There’s an eternal debate. Traffic or conversion, which is the one that has the most impact on your website?
Should you be trying to gain more traffic, more traction on your website? Or should you be improving the conversion so the traffic you get is more valuable?
Obviously, for an efficient website, you ultimately need to work on both... But it will all largely depend on several factors, like where your business currently is, and what its immediate goals are.
Let’s figure out which is the best way to go. But first, it’s time to break down the benefits of using this guide.
How Will This Help Me?
In order to have a truly effective website, you need more than just traffic. You also need more than just good conversion. You need more than the right layout, copy, internal links.
Realistically, you need all of these aspects to be optimal, and work well together.
But in order to improve on your website, you’ll need to put in effort on particular aspects more than others, at different points in time. One month, you fix up the layout and make everything look more polished. Another month, you’ll fill in missing tags and keywords.
And so, knowing which to focus on before everything else is a tough decision. Ultimately, you want to tackle the things that have the most impact first.
That’s where this guide can help:
Prioritize the most important aspects of your website first.
Learn what makes up a successful landing page.
Learn how to quickly build an email marketing list with conversion rate optimization in mind.
Learn more about key performance indicators, assuming you're running an ecommerce website.
Better understand how to use marketing assessments to your advantage.
Plan out your next website improvements.
Assuming you have the budget for it, on demand traffic is easy. You can use banner ads, Facebook ads, Reddit ads, etc. Stumble Upon is midrange, while Twitter and Facebook ads are more expensive.
But if you don’t have the budget, you will have to generate traffic on your own. And that involves posting regularly, making sure your content is high quality, promoting it all on social media platforms well before it even goes live, and networking with others in your industry to see if you can link build or guest post.
In other words, traffic is easy if you can pay for it. Otherwise, expect to have to work a bit.
Anothing thing to consider is that paid traffic is also fast. Product launches also help speed things up. Special situations, special items, but once the novelty wears off, if you don’t know how to capitalize on it in time, it goes back down.
In other words, it’s impossible to keep doing that over and over. Companies can’t afford to consistently launch a new product over and over, one right after the other. You get occasional shots at it, maybe a few more if you launch special features, add-ons, or downloadable content, but that’s about it.
Paid ads can bring back that traffic. It can do it fast, maybe even the same day.
Finally, there’s one more major traffic pro. Consider this: you know when you look for a new laptop on Amazon, and then the rest of the week you see ads for laptops all over the internet? Amazon knows you’re interested in a new laptop, it may even know which laptop in particular, so it’s retargeting you. They want you to buy it from them.
In today’s modern age, most people know what retargeting is, they’ve seen it firsthand thanks to Amazon and other companies. But how many people actually use this method?
But it’s effective. Imagine buying traffic, or getting it through content marketing, and then retargeting that audience with targeted ads to try and convert them later. It can work really well, especially if what you’re selling is expensive. You could still afford to spend 50 cents or more per click because the math works out to make it worthwhile in the end.
Tools like Perfect Audience make it possible to set up tracking on your website and show ads to your visitors later all over the internet.
If you’re planning a product launch, it’s even better. You can set up retargeting before the flood of traffic hits your website, prioritizing ads to the visitors who seemed more interested. The people who looked at pricing, and even entered your checkout funnel, but didn’t complete their order.
Again, assuming you’re working with paid traffic, it adds up. Blowing through $100 on Facebook ads is easy, and not at all guaranteed to work. It may or may not convert.
And if you’re a low-budget startup founder looking for the spike in sales on the revenue chart, then you’re in no position to really splurge on something as grand as paid traffic.
There is no faucet you can turn on and off as you wish, there is no easy button. So again, it all goes back to having to put in the work. And if time is money, then traffic is still pricey.
To add salt to the wound, spikes of traffic don’t always last. Say you launch a product and it’s bringing new traffic to your website. It all looks good in theory, plenty of eyeballs on the page, perhaps people willing to buy.
But what if the sales don’t match the traffic stats? What if that conversion rate is low? Suddenly, having the traffic means nothing, because you’re not actually making any sales, or at least, not enough.
Sometimes a good article or a good link from a relevant website can bring in more revenue than a product launch no one really cares about.
But not all articles help either. You could be the subject of a press article, written up in a highly popular publication like the Huffington post, and still barely see any lasting traffic spikes from it all.
But why? Why is it that these traffic spikes don’t last, and sometimes don’t even lead to many conversions?
Because even though you can often crank up traffic on demand, it’s not always targeted. If it’s not targeted, then it’s a bunch of traffic from people who just don’t care about what you’re offering. It’s the wrong audience.
Spam offers aren’t targeted. Display ads can lead to non-targeted traffic as well. You get a click through rate from people who are just looking. And we all know what that means.
Ideally, you want traffic from people with problems that you can solve. If you’re selling video games, your traffic is people who play video games.
Their problems? They need entertainment, maybe a healthy escape, maybe a way to blow off some steam from the terrible day they’ve had, something. You can solve those issues, because you can sell them something that will be fun to play, and will distract them from the stresses of everyday life.
Just remember, even if you target the right people, solve their problems, and choose to go the organic growth route to avoid the temporary spikes and financial burden, you’re not all the way in the clear. Organic growth takes time.
