Conversion is King

Some time ago I came across some incredible statistics. A study done by the e-tailing group showed a conversion rate for websites. A stunning a 64% of businesses surveyed had websites with less than a 6% conversion ratio. A further 19% "didn't know". If we make a leap of the imagination, and suggest that the 19% who 'didn't know' had relatively low conversion rates, we might conclude that in an incredible 83% of websites have less than a 6% conversion rate.

To me, this simply isn't good enough. If the company has done a good job of specifying and targeting its markets, I think it should be shooting for at least a 10% to 15% conversion rate. Now, keep in mind that a conversion is not necessarily an e-sale. An e-newsletter sign up, a request for more information, a whitepaper download, a free trial, in fact anything that provides you with a visitor's contact information constitutes a conversion.

Conversion really is KING for one simple reason; it's the only way to move your relationship to the next level (anyone remember Permission Marketing?), which provides you with an opportunity to follow-up and create a sale. Here are few tips to increase your conversion rate:

1. Understand the Point

Most small business sites aspire to be primarily lead generation sites, possibly with a small e-commerce element (we'll make that assumption in the rest of this article). When you've identified the focus of your website, sit back and consider whether the content, structure and design are best suited to accomplish your goals.

2. Provide Signposts

To build interest in a product or service, consider structuring your website as a logical sequence of information, rather than a smorgasbord. The way to accomplish this is to reduce the number of links, and identify the next-best click for each page. The next- best click is essentially a signpost pointing where you want your visitor to click once they've read the page they're currently on. The next-best click should stand out from the other links on a page. Ever been to a website that had a "more" link at the bottom of a page of content? That's a next-best click.

3. Let's Do a Deal

For lead generation sites, collecting visitors contact information in exchange for something is the desired outcome. The exchange should be high-value to the recipient, low cost to the provider, and have a low perception of commitment. Typical on-line exchanges of this sort include free-trials, product demos, and whitepapers. Be careful not to ask for too much information in the exchange (this raises the perceived commitment level). Ask only for information that's essential to you.

4. Track and Experiment

Once your site is up and running, pay careful attention to the results you're getting. Establish a baseline of results and then begin making changes to impact your conversion rate. Make sure you allow enough time for changes to show an impact, if your site gets only a few visitors, each test element might be in place for a month or even longer.

Copyright 2005 Mat Greenfield

About The Author

Mat Greenfield is the founder and CEO of Utah based Conversion Results, and has been in marketing since 1996. He is recognized as a website conversion expert by a number of industry organizations including and Constant Contact. He is a regular contributor to a number of print and e-magazines, and is a monthly columnist for Practical e-Commerce Magazine.

Visit for a free eGuide to Improving Website Conversion Rates.