It was hostile as his e-mails usually are (although being named Anonymous would likely take a toll on anyone) but at paragraph six, he posed an interesting question.
“Don’t you think it’s hypocritical for you to be speaking at the Conversion Conference? You don’t even believe in mother*&^%ing conversion.”
Mother*&^% conversion, I thought. Is there a church for that? Or is it a more Zen-like religion?
Putting aside all my snarky thoughts for a second, I realized that maybe, just maybe, Anonymous had a point.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s one of the few public engagements that I am doing this year and I am VERY psyched about it (the program is top-notch). With that said, I AM on record that I think conversion is over-rated.
Do I believe in it? Absolutely. My clients and my career depend on it.
Do I think it’s the closest thing to God you can get business-wise and that it deserves the obsession that’s allocated to it? Not. So. Much.
You see, the thing about conversion is that if you want to double, triple, even quadruple your conversion, you can just block all the garbage traffic that’s bringing your conversion rate down.
Your conversion as a percentage will skyrocket.
But sadly, it’s more than likely that your sales and profits won’t. In fact, in most cases, they spiral. Downward.
There’s not a day that goes by that some CEO or President doesn’t tell me that their conversion sucks and that they’re thinking about firing their VP of Marketing because of the… well, suckage.
Granted, a lot of the mucky-mucks I speak with should fire their guys but it’s not for THAT particular reason. A lot of times they’ve read some random blog that says Schwan’s has 40% conversion. So they’re comparing their B2B site that sells high-end machinery that you only need to buy once every ten years – equipment that is so complicated that you need to talk to a salesperson before you buy it – with a site that sells home-delivery food? Um, last I knew, you had to eat daily and if you’re going to buy Schwan’s, you’re going to buy Schwan’s. A good comparison? Not in this lifetime.
You can’t pull conversion numbers out of thin air – or the nearest Quora answers – and think you’re going to match them. There are a lot of variables in play – your product, your site, your e-mail program, and so on — you can’t assume that your numbers are going to be like everyone else’s. (Well, you can but you know what assuming does for both of us.)
So, should you measure conversion? Yes. It’s critical BUT you should look at in relation to other things, especially bottom line dollars.
What’s a good conversion rate to have? You need to break your traffic down into different buckets. Dumping everything into one big, rusty pail and then looking at an overall number is an exercise in futility. Even your PPC traffic will convert differently than your SEO traffic, for goodness sake.
One of the biggest mistakes traditional direct marketers make is they don’t look at their offline traffic properly. For example, if you’re a cataloger, what kind of conversion are you getting on your “Ordering From a Catalog” Form? Are you getting over 85%? If not, why not? What level of tolerance would you have for your call center if 100 people called and 95% of them hung up and didn’t place their order? Would your VP of Inbound have a job? Not likely, right?
What’s the easiest way to increase your conversion? (Besides dumping your garbage traffic that is.) Look at your adoption to action numbers. Few conversion specialists/consultants talk about adoption to action, yet it’s one of the fastest, easiest ways to improve your bottom line. You want to know what action(s) folks are taking on your site to get to their end goals. So, for example, if you’re an ecommerce company, your overall goal is to get orders. The way you get orders is for people to put stuff into their carts. Your goal is ATC (adopt to cart) so you need to look at that as a number. Out of 100 people who come to your site, how many folks are adopting to cart?
Next, you’ll want to look at adoption to action within the checkout, starting with the view cart page (which, by the way, is not always necessary and should be on your list to test if you haven’t done so already.) In checkout, each step has an adoption to action rate. Why? Because that way you’ll know where you’re losing your users. The more you know about your users, the more you can control them. (Insert diabolical laugh here.) It’s all a numbers game so the more you know, the better.
Have more conversion related questions? Jot them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer
P.S. By the way, in case you missed what will likely be known as one of my many notorious shameless plugs, I am speaking at the Conversion Conference on March 14th. I may regret this but if you come see me, I’ll give you a free hour (maybe 1.5 if you’re nice) of consultation on anything web related. And wait, there’s more, if you use this code CCW901, you can save $250 when you register now — as in right this very minute. (Officially it’s by March 11th but if I get a lot of takers on this PS, I am deleting it!) Sign up today to save!