If you’re driving your customers to your site simply to have them visit you, you’re wasting your time and efforts. Site traffic alone will not build brand recognition today. There must be other elements of supplying your customers or potential customers with what they need. Of course, what you should be supplying them with will depend on your industry. But even with the differing needs of audiences, there’s still a way to measure or value your site visitors.
Your conversions are your ultimate measure of how well your site optimization and design work. And you should constantly be focusing on the conversions that your site drives. Without conversions, you’re not making any money. That doesn’t mean that conversions all have to be monetarily based, just that they have to fulfill some goal that you have designed for your web site.
There are two types of conversions: revenue conversions and pre-revenue conversions. Revenue conversions are actual sales. A sale is a conversion goal. If you sell anything from your web site, you should have a conversion goal for reaching the end of a sale. That might mean the goal is achieved when a user clicks through to the “Thank You” page or when the order confirmation is displayed. These conversions require the exchange of money for goods or services.
Another type of conversion is the pre-revenue conversion. Pre-revenue conversions are all the other steps in the selling cycle — activities that lead up to the final sale. So, a pre-revenue conversion might be something like having the visitor request additional information about a product or service or sign up for a newsletter that’s offered on your site. These are valid conversions that should also be tracked.
The types of conversions remain the same across the life cycle of your web site, but the actual conversions may not. And that’s the reason you need to conduct regular conversion analysis. In your conversion analysis, you’re looking for a number of things including an increase or decrease in the number or pattern of conversions. Increases and decreases in these trends will help you to know when something is working or when something needs changing.
When you see a changing trend in your conversion rate, you know it’s time to begin trying something different. It may be that your products need to be changed, it may be that your newsletter is no longer appealing, or it could simply be that your competition is funneling your audience away from you.
One way to see these trends in your web analytics is to look at your sales cycle. Ideally, you should know your sales cycle even before you put your web site online. The sales cycle is the steps that a user takes to complete a sale. It’s usually divided according to the natural progress that visitors make from entering your site to the completed sale.
This natural progression should be trackable with your web metrics program. One report that will be extremely helpful will be a funnel report or sales funnel report. This type of report allows you to set up a sales funnel on your web site and then track the effectiveness. It also shows where your site visitors might fall off in the process of making a purchase. You can then use that information to change and improve elements of your SEO and your web site that might be causing that fall-off.
Conversions are the ultimate goal in all your search marketing efforts. Yes, you want to drive customers to your site, but more than that, you want those customers to do something. That something is your conversion and if you analyze the conversion process, you’ll be able to track patterns of what works and what doesn’t.