Improving Your Site Conversion Ratio

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Because the accountability of Internet advertising makes the cost per acquisition measurable, the critical question is how to minimize that cost.


Most advertisers attack CPA with two objectives: minimize the cost per thousand impressions, and maximize the click-through rate. Both techniques are very effective in lowering CPA.


Once a user clicks, however, the receiving site must be designed to turn the user's arrival into a sale, registration or other conversion.


The site conversion ratio is likely the most important statistical measure for any e-commerce initiative. SCR describes the effectiveness of a site in turning user visits into conversions. It is the percentage of visitors to a site who actually buy, opt in or otherwise convert. A site with an SCR of 10 percent, for example, converts 10 percent of its visitors.


How important is SCR? Many online advertisers measure the prospect drop-off rate - potential customers who do not complete the sale. After evaluating the drop-off rate, marketers complete a Unique Drop-Off Analysis. This analysis helps marketers determine why potential customers fall away without converting, and then marketers can develop strategies for retaining customers in the future. Other companies market their efforts directly to their users, emphasizing the number of necessary clicks required to make a purchase, such as Amazon's 1-Click program.


Improvements in SCR can have dramatic effects on the performance of an online advertising campaign. Consider the following graph. Let's say that your click-through rate is 0.5 percent and your impressions are bought at a cost per thousand impressions of $10. Given an SCR of 10 percent, your CPA will be 20. If you were able to drive your SCR to 20 percent, you could potentially lower your CPA to $10.


It's worth the money and the time.


How can you increase your site's SCR? Here are eight simple suggestions:


Decrease download time. Reduce the file sizes of your site's images, use proper HTML coding and be sensitive to browser compatibility. Use Websitegarage.com, siteinspector.com or keynote.com to evaluate your site's download time, especially in comparison to those of your competitors.


Make it obvious. Put the link to the desired action in a prominent, obvious place on your site so users can easily find and use it.


Eliminate clicks. Remove as many clicks, decisions or other tasks required to complete a conversion on your site. Count the number of clicks required for a similar conversion on your competitors' sites and try to beat it.


Emphasize security. Post a clearly recognizable link to your security information. Include a policy that ensures users that their safety is paramount when converting on your site.


Include an efficient search tool. Retain users who get lost on your site by including a search tool that will get them back on the path to conversion. Include it on every page of your site.


Emphasize navigability. Implement a structure that is easy to understand and has a site map accessible from every page. Eliminate circular, looping, confusing links in favor of linear links that go forward and backward.


Use cookies. Minimize the amount of user effort required on return visits by using cookies to remember important information.


Use a consistent theme. Use advertising messages and placements that are consistent with your offering. Users who are disappointed at your content upon arrival are sure to fall away.


In the evolving frontier of online competition, the next battleground for online competition is taking place. This year's winners will be the sites that effectively retain users, instead of simply convincing them to stop by.
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