Kind of like those fruits and vegetables that grow without the aid of GMOs and harmful pesticides, organic takes a while, but it’s worth it. Organic traffic means you’re doing everything good enough to gain recognition based on your own merits. You’re not paying for it.
But you need to be patient. It’s a long-term effort. It could take months, or even a year before you’re ranked high for your competitive target phrases.
If you improve your conversion rate, you logically take advantage of your current traffic. If someone with 1,000 visitors per month and a conversion rate of 1% got that rate up by half a percent, they’d bring in another $500 in revenue.
When you focus on conversion rate optimization, you understand visitors better, and you see improvements in revenue. It’s a winning scenario.
If you improve conversion enough, you convert people who weren’t converting before. People who bounced will stay for longer. And you can turn them into customers.
Furthermore, improving your conversion rate doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. It’s amazing how affordable conversion can be. If you have enough traffic, A/B testing tools like VWO can prove very affordable.
Userinput.io is another inexpensive tool that allows you to run surveys, get feedback, and improve your conversion with paid customers.
Lucky Orange, the site recording tool gives you insight on what your visitors are doing on your website. You can literally see what every visitor did, tracking their mouse and clicks, so you can watch where they lost interest and dropped off.
And obviously, that’s helpful. If enough people drop off at the same point, then you know where to make changes. If everything leading up to that point didn’t seem convincing enough, you can improve it. If the deal isn’t good enough, you can sweeten it.
Finally, UserBob allows you to get video feedback on your website by assigning a task to reviewers. You then watch a screen capture of them going through the site, talking about their task and how they’re doing it.
But don’t just rely on tools, sometimes the help you need is right in your social circle. Next time you want to know how well your website is designed, buy your friend a coffee and let them try out the site. They can tell you what they find confusing, and what they don’t understand.
Converting and capitalizing on current traffic sounds nice and all, but don’t be fooled. It’s difficult. Improving your conversion isn’t about mindlessly throwing money at a paid traffic campaign.
You’ll need to rely on surveys or A/B testing (if you have traffic). You will need to monitor visitor actions closely with recording software, or heat maps. Then you need to analyze, make changes, and experiment a little.
And experiments can make or break your website. If you add a widget and suddenly start competing against others in your industry for, say pricing, when you had previously been all about quality, then that’s all the visitors are going to see: price. Suddenly it’s about price comparisons, rather than quality comparisons.
But in order to offer the good quality goods that have gotten you this far, you can’t afford to be the best priced competitor around. Why highlight something you will most likely lose at (price), rather than your golden ticket (you offer the best quality X anyone has ever seen)?
Here’s another difficult thing: managing your time. Although there’s plenty of affordable tools and techniques out there, there isn’t a whole lot of time. If you’re running your own business, managing your startup, or making video games to sell, you’re in no position to do absolutely everything for your brand.
That’s why the most successful people hire out, because they are only present for the big things that have the most impact. Everything else, they hand to someone else. It gives them more time and energy to tackle the important bits, while other people handle the things that there would otherwise be no time for.
And as nice as that sounds, it takes a financial toll. It could take several hundred or thousand dollars for consulting and optimization.
Even if you understand conversion rate optimization and know what needs to be done, if you don’t know how to work on your own website, you’ll need a developer to do it. Even if you know all about SEO, or surveys, or ad campaigns, if you simply can’t do it yourself, for whatever the reason, you’ll have to outsource.
Technically, neither is the winner. What you should focus on largely depends on your own situation, and where you see more weakness. If you have all the traffic in the world but a poor conversion rate, you know what to do: work on conversion. If you have barely any traffic, you know you need an audience, stat.
It’s pointless to drive traffic to a website that can’t convert. And it’s pointless to have a site that could convert but has no traffic.
In other words, focus on whatever is more dire. Suffice it to say, however, you're reading a guide on conversion rate optimization, so chances are you at least have a suspicion of what it is you need right now.
Whichever route you choose to go, there are adjustments you can make, improvements to focus on, that can help with both traffic and conversion.
For starters, let's focus on an absolute must for any business: landing pages.
Landing Page Best Practices
Typically, these pages have Call to Actions (CTAs) which seek to increase conversions, hence increasing company visibility and revenue. Hence, landing pages, when connected with the proper keywords, ads, and posts, tend to be great additions within a funnel system.
But as previously stated, they’re tough, primarily because many people are simply misinformed. Too often, people make the mistake of assuming that the landing page refers to a homepage, which isn’t the case. They cram information and links, menu systems and images on there, thinking it’s going to make a difference. Engaging content converts, right?
Well, not quite. There’s a lot to factor into a landing page, which typically has less content on it to begin with. What seems like an exercise in moderation, is actually a test of knowledge. There’s only so much you can put on a landing page, and every bit of it has to count.
Defining Landing Pages
Because most inbound links tend to take visitors to a homepage, there is a common misconception that homepages are landing pages. Although they certainly can be, most homepages tend to be complex in both design and information. They have several links, several icons and images, plenty of copy, and of course, a menu system for visitors to easily find what it is they’re looking for.
That is not a landing page. Instead, a landing page is super simple, with one link―the Call to Action. It’s much shorter, with less information to detract from the core objective: to get people to click the CTA. In fact, rather than provide plenty of information on an array of subjects and options like a homepage does, a landing page only highlights that CTA.
And landing pages are standalone. Although they are obviously integrated within the website, they are created specifically for advertising campaigns, and it’s where the visitor arrives after clicking on an ad.
