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Designing Your Website for Conversion Optimization

By Marcus Johnson-Smith

You have an online business. You have a website. It’s live. Great!

You’ve achieved a remarkable milestone for your online business.

Next important milestone: generate business for your website from website visitors.

More specifically, get people to interact with your site so they are undertaking conversion activities while they are active on your site.

What does that mean?

Let’s start by deconstructing what conversion activities are.

Ask yourself this: Are visitors clicking on social links? Are they leaving an email? Are they adding products to checkout cart? Are they proceeding past checkout and making a purchase?

These are conversion activities; website clicks, email subscribes and online purchases.

If visitors aren’t undertaking these activities on your site, there’s probably a big reason why.

It’s likely because your site isn’t designed for conversion optimization.

What is Conversion Optimization?

According to MOZ, a top online SEO content curator and SEO tools provider, conversion optimization is best described as the following:

“Conversion optimization is defined as the systematic process of increasing the percentage of website visitors who take a desired action-be that filling out a form, becoming customers, or otherwise. The process involves understanding how users move through your site, what actions they take, and what’s stopping them from completing your goals.”

In laymen’s terms, conversion optimization is the process of embedding your site with tools and features that enable visitors to engage with your site in a way that converts them into a lead and/or customer, beyond just casual site visitors.

So what does this mean to you?

Ask yourself these questions?

  • How often, and how long are visitors staying on your website?
  • When people are on your site, how are they engaging (or interacting) with the site? Are they clicking anything? Are they leaving an email, phone number, or contact information?
  • Are website visitors buying anything?

You can find out how website visitors are interacting with your site by looking through your Google Analytics dashboard.

Now that you’ve gathered this information from your dashboard, let’s address some of the outstanding questions.

Dwell Time: How Long Visitors Engage On Your Site

Website dwell time refers to the length of time a visitor spends on your web page before they return to SERP’s (Search engine results page). Based on research, there are a few very important components that encourage website visitors to stay on a page for extended periods of time.

gifs website
  • Pictures & Logos: Above is a gif. of my website for my retail shop, The Kush Groove Shop, in Boston, MA. Dynamic photos with color, high quality graphic design and relevant text help to explain to website visitors what is on the page and what value propositions it adds to the visitors needs and experience. When designing the site landing page site for Kush Groove, I took these elements into mind as we attempted to explain our core product: a retail smoke shop selling smoke shop accessories and private label graphic print apparel and accessories.
  • Video: I included two videos on the site: one video that explains some of the products that are sold in the shop, and another video that documents the experience of a weekly event that’s hosted in the shop. These videos were produced with the intention of explaining to visitors what our business looks and feels like through video, as well as keep visitors on the site for an extended period of time, increasing site dwell time.
  • Link & Site Map: When a website has enough dynamic content placed on a single page, it typically prompts visitors to explore other pages on the website as well. With a fluid site menu and inbound links to other pages on your site, you’ll keep visitors on the site even longer, browsing through pages, exploring more content that appeals to them.
  • Key Words and Content: You have your “dwell time” thinking cap on at this point so think of this; in theory, it takes longer to read a 3000 word page of content than it does a 300 word page of content, right? With that in mind, you’ll want to compose your content with a longer key word count (somewhere around 1200 – 2000 words a page) so that it explains your product, service, or topic point in more detail, ultimately keeping people on your page and increasing your dwell time signal to Google.
  • User Experience: High quality web design and overall flow of the website (on all devices) goes along way with helping to increase dwell time on your site. If a visitor can navigate a site intuitively, based on its subtle design elements, this is a WIN for you, the designer and/or site owner.

Dwell time is an important metric to keep in mind because it also signals to the search engine that the webpage (and website domain) has the information the search visitor is looking for and the information on the page is of quality, because the content is keeping the site visitor on the page for an extended period of time. It also signals to the visitor a sense of trust as they determine whether or not they want to buy from your site. Visitor anxiety decreases with more content, ultimately increasing site visitor trust.

