Editor's Note: This post was originally published in May 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Make the most of your website investment with CRO
One of the most crucial metrics that DMOs should monitor is conversions. For destination marketers, this may not always mean a sale, but it does indicate that a visitor completed a desired action that pushed them further down the funnel. No matter how well your site is designed or how many visitors it receives, it's likely you could make the conversion process easier and more efficient, leading to better results for your site.
The tactics destination marketers use today to increase brand awareness and attract new visitors are still inconsistent with conversion optimization efforts. This is evident in the poor conversion rates we still see across many sites. The fact is that despite large budgets used to attract new visitors, prospects that arrive at a DMO website (or landing page) are not met with the same level of budget or effort to convert them. In fact, Forrester Research shows that for every $100 spent on driving someone to a website, only $1 is spent on converting them once they are there. DMOs often neglect the fact that attracting visitors is only half of the process (typically at the top of the funnel). Converting customers online is equally as important, if not more so, than attracting visitors to their websites in the first place.
The Four Phases
The aim of this series is to provide the data and a framework to help your DMO invest their time and resources as effectively as possible. We'll do this by examining which methods and processes are most likely to yield better results. Conversion rate optimization works to help a website define and deal with those issues using data to determine areas of needed improvement rather than "gut feelings". Not only will a good conversion optimization strategy help a site earn more leads, referrals, etc., but ultimately it will also make the site more valuable to its partners by increasing awareness and visits to a destination.
Simpleview uses a four-phase process for all testing and conversion optimization projects: Target, Analyze, Test, and Results. This phased approach comes from years of internal testing, examination, and research in conversion optimization. Let's first tackle the easiest (but often neglected) phase: Target.
Establish Target Goals and Objectives
Typically there are two approaches to improving a website:
1) You go in with "gut feelings", transform what you think might be a good idea to change, and expect (hope) conversions will increase.
2) Start by figuring out which pages and elements are causing friction, distraction, drop-offs, and bottle-necking the flow. Once you understand where the
problems are, move on to determining possible solutions for those problems.
Choosing option two seems to be the obvious approach, but unfortunately, most marketers are still using approach number one. A DMO's optimization approach needs to move away from random guessing and assumption, and focus instead on discerning what's happening and why. A great starting point is to clearly identify your site's goals.
At the beginning of any testing and optimization program, you should gather members of your team to discuss key business objectives. If you had to choose only ONE action you wanted someone to complete on the site, what would that action be? Then answer the following questions:
- What are our goals?
- What drives traffic to our site?
- What are our current conversion rates?
- What marketing strategies are currently in place to achieve these goals?
- What does our ideal site visitor look like?
Be as specific as possible when answering these questions. For example, a lead is considered an objective, while increasing E-Newsletter sign-ups is a goal.
The primary conversion optimization objective for DMOs typically falls into one of the following four buckets:
- Partner Referrals
The first two are often covered with a solid SEO strategy, while the others take more time and often demand a strong conversion optimization and testing plan. Clearly define the main goal of your site and you'll be well on your way to increasing conversions and developing a culture of testing within your organization.
Check out part two of our series where we'll be tackling Analyzing.