Landing Page Types
Surprisingly, there are only two major types of landing page. This is because the purpose of a landing page, for anyone, regardless of the industry, is to either collect information, or make a sale.
These are also known as Lead Gen or Lead Capture Pages. They use a form as a Call to Action, requiring the visitors to fill out their names and provide their emails, typically. The purpose is to collect lead data, making them the primary type of landing page used in B2B marketing.
These landing pages are used for e-commerce and are instantly recognizable by their simple CTA button. They don’t require plenty of information from the visitor upfront, it’s much more simplistic and neat.
Tips & Tricks
Now that we’ve clarified a few things, let’s go back to a previous statement at the beginning of this guide: there’s only so much you can put on a landing page, and every bit of it has to count. Clutter is frowned upon on a landing page, but whatever is on there needs to do nothing short of working toward your main objective, to convert.
So, how do you go about improving the content? How do you even know what needs improvement?
Let’s take a look at some of the most critical techniques required to polish landing pages and increase conversion rates.
There’s nothing wrong with launching a landing page entirely based on your hypothesis about which factors lead to conversion. That’s just how you learn. Consider it a test: was your hypothesis accurate, or do you need to revise the landing page and try again?
Something as simple as having a red CTA button can make the difference between a low or high conversion. Sometimes it’s white, or green, or blue. It depends on your niche, and what it is you’re using as a lead. In other words, this guide could tell you do this, add this, remove that, but ultimately, it would not be applicable to every industry, let alone every brand out there.
That’s why running tests is so important. Since there is no way to get handed the right step-by-step, cure-all solution to creating an effective landing page, you’re going to need to experiment based on your own knowledge and thought process.
And frankly, don’t be surprised if you have to do this a few times, since only then will you be able to gauge which factors commonly show results, and which fall flat.
In other words, each landing page revision isn’t a failure, it’s the act of building on the knowledge gained through the test. Each version of the landing page should be better than the previous.
As a side note, remember to use the right tools while conducting tests. There’s no point in conducting these tests only to lose track of data, misread it, or even worse, have to conduct more tests than necessary just to better analyze factors.
For instance, say you use several factors in your landing page, thinking they will all be effective. A heat map would tell you which factors are actually effective, and which ones aren’t. It beats guessing which one of the factors to eliminate in your next test. Imagine deleting the wrong one, the one that actually converted. That’s more hassle and time wasted.
Here are a few things you could measure while you’re at it:
Time spent on the page
Scroll (if applicable)
Heat maps (to tell you which factors drew interest and which didn’t)
Bounce rate versus navigating back to the site
New visitors vs. returning ones who previously completed the form
Channel lead of origin (where did the lead come from, a Facebook ad, or Google AdWords?)
Field completion percentage (even if they abandoned it halfway through, still counts)
Times of day with most traffic
You could have great design, great copy, and a clear CTA, but if the topic of the e-book that you’re using as a lead isn’t very interesting, you’re not going to really generate downloads.
That’s where buyer personas and customer feedback come in. With buyer personas, you can gauge which topics your audience would ideally want to read about. And with actual customer feedback (provide an avenue where they can easily deliver that information) you can verify that your buyer personas are accurate guides. If not, you know where to make the changes and try again.
Furthermore, don’t forget to use social proof on your landing page. How has this item helped others? Why do people love it? Giving the users a chance to hear from past customers and their experience can address questions, concerns, and doubts. It helps establish common ground too, without you - the business owner - having to sound too “salesman.”
For instance, when you’re debating on purchasing something online, say on Amazon, what’s the first thing you do? You probably click on the reviews that the product has gotten. Any customer images, any customer feedback, common complaints, common advantages, etc. It’s especially nice when you find a review or two that go into detail and share the reservations they had at first. This establishes common ground, and shows the users what they could expect after using the product.
In order to make an offer truly stand out from the pack, you need to tick some boxes. Lucky for you, here’s the list to follow:
Feature a clearly stated offer that cannot be misconstrued in any way, shape, or form.
Deliver one big thing that solves one major problem.
Ensure that this solution is not only effective, but that it’s genuinely wanted. You may need to conduct trials first, test it on a small group of people and gain feedback first.
Give leads something that they can use immediately, don’t keep them waiting.
Make it valuable: even if it took you 3 hours and cost you nothing, it needs to look like it took you weeks or months to complete. It needs to look expensive, so that the offer really resonates with the audience. Because, remember, it’s free for them.
The content within the product, whether it’s a guide, a book, or a course trail, needs to be great or the prospect’s attention will be lost.
Focus on rapid consumption. The offer can’t be a roadblock in the sales process, so it needs to be used up in a matter of minutes. Avoid the long 30-page ebooks that no one really reads anyway.
You probably have the list of features and benefits covered, that’s absolute basic essential. Any bland landing page will have that. And although that’s a good start, it’s not the end of copy.
Great copywriting will use exact phrases that their audience is using on a daily basis. They will state a problem, a wish for a solution, and then provide that solution in the form of a product.
Another tactic is to optimize the CTA button. Change it to state something more action oriented, like “Get Started” or “Download Now.” Having vague statements on a button, like “Submit,” kills conversions because it makes people question what they’re submitting to. It sends most users into panic mode.
