There are a couple of easy ways to tell if your website isn’t converting an appropriate amount of your traffic. We’ll start with the easiest and broadest methods, and then go a bit more granular if you want to dig deeper into your traffic.
This is going to be a really obvious one, but I want to speak about it anyways. You should definitely benchmark your conversion rates with industry averages, and make sure to segment your by traffic source. Not all traffic sources are created equally, and the conversion rates will vary depending on where they’re coming from.
Your website's conversion rate average provides good insight into your user experience, and whether or not people can find what they’re looking for. In order to act on this information, it needs to be MECE. MECE is a term used in consulting circles and stands for Mutually Exclusive, and Collectively Exhaustive.
If your average site conversion rate is below the industry average, then break down your traffic sources until they are mutually exclusive (i.e. there is no overlap between segments) and collectively exhausted (there is no traffic that is unaccounted for).
If your traffic sources account for why conversion rates are low (i.e. 90% of traffic is paid traffic and accounts for slightly lower performance) then addressing user experience issues may not be your first concern. If there isn’t any other logical explanation for why conversion rates are low, then it's likely you have a user experience issue.
Average Conversion Rate by Industry
Bounce rate is another great way to tell if you have user experience issues, as it’s a metric that is a strict measure of whether your traffic finds your site useful enough to stay and interact with it. As with conversion rate benchmarking, you need to take into account bounce rates for your various traffic sources.
Average Bounce Rates by Industry:
Average Bounce Rates by Traffic Source:
Bounce rates continue to rise year over year, while average page views during sessions with a conversion have increased by over 300%.
Poor content is the number one contributing factor we see with poor bounce rates. Consumers expectations are higher than ever, and if your content doesn’t capture their attention they'll leave for something that does (i.e. your competition).
Other bounce rate factors to consider are page speed, mobile friendliness, and confusing/overwhelming navigation. User testing and heat maps are quick and easy ways to see if and how people are engaging with your content.
Though it can be more challenging, optimizing your page speed with Google's Page SpeedInsights is a great way to compare your performance. Run a speed test on a few of your pages, then do the same for several of your competitors similar pages and see how you measure up. Faster is obviously better, but certain industries will be slower than others based on multiple factors, so it’s important to directly compare with your competition.
The last “quick” way to tell if your site sucks is to identify leaks in your conversion funnel. This is the most in-depth measure of success that we will talk about in this article, and will require you to have Google Analytics setup and be able to utilize your shopping cart behavior or user behavior flow.
This is typically easiest to do for eCommerce, because industry benchmark data is more readily available. However, understanding your conversion funnel is essential for improving your conversion rates.
For example, what if both your conversion rate and your bounce rate are low? How do you identify your problems? The answer is a conversion funnel analysis which will help you identify where people lose interest.
We call this the war on attrition, because on average, about 96% of people are going to leave your site without converting. If we can get 50% of visitors to view a product or service page, and 15% of them to add-to-cart, then we can typically get about a 3% conversion rate.
However, if 70% of our visitors view a product or service page, but only 5% of them add to their cart, then we’ve identified our leak. We’re losing the war of attrition on our product pages.
This method, or a conversion funnel analysis, allows us to pinpoint problem areas in our site's conversion funnel. It provides us with the information we need to focus our efforts on improving the user experience where it is needed most.
Your average conversion rate, bounce rate, and a conversion funnel analysis are all very useful tools that will give you insights into your user experience before you begin a complete overhaul of your website design and copywriting. They can also help you identify if a smaller project will have a greater impact. However, make sure you dig into your preliminary results to make sure you’re getting the entire story of what these numbers are telling you.
The on-site survey can be a mixed bag, sometimes. When done right you can get a lot of extremely valuable conversion optimization information from customers , but it’s not all gold. As we all know, sometimes surveys can be bothersome or poorly timed. When putting a survey on your site, it’s important to go into it with your expectations aligned.
Most survey tools will assist with the timing and placement of your survey. However, you want to be sure it’s not covering any important content on the page. Typically, the survey should go in the left or right corner so it’s not obstructing anything, and just visible enough so it can’t be entirely ignored by the people who want to engage with a brand they love.
As for the timing, please don’t just show it to everyone who lands on your site. That is the best way to guarantee poor results. First, you need to figure out what information you are looking for, and what people are best suited to give you that information.
