In my role at the forefront of the B2B marketing industry I see much of the strategic day to day activity that powers some of the most successful marketing strategies. This view allows me to identify common strengths and weaknesses in any marketing operation and take the right action to make the most of the opportunity. Today, I’m discussing a weakness I regularly see around web conversion optimization.
Just so we’re on the same page, web conversion optimization is the process of iteratively improving activity designed to generate leads in the sales cycle. Often, when this topic is brought to my attention, I get asked the same questions time and time again; ‘What’s the right user experience for the buyer journey?’ and ‘How do I optimize the web for the buyer/user experience?’. Now they’re both good questions, but, they’re not necessarily the right questions.
To genuinely improve web conversion optimization, it’s important to look at the bigger picture. I choose to look at a much broader perspective, entailing all touches, across all channels that play a role in achieving a conversion (which is classed as a sale).
So with this approach in mind, let’s take another look at the questions:
What is the right user experience for the buyer journey?
How do I optimize the web for a buyer/user experience?
Now as you can see, the way in which these questions are phrased, it’s clear they are being treated in isolation, there is no focus on the bigger picture. They fail to acknowledge the biggest key insight, the main objective – to drive conversion to sale. When optimizing the user experience, it’s critical to acknowledge the end goal in order to achieve genuine improvement and results.
With this common challenge in mind, let’s take a look at three other key misconceptions around web optimization and discuss how they can be fixed.
Mistake 1: Optimisation is only for marketing’s benefit
In the world of marketing, terms such as A/B testing, conversion optimization and search engine optimization have all become common industry lingo. The problem is, as they’ve been adopted, they’ve transformed into internal industry functions designed for OUR benefit, not the visitors’. In reality, the visitors’ priorities should come first, second and third, yet they are often relegated to accommodate a ‘creative approach’ or alternative marketing preferences. It’s not uncommon for marketing to forget the purpose of their activity when driving improvements.
When a buyer is looking for information, they want to find it as fast as possible. A visitor that bounces without first being satiated is bad for all involved; the user has wasted their time and the website owner has failed to engage or satisfy. This unsuccessful interaction is typically a wasted investment in whatever communication sent the user to the site. If this becomes a common occurrence, it’s likely to negatively impact the site’s performance in search engines, which will reduce its visibility and attract less traffic (relevant or otherwise). This highlights the close line and intrinsic linkage between conversion optimization and user experience, yet it also emphasizes that data and optimization is not just for our benefit, but for our users too.
Mistake 2: Web conversion only relates to PPC and SEO
In the majority of marketing operations, it’s common practice to continually optimize for search rankings and conversion on PPC campaigns. There’s typically processes in place to ensure on-page SEO items, monitor rankings, gain backlinks, A/B AdWords, adjust spend and negative keywords are all updated regularly. Now, while this is certainly best practice, I’d argue the real opportunities to improve lie in the existing web properties that don’t require continual optimization.
When you consider all of the natural traffic generated by a website, the percentages around successful conversion are typically very low indeed. Unfortunately, there is not enough effort or resources dedicated to driving up these numbers. Playing with fixed variables is where the significant gains can be made.
Mistake 3: The perfect user experience is created in planning
Typically, when page frameworks are put together, they are optimized to offer the best possible user experience. This optimization is pre-emptively based on themes that are believed to resonate with the target audience while balancing industry best practices around structure and layout. Now, this approach makes total sense, but these decisions are all made in advance of the live date and that’s a weakness that has to be acknowledged. It’s easy to make decisions based on theory, but when it comes to application, the data can often tell a very different story. It’s rare that any page will be 100% optimal first-time round, and even if it is, how can that be recognized? What does optimal even look like?
When attempting to improve website conversion, there is often a failure to consider iteration around the foundation that has already been built. Fortunately, this can be simply addressed by including conversion optimization into planning from the beginning. This ensures the critical assets in the conversion are always improving, driving better performance and greater efficiency in developing prospects into leads.