Many companies make the mistake of spending money in areas where it's not necessary. Take, for example, companies pumping marketing dollars into increasing traffic on the website. It's great to get more traffic, but that is just the first step. Now you need that traffic to do something.
Website Conversion Defined
The percentage of total visitors who come to the website, follow through after clicking on the company's desired point of action (POA) and submit information, download a demo, make a purchase, etc. is the definition of website conversion. In an e-commerce application, multiple visitors will add items to their shopping carts, but a smaller percentage will actually make the purchase. The percentage of visitors that complete the transaction signifies the conversion rate for the website. In a lead-generating application, multiple visitors will follow a path that you desire for them to follow (at first), but will not complete the form, download, etc. The percentage that does signifies the conversion rate.
In order to boost the website conversion rate, companies need to determine why potential customers drop out at certain points in the process and eliminate these roadblocks in order to increase sales. Clearly defined POAs, intuitive navigation, and simple checkout processes all make it easier for potential customers to buy, contact, download, or whatever else it is that you want them to do that will lead to a sale.
Point of Action
Basically, the POA on your website is what you want visitors to do initially. Many websites will have more than one POA, so POAs are further broken down into primary, secondary, and even tertiary POAs. A primary POA (usually the most profitable action for a user to take) might be completing a purchase on the site while a secondary POA might be signing up for the site's email newsletter announcing weekly specials. As a general rule, the marketing department (not the web designers) in consultation with sales should decide what the primary and secondary POAs will be.
Some websites have no clear POA and mainly serve as 'brochure-ware.' If a website doesn't have clear POAs that guide users toward taking specific, valuable actions, those users are of course less likely to become purchasers.
The number (or percentage) of visitors who show interest in your POA (i.e. click on a link to visit the site's contact form), comprise your take rate. Say a B2B website is highlighting its downloadable demo as its POA; a visitor might click on that link to get to a download page. Whether or not they actually follow through with the download has no bearing on the take rate - the take rate merely demonstrates that there was enough interest for them to take the POA.
On an e-commerce site, for instance, a visitor who adds a product to his shopping basket has taken the first step toward the company's desired POA, but the potential purchaser may not complete the transaction.
There are many ways to improve the take rate of a website. One of the biggest ways is to simply make it very clear to visitors, on every page of your site, what you want them to do. Whether this is to purchase, to contact, to download, to sign up, or any number of other actions, make it clear and prominent for the visitor. No matter where they are on your site when they decide they are ready to take that POA, your site should make it easy for them to do so.
Website Conversion Rate
The actual website conversion rate is the ratio equal to the number of people who actually convert on the site versus the overall number of visitors to the site for a given period. If, for example, 3 out of every 100 visitors to your B2B site filled out a contact form (and that form was your only POA) your website conversion rate would be 3%.
Putting it Together
There are literally thousands of elements you can change on your website to increase both your take rate and website conversion rate. A/B testing has long been used to determine how changing certain variables affects the conversion and take rates. However, this method is limited to testing one variable at a time if you want to gather the granular metrics from each slight modification. Today, with more sophisticated testing software packages available, multivariate testing, which enables you to test many variables at the same time while still seeing granular results, is becoming more common. Common tests include changing color schemes, tweaking various aspects of navigation, copy, and POAs have all been proven to maximize the take rate, website conversion rate, and subsequently, your revenue and bottom line. Website conversion is all about your visitors - appeal to their needs and desires in a logical, concise way, and you'll see your rates improve.
About The Author
Scott Buresh is the CEO of Medium Blue Search Engine Marketing, which was named the number one organic search engine optimization company in the world in 2006 and 2007 by PromotionWorld. Scott has contributed content to many publications including The Complete Guide to Google Advertising (Atlantic, 2008) and Building Your Business with Google For Dummies (Wiley, 2004), MarketingProfs, ZDNet, WebProNews, DarwinMag, SiteProNews, ISEDB.com, and Search Engine Guide. Medium Blue serves local and national clients, including Boston Scientific, DS Waters, and Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Visit MediumBlue.com to request a custom SEO guarantee based on your goals and your data.