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 is actually an incredibly simple concept. How many people visited your website or online store? And how many of them gave you their contact information? And how many made a purchase? When you have those numbers, you’re just creating a simple ratio that helps you know how well your site or store is performing.

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Think about it this way. Imagine  you owned a store in the mall and, on any given day, 100 people walked in to take a look around. Of those 100, two of them decided 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 we’re interacting with them once they get there.

Not sold yet? Here is some simple math that can help. Let’s assume that every time someone makes a purchase from your site they spend $30. By improving your conversion rate, you can have a significant impact on  your business without spending more money to drive traffic to your site. 

Why Building an Email List Matters

While every business should be focused on sales, thinking about how to convert site visitors to email subscribers is essential for long-term success.  The truth is, most people are not ready to buy when they reach your site. Smart marketers and entrepreneurs are thinking about how they build an audience for the long haul by capturing the contact information of site visitors before they vanish into thin air, so they 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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Despite claims that “email is dying", email marketing is actually having its second coming of age – email is not going anywhere, and there are new strategies and practices in play to amplify your email marketing efforts.

As an ecommerce marketer, you’re already familiar with the New Email. Build for mobile. Keep it short, since emails are only browsed. 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 emails, there is no point to an email marketing strategy. And just as all aspects of email have adapted, how you grow and maintain your email list is overdue for an update.

The fact is, even in 2017, 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.

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 3 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.

So, are you ready to start focusing on converting your site visitors to subscribers and customers? Through our experience working with more than 100,000 businesses we have developed a series of best practices that you can apply to your existing website to help drive on-site conversion by thinking strategically about your audience, delivering the right message at the right time, and using offers to your advantage.  

Developing a Messaging Plan

In the last article we mentioned that almost everyone stinks at conversion, but we didn’t talk much about why that is. The biggest reason is despite knowing that everyone who comes to your site is different, we treat them all the same. Instead of being effective salespeople, 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?”
First, let’s think broadly about who you are selling to and what they care about, and put it down on paper.


All of that information can help your build up a strong, broad message you can use 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. 
Online, we know a lot about a site visitor without having to ask any questions.  And we can use that information to our advantage to help increase conversion.  

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

While most organizations who have started thinking about conversion might have a simple opt-in form pop-up for visitors to their site, those who are focused on it can use the information we know to their advantage to create a more targeted experience for visitors to their site by crafting different messages based on who they are and what they have done.

For the example below, I am going to imagine an ecommerce company selling women’s clothing and I 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 ALL of these messages, 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.

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.

Choosing Your Display Format

Choosing the Right Triggers

Creating a Compelling (and Manageable) Offer

How to Make Your Messages Stand Out and Drive Action