The exit survey is ideal for improving your user experience and shows your survey to people about to leave the site without clicking or engaging with anything. You’re identifying and showing this survey to people who are leaving your site because they likely haven’t found what they’re looking for. If you have what they’re looking for, but people can’t find it, then it’s obviously important to know this information.
Typical exit survey questions include:
My favorite, and one of the most overlooked surveys is the post-conversion survey. It's important because you’re gathering information from people who have been through your entire sales funnel and actually bought from you. They also encountered and overcame any barriers, but certainly weren’t oblivious to them. This survey is where we can gather useful information on what emotions led to a purchase, and why people choose your company over the competition. You want to use this type of survey to identify the pains that a customer is experiencing leading up to the purchase, and how your product or service resolves them.
Great questions for your post-conversion survey include:
Start with what information you’re looking to gather from your survey. Then, identify which visitors are most qualified to give you that information. Make sure your survey is showing up at the right time and isn’t too obstructive but not completely invisible. Lastly, make sure you understand the nature of the survey game. Not every answer will be gold, but there will be nuggets if you do it correctly.
At the risk of giving away valuable trade secrets, I want to share what we’ve found to have the biggest impact on improving conversion rates at the most basic level. The theory behind conversion rates, if you will.
Your business either offers a product or service, and there’s a good reason why people are using it. It fulfills a fundamental need. In order to improve conversion rates, we first need to understand what need is being fulfilled (way beyond its physical utility) and define the emotions that are driving the decision to fulfill it with your company.
We need to take a deep dive into understanding your customer and what life experiences, behaviors, and emotions are going on around the time of purchase.
To get started, we need to follow your existing customers through the buying journey. A simple and straightforward way to understand what led to a purchase is to ask your customers after they convert. We want to know the pain the customer feels before finding a solution, the emotional triggers that drive their decision-making, if they have any hesitation or concerns, and how they feel after finding your solution.
There are an array of questions you can ask your customers to get the insights needed. You can find a more detailed list of ideal surveys and survey questions here.
So what do we do with this information once we have it? The answers to these questions help guide your copywriting to ensure you’re addressing AND highlighting the most important pain points and emotions involved in the purchase decision. Your copy and pages should be focused on what your customers are telling you matters the most to them.
Beyond understanding your customer's emotions, your secondary goal should be to identify what value proposition is most important to your customers (i.e. customer service, price, quality, ease of use, eco-friendly, the CEO is cute, etc.). You may already have an idea, but getting the answer directly from the customer removes the guesswork.
There’s an agreement that happens when your customers choose your company that goes beyond the exchange of money for goods and services. It’s the unwritten rule of doing business, and goes, “I’ll choose your company, and in return, you won’t screw me.”
If your customers are new to you, establishing as much trust as possible and relieving any hesitance before the purchase will help make the decision infinitely easier for your prospects.
Proven strategies for establishing trust on the internet, where the default behavior for users is to trust no one, is to provide social proof. No one trusts you if you tell them you’re trustworthy without proof. The opposite will happen. However, people will believe others if they say you’re trustworthy. We do this in the form of testimonials, case studies, videos, or user-generated content. Showing who we’ve helped, and providing proof needs to occur before the purchase.
We can take this a step further with a guarantee or warranty. This is why we see so many banners with things like “free shipping”, “30-day money-back guarantee”, or “lifetime warranty”. It gives our customers peace of mind knowing there is a fail-safe if they’re not 100% satisfied with their purchase.
The purpose of the guarantee is to remove the burden of financial responsibility from the customer and put it back on you. You can transfer that burden by providing a warranty, or a guarantee to establish confidence with your customers. They want the feeling that they are purchasing from a respected company and not taking a massive risk with their hard-earned money.
We understand the need are business fulfills, we’ve identified our customer's pain points, and established trust while removing any reluctance. Our copywriting speaks directly to these issues and we’ve got consistent traffic to our website. Mr. President, I believe our work is done. Not even close.
User experience is the final piece of the puzzle, and if you disagree, here’s a statistic I love to overuse: Amazon spent 100x more on customer experience than advertising in its first year of business. Now that I’ve won that argument, let’s move on to why it’s important.
The internet contains your company, but it also has all of your competitors, and they’re all one click away. Slow site speed, errors, confusing navigation, distracting graphics, cluttered content, or an unprofessional site can easily create that split second of hesitation needed for a customer to lose interest. Most of the time it’s occurring in the subconscious, and can be hard for companies to spot on their own site. Unfortunately, it’s that easy to lose a sale.
