Key Learnings

  • Ensure you measure everything and don’t be afraid of testing things
  • Don’t just focus on acquisition - maximise your existing traffic too
  • Provide softer calls to action for first time customers
  • Focus on user experience – test and learn all the time

Since its inception in 2010, digital marketing agency The Bigger Boat has designed and implemented hundreds of websites for the company's varied range of clients. Here, co-founder and managing director Andy McCaul looks at the main principles to consider when developing a site, to ensure that visitors aren't immediately put off, and that conversion rates are improved.

Measure everything

The first step to take before any optimisation work takes place is to get the basics covered. Make sure you have sales, event and goal tracking set up – what you require will depend on the nature of your website, but the overall goal should be to ensure that you are measuring form completions, phone calls, downloads and direct sales. 

With these tools in place, you will have access to a baseline of data with which to work. Anything you do from then on should be focused on making the percentage of conversion rates higher. And don’t be afraid of testing things – you can learn a lot about your target audience from both good and bad changes.

Maximise existing traffic

As a general rule, business owners – or internal marketing teams – are tasked with increasing the amount of traffic to the site in question, by drawing in new visitors. But this shouldn’t be the only consideration. There is huge value to be gained in positive interaction with your current audience, to ensure that yours remains their ‘go-to’ site and that, ultimately, they don’t switch to a competitor.

It shouldn’t be forgotten that acquiring new traffic is always more costly – in terms of both time and money. Therefore, from a return on investment point of view, it’s always best to work with what you have available first. The average industry conversion rates for 2017 vary between 2.8 and 6%, so if your site is converting at less than 2%, errors could be occurring somewhere along the way.

Offer differing calls to action

The quality of ‘call to action’ prompts will always influence the volume of enquiries and opportunities witnessed. Too often, only one type will be available – usually in the style of a contact details form, which is quite unspecific and relies heavily on a customer being relatively far along in their consideration process. This does not cater for first-time visitors, who are much more likely to be in the research phase – getting a feel for the products and services available, and considering credibility. It’s therefore very important that a business considers how to cater for this type of user too. For example, can you offer them a more non-committal call to action – the download of a product brochure or a request for a sample – and still obtain their data? These softer approaches can provide much greater potential to secure leads, certainly when traffic to the site is a result of non-brand related search terms.

Make them obvious

You should also consider how easy it is to find the call to action too. Don’t hide lead generation forms away – integrate them throughout the website. If you’ve convinced someone to potentially buy from you, avoid making it harder for them to take things further.

You should also think about how these calls to action look – never present someone with 15 fields to complete, when two will suffice. Ensure basic clickable boxes are designed to look like buttons! And if your business is involved in selling a complicated product or service, consider live chat, which can be easily implemented and is great method of ‘hand holding’ for any uninformed prospects.

Focus on user experience

Usability should be a leading consideration – both in terms of new visitors and current audience. It’s important to look firstly at any hurdles to conversion, for example whether the checkout process could be simplified to make it easier to buy products. Additionally, it’s worth assessing if there are enough credibility measurements – such as customer reviews – available for people to be confident enough to make a purchase or enquiry.

Test and learn

Ultimately, the overall look and feel of the platform itself can have a profound effect on conversion rates. Your website should be safe and secure, and relatively easy for people to navigate. So, before considering any calls to action, remember that first impressions really do count.

And always think about whether you would choose to use the site as a consumer yourself.  If not, then make those all-important changes – the results will be sure to follow!

Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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