Business is conducted 24 hours a day, seven days a week on the Internet, so it’s tempting for Internet marketers to think there’s no clock when it comes to converting website visitors into customers. Unlike brick-and-mortar businesses, Internet marketers don’t have to wait until business hours the next day to know if that window shopper will come back and become a customer. Internet marketers literally have all day to convert their visitors into customers, so what’s the rush? As it turns out, not only is there a time limit when it comes to Internet marketing, the window of opportunity you have to convert visitors into customers is a lot smaller than you might think.
Here at Straight North, an Internet marketing firm specializing in PPC and SEO in Chicago, we recently spent time combing through more than 350,000 website conversions — and uncovered something really startling. Of the hundreds of thousands of conversions we looked at, more than 80 percent happened on the first visit. On subsequent visits — no matter how many times a visitor returned to the site — the odds that he or she would convert dropped precipitously. To put this in perspective, about 1 percent of all conversions we studied occurred on the fifth visit to a website. The lesson here is that if you think you have all day to convert visitors to your website, you’re wrong.
The extremely tight window you have for converting your website’s visitors makes the design and content of your site even more important in context. Without a website that is designed specifically to convert visitors on their first visit, you’re running the risk of leaving money on the table and losing potential customers — because, as we’ve discovered, it doesn’t matter how many times they come back to your site.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can fine-tune your existing website or build a new one that will gear it toward converting visitors right away. What’s important to note is that all of these techniques work best in concert; merely overhauling one aspect of your site and leaving the rest unaddressed won’t do much to improve your first visit conversion rates. Beautifully worded copy won’t help much if your website isn’t designed to be mobile-friendly, for instance.
When it comes to the content of your website, the key to driving more conversions on the first visit is a copy that is accessible and punchy, with lots of personal touches and written to build your credibility. Highlighting your company’s charitable efforts, including staff bios and favoring relevant facts about your service over fluffy promises, all work to enhance a website in that regard.
The way your website works is another crucial element for its success in driving conversions on the first visit. Navigation needs to be consistent with the way visitors are used to navigating other sites and built to be simple and elegant. When it comes to designing the contact form, you should resist the impulse to ask the visitor for too much information. It’s also critical that websites be designed with mobile device users in mind, because so much business is conducted on smaller screens today. Finally, including a contact phone number shouldn’t be forgotten, because many customers still prefer to talk to a person.
These and other tips for bolstering your website’s ability to convert visitors on their first visit can be found in the following presentation. As easy as it is for visitors to find you and browse your site, you have a very limited window to convert those visitors into customers. Don’t let the window close on your business and leave those customers on the outside.
About the Author: Brad Shorr is Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, an Internet marketing agency that provides PPC and SEO in Chicago. He has been an active and respected blogger since 2005, and has more than 25 years of marketing, sales and management experience.Back to Small Business blogs