Optimizing Your Website For Customer Acquisition

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In my previous post, Optimizing Your Visitor’s Journey, I described the importance of conversion rate optimization through all the marketing funnel (the process of converting prospective customers into paying customers).

Marketing to sales Funnel

David Skok, on the very recommended post Optimizing your Customer Acquisition Funnel, describes the process of converting prospective customers into paying customers as a process in which, no matter how large or successful your business is, you will have at least one place that is a blockage point in your customer acquisition funnel.

Picture of block in the acquisition funnel
Block in the Acquisition Funnel from David Cock

He also proposes a method that can perfectly be applied to the optimization of your website acquisition. According to David, you should start identifying your blockage point. The easiest way to do so is asking the question: “What is stopping us from increasing sales by 5X?” If your first answer is “I don’t have enough visitors in my website”, you should continue reading this post!

Marketing To Sales Funnel Acquisition

Essentially, there are two possible explanations for low traffic websites. On the one hand, you probably don’t know how to make your prospects aware of your site; that is, you don’t know how to reach them in the first place. There are plenty of posts that talk about tips and essential SEO checks. See, for example: SEO Checklist: 60 essential checks before launching a website by Vasilis Vryniotis, SEO Checklist by Internet Man, or 21 Essential SEO Tips&Techniques by Matt McGee, among others. On the other hand, even if you are able to reach them and let them know you exist, you don’t know how to motivate and engage them (maybe a quick look at your website reveals that it is entirely sales-oriented, and contains no content of interest to your visitors).

Assuming you already have the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin (or a similar one) installed in your website and follow all the recommended technical tips (keywords in page titles and H1 tags, all images with alt text, and so on…), the process of acquiring customers should focus on the added value you are offering in your website (i.e., the content of your website and how it is displayed). How you can eliminate your blockage point?

First Step: Identify Concerns of Your Visitors

Most companies design their customer acquisition process (and therefore, their website), around their own view of the world, instead of taking the time to understand the customer’s buying process and their concerns at each stage. It is recommended to design this process from the outside in, i.e. from the customer’s point of view.

The first step, thus, is to get inside your customers’ head and study their concerns.This involves, first, to get inside your customers head and study their concerns. Does your website offer a response to those concerns?

Hommer Simpsons Head
Homer Simpson’s head through X-ray by Hommer Simpson@Cool Blog

You may be wondering what these concerns are. Well, they obviously depend on your customers and the website you’re running. Let’s see a few examples!

Imagine you have an e-commerce offering great products to market fit. These might be some of the concerns your visitors have:

  • What if I don’t get what I ordered?
  • What if my order never arrives?
  • What if the product arrives broken/rotten…?
  • I don’t want to get spam email.

Or, getting back to our grocery online shop example of my previous post, additional concerns might be:

  • Is it going to be really fresh?
  • How healthy is a certain vegetable?
  • What is the best way to cook it?
  • How can I give vegetables to my children?
  • I hate to think about what to cook.
  • I hate cooking at all.
  • I love cooking but I have no time.

What if you are offering a great new business software with plenty of features? Well, then the main concerns of your visitors might be:

  • I don’t have the time to learn/use this software.
  • I have higher priority things to focus on.
  • I already have some software that does this.
  • It will be painful to switch.
  • Yet another data integration headache!
  • Is this the best product/service I can find?
  • Is the price the best deal for this type of product?

Second Step: Identify What Motivates Your Visitors

Club Motivation picture
Picture of Jefferson City Proposal – Club Motivation

The identified concerns should be the basis for this step, which involves studying the possible things that may make your prospects visit your page and take the step or action that you want them to take. In general, since you are so focused in the features of your service/product, that’s the hardest step. The key is finding the right motivation that is great enough to overcome their concerns, and have them move forward in the sales process.

