In my last article, I talked about conversion as a system and likened it to a musical score. An effective conversion system successfully addresses all the complex requirements of a user when he or she is interacting with your Web site and undertakes a decision to act. Think of it as a way to orchestrate these three critical elements: WIIFM (what’s in it for me?), AIDAS (attention, interest, desire, action, and satisfaction), and the five-step professional sales process. If these core components do not work in concert, your site won’t achieve anywhere near its full conversion potential.
If we think of conversion as a comprehensive system that carries a visitor from start to finish, from landing to close, we can start asking questions about how we evaluate that system. How do we know that we have each instrument tuned to perfection? How do we know that we’ve established the correct rhythm? How do we know that our melody and its thematic variations are presented to best advantage?
The answer is tracking. And not just end-result tracking, or bail-out tracking, but a more comprehensive system of tracking that allows you to know all the whats, all the wheres, and all the whys — everything you want to know when it comes to fine-tuning the musical score of your Web site. Only this level of fine-tuning will ensure that your conversion rates are the best they can be.
Your visitor brings to your site a personality, character traits, temperament traits, and an entire psychographic profile, as well as the ephemeral “mood of the moment.” Assume that marketing has done its job well and delivered a qualified visitor; your site still has to present the composition your visitors want to hear, a composition that may have little to do with what you’ve been practicing and intending to play. Only your visitors can let you know if you are in tune with them. Since they aren’t going to call you up to let you know why they did what they did, the only way you can figure it out is to follow their every move and make inferences.
The principal difficulty in evaluating the conversion process is that most sites focus on measuring the end result — the customer conversion rate — without tracking the path individual users take. Once a user arrives on a Web site, the conversion process becomes a sales funnel — at each step of the process, a site naturally is going to lose some percentage of its users. It’s the leaky-bucket metaphor, where traffic fills your bucket like water, then leaks out the holes. You want to plug as many of the holes as possible. If you make the effort to track the actual paths of users through your site, you stand a much better chance of figuring out how to plug those holes.
Obviously, the fewer steps required in the conversion process, the greater the likelihood of a sale. To be most effective, a site will employ the fewest number of pages necessary between the point where the user arrives and the point where the sale is closed.
But more important, you need a tracking system that allows you to determine what each of your visitors is seeing, where each one is at any point in the process, and where each one leaves the process. Such a system is essentially a map of the decision-making process, a decision tree that can provide you with detailed insights into why your visitors leave. To have the greatest degree of control over the conversion process, your site must employ such a method for tracking each user’s path through the site — to locate those internal factors that are impairing conversion, to assess them, and to suggest remedies that can boost your end result.
Let me ask you some questions. Can you tell me:
- What percentage of your users fit each different personality profile (driver, analytical, amiable, social)?
- Does your home page meet the needs of each personality profile and offer each an entry into your conversion process?
- Why, as an example, do your analytical visitors bail out by the third page but your drivers generally take action?
- Do certain features of your site appeal to all visitors?
- Where and why does any given user bail out?
If you construct your site in a manner that reflects an understanding of consumer psychology, and if you have a comprehensive tracking system in place, you’ll be able to infer useful answers to these questions — and many more. You’ll be able to make efficient use of your resources as you work at reducing the leaks in your bucket. And you’ll find yourself with much higher conversion rates.