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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Is Conversion Rate Out of Control?

Nobody will be surprised to hear that 39% of client-side marketers responding to a recent Econsultancy survey felt unhappy with their conversion rate. Everyone wants more sales but unfortunately 41% of respondents also said they had little or no control over their website’s conversion rate.

Marketers are increasingly winning responsibility for conversion rate but have until recently been without the tools to proactively manage it. We can measure and report on it just fine, web analytics does that. However, when it comes to managing conversion rate by doing simple things like testing changes to see whether they have a positive or negative impact, we’re often found to be woefully lacking.

This lack of control over conversion rates and online performance in general speaks volumes for the immaturity of the web channel. In the dot com boom, as an industry, we measured visits and page impressions. Since then, we’ve adopted web analytics and measured conversion rate by traffic source. That has led to an obsession with looking for efficiencies in our search and display ad acquisition campaigns whenever things fall below-par.

We don’t intend to belittle the work that has gone into making acquisition of traffic far more efficient at landing the right visitors on-site but this still gives us very little control over the effectiveness of our website at actually converting those visitors.

Econsultancy identifies a potential source for this lack of control over conversion; “Lack of ownership is identified as a major issue. Those with someone responsible for conversion rates are more likely to have experienced improved performance in the last year yet 40% of client side companies didn’t have anyone directly responsible for conversion.”

Now that much of the headroom for improvement has been eked out of traffic acquisition, it’s time to move forward with a focus on converting that traffic to achieve the next win.

Q: If we both run shoe stores and my site converts twice as well as yours, how much more do you need to invest in bringing visitors to your site to stay ahead?

Leading marketers are already realising that the next big win lies in out-converting their competitors rather than out-spending them on media. They are increasingly focussing on conversion rate to achieve precisely this competitive advantage. Do you have the right skills and tools on hand to stay ahead?

If you’re stuck for inspiration, take a look over our past work with brands including ASDA, Santander,, Laura Ashley, National Express and Cancer Research UK. Testing can be deployed on top of current web infrastructure, there is never a need to rip and replace existing investments.

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