Website management part 4: conversion optimisation
By Kirsten Meintjes
People often think that at this point, it’s time to pop the champagne! In the first few months that your website is live, provided you are continuously maintaining the site to be well-optimised, you can see the traffic coming in. Which is all very well, however, this does not guarantee conversion.
In parts 1-3 of my website management series, I covered some technical terminology, the basics of how to update your website, as well as how to put measures in place for your website to rank well on search engines (search engine optimisation).
What exactly is ‘conversion’?
The best way to understand conversion is by asking yourself the following: Are people actually doing what I want them to do on my website? Typically this is 1) sales, if you sell products, or 2) enquiries, if you offer services.
You can have the most beautifully designed website in the world, that gets a lot of traffic too. However, if visitors are not actually doing what you need them to do, then where’s the return on investment?
The conversion funnel
This is where the conversion funnel comes in. As visitors land on your site, your aim should be to guide them through the process of eventually achieving your desired outcome. The truth is, however, that the average website only converts 2.35% of its website visitors. So, what goes wrong?
Barriers to conversion
1) Resistance to change
Website design is fluid. This could mean many things – but to me, it means that what works on a website today might not work as well in the future.
For example, when PPC (Pay Per Click) ads were initially growing in popularity, adding a banner advertisement at the top of a web page saw high conversion rates. In other words, they drew people’s attention away from the page itself, who would be more likely to click on these banners to find out more. Nowadays, however, people who frequently browse the web have been conditioned to avoid these ads. Nobody reads them anymore.
If your website was designed to best practices three years ago, and hasn’t been touched since, chances are that it’s a little outdated and might not be yielding as successful results. It’s important to keep ahead of the curve when it comes to design – and to allocate budget to allow for this.
2) Creativity takes preference
We all want our websites to reflect our brands, right? For example, if your brand stands for minimalism, and ‘less is more’, then you likely won’t want a busy and colourful site. However, you might be taking things a bit too far if you don’t believe that buttons will work at all on your homepage, or if you’d like your website visitors to watch a lengthy video before having the option to navigate through the site. There needs to be a good balance between creativity and conversion techniques. Trust your web designers
3) Poorly designed landing pages
Whether you have just launched and need some brand awareness, or are running a season special, it’s likely that you have run some targeted advertisements to generate traffic to your website. With such ads, the number one mistake that people make is to not have a landing page.
If you are targeting people who are looking for “Season special discount summer Cape Town accommodation”, and they are directed simply to the homepage of an accommodation website (without such a special being front and centre), it is unlikely that this traffic will convert.
Having a specially formulated landing page is critical for every advert that you run. When I search for “Season special discount summer Cape Town accommodation” and click on an advert that takes me to your website – that is all I want to see. This landing page should have information relating to that exact special, as well as one clear call to action (such as “Book now”) close to the top of the page. There should be no room for confusion, or getting distracted and landing on other pages. You have a visitor who is interested specifically in your special. At this stage, show this – and only this – to them.
Following these guidelines and pointers, I hope that you can look at your website with a fresh perspective, being able to clearly state who you would like to visit your website, what they might be looking for, and how best you can get this to them. If you’d like to set up a coffee to chat about your site in more detail please let me know – email@example.com – our yellow door is always open