Which of the following goals helps plan a better Web site?
Most managers would be thrilled with a 100 percent sales increase. They'd celebrate a 4 percent conversion rate. Yet that 4 percent conversion rate doesn't tell the whole story. Let's explore what, exactly, is left on the table.
Deal With Only Four Types of Traffic
There are four types of visitors:
Are conversion goals identical for all four types of traffic? Of course not!
Let's work backwards. What does 100 percent conversion look like? First, we eliminate people who came to the site in error. This shouldn't be a big number, but aggressive search engine marketing (SEM) or human error can account for a small percentage. Let's assume a 10 percent visited in error, so only 90 percent are convertible.
Overcome Usability Issues
Jared Spool, referencing his many usability studies in User Interface Engineering, writes about the ideal conversion rate in a tip taken directly from my new book, Call to Action: Secret Formulas to Improve Online Results:Imagine I have a magical device that tells me when anyone who is in a 2 mile radius of where I'm sitting has run out of milk. I drive to their apartment only to find them sitting there with an empty carton of milk and a dry bowl of cereal. I put them into my car and drive them to the nearest 7-Eleven. And, just to ensure they purchase, I give them the money to buy their milk. What are the odds that this person will buy milk in this instance? 100 percent, right? The 7-Eleven would really have to screw up big to not sell milk to this person at this moment.
Spool's scenario describes only customers who know exactly what they want. How many people does that account for? If they're coming from a shopping comparison site, the proportion may be substantial. What if you don't sell something that can be as narrowly defined as milk, such as a new product, complex solution, or highly customized product?
Lead generation, such as newsletter subscriptions, can also be measured in terms of conversion rates even when conversion isn't the final goal. They're micro conversions on the path to macro conversions. We don't expect someone to buy immediately if he's filled out a form to receive more information. He's at a different stage in the buying process.
Early Stage Buyers Convert When We Persuade
If we want buyers to convert when they haven't yet identified exactly what they're looking for, we must focus on understanding their buying process. Every click is a conversion when you plan a scenario as if every click requires an individual decision -- because it does.
Dissect the buying process into component parts for each persona, then measure those micro conversions in the clickstream. Not only can you better understand how well you're persuading, you can also segment conversion rates by persona. That allows you to focus on cumulative conversion rates for the site, instead of simply an average conversion rate.
Most sites must plan for many more factors before a visitor will even participate in the conversion process. Some factors can be planned for, some can be influenced, and some are outside our control.
To begin calculating what your conversion rate should be, work backwards from the 100 percent conversion goal. Don't begin with your currently miniscule conversion rate and find ways to increase it. The result will be a site optimized for a homogenized few.
Don't Be Satisfied With 4 Percent
Of course, no site will ever achieve a 100 percent conversion rate. When we go through this process with our clients, we subtract factors beyond our control, then factor in and plan for complex factors we can do something about. The ideal conversion rate is always higher than the clients' anticipated. Some are in the low double digits, others should be over 50 percent.
Both are far cry from that anemic 4 percent clients once drooled over.
I've advocated Six Sigma methodology for years and still wonder why people don't think this way about their sites. Sure, a lot of companies make serious money online. But don't rest on your laurels; a few brave sites are already moving from the conversion optimization arena and to the conversion maximization arena.
What will your goal be 100 percent or 4 percent? Let me know.
Editors' Note: We congratulate Bryan and his brother Jeffrey on the publication of their new book, Call to Action: Secret Formulas to Improve Online Results. ClickZ reviewed it earlier this week.
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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.
June 5, 2013
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June 20, 2013
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