By Bryan Trilli
As a former water conditioning dealer, I learned there are two ways to approach your Internet marketing:
1) Assume you know everything and can guess what your target prospects want to see.
2) Assume you know almost nothing and need to test to learn what actually converts prospects to customers.
If you’ve ever worked with an ad agency or web designer you are probably intimately familiar with #1. Often they will take you through a discovery process, where they ask about your business services and then either write up the pages on your website for you or ask you to fill in the blanks. This method describes #1 above and is all based on guesses. You and your web designer are guessing at what headlines, calls-to-action, offers, designs, videos, images, contact forms and other content will result in you getting the most new customers. What few people realize is that there’s a much more powerful way to generate leads with your website.
Let me give you an example. Recently, I was going through an analysis on one of our water treatment clients and found that changing a single sentence in a Google ad increased our clickthru-rate over the control by 32.5 percent but, more importantly, also increased our conversion rates by 1,244 percent! Both were at statistically significant levels. One sentence in a Google ad, with traffic being sent to an optimized landing page, increased actual contacts 12-fold over our original ad.
How hard is it to create a sentence that generates a 12-fold improvement?
To learn that one sentence, we tested over 130 different Google ads and about half-a-dozen different page designs over about six months for that dealer. That’s only part of the story, as we’ve tested over 1,000 different ads in the water treatment industry and have performed dozens of tests on different site layouts for similar businesses. Keep in mind, the results in one part of the country are not always directly applicable in others, as you have different water characteristics, price points, competitors, demographics and knowledge levels. So it’s not quick or easy. Also, keep in mind that a 1,200-percent increase is extremely rare. Most of the time, you are only improving a few percentage points at a time. Imagine, however, what those types of results look like over a year of testing and optimization! A few percentage points of improvement each month can result in doubling your online contacts and cutting your cost/contact in half over the long term.
How does online optimization work?
The first step is breaking up your Internet efforts into two sections for targeting:
- Traffic. Where and how you’re getting visitors to your website
- Conversion. How you’re converting the highest percent of visitors to contacts
For a water treatment dealer, your website’s job is to generate a contact. It’s then up to your sales department to turn that contact into a customer. You need to break up your online game plan into traffic and conversion because both are necessary. If you have the best website in the world but no one ever visits it, or you have thousands of visitors but a low-converting website, then you’re literally washing money down the drain. The traffic portion is relatively easy for people to understand. It’s all those buzz words that have been thrown around for the last decade: pay-per-click, Google Adwords, SEO, online directories, Facebook ads, LinkedIn networking, email marketing and any other place you can run an ad to direct people to your website. All of your offline marketing efforts like yellow pages, TV, radio and direct mail can also be potential traffic sources as well.
Conversion is all about getting the highest number of website visitors to actually contact you. This is summed up into your conversion rate, which is defined by the percent of visitors who contact you. Think of it this way. You develop great marketing and give your salesperson 10 call-in leads/day but he only converts one to a customer. Your traffic is excellent but your conversion, at a 10-percent conversion rate (1 out of 10), is pretty poor. If that happened in your office, would you increase your marketing budget to get 20 leads/day or invest in training a better salesperson? Obviously you are going to work on your salesperson first! The same is true on your website. If out of 100 visitors only four people contact you (which is about average for water treatment industry websites), then why not figure out how to get eight out of 100 to contact you before spending more on SEO or PPC? That is where website conversion optimization is much different than website design. Conversion optimization is all about saving you money by learning what converts the highest percent of website visitors to contacts.
According to a marketing study done by Adobe, for every $92 (USD) marketers spend on traffic they spend only $1 on conversion. In other words, if you spend $92 in marketing expenses to get someone to call you and ask about a water softener, you would then pay your sales person a $1 commission to close the deal! Think of your website as your 24-hour salesman and you can start to see why investing in ongoing testing and optimization is even more important than your original website design.
How to know if your agency or designer is focused on testing
You don’t go to your accountant and say, “This is how much tax I’m paying, do the paperwork for me.” The same should be true for your web guys. If your web experts say, “Your website is done, let us know when you want us to update it”, then you have a problem. Unless you’re an expert at web analytics and How One Sentence Can Increase Your Website Conversion Rate By Bryan Trilli Water Conditioning & Purification February 2013 testing, how do you know what needs to be updated or when? On the other hand, web optimization experts don’t expect that every sentence, graphic, formatting, color change or call-to-action that can be tested on your website needs to go through you first. They are the experts, do all the hard work of determining what gets the best results from your prospects for you and then fill you in. That’s the difference between a web designer and a team of optimization experts capable of major improvements in your conversion rate and cost per contact.
So what does this mean for you?
If you currently have a website and are running any type of online advertising, ask for examples to verify your expert is testing everything. Keep them accountable for results!
- Do a few Google searches for “water softeners ”, “reverse osmosis ” and other similar terms. If you are not currently running Google ads or optimizing your website, those searches will show you which of your competitors are. Work with an industry expert who can help you beat the competition and start sending you cost-effective online contacts.
With the right optimization plan, you might even find a test that generates a 1,200-percent increase in your conversion rate!
About the author
Bryan Trilli is the Team Leader of Optimized-Marketing.com. His team helps water treatment experts from coast to coast generate more leads online through PPC, SEO, Facebook ads, online surveys, email marketing and constant testing and optimization. You may contact him at [email protected].