Getting the horse to drink – how to increase website conversion

Getting the horse to drink – how to increase website conversion

A lot of the frustration felt today by business owners is captured in the saying, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.”

The frustration is borne out of us feeling like we’ve been doing a lot to get customers to notice us but for some reason failing to get them to take action once they have. It’s about time we worked out how to make the horse drink.

There’s a new O in town 

SEO seems to be well entrenched as a business fundamental these days, but I’d like to talk to you about an even more important form of optimisation – optimisation of behaviour. 

You see we spend a fortune optimising our websites for search engine algorithms but until now have neglected to optimise them for getting people to do stuff once they arrive.

Welcome to the new era of Behavioural Optimisation.

BO (I know, I know, the acronym stinks!) is more important to your business’ conversion than SEO and here’s why.

The numbers tell the story

Let’s say in a typical month you get 100 people to your site: 

  • Your average sale value is $200
  • Five people buy (5% is the average conversion according to Forrester Research)  
  • So you sell $1000

SEO campaign push

Now say one month you invest heavily in SEO and AdWords and get 115 people to your site. (That’s a massive 15% gain so you must have spent the big bucks.)

  • 5% of your visitors buy (i.e. one extra person) so 6 people @ $200 = $1200
  • Hmmm, by getting an extra 15 people to your site made an extra $200. 
  • Kinda seems like a lot of activity for not much reward doesn’t it?
  • I mean that’s a lot of extra people that have seen what you have to offer and decided against proceeding!

The Behavioural Optimisation project 

Let’s say the next month you decide to ditch the extra SEO and AdWords campaign and so you’re back to only 100 visitors.

However, you’ve instead invested in Behavioural Optimisation which has increased your conversion from 5% to 6%. Doing so has made you an extra $200 just like you did the previous month.

But here’s the magical difference.

By increasing your conversion by 1 percentage point you have lifted your average value per visitor from around $10 to $12. You have grown the value of your website traffic.

BO is the gift that keeps on giving

The best part is that once you have your site optimised for behaviour any increase through SEO or traffic campaigns will also convert more strongly. In our example that would mean 115 people at 6% rather than 5% conversion, taking your sales from $1200 to $1380. 

Most importantly, rather than being at the mercy of Panda, Penguin or other dreaded algorithm changes (which make the SEO industry a lot of money), BO means you are in control of what happens to your conversion. It’s a great way to safeguard your business.

Enough with the numbers, what is Behavioural Optimisation?

Behavioural Optimisation is about taking the guess work out of how your customers will behave on your website by applying the science underpinning how humans make decisions.

It might be as simple as knowing the right colour to use on a button or as complex as structuring a pathway to escalate positive tension while alleviating negative tension.

I use my 5 Essentials for a Behaviourally Effective Website to optimise the sites of my clients.

BO is beyond websites

Unlike SEO, Behavioural Optimisation can be applied far beyond your website to any interaction you have with a person you need to influence. A marketing campaign, sales call, proposal or pitch, a supplier negotiation or staff performance discussion; any time you need to influence someone’s behaviour is when you have an opportunity to optimise your approach. 

I hope I’ve given you a fresh approach on optimisation and a sense of where you should be investing for the most efficient and effectiveimpact on results. Forget frustration and make behaviour happen.

Bri Williams runs People Patterns, a consultancy specialising in the application of behavioural economics to everyday business issues.




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