It’s so easy to take your website for granted. This is especially true for businesses who don’t sell online. The perception that the website is nothing more than an online brochure leads to a valuable marketing channel going underutilized – and in today’s competitive economy, that’s a mistake.
You’re not going to value your website properly until you understand what it’s doing for you. Think of this as an essential business-building practice. Just like you set sales goals or review your financials, you need to review your website performance regularly.
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Do You Know Your Conversion Rate?
Your website analytics report will tell you lots of things, including the number of people who visit your website, where they’re from, what device they used to visit and more. If you’re not sure of the relative importance of these numbers, it’s very easy to get a false impression of how well your website is or isn’t serving you.
For example, it’s entirely possible for a website that experiences relatively high amounts of traffic to do little in terms of building a business. And vice versa – the website that sees fewer visitors yet serves them well can have a tremendous impact on a business.
So which sort do you have? To answer that, let’s begin with one of my favorite questions: what’s your conversion rate?
Spoiler Alert: Conversion ≠ Sales
What’s your conversion rate seems like a simple enough question, but it’s not. Many businesses dismiss this inquiry entirely if they don’t sell online. This is a big mistake. Your conversion rate doesn’t equal your sales. Instead, your conversion rate is the number of people who completed an intended action – generally, one that move them further into the sales funnel.
This is a really broad category, so let’s delve into the details and consider what should and shouldn’t be considered as part of your conversion rate.
Understanding Your Objective
Website design best practices center on the idea that we want website visitors to take certain actions as part of the process of deciding to do business with us. For example, you may have videos on your website that explain the appeal of your products or services. Each time a visitor watches the video, that’s a conversion – you’ve gotten them to engage with your content in a meaningful way.
Sometimes we want to learn more about our customers. Any data capture forms, such as those asking for a name and email address, are conversion points. If a website visitor fills out the form as desired, that’s a successful conversion. If they decide not to share their information, for whatever reason, then your conversion rate will reflect that.
Understanding Data: Dive into the Details to Realize Maximum Value
It’s important to not stop examining your website data prematurely. Simply knowing what your conversion rate is isn’t enough to help you make better business decisions. Let’s look at those data capture points in more detail.
The first question is obvious – how many people filled out a contact, service, or product inquiry form? We can take this as an indication of interest, certainly, but we want to know more. How did the people who filled out the form arrive at your website? Did they come via a specific marketing channel, such as social media, email marketing, or after hearing a radio ad? Was this their first visit to your website, or had they visited previously, only to return again and fill out the form?
The answers to these questions can help you better understand your customers, their purchasing behavior, and the effectiveness of your messaging strategy. If you have the data capture points in place yet no one’s filling them out, it’s worth investigating why. Sometimes something as simple as crafting a more appealing offer or drawing attention to the data capture form – for example, inviting visitors to sign up for a newsletter – can improve conversion rates, and subsequently, increase the number of people moving successfully into your sales funnel.
But you’ll never know these opportunities exist if you’re not paying attention to your conversion rate in the first place.
Conversion Rates & Phone Calls: What’s the Connection?
A very common goal, especially among businesses who don’t sell online, is to have website visitors call your business. The act of making a phone call is a conversion. If you have the right data capture and analysis tools in place, you can learn a lot about the people who are phoning your business.
Let’s begin with the simplest question: how many people phoned you from your website? That’s a conversion – they’ve performed the specific action you wanted them to. Now, just like with our analysis of data capture form conversions, you’ll realize more value when you examine the details.
When we look at the data, we can learn how many of those callers are from the city where your business is located. It’s also possible to find out if they called you from their phone or computer – an important indicator of purchasing intent. This is vital information for a local business, which will better understand the level of urgency the callers are experiencing as they try to reach your business.
Comparing Conversion Rates
Business owners often ask if their conversion rate is good. That question leads to many other questions, the first one being good compared to what? There are a number of ways to compare conversion rates.
The first, and often most meaningful, is to compare your current conversion rate to your previous performance – this is a way to determine if any changes you’ve made to your messaging strategy have been effective. Additionally, you’ll want to compare your conversion rate to benchmarks or goals you’ve set for yourself. Finally, if you have the opportunity, comparing your conversion rates to those of other businesses similar to yours can be an eye-opening experience.
For best results, you’ll want to review your website data regularly, paying special attention to our conversion data. I’m often asked how often website data should be checked, and I suggest that you pay as much attention to your website as you do to any other critical business information, such as your sales numbers. If you’re clueless about your conversion rate, it is costing you business every single day.