4 steps to turn website visitors into paying customers
A common misconception about websites is that once you have a professional-looking design, you should focus on attracting more visitors. While there’s no denying a site needs traffic, what’s the point if visitors never become customers?
You don’t need more visitors. You need more visitors who convert into customers.
Many businesses have only a vague idea of how well their site is performing because they don’t track online conversions. This can be a costly oversight.
Just as it’s more cost-effective to keep an existing customer than attract a new one, optimizing your site for conversion yields a better return on investment than techniques that simply drive more traffic to your site. And once you have optimized for conversion, any subsequent investment in attracting more visitors will deliver growing sales.
Here are four steps to help you convert more website visitors into paying customers.
Step 1: Determine your current performance
The first step in conversion optimization is to get a sense of where you stand today. There are a number of free and low-cost web analytics applications that can help you.
Your goal is to estimate your current rate of visitor-to-sales conversion. This number will not only tell you how you’re doing, but also give you a target to beat as you improve your performance. Now, dig deeper for a better understanding of where you are converting or losing visitors. Which pages produce the most sales? Where do visitors exit your site without taking any further action?
Once you have a handle your current performance, you’re ready to identify opportunities for improvement, including in your site’s design and search engine optimization.
Step 2: Create personas
The second step is to think about your ideal customers. Who are they? What do they like? And most importantly, how do they buy? A good way to do this is by creating personas, which in essence are fictional individuals that represent your ideal customers.
Personas allow you to visualize the kind of people you want to attract and use that knowledge to improve your website, including its visual aspects, writing and promotions.
It’s all about putting yourself in your customers’ shoes. Try to understand their needs and desires and address them directly on your website.
Step 3: Define a buyer’s journey
Armed with statistics and personas, your third step is to determine the path you want people to follow on your website and make it easier for them to do tasks along the way.
Your star products need to be easily accessible from your website’s homepage and your products should be classified by category to help customers navigate the site.
Forms should require as little effort and thought as possible. Ideally, your calls to action should be aligned with content presented on different pages. For instance, visitors are more likely to subscribe to your newsletter if the subscribe button is placed next to a nice how-to article that showcases your expertise.
Step 4: Optimize individual pages for conversion
The fourth and final step is to consistently test your assumptions and make incremental adjustments. This suggests you should work to optimize individual pages for conversion rather than trying to redesign your site all at once. If you change too many things at once, you won’t be able to determine which elements actually helped boost conversion.
Online customers are easily frustrated and will be quick to leave your website if it isn’t user friendly. Small improvements to the speed of your website, for example, can help you rank higher with search engines and ensure customers don’t get annoyed.
Small improvements can turn into thousands of dollars
So there you have it. Four steps to help you improve your conversion rate.
At first, this may sound like a never-ending task, and in a way it is, because conversion optimization is a continuous process. But consider the rewards. Sometimes even very small improvements, say, half a percentage point increase in your conversion rate, can translate into thousands of dollars.
Looked at from that perspective, it’s well worth the effort.