Then there are the more creative considerations, like how you’re presenting yourself to the world. Are you using the right colors, the right layout, the right button color and shape? How about the image you chose, is it high quality, or just mediocre? Think about your brand, how you present yourself to your target audience, and if they’ll enjoy that look. Remember to use buyer personas.
Elevating that one step further, consider who you’re really trying to reach, and whether it falls under B2C or B2B. It may seem simple, and you may already think you know the answer, but more often than not you’ll find that your target audience isn’t who you thought it was.
On one hand, B2B values a good deal, and absolutely won’t engage with you until trust has been built. This involves building relationships, reaching out, doing more than just showing up with a product and expecting conversions. You’re going to need a rational persuasion, something that appeals more to logic than emotion.
With B2C, you’re targeting people who like to buy directly from websites. In this case, emotional persuasion works, because you appeal to a common problem and offer a solution. You show empathy, you show you understand because you’ve been there, and then you present the product that changed everything for you.
Depending on which you’re targeting, your copy will read differently.
For instance, B2B landing pages will feature rich whitepapers, case studies and ebooks that both demonstrate your industry prowess and allow the users to trail something for free.
On the other hand, B2C landing pages will be geared toward quick conversions through product sales. The content itself will feature price points for clarity’s sake, and brand testimonials for social proof. Remember, the copy’s objective is to be empathetic here, so there should be some common ground established. Something like “I created this product because I was tired of having this problem, and I’m sure you are too.”
How to Quickly Build an Email Marketing List
You’ve been struggling to get people to sign up for your email list. And frankly, you can’t blame them. The idea of joining any list that is bound to spam your inbox with a bunch of annoying content is terrible, right?
Well, that’s the mentality that prevails, and it’s for good reason: too many people are sending out useless emails that hold little to no value for the (potential) customer. And unless you have something worthy of signing up, they just won’t.
Unlike social media where you post something with what you hope are optimized hashtags, and cross your fingers, email is a way to 100% connect with people who are likely to purchase your product/services at some point.
But the ball is in your court, not theirs. They need convincing before making a move, and rightfully so. Why should they spend money on your goods, when they can easily purchase similar goods and services from x, y and z?
For these reasons, learning how to quickly build an email marketing list can help you:
Organically grow your email list without having to rely on bought lists.
Simplify your business to customer line of communication.
Directly speak to customers about what’s new, what’s improved, what they can expect, and more.
Learn which types of emails are highly profitable and which aren’t.
Vastly improve chances of sales (ROI).
Do you ever read those popular blogs with hundreds, or thousands of followers, and browse through their posts? It doesn’t even need to be a blog related to your business, all blogs use the same growth methods.
If you don’t know them, here’s the main one: content upgrades.
So, imagine that you write a blog post. It’s an in-depth piece of content that focuses on a specific, niche topic, hence providing valuable information related to the audience (e.g. this guide).
Now imagine what those readers will do. Chances are they may like the post, comment on it, decide to follow your blog, or just share it, which is still very good. All of this engagement, while nice, isn’t providing any monetary value. It’s simply giving something in exchange for engagement.
Sure, those who engage with your content may eventually convert from leads to customers. After so much time reading and following your content, they’re bound to be more invested and interested in what products or services you have to offer.
But there’s another way to do this faster: offer readers of the blog post the option to receive upgraded content in exchange for their email.
That means that while they may get information from the blog posts, they would get further, detailed information sent directly to their inbox. All hassle free, informative, easily accessible, and with the option to purchase something. Note the keyword there. It’s never nice to be too pushy.
In-Email Social Sharing Options
Your goal whenever you send out blog posts to email subscribers is to get click-throughs on your website. That site traffic is gold, because it means a higher ranking on search engine results. The easier you are to find, the more likely you are to make a sale.
Statistics show that having multiple links means less clicking on the one you want the most though, which makes sense if you think about it. The more links there are to click, the less likely they are to click on the most important one, so keep it simple.
However, email provider Get Response noticed a trend to take note of: the average click-through rate (CTR) for emails with social sharing options is 6.2% versus 2.4% without.
That means even if your subscribers are too busy to read your content, every share you get is more likely to generate traffic from multiple visitors. It’s like an open invitation to spread the knowledge wealth and awareness of your brand as a result.
Host A Giveaway
Here’s something: everyone wants something for free. It’s a fact of life. We have to go around every single day spending money on items and services. We earn money just to spend it all again. So, yes, it’s nice to finally get something for once.
And if you give something away, you can ask for something in return that isn’t money―you can ask for emails.
Here’s what it takes to run a successful giveaway:
Select a compelling prize that your audience wants (keep it relevant).
Bonus entries for referrals, that way your giveaway news spreads, and brand awareness increases.
Guaranteed bonus incentives for all non-winners (give out something to everyone who doesn’t win, so people are still kept happy regardless)
Promotion to relevant audiences (make sure your target audience is really your target audience; you’d be surprised how common this issue actually is)
If you’re concerned that you won’t be building a quality email list, because everyone is only in it for free items, don’t stress. Just make sure your prize is something only potential customers will love.
For instance, if your game has a season pass (please don’t use season passes, but for the sake of illustration here), give it out for free. That’s a $20-50 value, depending on your game and pricing, and only players genuinely interested in your game(s) will sign up. Anyone who isn’t interested in gaming, or better yet, your games in particular, won’t care.
