effective improvements not only to a website, but to products, services, or operations. (Avinash Kaushik, Google Analytics evangelist and an expert strategist has a great post about this on his blog, Occam's Razor.) For example, for a past employer I remember reviewing the navigation of a site's traffic and uncovering a traffic segment of job seekers — this differed from the site goal of attracting potential B2B partners. Appealing to the job seekers became a newly revealed opportunity to support the business' strategy.
To avoid the shortcomings, consider some of the following useful application of conversion data:
- Consider the scrutiny of conversion rate trends as visitor warnings about site abandonment or content issues. Good site navigation helps users browse without thinking excessively about where to click, while content should be relevant.
- Research the segment of non-converting visitors. Surveys that ask why visitor did not select a shopping cart, for example, can reveal new ideas to serve visitors better and improve conversion rates. This will typically be a large segment, but the focus should be on the reason why they are on the site and what actions, if any, can be taken.
- Examine the steps customers undertake to achieve a conversion. This can be completed by setting up a goal and funnel analysis with a target page or event tracking.
Also consider the following as idea starters that can potentially create lift in conversion goals:
- Blend offline and online traffic building efforts with reminders to potential customers of your site content, such as mentions during a conference presentation or in one-on-one business settings. The metrics can let you know if offline efforts are leading to additional sales.
- Display user reviews about your products and service, which can accelerate conversion by building trust. Links to social media profile sites like LinkedIn, Yelp, and Manta that permit easy sharing of content, updates, and company news.
- Credibility signs like third-party trust logos can help lower the barrier to conversion at a website.
- Test content changes (e.g. text, white paper downloads, images, videos) of the website using A/B testing methods. Doing so can expose which content potential customers and clients prefer.
- Examine whether some segments are more responsive to the conversion offers. Segmentation can range from those identified via a custom variable to straight-forward segments like geographic regions or new/returning visitors.
It's understandable to be concerned about traffic building, particularly when you initially start a site. But given the increasing comfort people have with incorporating the Internet into their consideration behavior, you will discover further success with focused steps and strategies to better know your customers.
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Pierre DeBois is a marketing analytics expert. He is the founder of Zimana (www.zimana.com), a small business analytics consultancy. Pierre is not a Pitney Bowes employee and shares his insights on this blog as a paid contributor.