How do you know if your website is converting at its full potential? Can it possibly be underperforming?
Overall your website is one of your most important channels and often once the website is built every little optimization happens after a redesign.
Why Is Your Website So Important?
You are probably putting your URL on every TV commercial, mentioning it in radio ads and putting it on billboards. If you can improve your website conversion rate, then all of your other marketing channels convert better. The tide rises together.
Your marketing mix might be working, but your website might not be driving enough people into the enrollment funnel.
How Do You Know If Your Website Is Converting at Its Best?
In this article, we’ll help you find the answer to this question.
Also be sure to check out our article, link building for higher education. Link building will help you drive additional organic traffic to your website.
You Need to Update Your Website Frequently!
This doesn’t mean you need to do a complete redesign frequently, but you should use analytics to identify pockets of improvement on your website and make constant tweaks to see if you can improve conversion rates.
- Are people bouncing on a certain page?
- Are people not clicking on the pages you want them to visit most?
- What pages are people visiting and then exiting your website?
- Are these visited pages helping your conversion funnel or hurting it?
- Is your form location optimal for conversion? Have you tested your form location, call to action buttons, wording, form fields, etc.?
- Is your brand story compelling? And, are you doing enough to test this to see if you change around video locations on your website is that making an impact on conversions?
- Is your website navigation causing issues for visitors?
Learn more about the most common website navigation mistakes.
The Only Way to Improve Your Website is to Test Small Changes Over Time
You need to come up with multiple hypotheses for your website and test against them. For example, you want to improve how many people are requesting information from your website. A possible hypothesis can be, if I change my form to be from a 1-part form to a 2-part form, will that improve conversion rates?
Another possible hypothesis can be, can I improve conversion rates if I change my form’s location on my website? And, then you can set up some tests on your website and test the form in a few different locations on your site to see which location causes the biggest lift in conversion rates.
Next, should the form be on every page of your website? Test it.
And, what if I change the call to action button to be a different color and change the wording on the button? Test it.
You should have infinite amounts of hypothesis set up throughout the year to be tested. For you to truly optimize your website conversion rates, it’s imperative for you to view optimization as an on-going initiative and to dedicate your resources to get this done or work with a company that can help you execute these tests, report on the results and set up new tests.
Dig into Your Website Analytics For Answers
Analytics can be confusing to read, but once you get the knack of it over time, you’ll be able to see just where your site is performing best and where it is underperforming.
It is important to set up Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These KPIs are great for key decisions makers. This way you are not providing countless reports to your higher ups that they can’t decipher. You can set KPIs to monitor your SEO growth, brand vs. non-brand, PPC, etc. You can set up KPIs to increase conversion rate by targeted segment. Learn more about KPIs.
This is one of the most important activities every website owner should do with their analytics: segment all website traffic. It is so important to segment your organic traffic, paid media traffic, social media traffic, direct traffic and other channels sources. You can even go deeper and segment your brand visitors versus non-brand visitors when looking at your organic traffic.
image credit: coschedule
Segmenting Brand vs Non-Brand Search Terms
Why separate brand visitors versus non-brand visitors?
Someone who types in your brand name and finds you already knows at least a little bit about you. If someone finds you from searching a more generic term like colleges in Newark, NJ than this cohort of visitors may not know anything about you. In that case, how are non-brand terms converting on your website? Is your website doing a good enough job conveying why someone should enroll at your school? How does the conversion rate for brand vs non-brand compare?
Here is a great resource on how to segment your traffic.
Each segment can behave differently on your website. Plus, each segment will convert differently. This is important to note. Your website conversion rate isn’t as important as the conversion rate by segment.
You can also create segments of converted visitors. This is a great one! You can then see how this specific segment behaves on your website and compare that with visitors who didn’t convert. How did their behavior differ? You can start coming up with hypothesis and test to get more people to follow this desired conversion path. Ultimately, each person decides what to see and where to go on your website, but your website architecture and design can steer people through the conversion path.
And, go one deeper and compare each segments’ visitors with those who converted and those who did not convert. You can segment your social media traffic and then segment them further to identify if they converted or if they have not converted. You can also see what social platform they originated from. I can’t say enough about the need for segmentation!
Image credit: Crazy Egg
Looking at page views, you can see what content is getting the most views. You’ll soon learn what type of content you can create to drive more visitors to your website and more importantly, what type of content is driving conversions.
You can create reports to hone in on your best performing content and to identify what content is not performing for you.
Some of your content can drive 80% or more of your visits. You can identify the type of content your prospective students are consuming and create more of that type and style of content. You can evaluate how each segment consumes this content for additional insights.
This is important. You can see who is more likely to read your content, their ages and sex, as well as where they come from. This can help you create content that targets your enrolling demographics. Each of your campuses can have a different demographic mix. This can be a bit challenging to figure out if you are driving the right demographics to your website for each of your campus locations. It can be done! Nothing with analytics is 100% accurate, but it gives you a good indicator.
