My business partner and I launched our website TreatmentSaver 5 years ago with no real understanding of how to make money online. I am an Optometrist and my partner is a medical doctor so as you can imagine our prior training didn’t exactly help us prepare for what we would encounter running a web business! Our medical backgrounds were however the inspiration behind the idea for our site, as we realized that there were very few comparison websites for clinics. TreatmentSaver.com is effectively a website that allows people to book appointments online and save money in the process. We initially launched with laser eye surgery clinics as this was my area of expertise. We realized the importance of getting as many laser eye surgery reviews as possible and this was where our initial focus lay.
When we first launched our website we had no real understanding of the concept of conversion as we just assumed that people would book appointments! Unfortunately things weren’t quite as simple as this and it was only when no one booked an appointment in the first month of going ‘live’ that we realised we had to try and figure out why! After reading lots of CRO (conversion rate optimisation) blogs we set about trying to get our business off the ground. We made a whole host of changes some with positive effects and others not so positive. Whilst we are far from the finished article we certainly have learned a lot along the way and below are my top 5 converting tips which you could consider for your own site.
Traffic is useless on its own
We spent most of our time in the early days learning SEO in order to increase the amount of visitors to our site. I vividly remember breaking the 500 visitors in a day barrier and feeling very smug about life. It was only when this didn’t coincide with any appointments being booked that our celebrations subsided! The reality is that getting traffic is obviously important but traffic has no value unless you can turn it into some sort of business.
User testing rocks
This is something you absolutely have to do as it allows real people with no prior knowledge of your site to effectively test run your services. There are many websites out there such as usertesting.com which offer great insight into how your website is perceived. I would recommend paying for at least 10 sessions and act upon any issues that are raised during the testing. You may be surprised at the comments people have about your site, and in some cases you may be downright offended, but all this information is like gold dust, you just need to act on it!
Don’t trust your instinct!
Whilst it can be tempting to make changes to your site based on what you believe will improve conversion you need to realise that there is a good chance that you could be wrong. My advice to you would be to have a brain storming session with your business partner/team to discuss any issues that could be affecting your conversion. You should then prioritise this list and test each change one by one using A-B split tests. If following each test there is clear winner in terms of conversion you can should update your website accordingly and move on to the next item to test.
This plays a huge role in site conversion especially in the era of broadband internet. There are various websites and programs you can use to assess the speed of your website and you should ask your web developer to try and speed up any pages that are especially slow. To highlight how important site speed is on conversion you may find the following fact helpful: A 1 second delay in page loading can reduce conversion by up to 7%. <tweet this stat!>
As a web business owner your work is never done and this can be incredibly frustrating for some people. I remember when we first launched our website thinking how pleased I was that we had finished! Unfortunately you need to realise that your website should be constantly evolving and improving with the main focus being on increasing conversion. Any changes you make to your site need to be tested to ensure that they have no negative effect on conversion as this will lead to a drop in your bottom line profits.
I hope this article has been helpful and if you just take one thing away from it then this should be that testing is the key to everything. You need to view your website like a shop; you need to make sure that people entering are not just having a look and then leaving empty handed!
Image courtesy of Gerard Stolk (vers la Pentecôte ), Flickr.