What is conversion optimisation testing?

If 100 visitors come to your site, how many of these end up in a sale (be it buying a product or service, signing up for newsletters, retweeting in Twitter or ‘liking’ a post on Facebook)? These ‘sales’ are known as ‘conversions’. Understanding what works best to create these conversions is known as conversion optimisation testing.

If you create any advertising campaign, in any media, there is a risk of a low return on investment (ROI). Fortunately, instead of having to keep a track of how many coupons are returned to your shop, or asking every new client where they heard about you, the online environment has methods that can show you where your business is coming from.

Your website is a main media platform which is a 24/7 advertisement of your business. Conversion optimisation is all about having more of your visitors actually take action. Optimisation conversion testing is all about measuring which changes you make to your site have the best impact on converting your customers. It can take several similar forms, but essentially works on steps such as these:

  1. Plan a targeted campaign to sell something to a specific group. For example you may be a travel agent wanting to launch a newsletter about travel to the beach at Noosa for families because you are now managing a holiday unit development there.
  2. Create a web page, or section of a web page that includes information for your target market with a call to action (CTA) to encourage subscription to your newsletter.
  3. Create a second page with similar information done differently, also with a CTA for the subscription.  The first page may be text heavy verse the second which is mainly images.  Or you could test different colour options or image placement options between the two pages.
  4. By comparing the path of your visitors from each of the two pages to a final action (subscribing, in this case) you can compare which of the two web pages was most successful in gaining the end result.

There are various other testing methods available such as split testing and multivariate analysis but the reason you use them is all the same – to work out what is most attractive to your users to result in a conversion.

Conversion optimisation testing is both an art and a science. You start with a working hypothesis and use the science to look at the quantitative website statistics to understand what is working and what isn’t. It also has the element of art in that conversions are often a response to the visual, qualitative message components of the site.

In most industries traditionally, it is much more economical to sell more to an existing customer, than to continually try and find new customers. Web site commerce is no different. If for every 100 visitors who come to your site, 1 buys/signs up/retweets (converts), you have a conversion rate of 1%. If by spending some money on conversion optimisation testing increases your conversion rate to 5%, ROI benefits to your business can be staggering. Additionally, your website is constantly available, not some billboard advertisement only there for 30 days, or a newspaper advertisement for a week.

When ROI is difficult to calculate on many forms of marketing, conversion optimisation testing can significantly improve conversions whilst being measurable at the same time.