Questions? (877) 643-7244
FutureNow Post
Monday, Feb. 22, 2010 at 8:59 am

Optimize that Conversion Rate Before It’s Too Late

By Brendan Regan
February 22nd, 2010

This post is dedicated to online marketers and small business owners out there who make money from their website, but have not yet kicked off a formal online marketing and website optimization program.  For those who have, good job, and there may be other Grok posts more useful to you than this one.

I also want to note that this post was inspired by a recent post by Mark Bronlow over at Email Marketing Reports.  In particular, his infographic was extremely interesting, and I thought it needed to be tweaked and applied to Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).  If you’re specifically an email marketer, I’m sure you’ll enjoy his post…but read mine first!

Begin by clicking to enlarge my infographic, then I’ll explain what I’m trying to illustrate about why CRO is so crucial and why the time to begin a formal effort to increase your conversion rate(s) was yesterday.

infographic.001The Y-Axis represents the persuasiveness of your online presence: website, online marketing efforts, conversion funnel, etc.

The X-Axis represents time.

The blue trend line represents the steadily increasing level of persuasiveness needed to stay competitive in the online marketing and selling world.  This means how well your whole online system works to map your selling process to your prospects’ buying processes.  It includes visual design, copy writing, usability, how you invest marketing budget, the data you use to make decisions…everything!

Why does the blue line keep rising steadily? Because our prospects are getting savvier, more experienced, and more demanding when they go online to research, make decisions, and ultimately buy something.  Plus, the number of businesses with an online presence is growing, so it gets harder and harder to grab your prospects’ attention in the first place.  Ever changing technology and standards (eg. increasing availability of ways to connect and interact; Google’s search algorithm) also up the ante.  This trend line will always be on a pretty steady climb because the Web has essentially made it a “buyer’s market,” not a seller’s.

The purple trend line represents what the average site owner or online marketing team is doing today.  Most web organizations continue to invest in their website, but the efforts aren’t always focused in the right place.  For example, maybe you “re-skin” your site every two years to give it a fresh look.  Or, maybe you upgraded your shopping cart last year to a more expensive version.  Or maybe you continue to fight for more marketing budget so you can spend more on paid search advertising.

Your online system is improving due to your efforts, but is it improving fast enough?  I’m arguing that for most of you (those who are still profitable) it is enough…for now.  I also argue that a lack of a formal CRO effort causes the purple trend line to not be steep enough.  Without a plan and process to keep up (ie. continuously improve), you’ll slowly fall behind the technology and increasing expectations of your audience.

The dotted line represents the point at which what you’re doing to improve is no longer good enough to persuade your prospects to buy.  That is obviously a bad thing.  If you aren’t staying ahead of your prospects in terms of persuasiveness, sooner or later, you will cross that dotted line and your prospects will go somewhere else.  To your competitors, in most cases.

Mark Bronlow supposes, as do I, that most marketers are currently to the left of the dotted line.  But we both agree that the dotted line is inevitable if you don’t ramp up your efforts at continuous improvement.  I believe CRO is the absolute best way to make sure your purple line NEVER crosses below your prospects’ blue line, and that’s why I’m in this business :)

What do you think of these theories?  Is CRO the only way to “stay ahead of the curve”?  How close to the dotted line do you think your business is today?  If you’re not sure, drop us a line and we’d be happy to give you an outside opinion.

Add Your Comments

Comments (83)

  1. [...] full post on Conversion Rate Optimization & Marketing Blog | FutureNow, Inc Enjoyed this article?WebsiteWordpress [...]

  2. People are indeed getting savvier with their online activities, which is what will keep it a buyer’s market

  3. Hey Jerry not only a interesting point. Its a point of sale…

  4. It is challenging to create a line much like the way the blue line goes, but, it is doable. It is best to understand the market today, be flexible enough to keep up with the changing trend and with the sometimes unpredictable attitude of online buyers and to top it with not quitting. Yes, CRO is of vital importance.

