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Marketing Insight: Improving Web ROI

by Randall Craig on April 25, 2013

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Media, Planning

Tagged as: , , , , , , , ,

Does this sound familiar?  You have a website (or two), a marketing budget, and more than likely, a desire to grow.  It doesn’t matter if growth is defined as more event registrations, newsletter sign-ups, leads, or transactions – the problem is that too often, a web initiative doesn’t always pull its weight.

There are four steps to turning this around:

Level 1, Attraction:  1000 people see a link to your site.

Level 2, Conversion to prospect:  100 people click on that link, and land on your website.  They are intrigued, and wish to explore more.  (On the other hand, 900 people think that the stimulus is irrelevant noise, and ignore it.)

Level 3, Conversion to customer:  10 people decide to sign up, register, transact, or click the call to action.  (Which means that 90 people thought that your landing page was not relevant.)

Level 4, Referral:  1 person is so pleased with the results, that they tell 10 people. (And perhaps one person is displeased, they tell 100 people.)

There are three relevant statistics:  How many people are attracted into Level 1? What percentage of people are “converted” from Level 1 to level 2 to level 3 to level 4?  And what is the net cost of making this happen?

Improving Level 1, Attraction:  A few ways to increase the number of site visitors:

  • Improve Search Engine Ranking
  • Advertise using Pay-per-click on Google, Facebook, Bing, etc.
  • Buy a sponsorship slot in directories and websites where your prospects spend their time.
  • Write articles for online and real-world trade magazines, linking back to your site.
  • Blog and Tweet, with embedded links back to your site.
  • Use QR codes on all of your marketing collateral and advertising
  • Develop CRM and mailing-list based campaigns to drive users to a particular page.

Improving Level 2, Conversion to prospect:  To increase the number of click-throughs, the call to action must be targeted to the right people in the right venue.  For example, having an advertisement for cars on a website that sells cameras is less likely to generate interest than an ad for cars on an auto enthusiast site.  The second variable is the call to action copy and graphics.  It is sometimes difficult to know beforehand what headline, body text, and graphics will actually yield the best results, so using an a-b testing method is critical.  Here’s a simplified explanation how:

  • Create a family of ads that differ only in their headline.
  • Review the analytics to identify the one yielding the greatest click-through.
  • Drop all of the others, and then create a family of ads that use that headline, but differ only in their body copy.
  • Review the analytics to identify the one yielding the greatest click-through.
  • Drop all of the others, and then create a family of ads that use the headline and body copy, but differ only in the graphic.
  • Review the analytics to identify the one yielding the greatest click-through.
  • Repeat.

This a-b testing process can be used for emails, traditional advertising, pay-per-click ads – anything.  It should also be used to test for different keywords, and effectiveness across venues.

Improving Level 3, Conversion to customer:  Too often, people will be intrigued by the call to action, click, then find themselves on a page that has little connection to the reason they clicked in the first place.  The only way to improve conversion once a person has landed on the page is to help them exclusively focus on the task at hand.  This means…

  • Removing distracting navigation.
  • Removing all extraneous content.
  • Writing content that “continues the conversation” towards transaction or lead generation.
  • Using video and testimonials.
  • Writing content that removes objections: performance guarantees, privacy policy, etc.
  • More ideas on great landing pages.

Just like Level 2 Conversion, a critically important tool is a-b testing.  Sometimes the smallest changes can make the biggest differences – and you’ll never know unless you test.

Separate from the landing page itself is the visual and emotional connection to the user.  An ugly, out-of-brand page reflects directly on the experience the user will have once they have committed: a poor user experience directly reduces conversion.

(Retail sidebar:  Using advertising, Social Media, and the web to drive customers into a physical store is no different.)

Improving Level 4, Referrals:  Endorsement of your products or services is far more powerful when it comes from a third party – your clients.  Here are several ways to help make this happen:

  • Automatically send an email after the transaction, asking them to refer your business to a colleague or friend.  Providing them a coupon to distribute with a special code allows you to track the source of any future sale or lead.
  • Ask for a written recommendation, either through LinkedIn, or on their letterhead.  Better yet, ask for a video endorsement.
  • Underwrite a contest – or host a venue – where people can share videos (or how-to stories) on how they are using your product or service to solve a particular problem.
  • Monitor and immediately address any product or service complaints surfaced through Social Media; all of your earned goodwill can evaporate in a moment if a harmful posting develops viral momentum.

The connection to cost and ROI

Consider this scenario: assume that the cost to get 1000 people to see your link is $100, which means that with a 10% clickthrough rate, the cost per click is $1.  Ten people sign up, which means that the cost per sign up is $10.  Three implications:

  1. If the net profit per sign-up is more than $10, then it makes sense to invest more in internet marketing.
  2. The ROI is highly connected to the conversion rate.  For example, if the conversion rate moves to 15% on clickthrough and 15% on conversion, that translates to 22 sign-ups, or a cost per sign-up of $4.55 – less than half of the original $10.
  3. Increasing the number of clicks through non-paid venues (email, Social Media, organic SEO, etc) is also critical, as it directly reduces the cost-per-sign-up.  If there are an additional 100 people who get to the landing page (for a total of 200), then at a 10% conversion, that translates to 20 sign-ups, or a cost per sign-up of $5.

Finally, remember that for most businesses, a web conversion is usually only a lead: there is a yet another conversion that happens when the prospective client engages with a salesperson.  As this is the most costly conversion – it uses real people – generating high quality leads at the lowest possible cost becomes even more critical.

This week’s action plan:  Do you have an attraction strategy for your web site?  Is your website designed to “convert” – or merely inform? And do you have a strategy to change satisfied customers into active referrers?  If you think that you can do better, then now is the time to do something about it.

Professional insight:  For those who are looking to improve their own professional profile, these concepts apply just as powerfully:  What is your strategy to attract people to your LinkedIn profile?  What do you want them to do when they get there? How do you generate more professional references?

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

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About 

Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at randallcraig.com and 108ideaspace.com.

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