The Infinite Conversion Loop

December 12, 2011

This is part one of a multi-part series on the fundamentals for maximizing the conversions for your business’s website.

When people hear that LunaMetrics does consulting and training for Google Analytics, I often hear “Really?? There’s that much to Google Analytics? Everyone knows how to use that!” Possibly, but if I had to guess how you use your Google Analytics, it’s probably something like this:

  1. If you happen to remember, you login to GA
  2. You look at the default date range, and see if the overall visits are up or down
  3. If there is a large spike up or down, you look into the referrers and organic/paid search reports to see why, otherwise you close GA and call it a day

Done. Right?

But then you wonder “Why am I only getting 5 sales a day from 1,000 visitors?”. Someone suggests you update the website to be Web 3.0. It’s not converting because people think it looks dated. So you spend the money to get a new pretty website. And then you check your graphs. Maybe they look the same, maybe they’ve gone up a little, maybe they’ve gone down a little, but you really have no idea how this new website has impacted anything. And your conversion rate is about the same. Sound familiar?

This is what many people I talk to do, and even though a select few are obsessed with some aspects of analytics, they still feel helpless with regards to conversions because they don’t complete what I call the “Infinite Conversion Loop”.

What’s the Infinite Conversion Loop?

I’m glad you asked! This is a process I’ve used over the years and it takes the guesswork out of what will and won’t improve your conversion rate. It sounds time consuming, but as I go into detail in the next couple of posts, you’ll see it really only requires a few hours a week. At the worst, you’ll understand why you only get a .5% conversion rate, but in the best case you may be able to double or triple your conversions.

  1. Measurement of a baseline – To do any part of this process accurately, you need to make sure you have all of your Analytics configured so that everything is being measured equally and effectively from the beginning. This is not complicated, but it does involve more then just slapping GA code on every page (although that’s a great start). Specific details of what to do here will be the subject of my next blog post, but to really visualize what’s going on here, this is a crucial first step. Do you know exactly how much money your website makes? Do you know what your shopping cart abandonment rate is? Do you know what people are searching for and not finding on your site? Do you know how your site is being shared on social networks? If the answer is no to any of these, you’re still on step one.

  2. Identify your visitors – Not all visitors are alike. You love seeing traffic go up, but that doesn’t always mean an increase in conversions. Now that you are measuring everything, how can you tell who is visiting your website, and more importantly why are they not converting? How much of your traffic is even likely to convert? If you have 1000 visitors and only 5 convert, surely you must be wondering what the heck those other 995 were up to.

  3. Passive User Testing – There’s some answers you will never be able to get by just looking at the numbers, you really have to study how people use your website to see what they are doing. There are great tools that allow you to watch recordings of what people are doing on your site (completely passively) and study their behavior. You don’t get to ask them questions, but this often helps you identify larger problems with your website, including that JavaScript error you never discovered on Firefox 3 for Mac.

  4. Active User Testing – I always do passive user testing before active, because active user testing is more expensive and time consuming, and you want to make sure you’ve fixed the big problems first. With Active User Testing, you’ll write a script for people to follow, often based on confusing behavior seen in the previous step, and let them narrate their thought process as they try to do it. The best user testing lets you ask people along the way, “Why did you do that?” or “Did you notice X?”. The difference between Active and Passive user testing is that with Active you hear their thought process as they are using your site “Oh, I thought the search would show me this, but instead it showed me another search”. or “Hmm, I want to checkout, but I don’t see the Visa logo”

  5. A/B and Multi-Variate Test – The previous four steps should have given you some ideas of changes you can make to improve conversions. The final part is something that scares most people, but some new tools make this once complicated task quite simple. Start with an A/B test to test larger theories, and then use multi-variate tests to figure out the absolute most optimal combination of elements.

By the end of this cycle, you’ll have a very good idea what percentage of visitors have the potential to convert, what’s keeping people from converting, and whether you need to do more SEO/Marketing to increase your conversions or structural/wording/HTML changes. The cycle doesn’t stop here. After you make these changes you start from the beginning. This cycle is infinite after all!

This is a very high level overview, but stay tuned for future posts describing exactly what each step involves and how you can accomplish them easily. Feel free to leave feedback in the comments if there is something you want to see covered!

If you’re ready, move on to Part 2 – 10 Things to Check in Your Google Analytics.