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GUEST COMMENT How to increase online sales when the marketing dial can turn no more

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The top position on Google and the best PPC spots for traffic driving key words have long been battlegrounds for digital marketers. Fighting for these spots can often become very expensive, to the point where budgets are maxed out and you start getting diminishing returns. So what can retailers do to increase sales when you can’t spend any more on acquiring more visitors? The answer lies on your website.

Marketing teams will always reach a point where they need to consider whether it is worth spending additional budget pushing for more PPC visitors or to start converting a higher percentage of those already arriving on site. The second of these options often requires a significant but crucial change in focus but the reality is, when done intelligently and with a clear focus on quality, businesses will see a much greater return on investment (ROI) as a result.

Focus on improving the customer journey through the site, mapping the journey of your customers from Google all the way to the checkout, and pinpointing where you can make it easier for them to get there. By improving conversion rates on your site you can reduce your acquisition spend while increasing the ROI of all your marketing channels.

Developing a conversion rate optimisation (CRO) strategy and culture is the first step. It can be surprising to learn just how many ecommerce websites were developed on the basis of an employee’s favourite colour or style or the ‘HIPPO’ (highest paid person’s opinion) – and how these decisions can have a massive impact on your company’s sales and profitability.

Conversion optimisation, when done correctly, uses a scientific approach which removes irrational and subjective opinions. This prevents budgets being wasted on making changes to your website that don’t actually increase sales or, worse, have a negative impact.

Where to start

A website conversion optimisation strategy should begin with in-depth user research to uncover how your customers behave and what motivates them while browsing on your current website. Results can reveal a range of usability and persuasion issues, from PPC landing pages not being personalised to search terms, to visitors concerns not being alleviated or copy not being understood.

It’s time businesses walk the walk when it comes to becoming ‘customer-centric’.

Combining user research with data from across the business will pinpoint weaknesses in your conversion funnel, helping you to understand why shoppers stall or drop off. This might be at the checkout or when visitors first arrive on key landing pages. Having this information allows retailers to develop intelligent, insight driven hypotheses on which pages to A/B test, which then provides concrete figures on the impact the changes have on your sales. Additionally, when done right, testing can and should deliver customer learnings that can be applied through the business on both online and potentially offline touchpoints.

The takeaway points to remember are:

• Optimise your website first before spending any more money on acquisition

• Conduct user research and data analysis to identify gaps in your conversion funnel whilst truly understanding user intentions, behaviours and preferences

• Develop a conversion optimisation strategy to ensure your marketing budget goes further

• Nurture the invaluable leads you already have instead of paying for more visitors

By following these top tips and spending time focusing on conversion optimisation, you can get much more value out of every single marketing pound you spend.

Conversion rate optimisation is very much here to stay, and the sooner your business embraces what it means to have an intelligent, insight-driven testing strategy, the more chance you have of outgrowing your competition.

It’s time to act, before your competitors do.

Paul Rouke is founder and director of conversion optimisation agency PRWD.

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