Last Updated: November 16, 2020
Guide: Conversion Marketing
You’ve set up your online business, and your website is experiencing increased traffic. Still, so far, sales haven’t reached the level you you expected. People are finding your website easily enough, but not sticking around long enough to purchase anything. It’s like you have a sales floor full of window shoppers.
What’s wrong? It may well be that your external advertising is good, and that your search engine optimization is good. Perhaps what you’re lacking is conversion marketing.
What is conversion marketing?
Conversion marketing refers to tactics that encourage customers to take specific action, “converting” a person browsing your website into a purchaser of your product or service.
In terms of online marketing, this involves not only the sales pitch, but also the website design and layout, as well as special actions—for example, a triggered special offer given those who abandon their shopping carts. High conversion rates mean more sales, fewer lost customers, and a greater return on advertising investment. By converting potential customers—who have already expressed at least some degree of interest—you don’t need to reach as many new prospects in order to generate the same volume of sales.(See also Remarketing)
Who employs conversion marketing?
Processes Using Conversion Marketing
- Brochure websites
- Portal websites selling content (as opposed to products)
- Considered purchase websites
Every salesperson wants a higher conversion rate, and so does every business with an online presence. Generally, the type of online business activity affects what kinds of conversion tactics are employed. Many websites sell products directly to the customer; for them, conversion is a matter of convincing people to make a purchase (See also Persuasion Marketing). Other websites receive their revenue from advertising, much like print newspapers make the bulk of their money through selling advertisements rather than by selling the paper itself. For these websites, conversion means getting people to click on the various ads displayed on the website.
Whether a website is selling products, services, or advertisements, customers are being asked to take a specific action. This means that every commercial website on the internet can apply conversion marketing to its presentation. Online customers browsing web pages from a list of search engine results can come and go quickly; on average, it takes around eight seconds for a person to decide whether to stay or leave a page. Therefore, the first step of conversion marketing is getting people to just stick around.
For what kinds of customers is conversion marketing effective?
Conversion marketing tactics do not target only one consumer segment, but instead apply to all customers who visit a company’s website. Many, if not most, will arrive through search engine results. Such visitors are immediately high-value prospects, as they’re already interested in some aspect of your website content, if not the specific goods and services you provide. Other customers arrive directly, because they already know about your website—perhaps through previous business or through a link in your e-mailed newsletter. These customers are also high-value, having already established a relationship with the business.
In both of these instances, conversion marketing doesn’t have to try to invent prospects, and then try to con those prospects into making a purchase—it just needs to make a compelling case to those who already have a need. It’s more about making a decision easy than about presenting the decision in the first place.(See also Precision Marketing)
How is a conversion marketing campaign developed?
Before choosing conversion strategies, businesses identify the kinds of purchasing processes their customers use. E-commerce websites sell products online; however, there are differences between buying physical products that have to be shipped to the customer and buying digital products that can be downloaded directly. Among physical products, conversion is different between small items and large-purchase items that typically require more research before buying.
- an easy-to-navigate website, which allows customers to quickly find what they want
- attractive landing pages
- use of video
- providing all the information necessary for the customer to say “yes”
- always showing pictures with products
- combining pictures with clear copy, offering a specific value proposition
- using customers’ key terms
Other companies don’t expect their customers to buy online; they may simply promote a company image or brand for business-to-business deals that will happen through personal interaction. In this case, conversion involves getting visitors to spend more time on the website, learning more about the company and its virtues.
After identifying how customers make their purchases on the website, marketers begin to select the tactics that will increase their conversion rate. Some tactics, such as having attractive landing pages and an easy-to-navigate website are important for all types of business. Others will only be used on certain kinds of websites.
Intuitive page navigation is especially important for e-commerce websites, which depend on customer purchases to survive. Between four and eight main category pages should group similar products (perhaps with subcategories), and be accessible from the home and landing pages, with a search option available on every page. The homepage should present specific offers about products, instead of using space to promote the company in general. All products displayed on home, category, and product pages should have a picture, price, and some amount of copy providing a clear value proposition.
