Posted on December 16, 2014 by Webfor By Jason Wright and Chelsea Terris Hand-in-hand with all the tradition, family, and delicious food that the holidays have to offer, thrives a mad-dashing energy that underlies a season of distraction. Every business wants to capitalize on consumer attention and the readiness to seek out and give gifts. Sales abound! Signs flash! Heartstrings are pulled! At the center of all of this frenzied marketing rests conversion optimization. Regardless of the type of business you run, conversion optimization – getting users to take a desired action and tracking the causes for that action – remains essential. The holidays are an excellent time to create a game plan that increases your chances of obtaining a favorable result, leading your users through a funnel that delivers them to the other side of an action that benefits both them and your bottom line. We know conversion optimization is a hot topic and for good reason. While you can drive thousands of people to your website, what matters most is the number of conversions you’re pulling in. If a thousand visitors results in 10 form completions, that’s a low conversion rate. If you’re converting 25 out of 100 visitors, on the other hand, you’ll be far better off. Let’s take a dive into this vast ocean, full of unknowns, and see if we can net some big ideas for you to take to your next project or service provider. A Note About Conversion Tracking (Not Santa Tracking, Unfortunately) If a client converts in the woods, and there’s no one there to track it, did it really happen? There is no conversion optimization without tracking. Vital data can be gleaned from observing who converts when, and how. To quote Josh Patrice, “In CRO, unlike just about everywhere else, failures aren’t real. You always learn something, regardless of the outcome.” In other words, if you win you win, and if you lose, you still win. The important part is to learn from what you observe, and the only way to do that is to observe it in the first place. You can set up tracking via Google Analytics (why use anything else at this point?) through event tracking, destination URL tracking, and so on. Keep in mind that the data may not always be accurate. Here are some quick tips: Test, test, test and test – There is nothing worse than setting up a goal that isn’t working or tracking properly. Set a calendar reminder and check your conversion tracking often. Use destination URL’s – Destination URL’s are by far the easiest to set up and track. However, make sure pages like “confirmation” or “thank you” are set to no-index/no follow to prevent Google from indexing the page and skewing results. Follow and store conversions – When someone converts, you want to be able to review that data, both now and in the future. Use resources and plugins that store form data so you can get a raw look at conversions happening right now! Going this route, you’ll be able to weed out all those spam messages bloating your analytics data. Click-to-Call and Call Tracking You list your business phone number for a reason: to encourage users to contact your business, make an appointment and/or purchase your services. The great news is that calls to businesses are on a meteoric rise. During April of this year, business researchers conducted a study sampling inbound call volume from over 10,000 companies of all sizes, utilizing call tracking technology. The data uncovered a 24 percent spike in inbound calls within just one year, due to what? You guessed it: smartphones. The click-to-call revolution is here. Approximately 150 million Americans use smartphones each day to read, search, and shop locally. As a result, sites and search engines are implementing click-to-call functionalities that make it easier than ever for potential customers to connect with your business instantly. Call tracking systems help document the effectiveness of your click-to-call functionality by collecting information on callers and their behavior. These systems can store the caller’s phone number, a recording of the call, the time of day the call was made, and the web browsing path through which the user moved to reach your site’s click-to-call functionality. All of this information in incredibly valuable to conversion experts and business owners, both of whom can observe what is and is not working, build ongoing strategy, and also retain user contact information for future use. Businesses focusing only on click conversions are missing out on a huge piece of the conversion optimization puzzle. During the holidays, the buzzword is EASY. Making a conversion via phone as simple as humanly possible allows your holiday-frenzied target users to take the path of least resistance straight to your door. Collecting Emails With Tantalizing Calls-to-Action “Dear Elusive email address, I covet your connection to the user with whom I wish to establish contact. Howzabout you just cozy up into this form?” Okay, so maybe speaking to email addresses doesn’t work (weird), but that doesn’t undermine email’s importance in your marketing efforts. By obtaining a user’s email address, you get a free pass to their inbox. With well-crafted, value-ful messages and newsletters that use compelling titles and clear calls-to-action, you can remain top of mind and turn users into clients. However, what are the best strategies for catching an email address, especially during the busiest of seasons, when people have little patience for filling out anything other than Christmas cards? Let’s first look at why users don’t fill out email request forms: They’re afraid of getting spammed (aren’t we all?). They’re afraid others will get spammed, too. They don’t believe in the value offered in exchange for their email address (that’s on you to convince them, Business Owner). Fear of commitment (“I don’t see a ‘delete account’ option!”). The form is too long. They don’t trust you (they see credit card forms with no discussion of privacy, etc.). Based on the above, here are some DO’s for email request forms and the marketing used to lead individuals to these forms in the conversion funnel: Gain their trust – Call it caution, but most users are downright afraid of emails flooding their inboxes and forms that could expose them to spammers or identity theft. You, the Business Owner, must gain your user’s trust in order to obtain access to their inner email world. Be sure that the language surrounding your request, and the language on your site as a whole, is friendly, authoritative, and encouraging, in line with your brand emotions and the needs of your target user. Assurances that you will not share email addresses can also help to build trust, especially for those concerned about online security and privacy. Gaining trust is especially essential if your form includes a credit card field. Security badges, if available, can help to assure users that you are trusted within your industry, particularly if they are new to your brand. Give them an out – This can be as simple as stating “You can always cancel later.” Promise and provide exceptional value – Make it clear that the emails you send in future will be full of value, and timely. Repeat after me: I will only send emails when I have something brilliant to share, and I will make sure my users know this. I will only send . . . (you get the idea). One example of exceptional value is a downloadable document, like a white paper. Make your form brief – Don’t complicate things. Work with a skilled designer to help you get this essential form right. About Special Deals Because it’s that sing-songy, jingle-jangly, budget-bursting, wallet-emptying time of year, everyone is looking for the best deals on items their loved ones want, knowing full well that the price cuts come after the much-anticipated holiday. Meet them where they’re at – exhausted and very much wanting to pamper the loved ones they live for – by offering special deals they can get excited about. Whether you offer plumbing services or jewelry, every item looks better with a reduced price and a red bow. Conversion optimization is essential to increasing your ROI, no matter what industry you’re in. The holidays are an excellent time to observe user behavior on your site and the ways in which you can encourage potential customers and clients to convert, whether through email sign-up, phone call, or other means. How are the holidays treating your business? Have you ever tracked user behavior on your site and learned something new? Leave your comments and questions below!