(Last Updated On: September 22, 2021)

After doing all the hard work of getting your audience’s attention and earning / buying traffic, you don’t want to leave it up to each of your portal visitors to decide whether to convert or not!

You must use many creative ways to gain their attention within the portal so you can convert your audience into customers.

But are you sure that whatever you are doing now is enough to influence your audience and drive conversion?

Let’s check it out in this article.

If you affirmatively answer any of the points mentioned below, you need to make some changes. Below is a conversion optimization checklist that indicates it's high time you need a transformation.

#1 You assume Conversion Optimization is about testing cosmetic changes

We are sure that Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is not a new term to you and that you are already making a lot of changes in your web pages to optimize the conversion process by changing the following.

List of changes

And so on.

If you are only doing such interventions and thinking you are doing a great job in optimizing conversions, you need to transform.

Let’s see why.

When you are make these changes, you can only be certain which option works among the two that you are testing.

No wonder AB Testing tops the list of Conversion Optimization techniques.

CRO Methods

Source: Unbounce

And the cosmetic changes you make using A/B testing, don’t “influence” the users to take any action.

You must be wondering what else could be done to “influence” the audience to take actions. And that’s a valid question to be answered.

Here are a few alternate solutions on how to increase conversion rate.

  1. Find the intent of your audience and present them with communication that will logically take them to the next level of the purchase cycle, while also meeting their expectations. The communication presented should address any objections he might have in moving to the next level.
  2. Voluntarily intervene (through a chatbot / chat agent) whenever users are stuck in the website looking for information or if they are doing some transaction and ask if they need help. If they respond, quickly help them with what they need and use the opportunity to influence them to take an action that would benefit your brand - such as buying a product / downloading an app / enabling browser notification etc.
  3. Find whether any of the fields in your forms intimidate users so they refrain from completing the activity. Remove such fields or re-assure them.
  4. Encourage users to share reviews and feedback. Post such user-generated content on your website to leverage social proof and increase conversions on website.
UGC

Source: Funnel Overload

Interventions like the ones above are the ones that will truly influence users towards conversion and not just the cosmetic play that you do currently.

Unless you do interventions along the above lines to influence user action you cannot claim your Conversion Optimization plan and efforts to be complete or meaningful.

We have been handling conversion optimization for India’s largest NBFC, where we had over 15 different types of conversion goals all the way from buying a product, to subscribing to newsletters to applying for credit card etc. We facilitated profile authentication by using hashed customer id with unique visitor ID as well as combined both online and offline information to understand needs and preferences. We also created 10 variants for each offer and used multi-variate testing to deliver the best layout that drives conversion. Audience that showed interest (as evidenced by clicks and dwell time), but didn’t end up purchasing were aggregated and handed over to the business team every day for follow up and closure. Monthly business MIS revealed 36% of dropped-off audiences were converted through offline follow-up.

Actionable Recommendations

It needs a massive mental shift to acknowledge that conversion optimization is beyond cosmetic testing and influencing audience at interaction points where they least expect you to, actually works. Here are some conversion optimization tips you can try to achieve this

  1. Create capabilities and utilize conversion optimization tools to determine when users are stuck in your portal. Remember, a long time spent in a website doesn’t mean higher engagement. It could well be because they can’t find the required information. Define events that signal this and configure those on analytical / experience testing platforms.
  2. Define processes involving cross-channels to nudge your audience to move to the next stages.
  3. If the information sought after is for a service and not a sale, and you are able to successfully resolve it, use the moment to make a sale or at least influence the audience to enable browser notifications so that you get an additional low cost channel to reach your audience.

#2 You lack focus on micro-conversions

Do you think conversion as an event where your audience makes a product purchase or signs up or only as those that directly impact revenue?

Often businesses tend to obssess on what is a good conversion rate for their site and focus their efforts on how to improve conversion rate. They predominantly prioritize on macro conversion optimization to coerce audiences to make a purchase than rely on smaller yet significant details of micro conversion optimizations that matter.

As a result, are all your conversion optimization efforts focused on getting your audience to do those?

If you think so, you need to transform.

Here’s why.

Not all purchases are impulsive that you can use your creativity to influence and make a purchase.

Your audiences are NOT looking to buy something from you, all the time.

Brand vs Audience

Your audiences have varied expectations. Your audiences think a lot before making a purchase decision.

And, purchase itself doesn’t happen with a single interaction.

