There is much confusion about what ‘online conversion’ is and it’s probably the second most popular aspect of digital marketing to be regarded as ‘black magic’ by business owners – the first being SEO. It tends to get called ‘lead generation’, but this wrongly limits its scope. It’s also often referred to as ‘website conversion’ but gain this limits thinking about where it can be achieved.
The definition that I think business owners should have in theirs heads encompasses:
- turning a suspect into a prospect by gaining some contact details
- turning a prospect into a customer
- turning a customer into a loyal customer, who repeat orders
- turning a loyal customer into an advocate who promotes your business and delivers fresh prospects
Suspect to Prospect
Apart from ‘commmodity’ e-commerce businesses, many organisations’ web presence often only has 3 conversion mechanisms – their contact details, an enquiry form and perhaps a newsletter sign-up form. It is very unusual for people who have had no previous contact with a business to use any of these – especially the last.
Some examples of processes that can be used to improve the conversion rate are:
- establish an engaged community of suspects in social media to build their trust and confidence
- make it easy to contact – live chat, call me back
- offering things of value to suspects in return for their contact details
- surveys with the resultant report supplied to all participants
- bringing suspects to an ‘isolated’ landing page that contains everything on one page (with no links to other URLs to distract the visitor)
The effectiveness of the above is dependent on factors such as layout, content, calls for action, requested detail
Prospect to Customer
B2B buyer will nowadays often be 60+% through their buying cycle before making contact with any prospective supplier. It is therefore important to build connection and reputation with these people during the suspect phase: Marketing automation can help build information on prospects while they are still only suspects as well as providing invaluable information on their behaviour to assist in the final conversion. But if marketing automation is too complex / costly, even the humble email marketing, when linked to analytics, can provide useful prospect interest information.
Customer to Loyal Customer and Increasing Spend
Research shows that to retain customers, it is not enough to satisfy them: They must be delighted. To achieve that you typically need, in addition to supplying what you promised (quality, timeliness, functionality, results):
(2) supply value add that is appreciated by customers and therefore they perceive they would miss if they left you
(3) to be very good at dealing with any of their complaints – this can have more of a positive impact than them not having any complaints. And they must feel encouraged to tell you what they think should be improved as well as what they’re not unhappy about.
(4) Remember to tell them about your relevant services and products they don’t currently take from you
(5) Keep an idea on repeat orders and where relevant prompt – may need inducements
Loyal Customer to Advocate
These are customers who are so pleased with what you supply to them that they feel they will gain thanks for introducing you to new prospects. The value of this cannot be over-estimated for its ROI compared to other ways of generating new prospects.
The achieve this top relationship, they first need to be loyal and then this needs to be developed to the point where they don’t consider it any risk of their reputation to recommend you to their strongest connections – where they feel special.
Then you need to provide them with easy ways to fantastic share their view of you.
Can You Do All of This Yourself
Successful conversion can be helped by knowledge of other companies’ successes and failures, keeping up to date with the latest thinking, opportunities and not being too close.