Increase Your Post-Online Conversions

What’s the primary conversion on your site? For e-commerce sites, it’s most likely getting people to check out. Of course, there’s much more to a successful conversion than what happens in the product exploration, shopping cart, and checkout process. But for sites that rely heavily on lead generation, the post-online conversion can make or break your Web channel.

In these days of A/B and multivariate testing and behavioral targeting (all of which every midsized to large corporate site must leverage), focus on increasing conversion has grown significantly. And in many cases, this is a very positive thing.

If one of the most valuable things you can get visitors to do is request more information and start a dialogue with your company, of course you want to increase the percentage of visitors who do this. More companies are starting to really focus on driving key behaviors.

But some common pitfalls far too often aren’t considered.

Increasing Leads, Lowering Quality

As a lead-generation site, you want to get more leads to your sales team and more people talking with your company. Lead conversion is most likely a primary goal and something you want to improve. If you have 10,000 site visitors and are converting 3 percent (300 leads), you might strive to increase that conversion rate to 3.5 percent (350 leads). But you can push this too far, as well.

Let’s say you make some changes to your site and offer a strong incentive (contest to win a trip, iPod, etc.). You get a lot more leads. Initially this looks great; you’ll be talking to more people. But now you have twice as many people for your sales team to talk to and those who are most likely to convert offline are buried in all the noise of people who just wanted to win something. You won’t know who the true prospects are until you talk to them. You may find that getting more people to convert on something that feels less committal will work for your sales team, and they’ll be able to convert them. But in many cases, it’ll just bury the good leads.

Alienating Nonconverters

Often while trying to convert extra traffic, you may be turning off the 95 percent of your traffic that wasn’t going to convert during that visit. They won’t return. While increasing conversion in this manner looks like a positive, long term it could actually be a significant negative. That other 95 percent might not come back a second or third time when they could have converted. It might keep them from converting in one of your other channels. Using satisfaction surveys and segmenting the results between people who converted and those who didn’t is a great way to understand that.

Not Considering the Offline Impact of Follow-Up

This may be the least considered of these three issues. If you typically convert 3 percent of 10,000 visits to leads, then convert 40 percent of those leads into sales (120 sales), you can determine the lead’s value and credit it to the Web channel. Often what makes or breaks the sale is your offline conversion process. You can easily swing 50 percent depending on a few variables:

  • How quickly does follow-up occur? Numerous studies show the quicker follow-up occurs, the higher likelihood of a sale.
  • How good is the person following up? Is she polite? Does she represent the brand? Is she easy to work with?
  • How well can the salesperson customize his story? The salesperson knowing specifically what the prospect was interested in rather than asking how can he help the prospect will make a big difference.

These things don’t really feel connected to your site, but as they — and offline conversions as a result — fluctuate, your Web channel’s value will fluctuate as well. Make sure you take the time to understand their impact and invest in improving them. They can make a big difference.

You must balance attitudinal measurements as well as measure the impact of offline follow-up as you make site changes to make sure you are truly raising the bar. Often, offline follow-up can be the key to closing those leads coming through the Web channel.

I also want to say a special thanks to my friend Rebecca Lieb who, after over seven years with ClickZ, has decided to move on. Rebecca recruited me five years ago and encouraged me to share my experiences with Web analytics, which eventually lead to a book on the topic. Her encouragement and tips over the years have been invaluable, and I wish her the best going forward.

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