Each of the conclusions that they make during their purchase decision, directly influences conversion.

More often than not these interactions span channels.

Multi-device

Source: Business 2 Community

Take for example, you are a bank marketer. Your job is to influence your audience and guide them to apply for a credit card.

Do you think placing “Apply Now” buttons all over web pages will help you?

Do you think changing the color of buttons and playing with images will help you?

Come on. Let’s be practical. They aren’t going to. Don’t tell me that the human mind has learned to observe contrasts and hence you are applying this technique. In such a case, shouldn’t the color be contrast all the time?

Don’t just buy those theories.

Instead, as a smart marketer, shouldn’t you be focusing on the following?

  1. Understanding whether it’s a first visit of the user or repeated visit, specifically to the product page and plot him / her on the stage of the sales funnel.
  2. Arriving at a list of information needed for addressing the expectations of your audience at that stage of the sales funnel
  3. Test the delivery of that information to find the best one that will nudge the user from the current state in the sales cycle to the next cycle. For instance, from awareness to interest and so on until closure.

Unless you anticipate those questions for which your audience is seeking answers and proactively provide those in web interactions and nudge them towards conversion, your conversion efforts are most likely to be futile.

Understanding such expectations, breaking down those as events, mapping them in your audience’s purchase cycle and influencing them to those events are called micro-conversions.

And if you do not focus on driving those micro-conversions, your conversion optimization efforts need certain transformation.

We have been providing conversion optimization services to India’s largest foreign bank for over a decade. When we started, our focus was to drive website visitors to the landing page so that they will fill in the lead form. Over time we realized that we were pushing our visitors too early into the lead forms and stopped. Instead, we defined the purchase stages for all products and started influencing the visitors to the next relevant step. This turned out to be a master stroke and the micro-conversion rate shot up to never before levels.

Actionable Recommendations

Again, focusing on micro-conversion and not on macro-conversion also requires a mental shift. However, this is relatively easy to implement if you do the following steps.

  1. Take a step back and break down the activities or events involved in the entire conversion process. Make sure this is as comprehensive as possible and don’t limit it to just clicking buttons. Include things like landing to product page, click features, click benefits tab, mouse over on offers and so on.
  2. Implement conversion optimization best practices and techniques to move users within these micro stages.
  3. Remember to monitor the performance of interventions that you make and keep challenging the champions with new challengers whenever conversions start showing a dipping trend.

#3 You treat all audiences the same

Do you have a marketing portal that serves the same page to all users whenever the URL is hit?

In other words, do your conversion optimization techniques apply to all audiences regardless of their source of entry?

Same interventions

If your response is affirmative, then you need to transform.

Let’s see why.

I’m sure you understand the need for personalization today.

Personalization

Source: Think with Google

However, if you don’t provide personalized content to your audience and instead serve the same content to all of your audience, how will you drive conversion?

In other words, what is the use of using the same content for someone who is new to your website and for someone who has done research about your products already?

Isn’t the latter in the desire state of the AIDA funnel and the former in the awareness stage?

AIDA

Don’t you think the expectations and drivers of action for both will be completely different?

If you serve same content to them, then you are at their mercy to convert themselves.

But how do you know which users are in what state and isn’t this a Million-Dollar-Question?

Traffic sources and analytical tools can give you a clue.

If the visitor directly enters into your website by typing the URL or bookmark, you know he / she is most likely a repeat user and your analytics tool / cookies will have details on his interests in the portal.

If the visitor enters your website through search engines, you can use the search keyword to find their intent. For instance, the intent of users using the keywords “Credit card with best features” is different from “Apply for a credit card” and “Credit card takeover”.

If the visitor enters your landing page by clicking any of your ads then comes back to the home page of your website, you know his / interests are different.

Like the ones above, there are so many use cases that you can anticipate to proactively find intent and reach out to them with the right communication.

When you do this, you are not just addressing the sensibilities of visitors coming from different sources, but you can also influence them to take actions towards closure.

And it’s not just that.

Since you know the source of all your audience, you can also use analytics to determine how different types of content drives them towards conversion and continue optimizing them.

So, if you are currently treating all traffic the same way and providing them with the same content, you definitely need to transform.

As part of a leading Malaysian telco’s ambitious digital transformation initiative, where they wanted to double the number of leads generated from their portal, we went ahead and defined custom experiences based on traffic sources, keywords searched, search terms used and even time of day. We defined hypothesis and tested the experience on a control group. The champion hypothesis was rolled out to the remaining visitors. Through the process, we also reordered form elements, modified alert messages to show empathy and used upfront display of expected information in the forms. We were able to deliver 186% increase in the number of leads generated from the portal in just under 6 months.

