So you’ve gotten your business website all set up. It looks great, the navigation is user-friendly, and it has tons of content to help anyone understand just how beneficial your product or service is.

You’ve begun to get some decent traffic thanks to your marketing efforts in social media and display advertising. Maybe you’ve even gotten some positive reviews on 3rd party sites that have sent even more traffic to your site.

But are those increased site visits translating into increased sales?

Unless you’re implementing some sort of deliberate conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategy, probably not as much as you’d like. The reality is that 83% of consumers will come to your site and leave without purchasing anything. What’s worse is many of them won’t return.

While it may sound complicated, conversion optimization for small business websites doesn’t have to be. Implement a few simple tactics, and you can make a substantial impact for your visitors, and ultimately, your bottom line.

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s first define exactly what conversion rate optimization is.

What is conversion rate optimization (CRO)?

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a process that tests page changes to increase how many visitors complete a specific action. The page changes can include elements such as formatting and style to copy, images, or even button placement.

CRO often targets the pages where visitors first enter your website. Because visitors will find your site (hopefully) through many different channels, this means optimizing more than just your homepage.

Tips for a successful CRO strategy:
  • Using data to determine which pages you should optimize
  • Testing small changes
  • Continually refining the elements on a page based on the results of your tests

Understanding the Funnel

Now that we understand what CRO is, it’s important to clearly understand that the people coming to your page are all in different stages of the buying process. Marketers call this the buyer’s journey or the purchase funnel.

There are 5 stages in this funnel:

  1. Awareness – The customer realizes they have a need and finds out your business may be able to fulfill it.
  2. Opinion – The customer forms some sort of belief, attitude or judgment about your product or service.
  3. Consideration – The customer thinks your product or service may work for them.
  4. Preference – The customer feels you may have the best solution but may still be looking around.
  5. Purchase – The customer decides you are the best business to fulfill their needs and makes the purchase.

When you think of your website visitors being in all different stages of a journey, it makes sense that most don’t purchase on their first visit to your site. What’s really important is to figure out how to move the most visitors through to the next step of the funnel.

So how do you know which pages to optimize and how do you make those visitors choose you every step of the way?

Which pages should I optimize?

This is the first and most important question you should ask before starting conversion rate optimization. Some people will just look at their site analytics and choose the pages with the most traffic.

But that may not be the best strategy.

For example, if you have a wildly popular blog post about a charity function for shelter animals that your business participated in, but you sell air conditioning and heating services, the chances of turning those visitors into customers is much lower than doing so with your services or fees pages.

On the other hand, if your services or fees pages have very little traffic to begin with, it’s going to be difficult to test any optimizations you make to them.

When you choose which pages to optimize, look for a good balance between existing traffic (for testing) and intent.

If you’re pretty technically savvy, we’d also recommend looking into Google Analytics’ behavior flow reports to really drill down on where your visitors are coming in and where they’re dropping off.

Once you’ve identified the pages you want to target, there are a number of things you can do to keep your visitors engaged and moving along in the buying process.

Tips for Conversion Rate Optimization

Knowing that your future customers will probably visit you more than once before they actually buy, here are some tips to start optimizing your pages and make the most of every website visit.

1. Test with paid traffic first.

Even though you may have determined which pages you’d like to test, you may be reluctant to mess with your existing organic traffic. What you can do instead is create new pages with similar content that are essentially hidden from search engines. These are called landing pages. Then, you can send paid traffic to those pages to test their effectiveness.

If the tweaks you made yield good results with paid traffic, you’ll have the confidence to test them out on your organic traffic.

To hide these landing pages from search engines, add a “noindex” meta tag to the robots.txt file of your site. If that doesn’t sound so simple to you, read this article for further details.

2. Use an A/B testing tool.

When you’re ready to test optimization tactics with your organic traffic, get an A/B testing tool to measure the performance of your changes against a control. Some examples of A/B testing tools we like are Optimizely, Crazy Egg, and AB Tasty.

These tools will give you more data on whether your changes make a significant difference in the way people interact with your site. They’ll also make it fairly easy for non-coders to implement changes.

3. Focus on one or two things at a time.

The best tests are simple tests because they give you the most reliable data. If you test 8 different things on a page at once and get more form sign-ups, how will you know which change made the difference? How do you know that you wouldn’t have gotten more sign-ups if you hadn’t changed 2 of the 8 things?

Make simple changes such as alternate wording on your call to action or moving it to a more prominent place on the page. Once you have reliable results from that test, you can feel confident including or excluding that aspect from your next test.

4. Set smaller conversion opportunities.

While the ultimate goal of your website is to get visitors to book you or spend money with you, capturing their interest and nurturing them along the buying journey helps break the process down into more manageable, digestible chunks.

Since most consumers (especially online consumers) are risk-averse, try asking visitors for smaller commitments along the way. This gives you a chance to build trust and develop a relationship before convincing them to purchase from you.

A few examples of smaller, less intimidating conversion opportunities for your website visitors:

  • Join an email list
  • Book a free consultation
  • Take a survey
  • Chat with a representative

Always be optimizing.

It would be wonderful if the improvements you made to your site kept increasing your traffic the same way they did when you first implemented them. But the internet, and consumers, are ever so fickle. What worked today may stop working in a few weeks. Luckily, you’ll have to tools to continually test new conversion tactics and ensure you’re making the most of every website visit.