Conversion rate still isn't top of mind for most Internet marketers. It should be.
After five years of preaching the conversion and conversion-rate gospel, I thought our message had made a difference. I believed conversion rates were important to smart companies. I started to see the world from my own vantage point. After all, I reasoned, if we have a burgeoning business, conversion rates are high in every Internet marketer's mind.
NetIQ recently surveyed a cross-section of over 500 professionals on ways to acquire, convert and retain customers. The surveys were conducted during three online seminars. Respondents included Web developers, executives, and IT managers. This cross-section reflects the industry trend of business users assuming more responsibility for Web strategy and effectiveness. The largest segment (35 percent) comprised marketers.
The survey found the most important Web site metric, according to 43 percent of respondents, is getting visitors to complete the transaction they came to undertake, that is, conversion rate. Despite the importance they place on this metric, a whopping 66 percent of respondents don't know their own conversion rates!
This is startling because the conversion rate is a measure of a site's ability to persuade visitors to take a desired action, one its managers/owners want them to take. It's a reflection of the site's effectiveness and of customer satisfaction. For a site to achieve its goals, its visitors must first achieve their goals. There's just no two ways about it.
CEO and CMO Disconnects
A recent Advertising Age piece notes nearly all CEOs expect to reduce marketing expenses and meet revenue targets. Yet 64 percent of CMOs expect their budgets to rise in coming years. Only 42 percent of those companies had bigger marketing budgets in the last two or three years.
Bottom line: Marketers must to do more with less. It's a game most are uncomfortable with and not well prepared to win. Internet marketing has yet to fully disassociate from the time when "eyeballs" drove valuations, cool features mattered, and when improving usability was the best way to increase conversion.
Marketing Isn't Sales
Almost two and a half years ago, in my first ClickZ column, I wrote:Developers, designers, and marketers -- however talented and dedicated -- simply do not know enough about professional selling. It's not where their expertise lies. Yet building and promoting a site that doesn't "know" how to sell is like building a beautiful brick-and-mortar store with a confusing layout, stocking it with great stuff, but then not hiring any salespeople.
Conversion Rates Measure Success
If you measure conversion rates, the facts about your site are bound to be interesting. If you track scenarios (macro- vs. micro-actions) or conduct sophisticated conversion rate marketing, you're way ahead of the game.
If you don't measure your success rate, it'll be sad when we find your business on F*#kedcompany.com.
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Bryan Eisenberg is coauthor of the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, BusinessWeek, and New York Times bestselling books "Call to Action," "Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?," and "Always Be Testing." Bryan is a professional marketing speaker and has keynoted conferences globally such as SES, Shop.org, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, Econsultancy, Webcom, SEM Konferansen Norway, the Canadian Marketing Association, and others. In 2010, Bryan was named a winner of the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation's Rising Stars Awards, which recognizes the most talented professionals 40 years of age or younger in the field of direct/interactive marketing. He is also cofounder and chairman emeritus of the Web Analytics Association. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of SES Conference & Expo, the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and several venture capital backed companies. He works with his coauthor and brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. You can find them at BryanEisenberg.com.
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