An acceptable conversion rate is the precondition for any type of business to grow on the internet. Conversion rate is understood to be the relationship between the total number of visits that a site receives and the number of those which carry out an action anticipated by the person in charge of the site: leaving their personal data, establishing contact through a live chat service, making an enquiry by e-mail, visiting a specific page, making a purchase, etc. The higher the conversion rate is, that is, the greater the number of visitors that have been converted into prospects or customers, the greater will be the business that the site can produce.
The standard conversion rate of a commercial website is generally low, between 1% and 3% (these average numbers depend on the type of business). While it is not hard to improve this measure, doing so requires attending to the factors that determine it. Here we present three of them.
In the first place, we must stress the importance of the profile of the visitors. This variable has a decisive impact on the conversion rate: being able to capture visitors interested in one’s type of business is the first step. And for that it is essential, on the one hand, to identify the profile of current visitors and, on the other, to design a strategy that allows one to attract suitable visitors. A traffic tracking system permits one to know the website visitors through different sources of information: the page from which they have come (usually a search engine), the key words they have used in their search, the language and country origin of the visitor, the navigation within the website itself, the duration of the visit, the pages viewed, etc. Identifying this profile facilitates the design of a strategy aimed at the desired visitor, as it offers specific guidelines for investing in web positioning: what are the key words that will be used for the search engines, to which segments will ad campaigns be directed, etc. It is not easy to increase the conversion rate if the right visitor is not targeted.
In the second place, it is also fundamental to find a design for the site that optimizes navigation and makes the conversion process easier. The aesthetics and good visual appearance of the pages on the site do not have to be the main priority in the design. The site map, the nature and arrangement of the pictures and graphics that are used on each page, the writing (the vocabulary, the register), all these variables must meet standards of usability. And these standards must not target only at the rapid communication of the benefits afforded by the products or services offered, but the clarity of navigation as well. The visitor must know at every moment at what stage he is, what he must do next, etc. It is important that the web design guide the visitor throughout the whole conversion process: in this sense, a simple design in which options are limited speeds up the process. (Tracking the navigation of visitors is also useful when judging the effectiveness of the design.)
Lastly, it is important to consider the avenues that are available in the conversion process. If the process is slow and complicated (in certain types of business the purchase or reservation usually requires careful thought on the part of the customer), the visitor must be aided in making his decision. Examples of means to ease conversion are proactive communication tools (of chat or e-mail). These can offer advice and speedy assistance, without having to wait for the visitor to take the initiative. In this way the first conversion – from visitor to prospect – is made easier. Furthermore, the closeness and trust typical of the personalized treatment that these tools provide not only generate empathy, but also help the visitor make a decision, thereby contributing to the second conversion – from prospect to customer. The more means that are added to the process of customer acquisition with solutions of this kind, the greater will be the effectiveness of the site and the higher will be the conversion rate.