Improving Website Conversion 2 – How to identify the leaks that are costing you sales

Checking for leaks to improve website conversion rate

This is part 2 of an 8 part series on how to improve the conversion rate of your website using a new testing approach to web design, rather than the old way of guesswork and assumptions

The old approach to web design was a bit knee jerk. If your website wasn’t performing as well as you’d hoped, you’d ditch the entire thing and rebuild it from scratch, hoping a new lick of paint would pull in the crowds. The problem with this approach is that you have no way of knowing which elements of your old design were turning people off and which were nudging them towards the checkout.

In fact, a new design could be even worse at converting customers. But without seeing what people were actually doing on your website, you’d have no way of knowing. After all, you can’t improve what you don’t measure.

This is why the first step in the new approach to web design is to collect data; primarily info on which pages your customers spend time browsing, which pages push them further through your website and which have them heading for the door. With this information, you can identify which areas of your website you should focus on to improve conversions and sales.

Inspect your website’s plumbing

Try and imagine your website is a series of pipes which capture people like rainwater and then transport them on a carefully structured route to a particular page or action. As with any system of pipes, you need to identify the leaks (i.e. the pages where customers exit the website) and fix them. This is where Google Analytics comes in.

In Google Analytics two simple ways of identifying leaks are:

1)      Bounce rate – This is the percentage of people that leave from the same page they enter on, without exploring further or taking action. A high bounce rate suggests a page doesn’t answer their questions or meet the expectations of what they expected to find.

2)      Exit Rate – These are the largest sources of leaks and the pages which cause people to abandon your website. These are the pages you need to improve in order to keep people engaged and clicking through your website.

How to setup funnels in Google Analytics

Along with bounce rate and exit rate, it helps to visualize the route people are taking before they take action and where the leaks are. To do this, you need to create funnels in Google Analytics.

First, write a list of the actions you would consider as a success on your website e.g. completed purchase, contact form completion, newsletter subscription or visiting a particular page. Then think about what route you’d expect visitors to take before they complete that action

e.g.  Home →About → Portfolio → Testimonials →Contact

With ‘funnels’, you can track the progress of your visitors through this path to success.

(This guide describes how to setup funnels using the old version of Google Analytics, while the new version is still in beta)

To create a new funnel click on ‘Edit’ next to your project name. Then in ‘Goals’, click on ‘Add Goal’. You can now create goals for visitors reaching a particular page, spending a certain amount of time on site or visiting particular pages.

To track where you are leaking visitors before they visit the contact page, for example, enter this as the Destination URL then list the pages you’d expect them to visit before reaching this page in the boxes further down. After returning to the main Google Analytics dashboard, click on ‘Goals’ to analyze how many people proceed through the funnel and which pages are leaking visitors like a burst pipe.

You can also visualize this graphically by clicking on Funnel Visualization:

Through this process, you can identify where the biggest leaks in your website are and which to focus on to improve your conversion rate. You’ll also get a clearer idea on the route customers actually take through your website take by tracking which pages they visit as they progress through the funnel.

If you’d like to take the website analysis stage to the next level then take a look at Kissmetrics. It’s not cheap, but it reveals a wealth of information Google Analytics lacks, such as lifetime customer tracking, clickstream analysis and it creates unique profiles per customer.

In the next post in this series I’ll be discussing which tools you can use to identify why your website’s pages might be leaking customers and how to tighten them up. 

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