Partner With Influencers
It’s no secret, everyone is partnering up with influencers these days. Everyone with a large following, an aesthetically pleasing social media account, and a desire to make money from helping brands gain exposure is an influencer. And they come in handy.
For instance, if you follow a YouTuber with thousands, or even millions, of subscribers, you may notice their content is niche focused, posted regularly, and always engaging. Quality of the video and editing is crystal clear.
But most importantly, when they post about certain products or services, they go into detail. Rather than just talk about why they loved a particular video game, they actually play it, answer questions from viewers, and show you the gameplay. They dissect mechanics, weapons, even narrative. And depending on the influencer, they may cast a light on the pros and cons too.
All of this makes for quality posting, because people genuinely want to know more about items and services before purchasing. And the more information a video provides, the less researching around these people have to worry about. Little effort, maximum information.
As an entrepreneur, this is a miracle tool. Working with an influencer can help spread the word, provide detail through a third party, which is much more reliable and credible, and all the while increase brand awareness.
Just make sure, whatever you do, you get the influencer to post a link to your blog, or other content. And it goes without saying, your content needs to have an email-opt in.
That’s right, it takes a little more effort, but it’s totally worth it. Webinars are efficient and versatile, allowing various forms of content to shine.
And it doesn’t even need to be intricate, unless you want it to be, of course. 15 minutes of video can become a standalone product, a product launch piece, or just another cog in your direct-sales funnel.
But what’s the difference between any other video and a webinar?
Well, for one thing, webinars have a limited run time. You can’t watch them whenever you want. You have to time it right, watch it when it’s available, much like how you run to Panera for their Black Bean Soup every spring, because you know it’s going to be gone in a few months.
The good thing about limited run times is that you simultaneously create a sense of micro-commitment (small investment on behalf of potential customers in the form of keeping track of you and the webinar time) and generate urgency.
“Watch it now before it’s gone!”
Of course, this can be elevated further by using key tactics, such as a claim of “limited spots available.” That limited scarcity is what makes your product seem to valuable. Everyone wants it, but few will get it.
That’s how it will seem anyway.
That means your webinar needs to be top-notch to live up to the hype. Do it enough times, all high quality, and you will genuinely mean it when you say limited spots are available.
Optimize Your Website
I know what you’re thinking: “What does my email marketing list have to do with how fast my website is?”
The answer: everything.
Consider Amazon, for example. Their sales increase by 1% for every 0.1 decrease in page load time.
Or Google: they once tried showing 30 results per page, and let themselves get 0.5 seconds slower in load time. Their traffic and revenue decreased by a whopping 20% during that time.
So, think about that for a second. For every little bit of time your site takes to load, you lose money, you lose traffic, you lose engagement, potential customers…
And the possibility of someone signing up to your email marketing list.
Even if it doesn’t seem like a lot of wasted time, even if it’s just 0.5 seconds, like Google’s, it still matters. Every little bit counts.
This can be attributed to the fact that we live in a fast-paced world, where everyone is busy. People browse the web at work and only have so much time before they need to go back to meeting those deadlines. Others browse from home, and are on their way out, or need to get back to doing things like cleaning, cooking, or finally relaxing.
It’s the whole reason why BlockBuster went out of business, and Netflix dominates all streaming services: it’s easily accessible and requires no effort whatsoever.
Anytime you can make someone’s life easier, you have yourself a customer. Don’t take it for granted.
Let’s go back to the beginning. Quickly building an email marketing list is crucial for any business, large or small. It’s what directly connects you to your target audience, and what provides further value and information. It’s this brand awareness, and direct line of communication that can, over time, convert interested parties into loyal customers, or even affiliates.
While purchasing an email list is an option, and has been for a long, long time, it’s not the most ideal way to go about it. Marketing is about finding different ways to seek out people who will be genuinely interested in what you have to offer. Purchasing a list doesn’t guarantee that the people listed will even care.
Furthermore, when you purchase a list, you’re openly inviting yourself into someone’s inbox. These people may or may not even know who you are, or what it is you do. And frankly, they may not want to receive your emails. It can be off-putting and reflect poorly on your brand.
So, remember, organic is best. It takes a little effort, but in the long run, it’s bound to be more fruitful than simply purchasing a random email list.
And there are plenty of ways to make sure your content grows your email marketing list quickly. Just make sure to think outside the box, partner up when it seems smart, and use every tool available to spread the word about your list and the benefits it provides. Everyone wants value, not just random emails for the sake of getting emailed.
The Key Performance Indicators for Ecommerce
Ecommerce is one of those tricky things everyone ideally wants to do in some way, but is secretly stressed out over. And it’s no secret why either: it largely depends on how you present yourself to the world, and whether or not your implemented tactics are effective or not.
That’s where key performance indicators, better known as KPIs come in.
Think of them like milestones that lead to online retail success: monitoring them tells you how well your sales are going, if you need to change your marketing content, or if you’re meeting your customer service goals, to name a few things. Of course, they largely depend on your unique business goals. Knowing which ones to use is crucial.
Despite how complex it may seem, ecommerce isn’t something to dream about but leave on the table. It’s tricky, different even, but entirely possible, as it’s been proven time and time again.
The Difference Is in the “Key”
A performance indicator is a measurement or data point that you can track, and use to gauge performance. Say you’re tracking a sales goal: a performance indicator will help tell you whether you’re on the road to meeting that goal, or whether you’re stalling and falling.
