What Is On-site Conversion and Why Should You Care?

If you’re not familiar with the term “on-site conversion,” it may sound complicated. But it's actually an incredibly simple concept that revolves around a few questions:

  • How many people visited your website or online store?
  • How many of your visitors gave you their contact information?
  • How many made a purchase?

When you have those numbers, you’re just creating a ratio that helps you know how well your site or store is performing.

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Think about it this way. Imagine you own a store in a local shopping mall. On any given day, 100 people walk in to take a look around. Of those 100, two of them decide to make a purchase. You would have an in-store conversion rate of 2%.

Now think about that in the digital environment. If 100 people visit your website and two of them give you their contact information and/or make a purchase, you have an on-site conversion rate of 2% (and you’d actually be doing pretty well).

That’s because most of us are pretty bad at conversion. We spend a lot of time thinking about how to drive people to our stores or websites through different advertising channels, but we don’t spend nearly enough time focusing on how to interact with them once they get there.

Not sold yet? Let's illustrate it with some simple math. Let’s assume that every time someone makes a purchase from your site they spend $30. By improving your conversion rate, you can significantly impact your business without spending any more money to drive traffic to your site. 

Now that you know all about on-site conversion, it's time to focus on one type of on-site conversion critical to your long-term success: building an email list.

Why Building an Email List Matters

The truth is, most people are not ready to buy when they first come upon your website. To truly take advantage of your site traffic, you'll need a long-term marketing strategy. To build an audience for the long haul, think about capturing the contact information of site visitors before they vanish into thin air. Then, you can market to them later with unique content and special offers that will bring them back to your site when they are ready to make a purchase.

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Email's Second Coming of Age

Despite claims that “email is dying," email marketing is actually having its second coming of age. Email is not going anywhere. Instead, utilize new strategies and practices to amplify your email marketing efforts.

Here are some facts for you:

  • Email remains the #1 activity on the internet, as 94% of people who get online do so to check email (Marketo).
  • 98.4% of consumers check email at least once every day, with 60% of consumers checking email more than three times per day (Business Insider).
  • The ROI of email marketing is 4300%, which is double the ROI of any other digital channel. 

How is that true when so much of the marketing conversation is about social media and SEO?

1. Email is a more direct relationship with your potential customer than ads or social media could ever be. As Campaign Monitor explains, 90% of email is successfully delivered, whereas only 2% of your Facebook fans will see your posts in their feed. Facebook ultimately owns this direct relationship with the user you are trying to reach on their platform.

2. Unlike reaching consumers through social media, email allows you to personally own the relationship and a direct line of communication with your subscriber.

3. Email has more permanence. Unlike a Facebook post or a paid ad, it is simple for your audience to save your email until they are ready to act and take it with them wherever they go.

How to Make Email a Successful Channel

As an ecommerce marketer, you’re already familiar with the tenets of a successful email marketing program. Build for mobile. Keep it short, since readers only browse your emails. But all the best practices in the world will do you no good if they fall upon deaf ears—er, inboxes.

The key to a successful email marketing strategy comes before you ever even send an email.  Without a quality database of email addresses, there is no point to an email marketing strategy. And just as all aspects of email have adapted, it's time to update how you grow and maintain your email list.

The fact is, the value of email continues to climb, and if you think email is a dead-end for communication and conversion, it’s because you don’t have a strong list of engaged subscribers.

So, are you ready to start focusing on converting your site visitors to subscribers and customers? Working with over 100,000 businesses, we've developed a set of best practices you can apply to your existing website to drive on-site conversion by thinking strategically about your audience, delivering the right message at the right time, and using offers to your advantage.

Next, we'll focus on how to do just that.

Developing a Messaging Plan

In Section 1-Part 2, we mentioned that almost everyone stinks at conversion, but we didn’t talk much about why that is. The biggest reason? Despite knowing that everyone who comes to your site is different, we treat them all the same. We act like an order taker at a fast food restaurant who recites the same line to everyone who comes through:  “Do you want fries with that?”

Who are you talking to?

First, let’s think broadly about who you are selling to, what they care about, and put it down on paper.

 
 
 

All of that information can help you build up a strong, broad message to greet visitors to your website and should inform all of the copy and imagery you use. While we are not going to get into the details of your website design and messaging, you may want to revisit what you’ve already written with this in mind. 
 
Now on to the good stuff. 

Use What You Know

Online, we know a lot about a site visitor without having to ask any questions.  Use that information to your advantage to increase conversion. 

  • Where did they come from?
  • Is this their first visit?
  • What page are they viewing?
  • How many pages have they looked at?
  • What language do they speak?
  • What device are they using?
  • How much is in their cart? 

Knowledge is power. Use this information to create a more targeted experience by crafting different messages based on what you know. The questions above can help you create something relevant to your audience, which will make them more likely to convert. 

For the example below, imagine that you're an ecommerce company selling women’s clothing and you want to offer a 10% discount to new customers who sign up for my email list. (Read more about creating the right offer here.)

While you probably wouldn’t want to hit someone with every single one of these messages below, you can see how your core message might change based on what you know about a visitor.

 
 

In Level 2, we will get into more advanced messaging techniques, but for now, let’s focus on building an initial campaign that speaks broadly to your core audience. You'll learn more about how to do just that in the next section.
 

Creating Your First On-Site Campaign

The most effective methods to convert traffic and collect emails from your ecommerce site or blog are through popups, bars, and banners, which give your visitors quick and easy opportunities to opt-in to your list. Now that you have thought about your audience and what they need, we can start building an on-site campaign with three critical components: Display format, trigger timing, and your offer.

Browse through Section 2:

Choosing Your Display Format

Choosing the Right Triggers

Creating a Compelling (and Manageable) Offer

How to Make Your Messages Stand Out and Drive Action

Or, dive right in with our Section 2, Part 1, where you'll learn about the different formats for on-site conversion so you can choose the best type for your next campaign.