To convert customers, first understand what to optimise
There is no ‘golden path’ to boosting conversions on your website, but by understanding what customers need and where to focus your efforts, you give yourself the best possible chance
As a marketer, your website isn’t just a window into your world, it’s a spotlight on your customer. How they interact and their ever-changing demands provide a wealth of insight into how you can best serve them.
But data is nothing without execution and online that execution is rapid and relentless. To stay competitive, brands have to be willing to test, personalise and optimise constantly to meet customer expectations.
Speaking at the Festival of Marketing, LEAP Agency’s director of analytics and insight Rashmi Hurst explained that, while “there’s no golden path to conversion”, marketers should be trying to achieve “a KPI-driven marketing strategy that drives real on-site conversions and realisable revenue, but that also allows us to easily analyse and optimise based on the results”.
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To this end, the agency has helped clients with their audience research, segmentation and persona development. Hurst shared a healthcare case study where a brand’s website serves two different audiences: the patient carer audience on one side, and the healthcare professional on the other; clearly two completely different sets of needs with two very different conversion points. Using Progress’s Sitefinity analytics tool, Hurst worked with the client to analyse and optimise its site to maximise conversions among the distinct personas.
LEAP’s first step was to identify the site visitor’s goal, choose the best pages to optimise and then work with creatives to design a range of page variants that could be put through A/B testing. The team worked through a number of options – asking visitors to scroll for information, prioritising call-to-action buttons and so on. Through the Sitefinity optimisation process, they discovered that not only was there a clear difference in user behaviour between the different page types, but that through analytics, they were able to directly attribute the presence of a CTA in the site’s ‘hero space’ to a 27% decrease in bounce rate and a 63% uptick in conversions.
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And while it is indeed the analytics that deliver the insights needed to drive those dramatic shifts in conversions, Hurst is at pains to point out that it’s the groundwork laid before you even get started that reaps the rewards: “The hardest part about testing is, first, deciding what to test but also what not to test.” She points out that there are endless opportunities to optimise but marketers would be best served by optimising the areas where customers spend most of their time.
Equally, it’s important to have patience. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve logged into Sitefinity, seen the results on day one and said OK, this isn’t working. When you identify a duration with your team, stick with it.” For the most part, she suggests a minimum of a week.
During the Festival of Marketing session, Jennifer McAdams, vice-president of marketing for Progress, asked Hurst whether testing risked a trade-off in website speed, and whether or not an obsession with getting a website to stand out can lose some of its user-friendliness.
So far, Hurst reveals, data tracking hasn’t impacted site speed in her experience, but she recommended using Google Tag Manager to make sure all tags are in one spot. She also admitted that LEAP does grapple with the question of user-friendliness versus a high level of optimisation, but that only performing one test at a time helps focus the process on true customer need.
Essentially, Hurst concluded, your campaigns are only as effective as your landing page. Brand messaging has to be seamless between how the company is viewed offline and online. Consistency in messaging, she said, is critical to conversion. ■
LEAP Agency's Rashmi Hurst on how to prioritise the personas your website targets