In this case, a performance indicator may be the number of transactions the site is processing on a daily basis or the average amount per transaction.
Many goals, in fact most, require quite the laundry list of performance indicators to track. Paired with the rest of your daily to-do list, especially if you’re running a small team, or going solo, and you can start to see where key performance indicators come in.
Most will narrow their laundry list down to 2-3 KPIs, choosing instead to focus on the metrics that most accurately show whether the business is progressing or failing to meet expectations.
The Importance of KPIs
KPIs are the final portion of the ecommerce trinity. The first two are goal setting and implementing strategy. Without KPIs, there would only be well-intentioned act of setting goals, and the blind task of implementing methods of getting there, but where would be no realistic way to tell whether it was all working or not.
You’d essentially be making decisions exclusively based on gut instinct, personal preference, or even uneducated belief. You might even take a glance at some transaction receipts, some traffic numbers, and opt-ins, and assume you’re meeting your goals.
But the truth is, without that concrete evidence that a solid KPI offers, you’re running in the dark. And that means it’s only a matter of time before you start bumping into walls, wondering which way is up, and feeling as though you’ll never find your way out.
That being said, don’t assume that KPIs are important on their own. They’re really just guides. But the value that they provide is critical to business success.
For example, being able to track traffic patterns is pretty mundane in and of itself. But you can get actionable insights from analyzing the data, which means you can devise strategies to meet goals efficiently. It can even help you understand any glaring issues, and determine where they’re coming from.
For those with teams, even small ones, KPIs can also be distributed around the office, promoting further business education, and an opportunity to come together for problem-solving.
KPI Types Overview
Although there are many key performance indicators to choose from, they can all be categorized into five main topics:
Depending on your own selection of KPIs, they can be qualitative, quantitative, insightful of the past (lessons learned), or even helpful in decisions to come, hence improving your chances for success.
The Top KPIs for Ecommerce
First thing is first, it’s important for you to know that there is an infinite number of KPIs to choose from for a variety of business models and goals. So, this is in no way an exhaustive list. That being said, this guide has been designed to focus on some of the most popular and proven.
Best KPIs for Sales
Sales key performance indicators focus on conversions and revenue. Depending on which you choose, you can take a look at sales from different perspectives, such as employee based, or time period.
Here are some examples of sales KPIs:
Sales: Monitor total sales by the hour, day, week, month, quarter, or year.
Average order size: Also known as average market basket, the average order size tells you how much a customer tends to spend on a single order.
Number of transactions: Use this along with average order size or total number of site visitors for some more in-depth data.
Conversion rate: The rate at which users on your ecommerce site are buying. Calculated by dividing the total number of visitors to a site, page, category, etc. by the total number of conversions (transactions).
Gross profit: Subtract the total cost of goods sold from total sales.
Best KPIs for Marketing
Marketing key performance indicators focus on how well you’re doing based on your marketing and advertising goals. Because marketing is directly tied to it, these also impact your sales KPIs.
Many marketing professionals use KPIs to better understand which products are selling, which advertising styles are working, who’s buying these products and how, and even why. This can help you figure out who your target audience really is, because often times, it’s not who you’ve been catering to all along.
Here are some examples of marketing KPIs:
Site traffic: Total number of visits to your ecommerce site.
Time on site: The more time spent, the higher the chances they’ve had deeper engagements with your brand. Ideally, you want there to be more time on the blog and landing pages, and less time at the checkout process. You want that checkout to be fast, and user friendly.
Traffic sources: Tells you where visitors are coming from or how they found your site. This tells you which channels are driving the most traffic, whether it’s organic search, paid ads, or social media. Then you can do more of it.
Newsletter subscribers: How many users have opted into your email marketing list. The more subscribers you have, the more consumers you can reach. Look at related data as well, like the demographics of those subscribers. You want to see if you’re reaching your target audience.
Email click-through rate (CTR): The open rate tells you how many subscribers actually open the email, but this KPI tells you how many actually skim through it at least. Shows an additional level of interest. Without any clicks, you don’t drive any traffic to your site, so this is actually the most important measurement of the two.
Best KPIs for Customer Service
Customer service KPIs focus on how effectively you’re meeting both your own, and your customers’ expectations. They can essentially help you out in your call center, your email support or social media departments.
After all, you want to do more than just sell items and stay afloat, you want to be known for genuinely caring about customers and treating them well.
Here are some examples of customer service KPIs:
Customer satisfaction score (CSAT): The answer to the customer question “How satisfied were you with your experience?”
Net promoter score (NPS): Provides insight into your customer relationships and loyalty. Directly tells you how likely customers are to recommend your brand to someone they know.
Customer service email count: Number of emails your customer support team receives.
Customer service phone call count: This is the number of phone calls your customer support team receives.
Average resolution time: This is how long it takes your team to resolve customer issues and concerns. You ideally want this time to be short.
Best KPIs for Manufacturing
Manufacturing key performance indicators are related to your supply chain and production processes. They tell you whether you’re efficiently using materials, or whether there’s some money lost in the process, with items being squandered. They also help you understand productivity and expenses.
Here are some examples of manufacturing KPIs:
Cycle time: Tells you how long it takes to manufacture a single product from start to finish. This tells you how efficient your manufacturing process is.