Let’s forget for a moment about your product and focus on any other product you’ve previously bought. What were your motivations to get it? Examples of general motivations may be:

  • I have a problem to solve, and would love to find a solution to it.
  • If I can get something for free, and it will help me with my life/work, then that is valuable to me.
  • I am really interested in learning about something (where something may be totally unrelated to your product area).
  • I like to hang out on Web sites that entertain an educate me on areas that I am passionate about or I need for my life/work.
  • My friends recommended this product; I want to check it out! I’ll possibly like it, won’t I?
  • If I see how similar companies have used the product, then it will be easier for me to understand their benefits.

By going further with the online grocery shop:

  • I like to know about freshness and origin of the products.
  • I would love to receive a proposal of weekly healthy veggie menu with the fresher and easy-to-cook products.
  • I like going to good veggie restaurants, I would like to have a good guide.
  • I like to plant my own vegetables in my garden, I would like to know more about gardening.
  • I like having someone cooking for me.

Third Step: Help Your Prospects and Provide Solutions

Now is when you have to face reality: to help your prospects with their concerns and provide them with solutions that motivate them. Once you guess what could be a solution to their concerns and motivations, analyze your website and check whether the solution is already there. If it isn’t, add it. Then test it and discover whether your proposed solution does actually increment your conversion rate. Remember, as mentioned by Jordi Cabot How good are you at guessing A/B testing examples? (and does it matter?), for every example of a winner A/B test, you’ll find somebody claiming the opposite results. So, do never assume you know your visitors well enough to believe that you can improve the conversion rate of your site based only on your assumptions.

Let’s see different examples with our suggested guessed solutions or hypothesis and A/B tests. In the examples below, unless otherwise said, I would consider that the goal of the proposed A/B tests is to increment the number of sales.

Example 1: Security reassurance

If we select the following concerns:

  • What if I don’t get what I ordered?
  • What if my order never arrives?
  • What if the product arrives broken/rotten…?
  • Is it going to be really fresh?

Guessed solution: customers like to be reassured that there is no risk on the buying process, the product will arrive in a fit and proper state, it’s secure, there is money-back guarantee, …

Analyze your website: does your website explicitly contains this information? Where is it placed? Is it only described in the Terms & Conditions page? Take a look at the image bellow. Does it look reassuring?

T&C Mockup

Suggested A/B test: create a A/B Landing Page experiment with a new version of your Landing Page or an A/B Page experiment of your Check-out Page putting explicitly all or part of this information:

Mockup of Original Page
Mockup of Original Page
Mockup of Alternative Page
Mockup of Alternative Page

Tell your customers that everything will be fine and they will be satisfied! Tell them that the payment is secure, that they can pull out at any time without any risk, and they’ll feel much more secure. Positive messages in your website will make it more attractive!

Example 2: Testimonials

Now we choose the following motivations:

  • My friends recommended this product; I want to check it out! I’ll possibly like it, won’t I?
  • If I see how similar companies have used the product, then it will be easier for me to understand their benefits.

Guessed solution: customers like to buy products that have been already tested by other friends and companies who liked them.

Analyse your website: does your website contain explicitly this information? Where is it placed? Is there any testimonials or case studies page? Is there any way to recommend your products?

Mockup of Original Landing Page
Mockup of Original Landing Page

Suggested A/B tests:

Mockup of Alternative Landing Page
Mockup of Alternative Landing Page

Example 3: Benefits vs. Features

Let’s consider the following concerns:

  • I don’t have the time.
  • I have higher priority things to focus on.
  • I already have software that does this.
  • It will be painful to switch.
  • Yet another data integration headache.

And the motivation:

  • I do have a problem to solve, and would love to find a solution to it.

All sellers tend to focus on the features of products and services rather than benefits. But people tend to care less about features than they do about benefits. People have concerns and motivations and, remember, “people don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole!” as mentioned by Theodore Levitt, a well-known professor at Harvard Business School.

Analyse your website: does your website explicitly contain this information? Where is it placed? Is it clear the target people of these benefits? Are the benefits keywords shown all around the website?

