Digital Marketing Optimization: Conversion

Last time in this series on digital marketing optimization, I looked at campaign optimization. But as the saying goes, “You can lead the horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” Your efforts to make people aware of your brand and give them a compelling reason to visit might be fully tuned. But it’s what happens when people get to the site that makes the difference between online success and failure. So today, we’ll look at conversion optimization.

What do I mean by “conversion” and “conversion optimization”? To optimize effectively, you must optimize some defined outcome. You must be clear about what your desired outcome is. For example, if you have a site where people can either complete a transaction online or can call the call center, which outcome do you want to optimize? It may not be possible to optimize both. If you optimize the site to increase transactions, the process may not work for people who prefer to research online and transact by phone. If you optimize the site to generate call center volume, you may incur extra costs for the call center to deal with extra demand. So, clarity of purpose is an important ingredient in the conversion optimization process.

Conversion isn’t one process; it’s a series of micro-processes, each of which needs to be optimized. You need to break the problem into bits. What’s right for you will depend on your site and what you want to achieve. Typically, the main micro-processes are land, browse/search, and engage/transact.

Part of the analytical approach to conversion optimization is to identify where it hurts most: which part of the conversion process seems to be causing the most problems? However, this has to be balanced against your ability to execute. Which parts of the Web site can you change or impact in what timeframe? It may be that the checkout process requires optimization and tuning, but it will be three months before you can get the development resource to make the changes. In the meantime, you can change some other parts of the site more tactically.

In an ideal world, you could change all the site parts with relative ease and could measure the changes to get to the optimal result. Technologies and platforms are available to make this easier to do, but in many cases real choices must be made in terms of impact versus time to effect. In these cases, my instinct is to start with landing page optimization. Landing page optimization is becoming easier to do, and there’s always the potential of a high impact.

For me, one of the biggest challenges in digital marketing is getting someone to do something twice. A lot of people visit a site once, look at one page, and stay for less than a minute. If they buy or transact, they only do it once. How do you get them to do it twice? To look at that second page? To stay for that second minute? Make that second visit? A lot of subsequent behavior is determined by the user experience on the first page of the first visit. The first page of the first visit must generate the momentum that ultimately leads to a successful outcome.

Testing and experiment tools provided by such vendors as Optimost and Offermatica have made page optimization processes a lot easier. These tools make it possible to overcome some hurdles associated with enacting change and provide a systematic way to understand how to improve conversion.

They aren’t the only tools in the toolbox, either. For conversion optimization, a wide array of data and services can be used in a holistic way to understand and optimize the user experience. Good site analytics give an insight into the effectiveness of the micro-conversion processes, surveys help you understand users’ satisfaction with the experience, and usability testing tells you (warts and all) which processes works, which don’t, and why.

Having acquired prospects and converted them into customers, do you want to go through the pain and cost of doing it all again? I thought not. Next time we’ll take a look at the process of managing your investments in acquisition and conversion by optimizing your retention marketing processes.

Till then…