Overall equipment effectiveness (OEE): Tells you how well the products being manufactured are actually working.
Overall labor effectiveness (OLE): Tells you how productive the staff operating the machines are.
Yield: The number of products you have manufactured. By analyzing yield variance KPI in manufacturing along with it, you can tell how much you deviate from your average.
Number of non-compliance events or incidents: There are a lot of regulations, licenses and policies you need to comply with, usually all related to working conditions and safety. This ensures you’re going about things legally.
Best KPIs for Project Management
Project management key performance indicators are those that tell you how well all of your teams are performing and completing tasks. Think of it this way: your business goals is made up of several smaller goals, or steps, to reach overall success. Each one of those steps has goals of its own. These KPIs help you understand how well each team is doing and if they’re progressing or not. That way you can step in and tweak things as needed.
Here are some examples of project management KPIs:
Hours worked: Total hours the team put into a project vs. the estimated time frame originally presented.
Budget: How much money you’ve allocated for the project, if that amount is realistic, and if you’re repeatedly over your budget.
Return on investment (ROI): Tells you how much you’re genuinely earning from all of your projects, after subtracting the amount you’ve put in.
Cost variance: Total cost against predicted cost. Tells you where to reel things in.
Cost performance index (CPI): How much your resource investment is worth. Divide the earned value by the actual costs.
Create Your Own KPIs
In order to create your own KPIs, you need to first understand what your goals are, and why. If your goal is to boost traffic by 50%, why is that one of your main goals? How can your business thrive as a result? And is it exactly what your business is in desperate need of?
Your goals shouldn’t just be based on what looks good on paper, or what sounds good. They shouldn’t be other common business goals. They need to be related your own business needs, catered to your specific needs, backed by data.
KPIs for ecommerce should differ for each of your goals, so ideally, you’d want at least three per type (sales, marketing, project management, etc).
To better showcase the process, let’s look at three primary examples:
Goal 1: Boost sales by 20% in the next quarter.
Goal 2: Grow site traffic 50% in the next year.
Promotional click-through rates.
Goal 3: Reduce customer service calls by half in the next 6 months.
Service call classification.
Pages visited immediately before call.
Average problem resolution time.
Average customer rating after customer service interaction (survey data).
Using Marketing Assessments to Increase Conversions
If you’ve ever walked into a store with the intention of browsing and getting staff help with insight, feedback and suggestions, only to find that their business model only supports pushy salesmanship, you know what it feels like to be “hounded.”
This is when you immediately get handed different products, and told why each one is amazing. Each time you pick one up, it’s a long speech about why that product is the one you absolutely, positively want. There’s no room for questions there, there’s no getting to know you.
Well, this is exactly why marketing assessments are so important. You can ask these questions online, resulting in a personalized experience that will guide your visitors to the next step in your sales funnel without the need to be overly pushy.
Intro to Marketing Assessments
Call them quizzes, questionnaires or assessments, these are lists of questions that guide the site visitor to the next step in a sales funnel, which is hopefully a conversion.
Think of them as a list of 3-10 questions to get to know the customer, see what their needs are, what they’re looking for, and hoping to achieve. Once the answers are in, the customer is presented with highly-personalized feedback based on how they answered the questions.
For instance, say there’s a man who wants to go camping. He’s just getting into the hobby, but has done enough research to be able to inquire about specific tents and sleeping bags. A good salesman would answer the customer’s immediate tent sales questions, and then use that to follow up with an assessment.
It would be questions like “Have you been camping before? Are you backpacking, or driving in? How long are you looking to stay out there? Are you a crazy sleeper, side sleeper, or low-maintenance? How tall are you?”
Questions like these would be idea in getting to know the potential customer. A bigger tent would be advised for a taller person, and a plus sleeping bag would be the best option for someone who sleeps like a starfish. If the person hasn’t been camping before, it would be wise to inform them of the technicalities to look for in a sleeping bag and a tent, such as the ability to put gear outside the tent, how to deal with rain, and what to look for in terms of breathability in a sleeping bag.
The more you know about a customer, the better you can advise someone and lead them to products that can give them exactly what they want.
Ideally, there are three main goals an effective assessment will accomplish:
Teaching customers something about themselves (what they need).
Having customers learn something about you as a business (what you offer).
Teaching you, the business, something about the customer what customers typically ask for, what they prefer in specific products or service packages).
But if you thought getting to know your customer and increasing conversions was all that marketing assessments could do for your business, think again. It’s been proven time and time again that interactive content leads to longer attention span from site visitors, as well as a higher retention rate. They’re actually the most shared type of content on social media.
Ideas & Examples
The following is a mini collection of examples and insights that may help provide the inspiration you need to better craft your own marketing assessments. Even if the examples don’t quite relate to your industry, the basis is always the same: getting to know your customers, altering the assessment accordingly, and offering actionable advice that increases conversions.
Hanneke van der Heijden and Rick de Vette work for Eneco Netherlands, a producer and supplier of natural gas, electricity and heating in the Netherlands. To better understand their customers’ needs, they built a calculator that indicates the cost of an EVSE, a home charger for your electric car.
You know, because electric cars are getting surprisingly popular, but they require relatively frequent charging.
The goal of the calculator is to provide the relevant information, in this case a price proposal after some questions. The secondary goal is to get insight in who the prospects are for this product.
