Archive for August, 2009

Connecting the dots of conversion

August 10, 2009

I heard a familiar story at a client. They had started up using pay per click campaigns to buy traffic on Google. The campaigns were apparently running well in that they had been able to far exceed their targets for unique visitors per day. They had two concerns with the PPC agency: that the cost of their clicks seemed way too high and that the ongoing management fee seemed similarly unreasonable now that the campaigns had been running for a few months. Apart from this they had started an RFQ to find a new agency to convert the traffic better on their product pages. They do not do any user testing and also found that A/B testing or multivariate testing seemed too complex. They were considering starting a new RFQ  process to find the best / cheapest agency to do this. Lastly, they had some concerns that they were missing out on organic traffic opportunies and felt sure that they needed the right experts to do this for them too.

Having two separate agencies for pay per click campaigns and for conversion rate optimisation seems a sure fire way of getting stuck as ‘piggy in the middle’. Both agencies will point to what the other does as the root cause of the clients high cost of conversion. The basis of improving conversions comes from finding the right traffic to send to correctly built pages. A page is correctly built when user say so by producing a higher conversion. The right traffic means finding the highest volume keywords that convert well. Similarly, optimising a site for organic conversions still comes down to finding the keywords that convert well.

Conversion needs to be the master of all internet marketing activities. It is ultimately an expression of a great user experience, showing that the company’s web presence has been listening and watching what users do online, knowing how they search and what experience they need when they find what they are looking for. Conversion is the measure of quality of organic and paid traffic. To buy traffic without knowing how it converts is to run the risk of buying junk for a high prices. To optimise a site for organic traffic without understanding for which keywords your optimising could mean again that you are setting your site up for a lots and lots of visitors who bounce on their first visit, or stay but never convert.  Similarly, user testing cannot be left aside. Whether it’s done formally in rooms with one-way mirrors, or down and dirty interviewing users in a coffeeshop, or fast and furious seeing which version of layout, imagery and content users prefer the best in an online multivariate test, there are so many low-threshold ways to get started hearing and seeing what users do and like.

There is a natural flow from a user searching for something in an engine to arriving at a landing page, possibly hitting a number of pages in between before ultimately converting and then continuing their business online. Companies must see this flow end-to-end and coherently because that’s how their customers see this flow. If companies don’t connect the dots, users won’t be able to either.

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