In the next three articles in our series on Using Copywriting for Better SEO and Marketing we will look at how content increases conversions. Each article will focus on a different aspect of improving conversion: stats, content creation, and testing new content. This first article covers the basics of stats and analytics.
SEO has a crucial role in the success of your Internet venture, but SEO by itself is not the “be all and end all” or only factor in that success (– gasp – the SEO said what??). SEO is an absolute must, but increased rankings and drawing more visitors is only the beginning…
…Now that you have people where you want them, how do you get them to do what you want them to do? How do maximize conversions, turning more visitors into actions?
The plain truth is that it is not any one thing. What you really want to understand and analyze is how well all the various page factors work together to create conversions. Once you see how all the factors work independently and interdependently, you will better see how (and what) tweaks of each can increase your success.
There are the variables you can measure more easily: numbers of visitors, where they come from, where they go, how many pages they view, how long they view each page, etc. But then there are the ones that can remain inscrutable and hard to quantify: the architecture and design of your site and pages, the value of your graphics – and the things about your copywriting that convince people to click through and buy.
When considering how to increase sales from your traffic, you are generally thinking in terms of conversion optimization. To increase conversions you must have a clear understanding of what your site visitors are actually doing – this you can get from statistics. But you also need to see your site from their perspective – this will tell you what those stats are reflecting. Only after you view your site through the eyes of a visitor can you fully assess what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. Then you will have a clearer picture of how to increase those conversions.
What to look for
Your stats are going to be different than anyone else’s, just like the various challenges you face. As you get deeper into your stats and analysis you will discover that certain aspects are more important than others for your specific situation. However, there are some common factors that must be considered by every site owner/operator. A few of those universally applicable measurements that just about everyone should be looking at are:
Keywords: You may know how your site ranks, but to discover what that really means and use it to your continuing advantage you need to dig a bit deeper. Good, easy to digest keyword stats can tell you just how much traffic specific keyword rankings are actually producing. This will both tell you what keywords are the most valuable and expose opportunities for improvement.
Visitors: Naturally you need to know the number of unique (and repeat) visitors you get over a certain period of time, and of course you want to increase it. Unique visitors by itself will not directly assist you to increase conversions, but it is valuable in showing how your rankings and inbound links affect the amount and nature of your traffic. Repeat visitor statistics on the other hand can help increase conversions. For one, return visitors may be returning to buy from you, so their actions and how you are converting them are to be greatly analyzed. Secondly, sites with better content naturally engender a greater visitor return rate due to visitors returning for more good information. People usually don’t just do a search and buy from the first site they land on, they typically visit a number of sites. When they are ready to buy, they often return to the site that gave them the most helpful information. Use your content to turn them into buyers when they come back.
Referrers: Where your traffic comes from is also key. How much traffic is coming from the search engines vs. inbound links vs. ads? Which search engines are sending you the most? These kinds of figures have been called “word of mouse” referrals. Which sources convert the best for you?
Exit Pages: Few statistics are as crucial as this, particularly as you work to increase conversions through the understanding, and potential manipulation of, visitor behavior. When you pin down the pages from which your visitors depart your site, you can then address one of the most serious failings of your site, its architecture, its design – and the copy. Analyze deeply and objectively – why are they leaving from this page??
You are not amassing piles of data just to have it on file. You need to assemble what you are learning in a way that you can then use to improve the copywriting for increased conversions. Don’t forget the aim of the whole exercise, and try to keep the information clear, straightforward and, therefore, usable. It’s all about making each site component the most effective it can be, and copy is among the most important ones.
Using the data you get
The stats and analytics you are developing (on a continuing basis) need to be mined in different ways to discover different things. Remember that the task before you right now is to create content that will aid in conversions. All the analyses of keywords, traffic, visitor paths, exit pages and so forth should find its way into your new, improved way of creating compelling copy.
You certainly need to check your stats regularly, though you don’t need to study them daily. A weekly review, at minimum, will be necessary to keep you abreast of what’s going on and fluctuations of where traffic is coming from, where it’s going, and whether or not your visitors are doing what you want them to do (answering the call to action).
One of the simplest way use stats to craft better copy for increasing conversions is comparing sites that do both well and poorly in your own industry. While you won’t have access to their nitty-gritty details, it is not difficult to find out the general view of their stats and who is succeeding with conversions, so comparing various approaches can give you some good direction.
There are so many variables, so much to do and keep track of, that you can easily get lost in a maze of numbers and percentages. Remember, you are working on copywriting now, so the first quality you want to study in a successful conversion setting is which copywriting approaches are working and which are not. Tone, style, presentation format, vocabulary level, and interaction with calls to action – these are all highly important variables, and require you actually to go and see sites to discern them. The other data, thankfully, can be accrued using various tools, even free ones.
Tools of the trade
Webalizer & AWstats: Your web hosting provider most likely offers some kind of free stats/analytics program, perhaps Webalizer, AWstats or something similar. Although these statistics programs are somewhat elementary and lack the in-depth information-gathering capabilities of others, they are simple and do not require special training to use. It is either difficult or impossible to customize the information you get and how you see it, but if you are new to stats (the online kind or any other) then these are a good start. The better you get, the better tools you can begin using.
Google Analytics: Called by some “the upgraded Urchin,” this program gives you the information collected by Google in a simple, easy-to-read format. As opposed to some other no- and low-cost tools, Google Analytics can customize the data presentation and allows you to establish “targets” to track precisely who is landing on which specific pages. One possible downside, at least at the beginning of your optimization efforts, is that all of your own information is now displayed to Google. It may be wise to get your site “in gear” and moving up the rankings before you decide to share your own stats with the Google universe.
ClickTracks: This is the favorite of a number of analytics people because of the virtually limitless number of ways you can customize it. With its heavyweight features, such as the ability to calculate ROI and generate user-defined reports, it is a solid and valuable tool. Although it is not free, it is priced appropriately for the amount of power it affords. It would be well worth it for anyone to take a test drive with the free, trial version.
You may have to fight the urge to keep digging, keep mining, and keep generating more and more stats and reports. It can get addicting, and if you’re not careful can lead down the path toward white lab coats and mad scientist-ism. You have to balance the information gathering and analysis with taking remedial steps with the copywriting that is of core importance to your site’s business. Resist the temptation to overanalyze, and stay focused on the task at hand. One thing no tool or program can do for you is to create an efficient timeline for doing the work and recasting your site’s copy to increase conversions. You have to figure that out for yourself. Just remember, these are changes that you want to implement as soon as you can, not study to death.
Conclusion (and a new beginning)
This is the conclusion to this article only, not the conclusion to the process in which you will be continuously engaged for the duration of your site’s life. Here we may have covered all of 1 or 2% of what could be said about using statistical information to refine and empower your website copy so that it leads to more sales. Again, there are various components of your site that will participate in this effort – architecture, layout, graphics, etc. – but you want to make your copy do its job by compelling your site visitors to take the actions you want them to take.
Statistics are one essential tool, among many, to understanding how your site functions and how to make the most of that knowledge. Stats are, without question, key to maximizing your ROI from your website, and thus need to be reviewed on a continuing basis. There is a lot of help available in online articles, user forums, and the support documents that accompany the stats programs that you are (or will be) using. Still, if you run out of time or patience, or feel that you are in over your head, there are plenty of professionals, reputable and cost-effective, to help you create good copywriting to increase your conversions from on the stats you assemble about your site.
Next week we’ll be releasing Part Four of the series: Writing For Conversions, Part 2 – Content Creation.