Focus on conversion – not more visitors

Many firms who want more business from their website try and increase visitors. More visitors is usually a good thing but conversion rate is the key to getting more leads from your site.

To illustrate it, I’ll tell you a story about my first business in the UK where an increase in conversion rate resulted in an increase of monthly website revenue of £18,000.

And for information on how to improve your conversion rate, I’ve linked to a presentation by online business expert, Jefferey Eisenberg – 21 Secrets of Top Converting B2B Websites.

My career started when I launched an ecommerce business in the UK back in 1999. At the time, having lots of ‘traffic’ was the aim of most website owners. But lots of traffic and few sales means you have a popular website but will soon be out of business.

So very quickly, I became obsessed with conversion rate. Conversion rate is simply the percentage of your website visitors who become customers. Back then, an ecommerce business could expect a conversion rate of anything between 1% and 5%. The exceptions were behemoths like Amazon whose rate was over 10%. My conversion rate was just 1.5%.

In 2004, my business had developed and outgrown the website I’d personally built for it. So hired a web agency to build a new site which set me back £24,000. Quite a lot but that’s what it cost in those days.

The whole design process centered on making the site convert better. It had simple navigation, a streamlined ordering process and lots of calls to action. I knew it looked and worked much better but would it pay back on the investment?

One month after launch, the conversion rate had leapt from 1.5% to 3.5%. Perhaps a fluke I thought. But after six months, the rate was still the same and with some further improvements, we got it to be consistently over 4%.

In financial terms this was massive. The average number of monthly visitors was 30,000. This didn’t jump much after the new site launched.

But with the increased conversion rate, we now had 1050 customers per month instead of 450. Our average website transaction was roughly £30 so it amounted to an extra £18,000 per month. The new site paid for itself in two months and our profits jumped without spending an extra penny on marketing.

All successful ecommerce site focus on conversion rate. But many B2B websites and especially professional services like accountants, neglect it.

I think this is because their sales aren’t usually made directly online. But ultimately, you are still trying to convert visitors into clients – so the same rules apply.

Where an ecommerce business aims for a completed transaction, you will have other conversion goals. They might be getting a visitor to call or email you, download a brochure or sign up for your email newsletter.

If your goals aren’t met, then visitors are leaving your website empty handed and you lose the chance to make them a client.

What are your conversion goals? And how much extra business would you get if your conversion rate doubled?

There are some tried and tested ways to improve website conversions. To find out what they are, here’s a presentation from conversion expert Jefferey Eisenberg:

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