Thursday, November 11, 2010

The digital conversion toolkit

Following up on my two recent posts on the cusotmer aquisition path, including the digital PR toolkit and the digital marketing toolkit, I thought I would complete the series with this one on online conversion.

My prompt to complete this posting was ceated by my arrival of the new O'Reilly book 'Conversion Optimization' which I have to review ASAP.

Digital conversion tools are those methods you would use to turn viewers into customers, browsers into buyers, lookers into bookers... and the customer acquisition cycle would not be complete without them.

Here's a breakdown of the tools you can use off-site

User Journey Optimisation:
From creating a usable way for customers to put products into their shopping basket, through to a seamless checkout/payment experience, the efficiency of the interface is key. I guess this is a pretty big subject in itself and just a footnote in this posting does not do it justice. However, suffice to say, if you're not optimizing your user journey to increase conversions on your website... then you probably need to take a good hard look at why you're doing this in the first place!

A/B & Multivariate Tools
Using tools that allow you to use and compare two or more different set of content, imagery or layout are now common practice on large eCommerce websites. Its a way to check what wording or template is leading to better sales very quickly and enables site to find what's working better, quicker. And furthermore.... do you want a way for your website to automatically improve your purchase ratio without actually doing any further fancy technical coding? Then consider using Google Optimiser, which is a dynamic multi-variate testing website tool that plugs into Google's Pay-Per-Click and Analytics functionality.

Yes, I know its old-hat compared to what I've just described, but asking customers for their views on your website (e.g. the layout, etc.) is a basic but assured way of getting ideas on what aspects of your site aren't optimal.

Search & Social Marketing
Why have I put this lots into a posting about conversion when search and social marketing aim to get customers into your website and not through it? Simple!
If there are specific keywords that visitors type into search engines that means they then far more likely to go on  and spend money on your site, are those ones worth focusing on rather than the ones that just get loads of traffic that lands, takes a look and then disappears to the next site? And if there are images in your Facebook adverts that do the same thing.... shouldn't you be looking more closely at these ones?
Note: Affiliate marketing campaigns tend to convert the highest out of all. But I'll leave this subject for another day

Now this means a lot of different things to different people and again deserves more than a few lines here. But online CRM or eCRM as its know (usually centred around email marketing and its integration with the target website) is a powerful tool to ensure that you identify, communicate with and convert customers as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Note: I'm sure I'll follow this posting up with more eCRM stuff in the future

Do you know that targeted emails can produce a far higher conversion rate that organic or pay-per-click visitors? Yes, simple old email is still one of the most effective means of securing a sale online, assuming you don't bombard your recipients with messages and your email can get users to the site in the first place.


Unless your products are available everywhere (in which case they are probably highly commoditised and therefore you're probably aware of all that I'm describing and more) then you should take every chance to communicate to your customers what your products are all about. Aside from the SEO benefits of great content, customers do tend to need  encouragement and you also need to clearly explain things such as your delivery options, returns policy and trading terms & conditions.

Sure.... analytics won't give you instant conversion improvement, but acting on what you find and analyse really can do. If you're still not using analytics to understand customer behaviour and map that all-important transaction funnel... then I recommend you do so immediately.

Delivering personalised content on new sites is one thing, but providing recommendations based on what a user has previously looked at or bought is a very sensible way to encourage them to purchase. Obviously the more you can then provide relevant suggestions (perhaps even based on what friends have bought), the better your eCommerce operation could be working.

In short.... make sure everything on your site is working as hard as it can to turn visitors into customers.
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