January 9, 2018
In our previous blog post, "What Are Conversions?", we talked about the different types of conversions that you can measure on your website. In this post, part 2 in the series, we'll take a closer look at the importance of tracking conversions and how that can be used to determine the health of your online marketing.
Quick refresher on conversions
Basically, a conversion is every instance where a visitor to your site does what you want them to do. The goal could be a purchase, customer information, a download of a product, a subscription, or anything else you want them to do.
Remember that a conversion is not always a sale. The reason for this is that not every visitor to your site is ready to purchase the first time they arrive, and not every site is created to make sales. The savvy digital marketer takes this into account and provides content specifically geared toward each stage of the sales funnel.
In these earlier stages, each conversion point is meant to keep the visitor at that point in the funnel so they’ll be more likely to continue the next time they return. Whatever the ultimate goal of your website is, there are often multiple conversion opportunties along the sales funnel.
How Well is the Funnel Doing?
By setting up multiple conversion points like this and measuring the results, you will begin to get a sense of how well your funnel is doing. Keeping track of the conversions lets you see how well the pieces of content and the overall marketing funnel is running. With a conversion point set for each stage of content, you can tell whether there are any 'holes' in the funnel where visitors are leaving, and which pieces of content might be performing better than expected.
Let's say that you've set up 4 conversion points on your website, one for each part of the sales funnel (awareness, interest, desire, and action). The conversion actions on each of them might be 'sign up for a newsletter,' 'download a whitepaper,' 'watch a webinar,' and 'buy something.'
If every part of your sales funnel is working well, you will likely see similar conversion rates for each part of the process. Those customers are easily sliding down the funnel toward the eventual sale.
But, if some of the material that you have is not as effective, you will see conversion rate disparities. Maybe they find the webinar annoying, or the newsletter isn’t holding attention. On the other hand, you could upload a new piece of content and see a sudden spike in conversion. That’s another sign to pay attention to! But you wouldn’t have been able to detect the increase in conversions without a way to measure them.
When you notice these discrepencies, how do you fix them to improve conversion rates? A good place to start is with A/B testing. A/B testing is a method of determining whether or not a new aspect of your site works better than an older one.
A/B testing can quickly become quite complex, but it’s basically an experiment. The simplest version is as follows: your original conversion path is A. The new conversion path is B. Software is used to divert 50% of your visitors down to A and 50% to B. After a certain amount of time, say two weeks, you look at the conversion results. If version B did better than A, then you keep that change. If not, you don’t.
By repeating this process over time, you can create a more efficient funnel. A/B testing should start with the least-efficient parts of your funnel since that will get you the greatest returns, then focus on another part.
It’s best to change as little as possible between the two versions. If two versions of a page are radically different, it doesn’t leave you with good data about what exactly the visitors prefer on one page or another. There are testing methodologies that get around this limitation, but even this simple kind of testing can yield large results.
In the next piece, we’ll investigate which key performance indicators (KPIs) you need to be watching for to get the most success.