Suggested A/B tests:

Mockup of Alernative Landing Page
Mockup of Alternative Landing Page

Example 4: Comparing Products

Consider the following concerns:

  • Is this the best product/service I can find?
  • Is the price the best deal for this type of product?

People want to be sure that your products or services are the best deal that can be found. If your website does not say anything about it, do not worry, they are going to find somewhere that information. But then, you probably have already lost them. You may consider offering a comparison of the products being in the market focusing on the benefits yours offer (and the others don’t).

Of course, you may think that you do not want to give to your prospects information about your rivals, but you’ll never know if this will give you more visitors and increment the conversion or not, unless you try.

Analyse your website: does your website explicitly contain this information? Where is it placed? If you already provide this information, is the comparison clear enough or provokes more confusion?

Suggested A/B tests:

  • Create an A/B Page experiment, comparing your product vs. your competence. Create different alternatives, varying the number of products and features/benefits to compare.
  • Create an A/B menu experiment considering different alternatives of menu to include the variations.
Mockup of Comparison Page
Mockup of an Alternative for a Comparison Page

Example 5: Other Interests vs. Your Goals

Consider the following concerns:

  • How healthy is certain vegetable?
  • What is the best way to cook any of it?
  • How can I give vegetables to my children?
  • I hate to think about what to cook.
  • I hate cooking at all.
  • I love cooking but I have no time.

And the motivations:

  • I am really interested in learning about XYZ (where XYZ may be totally unrelated to your product area).
  • I like to hang out on Web sites that entertain and educate me on areas that I am passionate about or I need for my life/work.
  • I like to know about freshness and origin of the products.
  • I would love to receive a proposal of weekly healthy veggie menu with the fresher and easy-to-cook products.
  • I like going to good veggie restaurants, I would like to have a good guide.
  • I like to plant my own vegetables in my garden, I would like to know more about gardening.
  • I like having someone cooking for me.

Before starting to create many experiments and getting crazy with them, you should evaluate what you consider it’s going to attract more traffic vs. the goals you are offering. Try to prioritize the things that are easier and closer to your service and, at the same time, that (in your opinion) can be more attractive to your customer. Try to avoid complete changes in your website goals, or your (recurring) visitors might get confused!

Analyse your website: does your website explicitly contain this information? Where is it placed? If you already provide this information, is it easy to find/understand by your visitors?

Suggested A/B tests:

  • create a A/B Widget experiment offering a promotion of a different service. The goal of this experiment could be, in this case, to increment the number of people that gets this promotion.
  • create an A/B Widget experiment offering collections instead of independent items.
  • create A/B Headline experiments (variating the title, picture or excerpt) for the posts of your blog.

I already showed an example in my previous post, including a new widget:

Mockup of ecommerce with Ad

Summary

When thinking about improving your SEO, the most important key is the value of the content of your website to the people looking for that value. By analyzing and guessing the concerns and motivations of your visitors, you’ll come up with creative ideas of the kinds of A/B experiments you may want to perform in your website. Try all of them and you’ll be surprised by the improvement in your conversion rate you’ll get!!

You may be interested in the full series that shows you the importance of conversion rate optimization through all the marketing funnel and provide different ideas and examples to improve your website:

  1. Motivation – Optimizing Your Visitor’s Journey
  2. Acquisition Optimizing Your Website for Customer Acquisition
  3. Activation (I)How to create a great first experience in Your website
  4. Activation (II)How to Improve the CheckOut Experience
  5. RetentionHow to Retain Your Customers
  6. RevenueHow to Increase the Revenues on Your Website
  7. ReferralsHow to Improve Your Customers Loyalty and Referrals

Featured image by Anne Arnould of the Boqueria Market in Barcelona

by

Ruth obtained her PhD in Software Engineering at UPC and did a Master of Information Systems at DePaul University (Chicago). She has professional experience in the business world and at the University. Ruth has been University Lecturer at UPC, Vice-Dean for Corporate Relations of the Barcelona School of Informatics, and Associate Lecturer at ESADE. She specializes in software engineering and information systems management. She is also certified in Inboud Marketing.

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