733% increase in website conversions in 8 weeks with this strategy.
Fraser McCulloch - Tuesday, February 28, 2017
An introduction to increasing website conversions
Today I’m going to show you how I increased by own website conversion rate by 733% in 8 weeks.
I was able to boost my website conversion rate whilst working on the biggest web re-development project I have ever worked on.
I am going to outline step by step how you can do exactly what I did it regardless of whether your website is built on WordPress, Muse, Business Catalyst or any CMS or you are web professional or not.
The approach I used is called the Broken Website Conversion Strategy.
Website Conversion Strategy : Step by Step
What my website conversion looked like before
Here is a screenshot of my home page from January 2015 where the home page introduces who Platonik are and what makes us unique with links to our services and work.
My website was fairly typical for most web designer and agency websites.
And here’s the conversion rate. Zero.
And here’s the conversion rate for the whole year; basically one conversion a month.
Considering I have developed some high converting client websites, my website, by a conversion measurement, was broken.
There were two factors in my broken website; a lack of effort in my own website and more emphasis on acquiring clients and managing the design and development of their websites.
Action : Install Google Analytics (or get it installed) and set up a goal conversion.
Once you have Google Analytics installed and a goal created, you or your web person can set up a goal conversion report and have it emailed to people you choose.
I recommend you get this report sent weekly in PDF format on a Monday so the website becomes part of your business habit.
That brings me onto the broken website strategy.
For me, there were (and still are) some other issues happening behind the scenes and within the general web industry.
Deep down I am not a web designer or web developer. I am first and foremost a marketer.
I began analysing industry trends.
There has been a decline over time for people searching for web designers and web developers.
Trying to get ranked in Google for these search terms was difficult because there are many web designers, developers and agencies competing against each other.
Then, there has been the growth and rise of “do it yourself” website building platforms such as Shopify, SquareSpace, Wix, Leadpages, WordPress etc.
Thus reducing the demand and need for a new business to hire a company like mine when they were looking for a website to be designed or developed.
The rise of social media has also impacted web design and advertising spend with businesses choosing Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and others as communication channels.
At the top end of the market, I could not (or would not want) to compete with bigger agencies developing e-commerce store on the Magento platform.
Then, referrals began to dry up. My network extends only so far and I had exhausted my personal network over the past 8 years to gain clients and business.
The referrals I did receive were not projects I was interested in; too low in revenue value and potentially high maintenance clients.
So, over the course of a year, I had to work out a new strategy; what business am I going to be in for the next 15 years and who will I serve.
Action: Research your market
I used Google Trends to plot competing technologies growth and decline, I liked software pages on Facebook to see what they are writing about and what people were saying and I tried out their products.
In the spring of 2015, I had a client who was struggling with the custom website we built him.
So I found an alternative solution that made it very easy for the novice to create and publish website training content.
I really liked the platform so I gave it a test myself and loved it.
I had been doing SEO for a client and decided to document my approach and set up a paid for training course on the platform.
I published the course and then thought, shit, who’s going to buy my course.
So I reached out to Adobe and proposed a guest post; they published a post on their blog in May 2015 and I got 200 web professionals to sign up to learn about SEO.
That got me thinking that perhaps my audience isn’t the traditional offline business owners but rather web professionals.
I sold a dozen or so courses and thought “perhaps my audience isn’t whom I originally set out to serve”.
I received emails from web professionals who had purchased my training courses thanking me and asking how much I would charge for keyword research or to help with research for website proposals and developing website structures.
I thought. “I’m onto something here”.
So I dived into some more web professional communities, on Reddit, and did some more research into what the key problems facing web professionals were.
- Charging more was a key challenge.
- Getting quality backlinks was an issue.
- Not having the time or confidence to do keyword research
In autumn 2015, I reached out to the web development community I was part of and published a blog post featuring their work.
This was a departure from the content I typically published; whilst it was fairly daunting for me to publish competitor work on my website the response from my competitors was well received.
Then I started noticing that it was mainly web professionals I interacted with in social channels.
And looking at my Google Analytics account a lot of my website traffic was coming from the USA and Australia.
Action : Find out the size of the market
You are not looking for exact numbers you just need a gauge your audience exists.
To find out the size of an audience you can start up a Facebook Advert and play around with the audience you want to target.
Or you can Google their industry association and that website will generally tell you have many members they have.
I became more serious about SEO and generating organic traffic by publishing in depth, long form blog posts.
My website was still “in limbo” between serving 2 audiences (traditional business owners and web professionals) so the content I published had to be researched and created to suit both audiences.
I started to focus more heavily than years gone by on keyword research to identify opportunities; especially easier to keywords with high search volume and low keyword difficulty since this approach gives a better chance of ranking and getting organic traffic.
At the end of 2016, I decided to upgrade a software review of the Business Catalyst platform that I use for all client websites.
The improvements to the review page helped me ranked higher in Google and earn more organic traffic from longer tail searches.
Whilst the page was originally intended for businesses reviewing the platform, the responses I received were from web professionals.
Action : Find out a user problem and write a detailed solution
I went into the freelancer sub-reddit on Reddit and started to document the key problems faced by web professionals.
And the problem that kept appearing was “how do I charge more”.
I used this approach for a client website and he was reluctant to share his secrets and methodology to which I replied “we’ve detailed how to removes leaves from a house’s gutter, a 70 year old grandmother will not climb up ladder to this herself; she want to know you’re the expert and can do it”.
Since I was investing time and effort in my page content I wanted to leverage that investment.
I kept seeing these pop up windows (welcome mats) asking me to subscribe when I visited some other websites.
