Website Conversion Tips for When “Conversions” Aren’t Sales

E-commerce websites have a super easy way to tell if they’re doing their job effectively: tracking how many people hit that “Buy Now” button. But if your site isn’t actually selling your product or service directly online, you’ll need to think a bit harder about what you’ll track as a website conversion. What action(s) do you want visitors to take, and how will you measure those actions?

For many SCG clients, blog/newsletter subscriptions and content downloads are great website conversions to track. They’re an easy way for website visitors to opt in to receiving more information from you in the future, or, better yet, indicate they may already be a warm lead (despite the fact they’re not calling you up and saying, “Hi, I’m ready to buy!”).

Optimizing for Website Conversions

There’s an art and a science to maximizing these types of conversions, and we have a lot of discussions with clients about optimizing their sites and landing pages for this purpose. Here are just a few of the things we keep in mind:

  • Subscribe buttons are easy, but not foolproof.

Asking visitors to sign up for your newsletter or blog is a great way to build your list of contacts, and since an email address is typically the only information required, a user can be done with the whole process in seconds. But to really nail the user experience and start your relationship with this new contact on a solid footing, make sure you’re ready to deliver on the next step: staying in touch. After the user hits “submit” on the subscription button, it’s a good idea to take them to a “thank you” page or deploy a pop-up message that lets them know what to expect next and when. You can also set up a trigger email to immediately deliver a back issue of your newsletter and give them some immediate gratification.

If subscriptions are a big KPI for your organization, you may be tempted to splash that “SUBSCRIBE” button all over your website real estate, but remember that context is important and the last thing you want to do is detract from the user experience. A few well-placed calls to action can get the job done without irritating users.

  • As form fields on gated content go up, conversions go down.

Your sales team would probably LOVE to know a prospect’s birthday, children’s names, and most importantly, how much they want to spend, but the more information you require on a form “gating” a content download, the fewer conversions that form will see. Try to limit the information you collect to just four or five fields maximum (e.g. first name, last name, email and company) to avoid users bailing out.

If you absolutely must have more information than that for your sales team, it’s possible to get super techy with gated content and implement a “progressive profiling” model, in which the required information is collected over multiple content downloads. So, you could offer Content Download 101 and require your first four pieces of information, and then follow up with Content Download 201 to collect the next four pieces you need. The catch is this usually requires more extensive marketing automation to execute correctly. But the upshot is that if a user bothers to hand over 8+ pieces of information about themselves, it’s pretty likely they’re a hot lead.

  • Match the value of your content to the “price” you’re charging.

If a user is giving you information about themselves to download your content, make sure they’ll feel the transaction was worth it! Spell out clearly on the content landing page what kind of information your download contains, so the user can decide if they’re ready to “pay” with their data. If your download is truly a valuable resource for readers, you might be able to get away with requiring more data fields. But don’t get carried away with illusions of content grandeur—if your content is brief or thin on insights, keep the form fields to a minimum.

Want to talk over more ideas for maximizing your website conversions? Use our 4-field contact form to get in touch!

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Kate Tichy

With experience in public relations, content creation and content governance, Kate has a knack for whipping content into shape. She spent the first decade of her career at a PR agency, then took a turn to the corporate side, managing content marketing for a fast-growing healthcare IT company. Having worn the client hat herself […] Read Bio »


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