Guiding the Customer: Website Conversion Optimisation

Using this advice you can optimize the performance and conversion of your website or a landing page.

The Internet is getting increasingly cluttered – thus, having your own web page does not guarantee the success of your business. Apart from attracting the traffic to your web page through advertising or SEO, boosting the conversion rates (that is, getting actual sales or having visitors perform other actions you want them to) is extremely important. Below are some areas you can use to leverage the performance of your online presence.

Landing page

Avoid using your home page as your landing page for every campaign you do. Because a visitor decides within milliseconds, whether to stay on your page or click the “Back” button in his browser, make sure that what he sees matches his current needs. Landing pages with too much information or too many functions act distracting and irritating, as the user is clicking through the areas of the web page struggling to find what he needs. Even if your website contains a lot of information and categories, try to limit the amount of information presented down to the minimum and make it easy to digest.

Websites with unusual, “creative” layouts may, on the one hand, attract the attention of the visitor, but due to the reduced usability, are very likely to decrease your conversion rates, as the website visitors (and the potential customers!) get lost in the jungle of JavaScript and Flash animations.

Another important point is the technical usability of your website, e.g. the compatibly with different browser types, the absence of broken links, and last, but not least, the speed of the website (the speed of the website is also an important factor in search engine optimization).


In order to convert, your website hast to contain clear and precise calls-to-action. Some guidelines to follow: the button should match the overall design of the website (so as not to be perceived as advertising or an external link), but on the other hand, provide a color or size contrast to the less essential areas of the web page.

The position of the clickable CTA should be within the normal eye path of the visitor: according to some experts, the location in the lower part of the page on the right-hand side is advantageous, however, this would not work for long pages, where you have to scroll or for smaller monitors (netbooks, mobile, etc). On the other hand, elements placed in the upper left hand corner often get the most initial attention by a visitor (Google golden triangle).

Conversion barriers

Some well or less well known conversion barriers include the areas of the web page requiring registration, long forms to fill out, CAPTCHAs (pictures with words or numbers you need to type in to prove your human identity), distractions in the form of cross-selling or external advertisements, extended visitor’s path (a number of clicks required to reach the intended goal) and all kinds of usability and performance problems.

Test and find out

In conclusion, it must be noted that the guidelines given above are of very general nature, in other words, only by testing and monitoring performance you can learn about the methods working in your particular case. Some testing methods are A/B tests (tests with a control group), mouse tracking and eye tracking tests, as well as thorough studying of customer segmentation and implementing methods of website optimization for different target segments.

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KPIs for Online Campaigns

“You cannot control what you cannot measure”- this is especially true when it comes to online marketing campaigns.

Thus, it is essential to have a range of metrics at your fingertips for evaluating the status quo at the beginning of the campaign, monitoring the measures being implemented and defining the success rate at the end of the campaign.

1. Paid Advertising response KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).

Here I want to group KPIs relevant for display and keyword advertising (e.g. Google AdWords and AdSense).

  • The number of impressions (measures how many times your ad was displayed (it is debatable if the number of impressions actually measures the number of times a user saw your ad).
  • The number of clicks (measures how many times the ad has been clicked on).
  • Ratio impressions to clicks. In display advertising this measure is known as CTR (click-through-rate) and is of high relevance. Though this ratio is often disregarded in SEM, it can deliver some insights into how attractive or understandable your ad is.
  • Cost per Click (CPC) or Cost per Mille (cost per thousand impressions, CPM). Which of them is used will depend on your pricing plan, but CPC has established itself as the industry standard in many cases. CPC may be converted into effective Cost per Mille (eCPM), by dividing the total cost of the campaign per number of impressions and multiplying the value by thousand.
  • Cost per Lead (CPL); this measure is relevant for some types of online marketing and refers to the cost of winning an e-mail address, a subscriber to a newsletter or a contact form filled out by a prospective customer.

2. KPIs for user interaction in Social Media

  • Number of views. Most of social media channels allow tracking how many customers have viewed a post, a metric similar to the number of impressions.
  • Number of “Likes”, clicks on links, and comments.
  • Number of shares, retweets, etc – probably the most desirable type of interaction.

3. KPIs for website performance

  • Number of visitors (subdivided into new and returning visitors), or website traffic.
  • Pages viewed pro visit and bounce rate (percentage of users who left after visiting just the landing page). This metric shows both how well your campaign has been targeted and how usable or customer-friendly your website is (see the post about 10 criteria for a good website).
  • Traffic sources data (such as traffic resulting from search, campaigns, etc.) allow evaluating how your website is mainly discovered by the users as well as the relative performance of different internet marketing channels driving the traffic.

4. Conversion rate

Conversion is probably the most important but at the same time the most arguable KPI in online marketing. A very simplistic method to calculate the conversion rate in e-commerce is dividing the number of orders or purchase tickets by the number of website visitors.

Does this metric actually measure the effectiveness of an online campaign? Probably not, since it does not consider the “soft” factors, such as increasing the share of heart or mind, leading to purchases at a later time or through a different channel. Neither does it integrate the number of acquired user leads that can be contacted later or targeted through online re-marketing.

Such conversion rate (visitor to purchase) is extremely hard to calculate in non-e-commerce area, where online campaigns do not lead directly to purchases or bookings but are used to increase brand awareness and brand loyalty, or as a means of generating leads for off-line sales.

5. Online sales funnel

In addition to the above mentioned visitor to purchase rate, other types of conversion rates can be calculated to build a conversion funnel or online sales funnel where the potential customer is guided through several stages, such as: ad view – ad click – site visit – site interaction -purchase initiation – purchase completion.

One last word that can be said on online marketing KPIs is that the frequency of measuring and time horizon relevant for evaluating the effectiveness of campaigns will depend on the nature of your business. For example, for businesses where the sales fluctuate depending on the day of the week (e.g. restaurant bookings), weekly measurements will provide a more credible result than daily ones.

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10 Criteria for a Usable Website

What is a usable website? Here is a handful of criteria that help you to test how user-oriented and well-designed your website is.

  1. Orientation towards the target group. For example, a B2B website should differ from a B2C website.
  2. Technical usability. Those include load times, correct display on different devices, etc.
  3. Clear-cut and easy to use navigation. The navigation should be as intuitive as possible. Also, try to reduce the number of items in navigation to a minimum.
  4. Uniform design. Use the same styles, fonts, colors, etc. on each page.
  5. Structured content. Structure the content in a such a way that a user can easily find what their looking for.
  6. Clear, compact and precise text. Avoid run-on sentences, use bullet points, headlines, etc. to make the text more readable.
  7. Up-to-date information. Watch for outdated pages, broken links, etc.
  8. Accessibility (i.e. usability for disabled users). Includes color contrast, fonts, alt-texts, etc.
  9. Search engine friendliness. Optimize your website for SEO, however, not at the cost of worse usability.
  10. Well-planned layout. Your website should lead visitors along logical and clear navigation paths.

(translated and adapted  from German, Web-Design course at VHB)

This list is useful for the evaluation of existing websites and designing a new website.


Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash

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