8 Tips to Boost Your Business Website's Conversion Rate

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March 11, 2011

There's a phenomenal focus on generating traffic in the online marketing world. Businesses fight for clicks, stage immensely competitive bidding wars and spend thousands of hours pushing their websites to the top of search pages.

Top-ranking websites and prominent ads, often on auto-pilot, generate thousands of dollars a day.

But is this the most profitable way to secure clients online? The amount of traffic running through a website isn't directly tied to the amount of income that the website generates.

A more apt measure of success might be the number of conversions that the website produces from its pool of traffic. More conversions means a quantifiable increase in sales and even an increase in the number quotes you provide to potential clients. It's not just a measure of traffic.

The eight tips below won't exponentially increase clicks to your website or push it to the top of search results. However, they will help make the most of traffic that comes your way, which is often more important than quantity. These eight tactics will help turn visitors into customers, drastically increasing your website's conversion rate.

1. Use Google Website Optimizer to Split-Test Pages

Long-term income isn't tied to the results of a search. By using Google Website Optimizer, you can easily track the causes of your sales, how visitors interact with your website and what variations of your pages are most effective.

It's testing on a whole new level. If you're pleased by how much income your advertising is generating but unaware of the cause, then Google Website Optimizer will help you understand.

2. Add a Direct Phone Number to Your Header

This simple addition can significantly increase sales, especially if you operate a service-based business.

Web designers, developers and consultants would all benefit from offering a direct line of contact, often to the tune of several thousand dollars a month in extra projects, increased interest from prospective clients and phone-driven sales.

Funny as it is, an accessible phone number can increase the conversion rate of a website even when calls are routed to voicemail. It is often enough to distinguish your business from the crowd.

3. Simplify Your Quote and Order System

An alarming number of emails, inquiries and sales are lost as a result of poor ordering systems.

From buggy WordPress emails that lose data to confusing multi-field forms, many potentially lucrative sales are forfeited because an order page has failed to help a customer complete their order.

Make your sales page-whether it's a product order form, quote generator or email address-as simple as possible. With enough traffic guided to your simple order form, seemingly inconsequential tweaks could instantly increase the conversion rate of your website.

4. "Productize" Your Design Services Into Packages

As a web designer, you offer a service. Apply some basic productization and marketing principles to it. Learn to predict how clients search for a web designer. What are the most important factors in evaluating a web designer? How do clients make their decision?

Simplicity and clarity are important factors. Designers who are completely clear about what they offer are hired more often and expand their client base faster.

Offer a variety of product-like web design packages. This will make everything clearer for clients and increase your conversion rate.

5. Add Image-Based Testimonials

Direct marketing expert Gary Halbert has helped hundreds of online businesses increase their profit, mostly through a combination of persuasive sales letters and slick marketing tweaks. One of his best suggestions is to replace overused and largely ineffective text-based testimonials with a selection of image-based testimonials.

Forging authenticity is easy online. From fabricated testimonials to tacky corporate logos, a company's reputation could be based on lies.

Image-based testimonials are not easy to fake. They add a personal touch to websites.

6. Can't Finalize a Sale? Try to Get an Email Address

Regardless of how optimized your website is, not everyone will become a buyer. Some clients, particularly those with small businesses, like to shop around before committing. While this might be frustrating, you can use it to your advantage.

Instead of giving visitors only two choices-buy or leave-give them a third choice: to submit their email address and receive information directly from you.

Some visitors might not want to buy immediately, but with their permission you can email them and demonstrate why they should hire you, how you can help them and which of your packages they should choose.

7. Beef Up Your Contact Page to Increase the Trust Factor

In the digital world, you need a footprint to build trust. Big companies benefit from their exposure both online and off. They use their large network of offices and stores to demonstrate their reliability and accountability to potential customers.

Your job as a designer is to build the same reputation for your online business without the offline footprint.

Here's how: add an address to your contact page, add a phone number to your order forms, and offer links to previous customers who value your work. Add links to your LinkedIn profile, your other social networking profiles and your portfolio. Increasing your footprint increases the trust factor, which can boost your conversion rate.

8. Update Your Portfolio, Revitalize Your Copy, Fix Spelling Mistakes

A single spelling mistake can ruin an otherwise fantastic business website. Similarly, an aging portfolio can do more harm than good to an otherwise great design firm. Keeping your website up to date will attract interest, even if you don't actively advertise.

Every six months, review your website for conversion killers: misspellings, awkward phrasing, pixelated images, broken links, amateur-looking portfolio pieces, etc. There is always room to optimize a website and boost sales.

Written exclusively for WDD by Mathew Carpenter. He is an 18-year-old business owner and entrepreneur from Sydney, Australia. Mathew is currently working on Sofa Moolah, a website that teaches you how to make money online. Follow Mathew on Twitter: @matcarpenter. Follow Sofa Moolah on Twitter: @sofamoolah.

What other other methods do you use to increase your sales and boost conversion rates? Please share your tips with us!

WDD Staff

WDD staff are proud to be able to bring you this daily blog about web design and development. If there's something you think we should be talking about let us know @DesignerDepot.

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