  5. I agree with what you are saying unless your primary means of driving traffic is by being an authority on a certain subject area. If that is the case time adds credibility.

  6. good point and interested graphic, but sometimes you do not need the blue trend because of the small or none competive at all.

  7. Conversion Rate Optimzation might not be the only way to stay ahead of the curve, but it’s arguably the best way. With enough marketing prowess in the right supply/demand scenario it’s possible that a company might channel enough traffic into the funnel to stay ahead of the curve, but it would be inefficient, unenduring, and full of poor customer experience. CRO is an essential tactic for maximizing online ROI and customer engagement. Anything else is like flying with landing gear down and flaps extended.

  8. Thanks for the hat tip and especially for doing a much better job with the graph than I did! Made me smile. Maybe I need to work on my purple line…

  9. I am a online businessman and I think this post is really useful and I hope it will also solve other people’s problems.

  10. Great post!
    Very deep explanation especially including the graphic. I will bookmark this post.
    Thank you so much.

  11. Interesting model. Gotta push the envelope with no stop.

  12. Great post, Brendan. With so much changing in the online marketing space right now the one aspect we’ve got most control over is our own website, but too many site owners are still focussing too singularly on trying to get more traffic instead of doing more with the traffic they already have. A timely post.

  13. Hi there,

    Good point.
    Yes every business do need innovation.

    Thanks

  14. The beauty of CRO is a small businessman on the internet can do it as well as a mega corporation. Ma and Pa’s Custom Sneaker Shop may not be able to beat Nike in the SEO game, but there is nothing stopping them from having a CRO system in place that is as good, if not better.

    Time is less of an eroding factor on CRO than it is on other aspects of your internet presence, but it will still a factor. Eventually, it will make your CRO obsolete if you don’t continue to change.

  15. Thanx for sharing such a useful information. I am definitely going to use it.

  16. I really enjoyed your article, I tweet!

  17. Interesting point! Thank you for the elaboration.

  18. I am a online shop director.
    And i agree, every business do need innovation. This post is really useful.

  19. Google Analytics is my favorite tool… I have optimized and re optimized based on niche customer search patterns…. Everyone should have Google Analytics

  20. “prospects are getting savvier, more experienced, and more demanding when they go online to research, make decisions, and ultimately buy something.”

    This is so true, and as a business online today you have to be providing a quality service or product, it only takes a few angry customers to tweet about you or a facebook msg or two and you can have a big problem on your hands.

    Provide a valuable product or service that people want, provide good customer support and you cannot go too far wrong.

  21. As webmasters, we’ve certainly got to stay on top of it. Web visitors can spot an ad from a mile away and they can spot a sales pitch. Cheesy sales lines don’t work anymore and neither does spam or fake enthusiasm. Thanks for the article!

  22. The transparency of information definitely has led to more informed buyers. For example, shoppers go to comparison shopping sites to compare prices before buying.

  23. Conversion Rate Optimzation might not be the only way to stay ahead of the curve, but it’s arguably the best way.

  24. I use clicktail, it helps me know what is happening on my site and its heatmaps and videos show me i can increase my conversions

  25. Really fresh reading, enjoy it with my coffee :)

  26. A lot fo useful stuff here, I’ll be trying it out, thanks

  27. agree totally and have bookmarked this on delicious… one of those things on the to do list but reading this has brought it to the forefront. time to start some tests up again and optimize, optimize, optimize!

  28. Great post. You have made some really good points here. Saved to Delicious. The more informed the buyers get the more important it is to optimize conversion rate.

  29. I’m not much of a commenter on things I read on the web but I felt that the presentation of the information on this subject was so well done that it deserves to be recommended to all with an interest in the topic

  30. I guess every website owner is, at least semi-consciously, aware that time is ticking – handily there are other factors at play – the human psyche is notoriously habitual in its behaviours – established sites do benefit from this and it’s a good thing – because keeping up with everything, all the time is a recipe for a nervous breakdown :p

  31. Brendan,

    Great post. Conversion optimization has many benefits, including reducing marketing costs of course. If you only convert 1 – 2 % percent of all visitors and you had to pay to get those visitors, wouldn’t it make sense to try and convert the other 98% at no additional marketing cost.

