Go Beyond the Conversion with the Online Optimization Model

Posted by SiteTuners on 2 December 2012 | Comments

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In the first of our 12 days of LPO tips, SiteTuners takes you through the model of acquisition, conversion, and retention, and lays the fundamentals of sound online planning.

Before your business gets into usability and design, on-site and external conversion factors, online trust and user intent, there are three key aspects of online optimization that businesses need to account for. It’s easy to get lost in any one of the many, many activities designed to make digital marketing efforts more efficient, but the battle may be lost before the front being fought is how well the navigation works, or how the trust-building logos are above the fold.

Before the tests, before the metrics tool, before the usability questions, every company needs to ask these questions:  

1. What are my visitor acquisition models?
2. What are my conversion points?
3. How will I get visitors and customers to come back?

The structure, the ability to think at the framework level, will ultimately shape your conversion efforts. Each of the three areas should be studied to provide maximum yield.

Acquisition 

Acquisition is typically the part where you are screaming for attention. Seth Godin, author of Permission Marketing,says,“You’re not paying attention. Nobody is.” Visitor acquisition, by itself, is a huge field - it encompasses SEO, PPC, blogs and social networks, as well as offline awareness efforts like ads on TV, radio, and print publications.

While we will not get into the specifics of each key source of traffic, there are two main takeaways:

You should be segmenting the traffic by source and demographic as much as possible
The visitors shouldn't all go to the same place. (e.g. the traffic coming from search of your brand can go to the home page, specific search term traffic from people further into the buying cycle should deep-link into the web site content, and PPC traffic should go to targeted stand-alone landing pages)

Conversion 

A common pitfall for marketers is not changing strategy between the acquisition and conversion phase. Acquiring visitors is about getting heard in a stream of screaming crowds, and leading someone to your store; inside the store, no one should be screaming for attention. (This is tougher than it sounds - all functional departments want a piece of the home page).

Conversion is an exercise in focus, it’s about segmenting the different needs, figuring out which ones are the most important, and providing a clear path to each. It’s about attending to the continuum of anxiety versus trust, confusion versus clarity, and alienation versus affinity - none of which can be done well by screaming.

A good place to start is the field of direct marketing (DM). Since basic human nature has not changed, we can apply the well-tested lessons of DM to the online sphere. Direct marketers Bob Hacker and Axel Andersson have defined key copy-writing concepts that motivate people to act:

Retention 

It’s much, much more expensive to get new customers than to retain existing ones. It’s critical that you keep your nose clean, then dot your i’s and cross your t’s at each customer touch point. Online, that means careful planning, and balancing potential revenue with customer goodwill on the following fronts:

1. Email
2. Newsletters
3. Blog feeds
4. News feeds
5. Rewards and loyalty programs

Even if you fuss over the three areas, remember that there’s a limit to the number of visitors you can convert – the conversion rate “ceiling” is well below 100%. If you have a structured online optimization model and you focus your attention on the swing visitors, the maybes, you’re not going to win every time, but you’re going to raise your batting average.

Next: "It’s Not Conversion, It’s Conversions. Plural." SiteTuners takes you through the different types of conversions, and help you win not just the sale, but the relationship with customers.

If you want to optimize your conversion funnel but don't know where to start, find out how we can help here.