Well, with this assessment, Eneco Netherlands managed to collect over 1000 responses in 6 weeks. And building the calculator themselves, Vette and Heijden managed to test and quickly adapt along the way. In other words, creating a first version that you alter as results come in is the way to go. It helps to implement the changes based on what you’re learning about your customers as you learn it. Less time wasted, less resources wasted, and more benefits for both your business and your customers.
Psych Meets Career Guidance Quizzes
For years now, there have been many psychology guides that ask people a series of questions about themselves. Questions like “How well do you manage stress? Do you prefer to work alone? Do you prefer routines, or do you like to freeflow your days? Are you the type of person to offer advice on how to solve a problem, or are you the type to listen and offer emotional support before you try to solve issues?”
These questions then lead up to a personality result, listing people as one of sixteen personality types. For instance, someone found to be an ENJT is known as a “commander,” someone who is bold, imaginative, and strong-willed, capable of being a fearless leader. Meanwhile, an ENFP, or “campaigner,” is enthusiastic, creative, social and free-spirited.
Many of these sites have now added an extra bonus to their results: career guidance based on personality type. The goal would be to create awareness around how these jobs can better play up your natural skills and talents, as well as providing insight on why the assessment taker acts the way he/she does.
A quiz like this could result in a long-term run, being taken by millions of people all over the world. It could get its start through Adwords campaigns, asking common questions like “Do you know which career path is right for you?”
Just make sure that you use plenty of visuals for a quiz like this one. Everyone likes visuals, plus their ability to be taken in a variety of ways, which further embellishes your content, making it capable of drawing in a bigger audience.
How to Implement Assessments
The trick to implementing an effective marketing assessment is to ask the right questions to the right people. You want to make sure that you get enough valuable information with the minimum number of questions. Too many, it and it becomes a chore to shop with you.
If you have a sales team, your best bet is to get their insight. How do they start a conversation with a potential customer? Good sales reps don’t lead by trying to make a sale, they will ask the right questions:
What is the problem you’re looking to solve?
How are you currently dealing with the issue?
What is your biggest challenge?
What is your ideal budget range?
If you don’t have a sales team, don’t fret. If anything, that means you’re your own sales rep. As such, you get to ask the right questions.
Here are some more questions to consider asking:
What ideally are you looking for in a product or service?
Have you considered trying x, y, or z?
What was your experience with x, y, or z?
Have you tried our ________ (insert bundle deals, sales on relevant items, or other promotion that could solve the problem here)?
Just remember, the right assessment questions will lead to the right path to conversion. If you can manage to get valuable information and really understand what the customer needs, then you can suggest the right solution.
It’s possible that you won’t get the right questions at first, but whenever you start to see that a specific question repeatedly doesn’t land, it’s time to stop using it altogether and start using something that does. Tweak as you go along, and always stick to using the questions that frequently generate thoughtful, detailed answers from customers.
If you’re conducting your marketing assessment online, you’re using an automated service. To make it effective, and as short as possible, it’s important to connect follow-up questions to previously chosen answers. That way you can skip all the irrelevant questions automatically, cutting down on assessment time, and making things easier for your customers.
As an added bonus, the customers will notice this, and feel like they are specifically being catered to, rather than just being another one of many people taking a very generalized quiz.
If you’re shaking at the thought of automation, remember that you don’t have to solve everything in a single assessment. Your main objective is to be informative, and help guide the customers to the right part of the funnel, conversion. If the assessment doesn’t hit the right mark, you can always tweak it.
As previously stated, customers notice when they are specifically being catered to, rather than being a part of the general public taking a very broad quiz. This is why it’s encouraged to reuse the collected data from the assessment in the follow-up.
For instance, depending on your industry, an automatically generated PDF report based on the prospect’s outcome of the assessment is an option. Many choose to write blog content relating to each possible result, and then generating emails leading people to their own relevant content.
Going back to the personality test example, suppose someone gets the “commander” result. They see the result, read what that means, and gets a short list of ideal career choices. That’s nice and all, but the follow-up is better: they get an email directing them to a detailed blog post that goes into more career options, with insight on what it takes to break into each one of those industries. It even highlights the personality type’s most relevant traits for each position, and provides outbound links to writing the perfect resume making those traits shine.
From there, after providing value to the reader for free, it’s time to lead them to the next step: making a sale.
In the personality test model, selling memberships to more exclusive and helpful areas of the site is the best approach. Behind a paywall, there could be guides on how to improve social interactions, which steps to take to further improve your chances for success, and how to better understand others.
If you’re selling physical goods, you could suggest products that specifically relate to the customer need. It’s the whole reason why Amazon suggests similar items, or related items when you browse a product on their website. And they offer even more options when you click add to cart.
Now that you've dived into everything that helps to increase both traffic and conversions, it's time to plan out your next steps. For one business owner, it may be as simple as starting with an expertly crafted landing page. For another, it may be a better idea to use marketing assessments to increase conversion rate optimization.
The truth is, much like you had to decide whether to prioritize traffic or conversion for the next month or so, you'll have to decide the best next step for you on your own. Only you know what your business currently looks like, and where it's going.
But the good news is that you have the information you need to make the most out of any step. As long as you stay focused and organized, you'll see major improvements to your business.
So, which of these tactics will you implement first when improving your conversion rate and traffic? What made you decide that?
Leave a comment below with your answer, would love to hear some feedback!