    But couldn’t resist this ;

    On a page which discusses conversion optimization, it seemed ironic that the advert for the “To Do List to Fix my Sucky Website” gives me the dreaded, absolutely standard 404 error.

    I guess this savvier visitor didn’t get converted today.

    But again, great post.

  32. This is so true, Web visitors can spot an ad from a mile away.

  33. Yes keeping up with the constant changes and demands of our audience and customers is a everyday process with which one definitely needs creative.

  34. Great article, as always…

    Just thought you might want to tweak your text; I think you meant to say “the number of businesses with an online presence” instead of “the number of business with an online presence.” :)

  35. agree totally and have bookmarked this on delicious… one of those things on the to do list but reading this has brought it to the forefront. time to start some tests up again and optimize, optimize, optimize!

  36. Brendan – great article. It confirms what we’re doing with our online marketing agency is the right stuff. This gives me another tool to improve our conversion in addition to our A|B split tests. BTW, conversion for us is a captured lead.

  37. I have low conversion rate on few ecommerce shops and am looking for the silutions to fis it, thanks for your article very helpgul

  38. The first step in getting the right traffic is to identify your Unique Selling Proposition. Your USP states what your web site offers and how you are different from your competitors.

  39. It’s a good point and certainly valuable if you’re somehow under the impression you can stagnate for a while.

    However, this isn’t exactly an online-special thing. It doesn’t matter if you’re 100% online, 100% brick and mortar, or somewhere in between – you need to grow to compete.

  40. Very interesting for all online businesses.Many things to learn out of it.

  41. That is really interesting, it is sometimes tough trying to convince people that conversation rate is key to everything. I will be forwarding this onto a client to encourage them to start getting this improved today and not when it suits! Thanks

  42. Analyze to improve and optimize always a good theory. Need more learn from here.

    Thanks anyway

  43. I find online marketing challenging, but filled with opportunity. While I do a little planning, after reading this…it’s clear I need to step up my game.

  44. This should be much easier to do. I’ve been in technology for years and still find it quite difficult to do what you are suggesting. A company that can truly make this simple is going to be very succcessful.

  45. Great article Brendan, it was an interesting read. I know I’m definitely nowhere near the dotted line, as I’m just starting out with my website.

    Looking forward to your next articles.

  46. I have low conversion rate on few ecommerce shops and am looking for the silutions to fis it, thanks for your article very helpgul

  47. Many people think about their improvements, but not the blue line, which represents those things outside of our control. The web is constantly getting more competitive, so even if you improve over a few year span at a fast pace, it may not be fast enough to keep up with web inflation so to speak.

  48. Thanks for the post. Conversion optimization is so important. Hard sometimes with shopping cart development but I definitely see the value in it.

  49. Were trying hard on a few different methods for this, but thanks for this concise well written article! Matt.

  50. Hi
    i m in a trouble with my site.
    COnversation rate dropped drammaticaly from the time of redisign and from the time i added prices on the site. any idea how i can add more value in my site?

  51. What is 5 things you must have to succeed in affiliate marketing?

  52. Infographic! WTF is an infographic? Do you mean a graph?

    Or are you still taking the baby for a stroll in the perambulator.

    :)

  53. @Craig McLaughlan: A “graph”? Oh, heavens, no. My talent in chart creation takes me out of the realm of graphs and into the stratosphere of InfoGraphics! Information + Graphic, BTW. I consider myself the next Edward Tufte ;)

  54. Yes, it’s definitely not a “set it and forget it” business! People get caught up in the “4 hour work week” and forget that you really have to keep advancing to stay up with the competition. Just the way it is these days, particularly when barriers to entry are low.

  55. @ brendan

    haha!

  56. Not sure it is ever too late, but it definitely gets moe expensive the longer you go with a poor conversion rate.

  57. thanks for info. Conversion Rate Optimzation might not be the only way to stay ahead of the curve, but it’s arguably the best way.

