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5 Reasons to Care About Conversion

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Conversion is simply turning browsers into buyers. Anything that can increase your rate from the standard 2% is a good thing. The other way to think of this is 98% of people hitting your site end up leaving without buying anything.

Conversion Optimization is one of the most powerful ways to grow your online business, yet it’s often not included as a Marketing Budget line item and usually all the glory goes to driving traffic to your website. Getting your company to embrace conversion optimization and implement strategies for improved conversion should be a priority and it’s often one of the best marketing investments you can make in your site.  Here are five ideas to get you focusing more on conversion.

1. Simple Math

Improving conversion improves sales.  Sounds simple, but often focus is so heavy on new visits (and more visits!) that this simple math equation gets lost.  It’s the real-world equivalent of spending ad budget to get people in the store then standing on the curb trying to get even more people in the store, when you SHOULD be caring for the potential customers already visiting.

Conversion Rate Calculator 

Look what happens if the conversion rate increases from 1% to 2%:


Thank you Palo Alto Software & SMEToolKit for this lovely calculator.

2. LVC (Lifetime Value of Customer)

Converting visitors can become repeat customers and repeat customers are more likely to recommend your store to others. The conversion is the first step in this lifetime value cycle. The better conversion is upfront, the more opportunity you have to create a relationship with the customer – and even to make them your store evangelists.

3. Consumer Psychology and Branding

There’s no denying that you have a positive impression of the company as a whole when you spend time on a site that logically guides you through a process of meeting your needs as a customer. By this, I mean they offer an engaging experience via:

  • Product features and benefits
  • Price comparisons
  • Product testimonials
  • Product recommendations
  • Easy checkout

For some consumer experiences, the only entity the consumer is going to “meet” in your company is your website. Testing conversion tools and making conversion a priority will have a positive effect on company branding.

4. Your Competition Cares

All businesses benefit from improved conversion. If you ignore conversion optimization, it won’t be long before it’s used as a competitive advantage. For example, if I’m searching for “hiking boots” let’s compare these landing pages.




The first page gives me a lot of information about selecting a hiking boot, while the other visually shares information to help keep me in the sales funnel to narrow my decision.

The REI example answers a lot of my questions visually and in a way that leads me through the sales funnel (like a good sales person would).  REI is sharing features, advantages and benefits:

  • We’re having a sale, save up to 50%
  • Here’s how each boot ranks from our customer reviews
  • Here’s how they compare
  • Easily sort by relevance, brand, price, best-selling and customer rating

The content shared in the first example is good, but it doesn’t lead people through decision making to get to a conversion. From a competitive standpoint, REI has demonstrated to a hiker how easy it is to find what they need when searching for boots, so when that hiker is ready to buy a backpack too, this positive experience will make it even more difficult for a competitor to get his attention.

5. Sharing What Works with Sales

Spending time honing your marketing message not only helps you convert online, but it helps your sales staff to speak the same language. For instance, if you learn from testing your landing page content that risk free trials and testimonials help conversion (see below example with KISSmetrics), sales staff can adopt that messaging as well.


Good example of using both testimonials and free trial to improve conversions

BONUS – It’s Not as Hard as It Seems

Improving conversion can be daunting. There’s so much you CAN do, it’s hard to decide what TO do. Don’t wait – it’s not as hard as it seems! My best advice is to pick one thing to focus on, and add others once you’re comfortable. A product recommendation tool (such as 4-Tell Boost®) is a great place to start because it’s easy to implement and results are very quick to establish. Once you can show improvement to the bottom line due to improved conversion, you’ll inevitably want to do more. Here are some other suggestions to gradually add:

  • Design for usability and improved user experience on key landing pages
  • Initiate A/B testing
  • Test and improve your sales funnel and checkout process

So don’t just sit there, do something to start improving conversion today!

Share Your Conversion Ideas

What other things are you doing to improve conversion on your site? We’d love to hear from you! 

Lisa WilliamsLisa Williams is president of MEDIA forte marketing, an online marketing agency founded in 1998 creating content for the internet. Based in Hood River, Ore., the agency now offers a suite of online marketing strategies for mid-size ecommerce clients with a focus on pay-for-performance.

She speaks at regional and national conferences including SMX, SMX Advanced, SearchFest, Online Marketing Summit, InnoTech and Internet Strategy Forum. She has been featured in Glamour Magazine, Kiplinger Magazine, Boston Globe and The Oregonian. Lisa is on the SEMpdx (Search Engine Marketing Professionals of Portland Oregon) Board of Directors as their Membership Chair. Lisa is speaking at 2012 SMX West on Driving Ecommerce & Retail Sales Through Search Marketing.