You can create a segment to isolate visitors that are interested in one of your campus locations. How do you do this?
You can set up segments to include if someone types in a campus location keyword to find your site and/or if a person visits that particular campus’ page. Once you’ve identified this segment, you can see how this segment engages on your website versus other campus segments. This can help you find out if you need to increase your focus and emphasis for one or more of your campus locations.
Inversely, you can look at your demographic reports and identify if something is amiss. If your site is meant to cater to 18-26-year-olds seeking higher education, but you’re driving baby boomers to your website. What content is driving the wrong demographic to your site? Does this demographic ever convert? Can it possibly be the parents of your students visiting your website? Or can students be surfing on their parent’s computer? Or is your content not speaking to your intended demographic?
You can then use the information from your demographics reports and create different content that will better target your intended demographic.
Image credit: GoogleBlog
Time on Site | Visit duration
This can tell you how long viewer’s stay on a given page. Again, always look at these reports using your segments and not just your overall website visit duration.
Look at your visit duration and how that changes month to month. Especially look at this report after you make changes to your website. Did those changes positively or negatively impact your time on site? Overall, if your time on site decreased, but conversions increased then that is a great outcome. It means people can find what they are looking for faster. The goal isn’t necessarily to increase time on your site.
You can tell by the average length of time if viewers are reading the majority of your content. If they are on the page for a while, great! Don’t worry if some pages have very low times and some higher. Some pages help a visitor navigate to their intended page and/or the user can quickly consume the content on the page and move on to the next one.
The goal is to keep driving the visitor to a conversion, which normally means completing a lead form. If one of your pages are causing a lot of drop off, then it’s important to identify these page and set up a number of tests to figure out how to improve the user experience and ultimately your conversion funnel experience.
This report tells you where your website traffic is coming from. You will be able to see what other websites are driving traffic to your site. This is a great report to check often and compare date ranges for true insights.
Is one website sending you less traffic than last month? If so, why? If the traffic you received is sizable, you may want to contact that website owner and asked them what changed? If a website is sending you a small amount of traffic, but a large number of enrollments, then it makes sense to contact them and see if they can send you more traffic and hopefully more enrollments.
The goal is to uncover what is working and try to do more of it.
You will be able to gauge if your social media efforts are working or if those display ads are driving you enrollments.
Optimize for Mobile
Almost 60% of all traffic is coming from mobile. Does that match up with the amount of mobile traffic you are receiving? If not, then your website might not be well optimized for mobile and you are missing out on traffic. Are you optimized for local search?
How optimized for mobile is your website? Does your website load quickly? Can it be improved? Have you tested call to action placement on your mobile version? As mentioned above, you may be able to drastically improve website conversion rates if you test form placement, call to action verbiage and look, etc. The testing of variables can be endless.
I mean just look at how fast mobile internet usage has skyrocketed these last few years. Check out this graph.
Image credit: comScore, source Morgan Stanley Research
This is why it’s more important than ever to update your site so it is optimized for mobile usage, otherwise you’re risking an opportunity to enroll more students who visit your website.
Decrease Bounce Rate
Bounce rate is how many people land on your site and then bounce off it. When looking at your websites analytics, you want to see your bounce rate. Obviously, a bounce rate higher than 85 percent isn’t good. What this information tells you is that you need to create more engaging content, change the look, add video or change your marketing mix or SEO strategy.
It’s hard to tell from just looking at your bounce rate to know what is or isn’t working. That’s why you need to start testing to see what can be changed to decrease your bounce rate and improve your conversion rate.
You want to ask questions like:
- Are my keywords correctly describing the content?
- Am I targeting the right keywords for conversion?
- Is my site search engine optimized correctly?
- Is my article too long?
- Is my article too short?
- Is my article engaging?
- Is my content not connecting with people?
- Am I attracting the right prospective students?
- What keywords are converting?
- Can I further optimize these keywords to drive more conversations?
- Should I be adding those converting SEO keywords to my PPC strategy?
Using the information that you see in Google Analytics will help you understand what you can do to make your site better. Once you ask these questions, the real work begins!!
You want to capture your audience. Create a light window overlay where people will be prompted to enter their email information (1). Research has shown this is a great way to turn someone on your site into someone of value for your campaign. You now have the start of a lead that you can contact and engage in your enrollment process. Learn more about the importance of lead magnets.
Test overlays on your website. Did overlays negatively impact your conversion rates or leads? If so, tweak it and/or get rid of it. You won’t know unless you test it.
In fact, governmental organizations that used this overlay on their sites saw up to a 500% growth in subscribers (1).
You want to create lead forms that will get viewers to sign up and subscribe to an email newsletter. A great way to do that is to offer something in return, such as an ebook, guide, career guides, etc.
Google Analytics is a powerful tool, but only if you segment your audience, set up KPIs and set up tests. The goal is to move the needle and not just report on results.
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