The second half of conversion rate optimization is designed to remove the pain points from your user experience, and continuously improve upon it.
A/B testing, Heat/Click/Scroll Maps, and User Testing are the warhorses of this effort.
Getting direct feedback and watching someone use your site allows you to identify where those “micro-hesitations” are occurring and fix them. This alone makes user testing an essential tool for gathering first-party feedback on your user experience.
Heat/Click/Scroll maps give you qualitative feedback on how people are interacting with the killer copy we just wrote. We can identify how engaged our customers are by it, and get a clearer picture of what’s working and what’s being ignored. Customers may be breezing over vital information needed for a purchase. Knowing this information is crucial if you want to boost your conversion rates.
Lastly, A/B testing is the Holy Grail of conversion rate optimization. If you’re not familiar, it allows you to show different variations of your site, or certain pages, to different groups of visitors with a conversion goal in mind. Once a winner is established, you can show that version to every visitor. A/B tests allow you to remove any guesswork in understanding what will improve your user experience. This can lead to continuous improvement of your copy and user experience so you never stop improving your conversion rates.
It can be difficult to do all of these things extremely well, but there is a methodology for making sure you learn and improve upon your process. If you’re not sure where to start, start engaging with your customers where you can. Find out why they're choosing you over your competitors. Then, keep asking them why until you understand the emotions driving that decision.
In Part 1 and Part 2 we covered lessons from previous recessions and how to make sure you hit the mark with your current strategy during economic uncertainty. By now you should have at least a few valuable insights or confirmed your current strategies or trains of thought. Our last objective is to tie the whole series together and give companies some actionable items instead of just data to ponder.
Stick to tried and true strategies that deliver the highest return on your investment and are the cheapest to launch. Email marketing continues to bring home the ROI trophy each year. If you need help maximizing return on your email marketing campaigns, then check our page on email marketing.
It’s imperative that your messaging speaks directly to your audience's pain points, provides value, and drives them to a page designed to convert. You can’t just email prospects and hope they know what to do once they read your content.
If you're utilizing other digital marketing platforms, identify which ones are driving the highest conversion rates and allocate more budget to those while pulling back on others. If you’re on the display network, make sure you’re measuring customer interactions to create powerful remarketing campaigns. If you’re not sure what to do next, bring in outside help. Now is not the time to stop your marketing efforts. Now is the time to create a lean and efficient marketing machine that measures and delivers on your organization's goals.
Budgets will be cut, and heads may roll. Providing value and measurable results are a must.
Companies need marketing teams to respond on a dime to whatever is thrown their way. They’ll need a broad skill set, and can operate without a playbook, but have the agility and speed to operate in the gray to drive results.
That means you know your team’s strengths and weaknesses. Double down on your strengths, and outsource your weaknesses. Going back to Part 1, speed of response was a huge factor in boosting performance during the last recession. For example, if your team needs two weeks to figure out how to launch a campaign in a new venue, then you need outside support.
Get outside help to fill in the gaps until you can hire and train the right people. The purpose of speed and agility is to be able to quickly capitalize on opportunities during economic times when your competitors may be slower to respond. In past recessions, first movers were rewarded significantly more than their competitors compared to periods of economic boom.
We’re all overly familiar with the old marketing adage that it costs 5x more to acquire a new customer versus keeping an existing customer. Focusing on customer experience, and retention is key to thriving in an economic downturn.
First of all, it’s more cost-efficient. Second, customer experience expectations are higher every year and continue to rise. We’ve seen average bounce rates increase from 47% to 50% in 2021 while average page views during sessions with a conversion increased by 328%. The data is telling us that our users are happy to spend time researching to find the right product or deal, and happy (and likely) to bounce if they don’t get what they’re expecting. Focusing on customer retention means optimizing your user experience. If you’re not improving your customer experience strategy then you’re falling behind.
If you need help optimizing your customer experience, then utilizing tools like on-site surveys, heat/click/scroll maps, user testing, live chat, customer service, sales team interviews, and a/b testing have the highest return on investment. If you need more information about how they can help, then check out our page on conversion rate optimization.
Conversion rate optimization and its tools can be your best weapon against economic uncertainty. It addresses profit margins while increasing lifetime customer value and retention. Paired with a strong email marketing campaign will put you in a position to gain ground on your competitors while they try to figure out how to stop the hemorrhaging.
There is hope for companies worried about the state of the economy and how they are going to survive. While easier said than done, it’s possible to come out of the next few years in a position of strength. If you’re curious about learning more about recession-proofing your business, reach out to the Media Contour team for some free insights.
