How do you currently judge the success of your website?
Do you look at page views or unique visitors? Or are you happier looking at the ‘softer’ side of things; whether you consider your website to ‘look good’, and whether your clients think the same?
Do you have a target number of enquiries your website should be generating each month? Do you have easy access to all of these numbers? Is your website’s performance tracked, updated and discussed often?
If the answer to that last question is ‘no’, then that's not necessarily a terrible thing.
We talk to plenty of advisers who want a website which operates as a nice shop window for referrals, but does not need to do much more than this.
If this is you, then you could argue you don’t need to focus on the numbers quite as closely as advisers and planners in a growth phase. But, then again…
What if you did a bit of digging and discovered that your current enquiries represent only a tiny fraction of the people referred to your website initially?
What if you were to find out that, say, only 10 per cent of people referred to your website went on to make a full enquiry with your firm? Would you be satisfied with that? Or would you want to seek to improve it?
Even for financial planners who want a nice looking website which encourages referrals to walk through the door, the numbers are important.
Here comes the science
Conversion rate optimisation, or CRO, is the practice of tracking the numbers that matter most to your website and then scientifically improving them.
Here’s a practical example.
Let’s say you have a page for referred clients to register their interest with you. It has a simple form on it and a bit of information about your services.
Using Google Analytics we can see the page attracts 200 visitors a month and that, each month, you get two enquiries. Your conversion rate is therefore 1 per cent, worked out by dividing the number of enquiries by the number of visitors and multiplying by 100.
The practice of CRO teaches us that by incrementally applying subtle changes to the page, we can raise that conversion rate.
Even if we were to only manage to increase the rate by a single percentage point to 2 per cent, that would represent a total of four new referral enquiries a month.
Now consider what your business would look like if we increased the rate to 10 or 20 per cent, or even higher.
So, just how do you do CRO and start to move the needle on that percentage rate?
Picking out individual elements on the page, you apply one change at a time and measure whether any difference is made in the rate.
For example, the form on the page might have four fields for people to fill in; name, email address, location and phone number.
Common marketing logic would suggest the fewer fields a form has, the more likely people are to fill it in.
The first incremental change we’ll make in this case is to remove the ‘location’ field. Leave the website live for some time with the new field arrangement and see what happens to the conversion rate. Then move on to the next change.
Common things to consider include:
- Form positioning and style: where on the page is your form and what does it look like?
- Copy; both headlines and the body text of your page (but not at the same time). Is your copy compelling your referrals to ‘convert’?
- Imagery: does changing this have an impact?
- Buttons; the ‘submit’ button on the form has a major impact. Everything from the word used, to the colour, to even the shape, can improve the conversion rate.
Test each one and see what happens.
Not all of the ideas will work and, in fact, you will find yourself hitting on ideas which actually have a negative impact on conversions, where you thought they'd improve things.
Over time, though, as you make gradual changes and stick with the pages that improve things, your conversion rate will increase.