Last month I had the good fortune of becoming ‘certified’ in Landing Page Optimization through MarketingExperiments out of Jacksonville Beach Florida. Several times a year, their team brings a hundred or so marketers through the 2-day workshop. The material is similar to that of their free Wednesday web clinics but in a much more intense, and hands-on workshop environment.
After attending the workshop I felt a renewed sense of purpose as a search engine marketer towards challenging my clients to focus on and improve their conversion rates, I wanted to provide some of the highlights in my next few columns. Conversion defined
Why do we get blank stares whever we talk about ‘conversion’ to executives? Perhaps this clear definition will help aid us in the future:
Conversion is the process of successfully achieving the primary objective of a specific page or website.
There are a few key concepts in that definition I’d like to emphasize that all too often overlooked by some marketers. The first being ‘process’, rather than a single event. The second being ‘primary objective’. Get a group of marketing and sales people together in a room for a web strategy meeting and ask them each to state the primary objective. Too often we blow by this critical step in a rush to tackle easier, less meaningful issues.
The ratio at which visitors achieve the primary objective on a webpage is called the conversion rate. Quite simply when we increase the conversion rate, we are more profitable and successful. So why don’t we spend more time in this area? I think a lot of us give up too early, giving it our best attempt, instead of seeing it as an ongoing process by which sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail, but we always learn.
The scientific secret conversion formula
What I am about to reveal to you is highly confidential. Many a man has literally gone insane trying to unlock this mystery. Seriously though, Dr. Flint McLaughlin has developed, patented, and graciously shared with us a heuristic to help make sense, and practically, methodically attack the opportunity to improve our conversion rates.
The conversion sequence: C = 4m + 3v = 2(i-f) – 2a
If you are like me, the first time (and second and third time) I was presented with this ‘formula’ my stomach rose to my throat as anxiety of failed math exams and chemistry experiments reemerged in my mind. RELAX. Let’s break it down:
C= The probability of conversion. That’s easy enough.
m= Motivation of the user. This is basically how badly they want what you have, and the reason they want it. This is the element you have the least control over.
v= Clarity of value proposition. This is probably the most important element because you do have control over it. I’ll be writing about this next month in detail.
i= Incentive to take action. What are you offering to stimulate a desired action.
f= Friction elements in the conversion process. Anything that impedes the visitor from taking action. Common friction causes are forms with too many fields, or confusing options/choices.
a= Anxiety about entering information. This could be things like testimonials, an award, Better Business Bureau logos, etc.
A little less art, a lot more science
All too often ‘enhancements’ are made to a home page, or landing page, because some creative person, an award winning agency, or the executive with the highest authority (or that executive’s nephew), suspects such a change will help make an impact. And while there’s no doubt being creative, possessing outstanding copywriting skills, or just having a uncanny knack for going with a gut instinct can help lift conversion, if you are looking to mitigate risk and get real results, these should all be things to pull from, as work through this clear and linear conversion sequence.
Working with, and through this conversion sequence will put purpose and defensible rationale behind the changes that you’ll be making to your pages in the future.
Learn. Apply. Get results.
You’ll be amazed at how differently you approach a page when you’ve got a framework to guide you. I think you’ll also be surprised and pleased with the results that you can achieve with this methodology. In the next few columns I’ll be focusing on one or more aspects of the conversion sequence, starting with the ever-important “Clarity of Value Proposition”.
In the meantime, I invite you to get your best (or worst) landing page, and using the conversion sequence featured in this article, begin to ask, “How clear is my value proposition? Where is there unnecessary friction on this page? Who are the people coming to this page? Why are they here? What do I want them to do on this page?”
Until next month, keep pressing forward!
Todd Miechiels is a business-to-business internet marketing consultant. His website is www.miechiels.com. The Strictly Business column appears Wednesdays at Search Engine Land.