We recently released the audio recording of our clinic on this topic. You can listen to a recording of this clinic here:
After achieving high conversions from an optimized landing or offer page, after a few weeks or months it is not unusual to see a slow but steady decline in conversion rates.
What causes the performance of optimized pages to decline over time? And what can be done to slow down or halt this erosion?
In this brief we will look at data from two examples of optimized websites which have experienced a significant decline in performance.
We also provide a list of guidelines to help you maintain conversion rates on your own key pages.
In our first study, we looked at the conversion rates of a company over a 1.5 year-period. The company was the National Alert Registry , which utilized a number of marketing channels, including pay-per-click, natural search, and PR.
The following table shows site-wide conversion in three 4-month clusters:
|Conversion Rate Trends|
What You Need To UNDERSTAND: The conversion rate for the three 4-month clusters was 1.965%, 0.648%, and 0.538%, respectively, showing a steady decline. There was an overall decline of 72.6% in average conversion.
This site that was highly optimized in December of 2004 became increasingly less effective over time in terms of conversion. What caused the conversion rate to erode, and could it have been prevented?
We identified several factors that may have contributed to conversion erosion: increased competition, increased product awareness, and decreased media coverage.
Interestingly, the three individual months in which the site received additional media exposure proved to be the best months in their overall time periods:
|Months with Added Media Attention|
What You Need To UNDERSTAND: Traffic during these three months were significantly better than in preceding months.
KEY POINT: Exposure in the media is one way to give your site a boost in overall conversion and site traffic, and an effective means of combating conversion erosion.
In our second study, we looked at 15 months of conversion data for a health-products company. The following table shows traffic and conversion rates from pay-per-click traffic only:
|Landing Page Copy Optimization|
|Month||Clicks||Sales||Conversion||Monthly Change in Conversion|
What You Need To UNDERSTAND: Although there were months in which the site received a boost in conversion due to optimization efforts, the site could not sustain long-term gains in conversion rate. In addition, overall traffic decreased over time.
Here the overall decrease was most likely from two factors: decreased “uniqueness” of the product due to increased competition, and less off-the-web promotion.
KEY POINT: Competitive analysis is essential to determine if and how your competitors may be taking business away from you.
The following points will help you minimize the erosion of your conversion rate:
- Continue to test. What works one month may not continue to work as the market evolves. Do not become complacent in your success.
- Develop a marketing schedule. Our merchandising calendar and marketing blueprint may be useful here.Merchandising Calendar
- Use your web metrics system to pinpoint the channels, keywords, ad copy, and landing pages that were producing the majority of your sales. If you keep track of trending on those pages, you will be able to identify specifically where many declines are taking place. Many times we discover that a specific source of traffic such as one of the major search engines (Google, Yahoo!, MSN) has changed their search rankings, and traffic on key terms is no longer ranked as high as it was, so the overall conversion average goes down.
- Monitor your paid advertising placement. Staying on top of competitors, especially in saturated markets is essential and can be detrimental to your business if they are not constantly monitored. The old 80/20 rule comes into play as many campaigns drive 80% of their traffic from 20% or less of the keywords. If bids change, placement changes, or there is more competition your traffic will be nibbled away slowly but surely.
- Build your email list and relationships with customers. Your customer list is one source of traffic that is not affected by competition in the marketplace, paid advertising, or natural search engine results. Continuing to build your list and market to customers you already have is one of the best ways to minimize the peaks and valleys in your conversion rates.
- Analyze your search logs. If you see significant changes in your conversion, many times analyzing searches performed on your site will provide evidence to what might be causing the decline. If you are a retailer, for example, you may discover that people are searching for a specific product that has been discontinued and is no longer available. If that was a top selling product and you do not have a suitable replacement, then in many cases you just lost a key source of revenue.
- Review your product mix to see if certain product types or definable categories have slowed specifically. Many times, an “unnatural” increase or reduction in conversion will be very specific to a product, ad campaign, etc. whereas seasonal and behavioral changes are spread out more evenly across your product line or offering.
- However well your page is doing, test and create new versions of the page in advance of any decline in conversions. Also, broaden your sources of traffic across the new pages. If you depend on PPC alone for high conversions, you are vulnerable to competition and increasing bid prices. But if you have a back-up page that is attracting organic search traffic, for example, it can make up for any losses experienced by the PPC page.
- Conduct an analysis of your competitors once every six months. This will help you understand what your competitors are doing well, and why they may be taking sales away from you.Online Competitive Analysis Tested
RELATED MEC REPORTS:
- Merchandising Calendar
- 2006 Marketing Blueprint
- 2006 Marketing Blueprint in Practice
- Conversion Rate Optimization
- Online Competitive Analysis Tested
As part of our research, we have prepared a review of the best Internet resources on this topic.
These sites were rated for usefulness and clarity, but alas, the rating is purely subjective.
* = Decent | ** = Good | *** = Excellent | **** = Indispensable
- A Site with a 100 Percent Conversion Rate ***
- Beyond Conversion Rates ***
- Thinking Beyond Conversion ***
- Are You Using These Keyword Selection Guidelines To Improve Website Conversion Rates? ***
- How to Improve A/B Testing ***
- How to Increase Conversion Rate by 1000% ***
- How One Word or Even One Letter Can Boost Conversion Rates By Over 400% **
- Four-Word Keyword Phrases Yield Best Conversion Rate **
- Conversion Rates: What Do You Track? **
- PPC Advertising Connects to Conversion Rate **
- Conversion Rate Optimization Using Offermatica **
- Map Scent Trails That Lead to Better Conversion **
- Calculate Your Conversion Rates **
- Calculating Your Online Conversion Rate **
- Making a Business Case to Improve Conversion **
- When Visitors Achieve Their Goals, Conversions Increase **
- Benchmarking an Average Conversion Rate **
- A/B Testing for the Mathematically Disinclined **
- Fix Navigation to Improve Conversions, Part 1
- Fix Navigation to Improve Conversions, Part 2
- Fix Navigation to Improve Conversions, Part 3
- Seven Conversion Rate Concepts for the Final Exam **
- What Does Conversion Rate Really Measure? **
- Conversion Rate: Measure of Success **
- 2 Specialists; 2 Customer-Friendly Conversion Tips **
- The Billion-Dollar Question: What is the Impact of Web Site Performance on E-commerce? **
- Using Title Tags to Improve SEO & Website Conversion **
- 10 Elements to Test to Improve Form Submissions **
- How to Stop Thinking About The Money When Split Testing Your Website **
- 10 Ways to Keep Them in the Cart **
- How Do I Improve My Web Site Conversion Rate? Part 1
- How Do I Improve My Web Site Conversion Rate? Part 2
- What Most People Miss When It Comes To Optimization for Conversions **
- How Doing the Splits Can Be Good for Your Web Site Conversion Rate **
- Without Conversion Rates You Don’t Know If You’re Mickey Mouse or Mickey Mantle **
- Are You Making Common Mistakes Which Affect Your Web Conversion Rate? **
- Are You Maximizing Web Site Visitor Conversion By Using Active Voice Copy Writing? **
- Measuring Your Sales Success **
- Point of Action **
- The Idea Tracking System **
- WebPromotionGuru: Website Conversion Rate **
Editor — Flint McGlaughlin
Writers — Brian Alt
Contributors — Aaron Rosenthal
HTML Designer — Cliff Rainer