A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about some of the factors that differentiate Usability from Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). They are two unique practices, each one valid in its own right, and progressive steps in a business’s quest to make their website and marketing efforts better. Any attempt to make your website better starts by coming up with a prioritized list of focal points unique to you, based on trends you see in your own data set, and allowing that list of focal points to re-prioritize fluidly based on regularly timed dives into your data. That’s a strength that tends to be particular to Conversion Rate Optimization.
Maintaining a data-driven focus throughout an ongoing program to make your website better means the biggest revenue opportunities are discovered as they arise, and get bumped to the top of your list, allowing you to adapt to the ever changing online business environment. If you’re torn about two or three problem areas uncovered by your data, you can prioritize them by running the numbers on what a 10% lift in conversion at each point would mean for your bottom line. In that same post, I alluded to, but didn’t expand upon, the idea that a good CRO program also is adaptable to changing business goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Some of you picked up on that, and prodded me to get on it! So, without further ado…
If you want to make your website better as quickly as possible, make sure you engage in a conversion rate optimization program that allows flexibility to change with your changing business priorities over time. What does that mean? Isn’t our unflinching primary goal in business to make money? Well, yes… typically it is. But think about how your company generates revenue, in terms of your sales process, seasonal patterns you see in your business, and even just how many marketing initiatives you make and how quickly you shift focus from one to another. There are a few main factors you need to consider when first trying to figure out how your business goals and key performance indicators shift from day to day…
Ask whether or not there are multiple ways you drive revenue for your business, and if one revenue generator is a higher priority than another. Think about where it makes the most sense to focus first, being sure to consider how the two revenue sources may impact one another.
Think about whether or not seasonality plays a part in sales patterns in your business, and recognize how that impacts your goals, your ability to focus on certain aspects of your marketing and areas of your website, or even the time demands those fluctuations put on your staff. Do product categories fluctuate with the weather, or with various holidays? Is your development team burdened at certain times of the year, so that you should avoid tasks that require their involvement during those times? Are certain areas of the site on lock-down during a high season? Does your focus shift from information resources for existing users to new user enrollment around certain industry calendars?
Consider your strategy for building customer commitment to your products or services, and how you develop visitors from prospect, to customer, to bigger spender, to repeat customer, etc. Think about how that increasing commitment is reflected in the actions your prospects take on your site. Ask where it makes the most sense to focus first, and formulate a plan for moving forward from there, recognizing the goals and KPIs for your improvement strategy change with your shifting focus.
Don’t discount the way your overall marketing strategy affects your goals and KPIs. Most companies realize that a big initiative such as launching a second website, demands a shift in goals and KPIs. Even basic changes to your marketing strategy, such as launching a new email campaign, initiating pay-per-click efforts, or starting work on SEO, mean that your conversion rate optimization goals shift slightly.
If you’re involved in a continuous effort to make your website and marketing efforts better, it’s important to recognize that your business goals and KPIs are a moving target, and equally important to engage in a marketing improvement strategy that can account for that. An important first step is to ask yourself a few questions about how your company drives revenue, whether or not there are calendar patterns in the company’s revenue, and what marketing plans are on the table for the next 3-6 months. Give some thought to what stage of maturity the company is in today, and how these factors might change as you grow. Have you experienced other factors that caused your business goals and the KPIs that measure them to shift? Post a comment to tell us about them.