Actionable Recommendations

If you have already attempted to provide personalized content, you would have got most of this covered. Otherwise, here are some steps to provide custom experiences to visitors from each traffic source.

  1. Augment your tracking codes to track the source of traffic
  2. Build a decision engine and integrate other platforms that drive your portal.
  3. Configure rules to determine what content is to be served to what segment
  4. Test, rinse, repeat

#4 You lack the comprehensive skillsets needed for Conversion Optimization

It is fascinating to test cosmetic edits on your portal such as changing the color of buttons, copy etc. and see the conversions changing.

The approach is fine if your conversion optimization isn’t a serious and high priority item in your marketing strategy.

But, if you want to drive serious lead generation from your portal, you need a solid conversion optimization strategy.

And you need a multi-skilled team to execute this.

Wait! Don’t you think just a user experience specialist and a web analyst will do the job for you?

Absolutely not.

Conversion Optimization process is a very methodical and a more resource-consuming process than you may think.

You need at least the following skillsets to ensure your conversion optimization efforts indeed deliver results.

Resources

User Experience Specialist: A User Experience Specialist comes up with creative ideas to be implemented as part of conversion, in line with the behavior that the portal’s audience exhibits.

Digital Analyst: A Digital Analyst does the job of crunching the web statistics report, finds trends and similarities and provides inputs to the UX specialist to determine visitor behavior. A Web Analyst is also needed to capture and track how well the changes implemented in the portal are performing vis-à-vis expectations.

Qualitative Research Analyst: A Qualitative Research Analyst plugs the missing pieces on what is going wrong in you portal. For instance, you may have a three stage progressive form and many of your visitors are dropping off in the second stage. While your Digital Analyst would be able to tell you the number of people dropping off in that stage, he / she cannot tell the reasons for the drop-off with utmost certainty. This is where the Qualitative Research Analyst can intervene and help find the real reason using tools such as User Testing, Surveys, Voice of Customers etc.

Statistician: Conversion optimization is not always about testing two things and find which is better. It is important for you to run user research on your portal to determine how well your portal is able to meet the needs of your audience across multiple parameters such as ease of use, ease of finding information, ease of doing tasks, perceived values etc. To cross tabulate all the user responses and arrive at conclusions, you need a statistician.

Web Developer: the role of a web developer in conversion optimization is straight forward. He can take care of whatever functionalities you need to develop / deploy / test.

Usability Experts:  Do you think anyone can come up with a conversion optimization guide or hypothesis.

Copywriter: Quite self-explanatory. A copywriter is essential in the conversion optimization process to transform thoughts into words that the sections of the web pages can accommodate.

Psychologist: A Psychologist is someone that plays a key role in ensuring that the hypothesis that is formulated is concrete and not pulled out of thin air. For example, it is the role of a Psychologist to validate where to place the trust icons. Should they be placed in the beginning of the journey or during the purchase?

Functional Experts: Finally, you have platforms to manage key pieces of your portal that includes your Content Management System, Feedback / Survey / VOC Analysis Tool, Experience Testing Systems etc. and you need people with the right skillsets to manage those systems in line with the conversion techniques.

The world’s largest match making portal wanted us to measure customer satisfaction as part of conversion optimization. We deployed a Psychologist to find the latent and influencing variables that would impact CSAT.  These included website quality, product quality, perceived value and ease of use. Our qualitative research drafted 33 highly relevant questions, administered a survey, gathered 6.1K responses and handed all this over to the statistician. The statistician analysed the responses and found 17 specific improvement areas, which were implemented across the website with the help of UX Designers, Interaction Designers, Web Developers and CMS Executives. A smaller CSAT survey that followed two weeks after deploying the changes indicated over 94% of visitors were happy about the changes.

Actionable Recommendations

This is pretty simple to implement. Just ensure you have access to all the skills mentioned. Remember, you don’t need to have people like a qualitative research analyst, psychologist or a statistician full-time. You may hire them on a contract basis and keep using them once every quarter so that it is a win-win. There are several providers of conversion optimization services that you can consider to access diverse skillsets rather than divesting your resources to find and hire in-house resources.

#5 You assume that Conversion Optimization efforts are only about your website

You know customer journeys are no longer linear.