  58. Great point, if you cant adapt to the task at hand then your site will die. You can’t just rely on what you used to do to work for you all the time. you need to change with your site.

  59. With enough marketing prowess in the right supply/demand scenario it’s possible that a company might channel enough traffic into the funnel to stay ahead of the curve, but it would be inefficient, unenduring, and full of poor customer experience

  60. “Without a plan and process to keep up (ie. continuously improve), you’ll slowly fall behind the technology and increasing expectations of your audience.” Do you think applies to very niche websites as well?

  61. @bassinet: Great question. I believe niche sites can better resist the pressure to innovate and improve, compared to, say, a well-known retail brand. If you have the correct niche, people will buy your product regardless. BUT, you’ll never know how much BETTER you could be doing if you don’t optimize!

  62. Does it not come down to giving more to your online customers than you attempt to take?

  63. Definitely agree with the sentiments of the article Brendan.

    we have to change the way we interact with our respective markets. Unfortunately the variation is great as in some markets the prospects are “super savvy and this just makes it more crucial to be ahead of the curve.

  64. A very good explanation!

    As customers are able to get information on every topic easily, they are becoming more and more aware about where to go to enjoy very good buying experience.

    In today’s market trend, one always needs to ahead of their customers.

  65. @Brendan: Agree.

    People buying niche products do care about the brand.

  66. This statement rings with so much truth :

    “Why does the blue line keep rising steadily? Because our prospects are getting savvier, more experienced, and more demanding when they go online to research, make decisions, and ultimately buy something.”

    I’ve found that tweaking for CR optimization is an ongoing almost never ending effort, much like seo.

  67. Infographic! WTF is an infographic? Do you mean a graph?

  68. Conversion Rate Optimzation might not be the only way to stay ahead of the curve, but it’s arguably the best way.

  69. Great point, if you cant adapt to the task at hand then your site will die.

  70. [...] View full post on Conversion Rate Optimization & Marketing Blog | FutureNow, Inc [...]

  71. As customers are able to get information on every topic easily, they are becoming more and more aware about where to go to enjoy very good buying experience.

  72. Conversion rate optimization is a new phrase to me, but in today’s internet world the terms are spawned thick and fast. The last decade has really changed our vocabulary, goodness knows what the next is going to bring!

  73. i just can say that It is best to understand the market today, be flexible enough to keep up with the changing trend and with the sometimes unpredictable attitude of online buyers

  74. i think it’s possible that a company might channel enough traffic into the funnel to stay ahead of the curve

  75. Not sure it is ever too late, but it definitely gets moe expensive the longer you go with a poor conversion rate.

  76. Brendan – great article. It confirms what we’re doing with our online marketing agency is the right stuff. This gives me another tool to improve our conversion in addition to our A|B split tests. BTW, conversion for us is a captured lead.

  77. I doubt there such term as too late.

    You can always make drastic changes and get what you are looking for.

  78. I love converting, the rates always confuse me tho, anyone want to share any more conversion rates for online music downloads for example.

  79. Converting sales is a key ingredient in the marketing mix of online businesses. Software from IBM called Coremetrics allows Real Time access to your Customers browsing activity and locations etc.

  80. It seems that all 4 points are summarized by the fact that people are busy nowadays. They don’t have time for videos and other splashy media in emails. For me, it’s best if an email gets to the point, however I can drill down and learn more quickly. I prefer a summary of the information first and details next.

  81. To me the interesting question here is which way do you go improve your conversion rate. To many internet marketers, CRO seems to imply ever more “in your face” methods – pop ups, pop unders, exit strategies and the like. In the long run I believe much of this is counter productive and that one is better off trying to improve the quality of one’s site and make the “sell” more subtle.

  82. is it better to Optimize the Conversion Rate with long tail keywords or by the main keywords?

Add Your Comments

 

Print this Article
Share

More articles from Brendan Regan

Marketing Optimization Blog
FREE Newsletter Sign-Up
send it once every: