Converting Visitors to Customers

By Hannah Wallace January 31, 2005

If you ask most marketing directors why they have a Web site, the response you'll probably hear most often is "Everyone has one." The more important reason, however, is to convert your Web site visitors into customers.

You need to use your Web site as a strategic marketing tool, and like any marketing strategy, the key to success lies in tracking effectiveness and refinement. To do that you have to learn how to measure your success in terms of conversion, or the instance where a site visitor has taken a specific and measurable desired action.

First determine what you deem as a successful conversion and where you want it to occur-also known as a conversion points or CP. Each Web site could have several different CPs, ranging from purchasing a product to filling out an online "Contact Us" form.

Once you have established how you are going to measure success, you can begin to track it. One of the metrics used is called a conversion ratio, which tells you how many visitors are converted into consumers and how long it takes. A variety of Web traffic analysis software provided by your hosting company captures this data.

For example, a realtor may use his or her Web site as an online brochure and directory of available property listings. A logical conversion would be a visitor filling out the site's "Contact Us" form. Naturally the CP would be the page on which the form resides. A conversion ratio for this site might reveal that for every 2,000 visitors to the site, 10 visit the "Contact Us" page and one submits the "Contact Us" form." (You should shoot for .4 percent to 2 percent conversion in the service industry to 1 percent to 6 percent in retail.) By tracking your CPs, you can gain deeper perspective as to the overall success of your Web site. Once you have this understanding, you can begin refining your site to increase performance.

One tactic for improving relevant site traffic is to optimize your site with keywords that are more pertinent to the products or services you sell, so that you rank higher with your target audience on search engines. It's not about how many people visit your site per month. It's about how many people visit your site looking for the products and services you offer. Your first goal should be to increase this number by refining the keywords you are targeting and how you implement them on your site. Search Engine Optimization for Dummies is a good resource for this topic.

The next step should focus on driving more traffic to your various conversion points. This can be done easily by increasing the visibility and call to action to these CPs on your site. Make sure links to your CPs are within one click from any page on your Web site. Highlight a specific CP on your home page using a banner or graphic. Add "Call to Action" copy at the bottom of your content pages. ("For more information about Sarasota real estate, click here" or "Contact Bob about Selling Your Property.") By increasing the visibility of your conversion points, you will increase the traffic to these pages and ultimately your conversions.

Now that you have established traffic to your conversion points, you must maximize your visitor conversions by enticing visitors to take the desired action you seek by providing value. The realtor, for example, might provide visitors with his "12 Easy Steps to Getting Your House Ready for Sale" article for filling out the "Contact Us" form. Another company might want to offer a discount on purchasing products and services.

Ray Villares ([email protected]) is co-owner of GravityFree Web Design,, and divisional chair for chamber development for the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce.

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