You also know conversions don’t happen in a single session.

For example, here is a typical purchase process of a user, John.

  1. A user, John searches for something in a search engine
  2. John gets the search results, clicks your website and comes to your website [This is when he becomes aware about your product / service / brand itself]
  3. John navigates through the website and product pages and exits.
  4. John goes back to the search results and clicks your competitor’s website, browses and switches back to come back to your website.
  5. John goes to the product page again and keeps scanning to find a specific information. He was not able to find and closes the tab. By now he moves to the interest / desire stage.
  6. John searches for the required information in a search engine and goes to a third party portal.
  7. John completes the research and comes back to your website to apply for the product.
  8. He starts completing the form and gets stuck in the second stage. He didn’t want to provide the information that you are asking for in the form. He exits the portal.
  9. You run a retargeting campaign, targeting users like John, who dropped off at the last level.
  10. John clicks the ad, comes back to the portal, [now in the action stage of the AIDA funnel], and completes the form or drops-off in the same stage.

The journey has been laid out in the open for you to see.

I’m sure you will be able to find at least four places where website conversion optimization techniques should have been implemented to prevent John from dropping-off and to nudge him to the next level of the purchase journey.

Here are those.

  1. At stage 3, when John exits the page without taking action, you could possibly have a pop-up / alert asking him if was something that he was not able to find and suggest he chat with your Chatbot / human chat agent
  2. At stage 5, once John enters, you could have a Chatbot asking John, what is that he was looking for, that is not there in the portal. If John asks how your product was better than your competitor’s, that’s the first sign of success. You know that information cannot be publicly placed. What you could do is to move the interaction outside the portal and get john to give you his email address so you can send a comparison report mailed through one of your affiliates.
  3. At stage 8, when John exits at the second stage, you should have captured his contact details in stage 1, get those passed on to your contact center agents and get them to call john and help him complete the application process. Or you could send him an email and SMS with a short link to continue completing the form.
  4. At stage 10, by then you should have understood what was wrong in your forms and rectified it. When John comes back, he should be sent some ‘in his face’ communication influencing him to complete the form, without mandatorily entering the field that users like himself find uncomfortable to do.

If you take a close look, not all recommendations are inside the portal. Instead, it involves a Chatbot, Chat Agents, Contact Center Agents, Email and SMS channels as well. Infact, reports indicate that the conversion rate optimization with chatbot showed 3x more conversions than email as the obstacles to the sale are answered and eliminated promptly.

As part of India’s first general insurer’s digital transformation initiative, we built 15 digital insurance products incorporating all compliance requirements. A few months after the release of the direct to customer platform to the public, we realized our audiences found it too tough to fill insurance forms with 50+ fields. To minimize the fatigue, we broke down the forms into 5 different stages. Upon deployment, the drop-off rate suddenly went down to 17% from 43%. We understood we cannot afford to lose even the 17% of the interested audience and went ahead and deployed a process, where every time a user completes one stage of the form, the details are automatically captured into the CRM. Whenever the user exits before completion, we set up an alert system where the contact center agent gets the alert along with the captured information. From there on, the contact center agent would be able to call up the dropped-off user and complete the insurance purchase.

Actionable Recommendations

You have to do this using a blend of technology and human intellect. Done correctly, this can be one of the single biggest direct contributors to new digital growth for your brand.

  1. Define triggers in your analytical / experience testing platforms to track the following:
    1. Common ID
    2. Dwell time
    3. Repeat Visits
    4. Conversion Path
    5. Campaign Source
    6. Purchase Intent
    7. Audience Profile
    8. Session behavior
  2. Build a chatbot and ensure it is triggered based on the above events
  3. Upon launching, the chatbot should receive whatever intelligence is captured to ensure the experience is seamlessly carried into the chat window from the website
  4. Once the chatbot identifies the intent, it can go about providing the requested information or move the chat to a human agent, where influencing the audience becomes easy.
  5. Apart from this, you should also regularly monitor the form conversion and drop-offs and keep optimizing them.

Summary

Conversion Rate Optimization is often an underestimated, yet powerful technique for marketers. End of the day, it is conversion that matters and marketers cannot afford to get this wrong.

Remember Conversion Optimization is cross-channel, cross-functional and unique for each brand. Once you thoroughly understand what is conversion optimization and start implementing the recommendations provided across the article, you would be able to come out.

Try implementing the recommendations given in the article and share how it pans out.