What’s your ultimate business objective?
You shouldn’t have any trouble answering that question. And yet, when it comes to conversion optimization, there’s often a large disparity between:
- What marketers are measuring, and
- Their ultimate business objectives
Many companies fall into the trap of optimizing for the conversion rather than for the bottom-line. But this ‘click-first focus’ can have a truly negative impact on your business.
Even when you’re tracking the ‘right’ goal, like an order completion or a lead submission, you could be missing the mark if you’re too focused on the conversion itself. If the result of your conversion optimization efforts is that you convert more low-quality leads and confused visitors, the whole thing is moot.
In one of his famous Whiteboard Fridays, Rand Fishkin, Founder of Moz, said it well:
When you get aggressive about converting customers fast and early, yes, you can really juice your revenue. You can turn a low conversion rate into a high one. But you can also in the long run cost your company if you aren’t measuring and thinking about the right things.– Rand Fishkin, Founder, Moz
When you’re testing, it’s crucial that you track what really matters for your bottom-line and design your tests to get at your ultimate business goal. This post is all about why you should strive to align your optimization efforts with your ultimate business objectives (and how you can do it).
Go big or go home, right?
The lead gen machine: quality vs. quantity
There’s a huge difference in simply converting for click-throughs and leads and actually capturing and maintaining qualified leads who will become clients.– Nick So, Optimization Strategist, WiderFunnel
If your business relies on lead generation, it’s particularly important that you pay attention to the quality of the leads you’re capturing with each new variation you test.
One variation might attract more leads, technically lifting your conversion rate. But if these leads are less likely to become customers, it’s a loser – a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Tracking lead quality requires due diligence: you have to track leads past the funnel, past the ‘contact us’ or ‘submit demo request’ goal. There is certainly some extra effort and time involved in following a lead all the way through to their interaction with a salesperson. But it’s worth it.
We had been working with Magento for many months with the goal of increasing the number of qualified leads for their enterprise software. One of the tests we ran focused on their ‘Try a free demo’ landing page. Based on our LIFT analyses, we created four variations to test against their original.
WiderFunnel Founder & CEO, Chris Goward describes the work we did with Magento below.
Each of these variations resulted in more leads, but one came out as a decisive winner with a 94.6% lift in conversions.
Numbers like that are pretty amazing: this new variation was generating almost twice as many leads for Magento as their original page! It was a high fives all around type of situation.
But when we dug in and looked at lead quality, we discovered that another variation (one that led to a 32.4% lift in comparison) was actually delivering many more qualified leads and opportunities than the other variations, including the one that saw the 94.6% lift.
The opportunity value for Magento was much higher with the ‘losing’ variation.
If they had been focused solely on lifting their conversions, they might’ve implemented a ‘winning’ variation that was actually bringing in a bunch of low-value leads, ultimately missing out on the $134,000 they gained in revenue growth.
Keeping departments n’sync
The first step to ensuring that you’re optimizing with the right goal in mind is to make sure you have company-wide alignment when it comes to your conversion optimization program.
Your efforts as an optimizer should be directly in line with the overarching business objectives. In the example outlined above, Magento’s optimization team had the same goal as their sales team: increased revenue. They wanted to increase leads, of course, but only a certain kind of lead (the kind that turns into a customer).
For an optimization team, it can be tempting to focus on the clicks, on the lift you’re generating. (I mean, a 94.6% lift is pretty compelling.) But you have to look at what’s actually going on after the conversion. Without buy-in across departments, your different teams’ efforts may actually be at odds.
Here’s another example. One of our e-commerce clients offers free shipping on all orders. As optimizers, our first instinct was to make that information prominent in the checkout funnel in order to emphasize this client’s value proposition and reduce visitor anxiety. Who doesn’t love free shipping, right?
The proposed change elicited a reaction from their customer service department, however – they wanted to clarify that the offer was for free standard 6 to 8 day shipping on all orders. Customer service knew that an unclear shipping policy, while possibly resulting in more conversions, might also result in more confused and dissatisfied customers.
The vast majority of marketers are looking to build a long-term relationship with customers, looking to earn their trust, their endorsement, their brand loyalty and their future sales. Hyper-focusing on the conversion can sometimes cost you the customer.
If you focus too much on conversions, you could be missing the big picture. You could be underestimating what conversion rate optimization can ultimately do for your business.– Nick So, Optimization Strategist, WiderFunnel
As an optimizer, you should be as plugged in as possible when it comes to your organization’s business objectives. Conversion optimization is sometimes relegated to a corner, where tracking becomes routine and metrics remain static.
But optimization is about more than testing. It’s about more than clicks. It’s about tailoring your site to speak to your ideal visitors, who will become your ideal customers.
If you design your tests with your ultimate business objective in mind, you’ll find that your site starts converting the visitors who’ll become your most valued customers.
How do you ensure that your optimization efforts align with your ultimate business objectives? Let us know in the comments, below.
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