Small-business owners work hard to drive traffic to their websites. Whether you’re using search engine optimization (SEO), traditional offline advertising or pay-per-click ads on networks like Google AdWords and Bing AdCenter, generating website traffic takes time and effort.
But are you converting as many visitors into buyers or leads as you could be?
Increasing your website conversions may seem like a daunting task, but many tools can help you do just that. Four free tools help you increase sales and leads from the traffic you already have coming to your website.
No matter what size your website is, analytics give you essential information to improve your conversions. It used to be that detailed analytics were expensive and out of reach for many small-business owners. But Google Analytics changed that years ago by releasing an analytics-tracking tool for a price any small-business owner could afford—free.
Its goals and funnels features will give you an in-depth look at which of your website pages are creating conversions and drawing visitors further into the site—and which pages aren't. You can even create goals for specific links within a page to see which calls to action are converting and which need improvement.
Google offers many free training videos to help you use its service. If you're new to Google Analytics, start with “Beginning Analytics: Interpreting and Acting on Your Data.”
Clickdensity helps you track how site visitors interact with your website. Which links on your site do visitors click the most? Which links do they ignore? Are your users clicking on items that they expect to be linked but aren't? Using Heat Maps, Click Maps and Hover Stats, Clickdensity can show you all of the above and more.
For example, suppose you're featuring two products on your homepage. Using click tracking, you might see that the second item is being clicked on more, even though it’s below the first item and not as visible. Moving the more popular item above the less popular item could mean more clicks for that item—and more sales. Replacing the less popular item with another item entirely might also boost your conversions.
The service requires that you add a few lines of code to the Web page you want to track and then shows you the results on an online dashboard. It has several tiers of paid service plans but allows you to test one page on your site, up to 5,000 clicks, with a free trial plan.
Google Website Optimizer
Once you know which pages are converting and which links visitors are clicking, you can start testing changes you think will get better results. But how do you know which changes have a positive effect and which don’t? You can serve up different versions of your page using A/B testing (also called split testing) to see which one converts the best. For example, you may create two versions of a page. One has a red "Request More Information" button, while the other has an orange one.
By A/B testing the page, you can make an educated decision on which color causes more requests with all other things being equal—time of day, day of the week, and so on. Google Website Optimizer lets you to conduct detailed A/B testing on your site for free.
Google Website Optimizer also offers video tutorials to help you get the most out of the split-testing tool. It features free seminars, such as “What Should I Test,” to give you plenty of ideas about things you can split test on your own website.
There is perhaps no better way to test what’s working on your website and what isn't than by watching people when they use the site. Observing the movements of real users gives you insight that "mechanical" tools can’t.
Do many users take a long time to fill out a specific section of your form? Maybe the verbiage at that point confuses them. Is there a specific point in your shopping cart where people abandon their purchase? User testing lets you pinpoint exactly where visitors leave and helps you identify what needs to be changed.
Userfly allows you to be a virtual fly on the wall as visitors you don't know use your website. The service produces a screencast of what users do while they're on the page—tracking where they move their mouse, where they click, what they type (except for passwords) and more. The free plan allows you to record up to 10 user sessions a month and stores the results of those sessions for 30 days.
Taking it one step further
Anyone who wants to increase website conversions should also read Don't Make Me Think, by Steve Krug. Many consider it to be the book on Website usability. Its simple, common sense approach can help you avoid mistakes and learn how to make simple improvements that lead to big increases in conversions.
Rae Hoffman-Dolan, aka "Sugarrae," is a serial entrepreneur and well-known SEO consultant specializing in SEO audit services and link-building strategies. She is also the co-owner and SVP of marketing for Speedy Incorporation.