Let's run a thought experiment. Imagine two sites selling the same product to the same people, with the same website design. Site A has only a couple hundred visitors per month. Site B has several thousand visitors per month, and let's say there's no way for site B to increase its traffic further--for these purposes, it's tapped out. How would site A increase its revenue?
If you said "increase its traffic," you're in good company. That's how most people I've met answer. But it demonstrates a subtle bias among new marketers--most revenue problems are approached by increasing traffic. Strategies like content marketing, SEO, and social media marketing (all of which are designed to increase traffic) are both popular and effective, but they aren't the only way to make more money online.
Site B is my example for this. Assume that site B can no longer increase its traffic stream--is its revenue tapped out, too? I'm guessing you've already figured out the correct answer is "no," and there's a strategy both site A and site B can use to increase revenue--and that's increasing the conversion rate on-site.
Your conversion rate is a measure of how many times your on-site users "convert"--which could mean filling out a form, calling a phone number, clicking an ad, or buying a product directly, depending on your type of business. In any case, it's a quantifiable action a user takes on your site that leads to revenue (or a step closer to revenue).
So how do you increase the number of conversions on your site?
1. Make your call(s) to action unmissable. Your call to action is what asks users to convert--it could be a landing page for your product or a form for users to use to sign up for an email list. Whatever it is, it needs to be prominently visible. Make it stand out with a unique design or use it as a "soft" popup after a user sits idle on your site. Include it near the top of every page, or link to a call to action on nearly every page of your site. Don't be obnoxious about it, but do make your calls to action prominent.
2. Make it easy to convert. If a process takes too long or is simply too complicated, most users will abandon it (even if they're into your brand). For example, if you ask users for a first name, last name, and email, I can guarantee you'll get more signups than if you ask for first name, last name, email, location, occupation, and other factors that don't really matter. If it takes less than 30 seconds to complete the process, you'll be in good shape.
3. Include testimonials, reviews, and maybe a guarantee. Trust is a major factor for conversion, but you have to earn that trust--especially with new users. Include user reviews or testimonials if you have them--users almost invariably trust brands more when they offer lots of third-party reviews. If you have any indications of authority, such as affiliations with major industry influencers, publishers, or brands, show them off with badges, and consider offering a guarantee on your product to make yourself even more trustworthy.
4. Use strong action words in your headline. The strength of your headline can make or break the conversion, as it's usually the first thing people see and the foundation for their impression of the opportunity. You only have a handful of words to make your product (or offer) seem as compelling as possible. Unfortunately, that usually leads to gimmicks and clichs, which most modern users detest. Instead of falling for these traps, use strong action words and concise, straightforward language to make a clear, unique value proposition.
5. Be straightforward with your products and services. Today's consumers have strong BS-detectors, which means they know when you're being transparent and when you're covering up for a defect with colorful or manipulative language. Instead of trying to use a hokey gimmick or coercive language to sell your product, be straightforward about it. Include concise, honest bullet points about the advantages of your product and make it clear what the value is to your customers. The more honest and upfront you are, the better.
6. Include a visual demonstration (or sample). People crave visuals because sight is the strongest sense. Instead of writing about your product, include a video or image-based demonstration of what it is and how it works. If it's an intangible product, like a software subscription, show off footage of someone using the software. There's always a way to include a visual, and visuals always make it easier to sell.
7. Keep it simple. Don't go overboard with flamboyant or flashy designs. You don't need aggressive popup ads, flashing lights, or tons of exclamation points to make a good case for conversion--in fact, these things will probably turn most users away. The simpler your design and offers are, the more likely your customers will be willing to convert.
The best marketing campaign isn't centered around building traffic, nor is it centered around increasing a conversion rate. It's a careful balancing act of increasing traffic and increasing conversion rates. A great conversion rate without traffic and great traffic without conversions are equally inefficient for your brand. Instead, work to get the best of both worlds.