Site Interaction & Conversion: How Are Visitors Engaging With Your Site Content

The first thing you want to keep in mind as you begin to design with conversion as the focus, is to outline what your conversion goals are. Do you want to convert visitors to your social channels from your website? Do you want to collect contact information (i.e. email address) from visitors? Do you want visitors to make a phone call to your business? All of these conversion activities are possible from your website using tools such as Sumo, especially if your site is optimized for mobile devices.

I use my Kush Groove website as a test case to best understand how I think about, and how I design websites with conversion optimization in mind. With that in mind, let’s dissect each component that prompts visitor engagement on the website.

gifs website
  • Social Links: I put floating facebook, instagram, linkedin, and email social icons on the left side of the website as visitors scroll down the site. It’s used as conversion prompt to get visitors to click to our social channels where the goal is to have them become a follower or give us a “like,” which allows us to later re-market our products and services to our social following.
  • Contact & Scheduling Forms: I’ve embedded several email contact forms on the website. I’ve determined email addresses are the best contact information mediums to collect from visitors so I design forms and prompts specifically to collect visitor email addresses, rather than cell phone numbers (although great for SMS text message marketing) or mailing addresses. That’s what works best for our business. Your business may require different contact information to collect that’s best for your remarketing efforts. Choose what medium is best to collect and design accordingly. Through the use of contact forms on my Kush Groove retail shop site, as well as our e-commerce site, we’ve collected over 9,000 emails from site visitors.
  • Buy Now: For e-commerce sites like mine, the main conversion goal is to get website visitors to buy products (or services) from the site, typically by visitors submitting credit card information to process their order. The “buy now” concept really refers to all aspects of the buying stage that customers undertake while on the website (i.e. product page selection, add item to cart, then checkout with payment.) You’ll want to have these prompts visible and accessible on the site.
  • Chat: I use a chat tool on the website from Drift, that allows me to chat directly with site visitors. It’s been a great tool to help increase conversions because I’m able to talk directly to site visitors, usually answering questions as they move through the buying process. It’s probably our best conversion tool for increasing onsite sales.

Quality of Interaction & Conversion: Getting Visitors to Convert on Your WebSite

The content is on your site. The tools for converting website visitors are installed and active. Now you want visitors to actually type their emails addresses on your contact forms, or better yet, type their credit card info to buy something.

The best way to do this is to increase frequency of lead generation and conversion features that are deployed on your site.

What does this mean?

Let’s break it down.

On my Kush Groove sites, I’ve designed several email lead generation features that aren’t overtly aggressive and prompt visitors to share their email addresses. They pop up when you arrive on the site, they hover at the site header while visitors browse the site. I also have prompts to connect visitors, upon click, directly to their personal Facebook messenger profile. As I’ve mentioned above, I maintain a list of over 9,000 email contacts, mostly from website visitors.

The prompts are relevant, timely and typically have an offer that appeals to visitors.

The pop up you see here prompts visitors to click to learn about “the opening” of a new store we’re opening this year.

The Kush Groove retail shop website really operates more as an informational landing page, where as our e-commerce site is designed for online sales. The retail shop landing page doesn’t have as many “buy now” prompts as the e-commerce site because the goals are different.

gifs website

Here is a shot of the e-commerce site I have for Kush Groove. This site was designed with buyer conversions as the focus. If you browse the site, you can see the number of products for sale visible on the home page. There are also several product shopping pages that are linked to the header menu and footer menu.

I also designed several “curated product shops” on the site that encourages visitors to be directed to pages with specific products focused on their interests. You’ll also notice an instant coupon that triggers once a customer gives the intent that they may leave the page. The frequency in which website visitors are deployed buyer prompts doesn’t disrupt their site experience nor does it bombard the user with too much “salesy” content.

So let’s recap a bit.

  • How often, and how long are visitors staying on your website?
  • When people are on your site, how are they engaging (or interacting) with the site? Are they clicking anything? Are they leaving an email, phone number, or contact information?
  • Are website visitors buying anything?

These are the questions you want to answer as you start to design (from scratch) or redesign your site with conversion in mind. Having a website is only the first start of achieving online success. Now you need visitors to convert to customers and it starts with conversion as the focus of your design.

Have a website redesign project in mind? Let’s chat about your project today.