In Part 1 we discussed our findings from McKinsey and covered how we can apply lessons from past recessions to help thrive in times of economic uncertainty. If you missed it, you can access it here.
Budget cuts and performance marketing are on every CFO and CMOs mind right now. The most difficult part of navigating tough times is doing more with less. Companies face more pressure than ever to justify their spending, find ways to save money, and prove they’re providing value. Our goal is to help every department get what they want and need while still delivering results.
While the focus of this article is for our CMOs out there, we’re confident the strategy discussed will keep our CFO friends happy as well.
This is always a challenge, but crucial during a recession. There isn’t much budget allocated to awareness campaigns, so retaining customers and creating relationships is more important than ever. Digital marketing is an overcrowded and segmented space. It’s becoming easier for users to ignore messaging and send your brand into the gray. In order for companies to succeed they need to focus on the following:
For the majority of companies, this doesn’t have to be a difficult procedure. Oftentimes it can be as simple as asking or interviewing your best, or worst, customers to see what you got right, and where you fell short. Utilizing your sales and customer service teams can be a great resource for getting in tune with your customer's wants and needs.
Gone are the ways of building 50 pay-per-click campaigns all targeting different and “identical” match keywords throughout the funnel. Big data, algorithms, and artificial intelligence can out-think and perform our marketing instincts.
Utilize the power of big data to target your audience, and focus your efforts on creating meaningful content that speaks directly to your audience. Let the machines help you deliver.
However, it’s important to remember that AI and algorithms are learning “robots”. They are only as good as the data we give them. Garbage in, garbage out. It’s imperative you’re setting up your marketing campaigns with a feedback loop to identify what information and behavior is the most valuable to achieve your goals.
Finding and retaining a talented and trustworthy team can be challenging. A marketing team that can adapt, change direction, and mobilizes at the drop of the hat can be your greatest asset in tough times. If you're struggling to put this team together, then outsourcing skills to an agency can be a way to save time and money, while keeping essential functions in-house.
This method can still yield positive results while gaining access to agencies with specialized knowledge and still taking credit for the success in-house. Additionally, this strategy enables your team to focus on more important tasks vital to success like managing your data and analyzing ROI and ROAS to get the best use of your budget.
CMOs are constantly asked to show the value they add to the bottom line. With budget cuts, it’s vital for CMOs to stay away from strategies that are hard to measure.
Strategies that win and keep CFOs happy focus on improving the customer experience and promoting customer LTV (lifetime value) and satisfaction. Focus on converting repeat customers first and acquiring new customers second.
Measuring conversion lift is a way to tie marketing efforts directly to revenue, while boosting profit margins, and improving financial liquidity.
Now may not be the best time to experiment with new ideas unless you're confident in the outcome and the risks are minimal and/or can be managed. Now is the time to double down on your brand identity, ensure your marketing goals are aligned with your business goals and reassure your customers that they’re making smart purchases.
You can’t control macroeconomic conditions, but you can control your customer experience. Optimizing for usability and increasing LTV and brand loyalty is a strategy that will bring success in any climate, but especially during economic uncertainty.
Stay tuned for Part 3 where we’ll tie everything from Parts 1 & 2 together and help you create your strategy for success.
The Great Recession and the COVID-19 pandemic have taught us valuable lessons that are important for companies to take to heart. Recessions aren’t unique and are all typically characterized by capital restraints, and tough labor markets.
While I’m not a master of macroeconomics like our friends at McKinsey, I do understand that my skill sets are aligned with their findings in what successful companies did to thrive in past recessions.
Improving profit margin beats improving revenue. Analysis of the past recession shows that companies that focused on improving their profit margins grew faster than their peers who focused on growth.
What McKinsey calls “optionality in the balance sheet” can be simplified to capital liquidity. Essentially, it stems from the first finding. A combination of increasing your margins, building your working capital, and decreasing your debt allows companies to be more flexible and respond faster to opportunities.
Being able to focus on growth and profit margins has an exponential effect. Increasing our margins and working capital gives us the flexibility to increase growth by exercising our options faster than the competition with our improved liquidity.
Companies that improved their margins AND were able to grow revenues experienced a “1+1=3” effect. This isn’t terribly hard to wrap our heads around, as this strategy tends to be successful no matter the economic climate. However, in tough times, it boosted companies ahead of their peers even more.