Designers must create shopping carts on e-commerce websites from a consumer standpoint rather than an engineering standpoint. Many customers who have put items in their carts are still ready to abandon any transaction, and will do so if the checkout page presents them with any red flags or surprises. Therefore, before a customer checksout, it’s important that the product pages have already informed them about shipping options and costs, taxes, and stock issues. The checkout page should be an opportunity for reaffirming copy, not sudden demands for information. Changes in a website’s shopping cart system can have such an effect on conversion rates that it is absolutely imperative for a website to have an easily customizable system. If the system cannot be easily changed and updated, the savvy conversion marketer will recommend a new system entirely. (See also Web Designer)
Websites that make their revenue from advertising revenues apply different strategies. Generally, they provide free and interesting content, framed by ads, and succeed by keeping the customer interested enough to explore more pages—and to click on more ads. Home pages should be like magazine covers, generating interest and quickly routing customers to pages they want to read. Again, instead of promoting the company, they should promote the website content. These pages also need to provide multiple features to account for the different mindsets customers have when coming to the website. (See also Content Marketing)
In order to convert customers in a problem-solving mode, a website’s search feature needs to be refined to return only the most relevant results at the top of the page. In order to accommodate those in a methodical mindset, nested menus, category trees, and links to relevant content are important. And for those entering in a browsing mindset, it’s important to provide categories and terms that they’ll use, as opposed to the ones the business might first select.
For all types of customers, subscription processes should be made simple and painless, whether for paid or free subscriptions. In the case of paid subscriptions, it’s worth remembering that every question a user has to ask after providing a credit card number makes them more uncomfortable with the website.
Websites that provide specific services often have issues converting trial customers to permanent customers. An important tactic here is to not have free trials, but to instead offer discount trials; paying even a token amount of money makes a customer more likely to use the service during the trial than paying no money whatsoever. Where free trials are necessary, try asking for credit card information at the point of enrolling in the free trial, instead of at the point of converting from free to paid.
These are just a few of the strategies used for increasing conversion rates on websites. The conversion marketing campaign may develop many other strategies as well, but the process will always start by examining the website’s existing traffic and identifying the points of greatest abandonment. Conversion marketing and website analytics go hand-in-hand; and the continuing feedback informs the developing strategy.
What career titles work with conversion marketing strategies?
Internet Marketing Specialist
What do they do?
What Kind of Salary Can I Expect?
- Internet Marketing Manager
median salary: $77,000
- Conversion Optimization Specialist
median salary: $66,000
- Web Analyst
median salary: $77,000
Sources: indeed.com and simplyhired.com
- monitor and execute conversion-driven internet marketing, including affiliate, search engine, contextual, e-mail, and social media marketing
- use metrics to evaluate conversion rates and optimize revenues of e-commerce websites
- identify seasonal behavior and other user trends that affect sales conversion
- use creativity to creation actionable tactics for improving e-commerce
Education and Skills
Internet marketing specialists have at least a bachelor’s degree in marketing or business administration, as well as substantial experience in online commerce. Education preparing them for this career includes classes in marketing, market research, computer science, and consumer behavior; courses in graphic design and/or web design are also strongly encouraged. Additionally, future marketing managers often pursue and complete internships while still in school, or immediately afterward.
Conversion Optimization Specialist
What do they do?
- improve sales conversion rates on clients’ websites
- use statistical methods and software to gather data about click-thru and conversion rates for online ads, and provide a roadmap for improvement
- structure tests for home pages, category and product pages, landing pages, shopping carts, signup and download forms in order to track user flows
- manage relationships with clients, supporting them with domain expertise
Education and Skills
Conversion optimization specialists need at least a bachelor’s degree, preferably in marketing or business. They also need at least five years’ experience with digital marketing and/or online direct response marketing, as well as a strong information technology base.
What do they do?
- analyze web traffic both to and on a client’s website, including the customers’ flow and conversion rates
- analyze online marketing campaigns and tactics, and evaluate their effectiveness and/or weaknesses
- provide ongoing audits/reports of website commerce
- troubleshoot analytics reports and test results, in order to capture the most accurate data
Education and Skills
The ideal web analyst has both a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a certification in web development and analytics, although many web analysts have the technical background only. They should possess at least two years of experience in data analysis. Important skill sets include website development, knowledge of content management software, communication and presentation skills, and some background in consumer psychology.
How can a marketing school help you succeed?
Our Recommended Schools
Conversion marketing demonstrates that marketing is not just about reaching large numbers of customers, but about communicating with them meaningfully and effectively, so that they’re more likely to make a purchase. Marketing schools will equip you in these skills.
In order to help you understand your customers, a marketing program will teach you how to acquire and analyze meaningful data, using a variety of research methods and analysis. To persuade those customers, programs emphasize courses in communication, as well as requiring students to practice and develop communications and presentation skills in their other classes. The practice and feedback you get in an effective marketing program will prepare you to connect with a wide variety of audiences.
Additional classes prepare students specifically for online commerce. These will include information technology classes, classes in web design, and graphics design classes. You’ll learn the importance of website layout, as well as the right balance between graphic and written communication.
To learn more about what a marketing school can do for you, request information from schools with degrees in marketing—and see if one converts you from thinking about attending to making that next step toward your future career.