The Scientific Approach to Growing Your Business

There are only two ways to increase profitability — to increase sales, or to cut expenses. 

Some strategies for increasing sales are huge undertakings. A new product line or a major marketing campaign cost major time and money.

But without a major investment, you can increase your sales by improving your conversion rate — the percentage of users on a website or social media platform that completes a desired action.

The action could be making a purchase. Or it could lead users further into your sales funnel by signing up for an email list, creating an account, or scheduling a call. By focusing on conversion rate, you’re working with what you already have — the people who you’re currently reaching with your marketing. 

With decent web traffic, even a moderate increase in conversion rate can result in real dollars. So here’s how you can start optimizing your conversion rate — without spending a penny.

How to Track Your Conversion Rate

To improve your conversion rate, first you have to establish your baseline. Start by calculating your current conversion rate with this basic equation: 

# of times a user completes a goal action / your site traffic = conversion rate

This could be for a PPC campaign, a Facebook ad, or your general website’s performance. For your overall website, you must decide how you plan to track certain goals. For example, you could create a specific URL that customers are redirected to after they take an action. That action could include downloading a lead magnet or signing up for your email list. Every view of that specific URL will count as a conversion. 

An easy way to do this over time is to set up Goals in Google Analytics. You can create as many goals as you need, helping you to track conversions of sales and lead capture. 

If you sell a product, you could potentially have a conversion each time someone visits your site. So you’d need to set up your goal to track orders per session as your conversion rate, not orders per visitor. If they can only convert once — by signing up for a subscription service, for example — then you must calculate orders per unique user. 

Conversion Rate Optimization

Once you have a baseline, you can start working on conversion rate optimization (CRO). 

There are a lot of “best practices” out there that claim they will, without a doubt, improve your conversion rate. These include tips like: 

  • Use a form with fewer fields to capture leads
  • Include a Call to Action (CTA) “above the fold” (that means before the user has to scroll down on your website)
  • Create a sense of urgency by making your offers expire

These tips didn’t come out of nowhere. They have been tested by some marketers who found them successful. That doesn’t mean that every website will increase its conversion rate by applying them. 

Audit your own content before you start making any drastic changes. In your Google Analytics, look at the Behavior Flow under the Behavior drop-down menu in the sidebar. This will show you how people navigate through your site, including where they drop off, or abandon the site. 

If users enter on blog posts and don’t navigate anywhere else, then you may need to work on compelling CTAs at the end of your posts to keep visitors engaged. 

If they’re navigating from your blog posts to your pricing page and then dropping off, maybe your copy isn’t doing a good job of communicating your product’s benefit to the user.

If you have highly engaged users, you could also do surveys to get customer feedback. You could ask what they liked about your site vs. your competitors’ site, and ask them how they would describe your products or services. 

The purpose is to understand why your users aren’t converting to customers, instead of making blind changes that may or may not move the needle.

Become a CRO Scientist

Approach your CRO like a scientist. Remember the scientific method?

  1. Ask a Question. Your question will be something like, “Why are people visiting my website and not signing up for the 14-day free trial of my service?”
  2. Create a Hypothesis. Maybe your biggest drop-off is on your pricing page. You research the competition and see that your pricing is well within the industry standard. So you theorize that your copy isn’t doing a good job of communicating the benefits to the user. Upon review, you realize that the copy is jargon-heavy and not clear to the average reader.
  3. Test the Hypothesis. Just like scientists, we’re only going to test one metric at a time. In this case, we’re going to rewrite the copy, focusing on being very clear and avoiding technical language. This is our experiment. 
  4. Review the Results. Give your change some time to work its magic before you review the results. Then check your Analytics to see if the conversion rate has improved. If it has, you’ve proven your theory. If it hasn’t, then it’s time to come up with a new hypothesis and try another experiment. 

If your experiment was a success, that’s great! Now ask yourself another question and start over. By working your way through this process, you can improve your CRO by focusing on your products and your customers. Don’t rely on some “established wisdom” that may not work at all for your industry. 

Get Out Your Lab Coat…

And start experimenting! You’ll only discover the best practices for your site by testing. 

It’s what all the great marketers do, and there’s nothing standing in the way of you doing it too.

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