I felt these solutions were very intrusive and annoying so, instead, I developed a subscriber box; a call to action area on a blog post that when clicked offered a reader an offer in exchange for their email address.
This was initially developed with some coding and used the built in email marketing list feature within Business Catalyst.
If you are using WordPress, you can use the following tools and plugins to create this functionality.
At the end of December, I decided to switch my web form and email marketing software to GetDrip.
You will now see the call to action box that pops up a form when clicked as well as the pop-up widget that can be controlled with GetDrip forms.
Action : Sprinkle a call to action throughout a web page or post
The majority of websites use WordPress so the paid for plugin from Audience Ops takes care of customising the call to action box, you just need to write an enticing call to action.
I used words like ‘bonus”, ‘free download” followed by the name of your page.
Even better if you have something inside the PDF or download that’s not within the web page.
On most blog posts the offer I made was a free PDF of the blog posts. Nothing particularly unique or special but it works.
There’s a great tool called PrintFriendly.com where you enter the page url and they turn the page into a downloadable PDF.
Simply strip out the elements of the page not required, save and download in a couple of minutes.
The design and layout is limited; there are other more impressive solutions but I tend to favour function over design.
Action : Try creating a PDF of your web page at www.printfriendly.com
When the user enters their name and email address into the web form their information is sent to the CRM; in my case this was previously Business Catalyst but now it’s GetDrip.
There is no reason you cannot use MailChimp as a CRM to store user enquiries.
I cannot find the hard research but they say that 50% of sales people give up after the first sales call.
Same applies to website and web enquiries. You need a follow up system.
So whatever CRM or email marketing system you are you using you need at least 5 follow up emails.
Here’s a snapshot of a prospect and there are 16 emails she has been sent in about 6 weeks
Action : Write 5 helpful follow up emails
Write helpful follow up emails such as “how to stop this”, “how to solve that” “how to do this”.
When you write helpful problem solving stuff you don’t get many unsubscribes and you remain on their radar screen longer.
I was beginning to see users subscribing to various blog posts from organic search visits without any proactive email or marketing from me.
Then in February, I decided to make the commitment to focus my business on serving web professionals and changed my home page and navigation.
I offered a free 7-part email course to help web professionals charge more using keyword research.
Instead of a free PDF download, the offer was a ‘go at your own pace email course’.
I offered to run a webinar with a web professional community and I reached out to Business Catalyst again and introduce the email course and they blogged about it.
With hundreds of web professionals who had previously opted in to my mailing lists it made sense to revisit them and email them about the email course I’d introduced.
It was, and still is, tempting to start using Facebook Advertising to reach out and build up my prospect list.
But my train of thought is “if people I already have a connection with don’t resonate with me and what I have to say then strangers will be harder to join my sales pipeline”.
Action : Target your existing email lists or database first before advertising.
Rather than spending money targeting strangers I went back and emailed people who had previously signed up to a mailing list of mine.
I had to export data from Business Catalyst to GetDrip and tag them appropriately but this was a useful exercise who was who.
To illustrate, here's a SAAS solution that email me once per month; I had honestly forgotten about them and one email per month isn't enough.
Since it is my intention to serve and sell to web professionals, I set up lead scoring within GetDrip.
My lead scoring system is very simple.
5 points if a user completes my keyword research course form, 1 point every time a user opens an email and 1 point every time they click on a link within an email campaign.
Over the festive period I read the book ‘Oversubscribed’ by Daniel Priestley who highlighted some research that stated you need an average of 11 touches with people in order to build up trust.
He stated you need about 7 hours or 11 touches of relationship building with your content; emails, videos, case studies and social interactions before you can start to push your sales effort.
So far I have nearly 50 people that have surpassed the 15 point lead score; and I have a lot more content lined up to improve my trust and relationship building.
It is tempting to dive in and start selling to people but they are not yet ready to trust me yet.
In addition I have set up ‘tagging’ that allows me to apply a tag next to each user based to some action they have taken.
For example, in my web form I created a custom field asking them to tell me their job type.
If they selected ‘Web Designer’ and completed the form they get tagged with ‘web designer’ and I now know their profession.
If they clicked on my about page, I know, if they visited my website calculator page, I know.
Now, if I want to send a targeted email to web designers who looked at the website calculator page I can filter my database and select those users and target them with a campaign or email.
Action : Read Oversubscribed
This eBook was under $10; it’s a combination of theory and non technical practical advice.
Here’s a screenshot from my Google Analytics account showing a 733% increase in website conversions.
I know 25 subscribers isn’t very much but this is a massive improvement from a few months ago and the same period last year.
I could have started from scratch and built an entirely new website but I decided to leverage who I knew and what I already had.
I appreciate I need to go further with the website and content and make it exclusively aimed at one audience; web professionals.
Summarising the broken website conversion strategy
I used to have a home page slide explaining who Platonik are and showcasing work we’ve done, a list of client case studies, technology I specialise in and services I provide.
In effect, a glorified pretty picture business card.
But every competitor of mine used this approach but it was not working in attracting business owners for me for the reasons I pointed out.
With the change in direction and now a very focused target audience I have increased my website conversions.
With my lead scoring set up, I am in a position to better understand what interests them and what they respond to and take action on.
With daily conversions coming in I’m building up a bigger prospect database of my intended audience I can, hopefully, profitable sell to in the future.
This is how you can use The Broken Website Conversion Strategy approach to change direction, re-focus your target audience and convert more visitors into prospects.
If you got some value from this case study, please leave a comment below.