If you’ve launched your website and are steadily getting traffic, you may feel like the hardest part is over. The truth is, the real work has just begun.
Now your focus shifts from a design/development perspective to a relationship-building, client-centered one. You’re now an inspector, looking for all the little “leaks” in your website that are causing customers not to buy.
There are about as many reasons people don’t buy as there are stars in the sky, so rather than focusing on those, we’re going to look at how to remedy as many of them as possible through a series of steps—a task known as a conversion audit.
What’s a Conversion Audit?
Also known as a website review, a conversion audit looks at your site from your customers’ shoes—pinpointing areas where improvements could be made that would strengthen your conversion rate. Typical areas of focus include design and layout, search engine optimization, social media optimization, checkout process, and content.
Remember that customers arrive at your website from various different points, and with a wide range of experiences. A conversion audit professional takes all of these routes into consideration when analyzing your site. With that in mind, here’s what we look for:
Design and Layout (Both Desktop and Responsive)
Even great looking websites’ conversion rates can flounder. What’s attractive on the surface may not be compelling enough to the end user. With that being said, conversion optimization professionals typically look at things that make it easier for the audience to visually scan the page, including:
- Proper use of white space
- A single, large call-to-action button
- Easy-to-read typography and fonts
- Consistent division of main and sub-sections
Of course, it’s not enough to go on common conversion practices alone. We also look at how the site performs on mobile devices. Since mobile traffic currently accounts for over one third of all web traffic (and is inching closer to the 50% mark), not having a responsive, device-optimized design is just flushing potential revenue away.
With the advent of technologies like HTML5 and CSS3, there’s no longer any need to develop a separate mobile site. One site can conform to all resolutions and devices. Just go easy on the load time for smartphones!
Search and Social Optimization
You might not think search and social optimization would go together in the same sentence. They produce vastly different conversion results, it’s true. But since customers can enter your website from any number of channels, from an optimization perspective, we typically put these two together.
After all, there are dozens of factors that go into making your site perform well in search, why should those not bleed over into social?
Moz.com’s graphic on the elements of an optimized page. View full image here
Many people take great pains to optimize their search results, but social seems more like an afterthought, because the traffic is viewed as not as valuable. Let’s face it, how many times have you gone on Facebook to buy something? (Um, never!) But just because the intent isn’t there, doesn’t mean we should be dismissive of these visitors.
A good conversion optimization audit looks at how well your social efforts flow into each other and back to your original website. Because social results can also impact your search engine ranking, you want to have a fluid, seamless flow from each channel. That means doing things like:
- Customizing your Facebook, Twitter and Google+ pages to incorporate the same style and tone used on your website.
- Include branding and graphics from your website on your social properties
- Promote the same friendly customer service and open discussion on your social channels as you do on your website
- Give customers on social networks a more engaging reason to interact with you. Surveys, contests and quizzes are all great portals to encourage interaction.
Starbucks has done a phenomenal job of not only responding to customer issues, but also providing a consistent voice, tone and engagement level for all its fans.
Notice how they invite users to participate by submitting their own photos, as well as voting on a contest for the best artistic cup design through Pinterest. It’s this kind of cross-channel communication that gets people to recommend, discuss and otherwise involve themselves in your offer.
E-Commerce Product Pages and Checkout Process
Apple knows exactly how to design an engaging, beautiful and high performing product page. Click here to see more examples of best practices in e-commerce
A good conversion audit wouldn’t be complete without a closer look at the e-commerce process. This can sound overwhelming, but there are a few key points to consider when auditing your product pages and checkout, including:
- Always-visible shopping cart, complete with an image of the item added, and the price (along with any discounts)
- Customization or personalization options (if available)
- Showing the number of steps to order completion
- Incorporating free shipping (by far the biggest conversion-producer for e-commerce websites)
- Use of security and trust seals where appropriate
- Forms with easy-to-understand errors to let the customer know if they missed or forgot to enter something.
Of course, these are just a few of the many points to consider, but a good conversion audit will take them all into consideration and then make adjustments and test depending on one’s own audience and their expectations.
Browse the Web for any length of time, and you’ll see that for many sites, the content seems more like an afterthought than an integral part of the conversion strategy.
While the tone and voice of the content will differ depending on the audience and brand (you wouldn’t be conversational if you’re selling high-grade technical parts and components), but for most consumer-facing brands, an open dialogue can make a big difference.
ChalkFly, an office and school supply store, uses their content to reinforce that they’re a company you’ll love to do business with.
While every business is different, notable points include reinforcing free shipping, noting the return/exchange policy in plain English, demonstrating your differences in a way the customer can understand, and much more.
Good website content is an art as much as a science, and understanding what compels your users to action is all part of the visitor psychology process.
Wrapping Up Your Audit
It may look overwhelming at first, but a good conversion audit is both thorough and straightforward. By understanding your visitors’ needs and then structuring your site and all of its promotional outlets to meet and exceed those expectations, you’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of your competition and truly have a site that converts to the best of its ability. Good luck!
Read other Crazy Egg articles by Sherice Jacob.