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Conversion Rate Optimization and Conversion Alchemy

by Soft2share.com

Today we welcome Tim Coulter who owns Conversion Alchemy, a service that will help website owners to optimise their websites for converting visitors. Conversion Alchemy is in a pre-launch phase where Tim and his team are targeting SaaS application vendors and this is an ideal opportunity to understand the marketing techniques Tim is using to build his business.

Can you tell the readers how long have you been doing business on the internet for?

My background is in software development, although I prefer to think of myself as a software entrepreneur, meaning that I place as much emphasis on the business and commercial aspects of my work as I do on the technical issues.

I have earned my living online when I first started freelancing as a developer and consultant. Since then, most of my work has been with smaller tech companies, typically projects involving a fusion of technical and commercial roles.

I’d like to ask you about Conversion Alchemy. It’s a tool that helps website owners ‘convert’ visitors?

Yes, with web traffic growing ever more expensive, smart marketers are beginning to understand that they can achieve better results by improving the way they engage with and monetize their visitors, instead of simply trying to find more of them. Large and well-established eCommerce businesses have long used scientific techniques to optimize the way they convert visitors into customers (and companies like Amazon are fanatical about it) but it is only in the last few years that this philosophy has started to filter down to smaller online ventures, including SaaS (software as a service) app vendors.

Unfortunately, the optimisation techniques that work well for large sites are not well-suited to low-traffic and pre-traffic web projects. This means that the majority of early-stage ventures simply ignore this crucial aspect of their marketing. Conversion Alchemy is a turnkey service that helps new and low-traffic SaaS businesses to fast track their way to a high-converting website. It also provides a solid foundation for continued optimisation using more conventional techniques.

Can you explain first of all what is involved in conversion rate optimisation? Why should I be interested in it?

Perhaps the easiest way to understand the benefit of conversion rate optimisation is to consider how you might go about gaining a 10% increase in your website revenues. One solution might be to increase your targeted traffic by 10%. And, whilst this is an effective strategy, it typically comes at extra cost – a cost that recurs month after month. Now imagine that you could make a few small changes to your website that would enable it to convert 10% more of its visitors into buyers. The effect on revenue is the same as a 10% increase in traffic, but with no extra cost. And those small changes need only be made once, but their effects are permanent. Conversion rate optimisation takes this simple concept and encapsulates it into a robust methodology that is designed to deliver maximum results. The modest 10% gain that I just mentioned is at the lower end of the expected spectrum, with some projects achieving astonishing improvements in the hundreds or even thousands of %.

The leading conversion optimizers all religiously follow the principles of test-driven optimization. In other words, they don’t simply guess what might make a site sell more; they use a technique known as split testing, which validates their instincts by testing them against live traffic, constantly iterating to achieve further incremental gains.

Unfortunately, split testing requires lots of traffic. A single test requires at least 1000 unique visitors (sometimes many more) and fully optimizing a site can involve dozens or even hundreds of separate tests. So, while split testing may be the optimizer’s tool of choice, it’s not always possible, especially for pre-traffic and low-traffic sites. One alternative approach to this challenge is heuristic optimization. Essentially, this just means replicating the best tactics that have been seen to work on other sites.

However, most conversion professionals are very wary of heuristic optimization. As they are quick to point out, what works for someone else won’t necessarily work for you. One of the keys to getting more out of this strategy is to understand that heuristics must be deployed as part of a planned and balanced campaign, not simply cherry-picked from a list of a few good ideas.

Because our target market is early-stage SaaS vendors, we have no choice but to adopt heuristic optimization. So, instead of running scared of its limitations, we are actively embracing it and building a robust methodology that capitalizes on its strengths.

Any ‘secret’ or underused CRO tips that you can give me?

A common recommendation from expert conversion optimizers is that you should avoid using other people’s tips, as they are not guaranteed to bring you the same spectacular results.

I agree with this view; there is no conversion silver bullet. If you have enough traffic to use split testing, this should be your preference, and you should plan on a long-term campaign that delivers incremental gains over time. But even if you are struggling with traffic and forced to use heuristic techniques, be sure to approach it holistically, focusing on your visitors’ motivations and avoiding the temptation to randomly experiment with page elements.

Why would I need your product, Conversion Alchemy, to improve my conversions? What extra does it offer me compared to optimising my conversion elements myself?

We’ve spent hundreds of man-hours building the heuristic database that lies behind our 250-point analysis checklist, enabling us to review your conversion process and to immediately pinpoint its choke points. You could certainly do this yourself if you’re prepared to invest enough time and effort into the background research, but it probably wouldn’t make much sense, unless you also want to transition to a new career as a conversion optimiser.

Do all websites need to optimise conversion rates? Is it limited to eCommerce sites?

The benefits of conversion optimisation are certainly not limited to e-commerce sites. Any site with a tangible goal (which means pretty much every site) can use these principles and techniques to get more value out of their visitors.

The approach used will vary from site to site, with eCommerce stores focusing on landing the sale, while other sites optimise for lead generation, but the benefits and the underlying principles are the same for all websites.

Can you tell me a little about Conversion Alchemy? What format is it in?

It’s not actually a product – more a “productized” service. Whereas the conventional approach to conversion optimisation tends to be 100% bespoke and open-ended, we have set out to build a turnkey service that delivers specific results in a specific timeframe for a fixed price.

To achieve our goal of fixed pricing and to make the service affordable, even for early-stage web projects, we use some automation. This helps to improve efficiency and, above all, to ensure consistency across client projects. In fact, our analysis process employs four separate specialists, who work independently, using a custom software application, to collect and record facts and observations about a landing page or conversion funnel, against a 250-point heuristic checklist. There are also some fully-automated operations (such as website performance profiling) that enable us to efficiently collect relevant factual data about the target website.

When all four specialists have completed their analysis, and the automated sequences have run, the application contains in-depth insight into the conversion readiness of the website, including specific knowledge of the choke points that are likely to harm conversion. Then this data is used to automatically generate a report that identifies the issues and presents comprehensive guidance for fixing them.

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