Many mistakenly assume that the best way to increase website sales is to boost traffic levels. Accordingly, online business owners rush out to hire SEO experts, PPC firms, and social media marketers to increase their traffic. The hope is, more traffic leads to more sales. Of course, more traffic will indeed help increase website sales, but the real question you should be asking yourself is:
Will the Traffic Source and New Sales Actually Improve Online Profits?
I have literally seen clients whose PPC budget was higher than their monthly sales or gross online revenue. More commonly, I have seen loads of clients with non-profitable PPC, SEO, and SMM campaigns that are driving traffic but not generating additional sales at a profitable rate. Now most of these clients are very smart but they keep spending money on unprofitable online marketing services for one or more of the following reasons:
1. Difficult to Calculate the ROI for Internet Marketing Services like SEO, SMM or Content Marketing
Sure, SEO and social media experts can track how much traffic they are bringing in, but very few will even attempt to calculate how many more sales their services are delivering. And good thing, because if they did, then most of their clients would quickly realize that their services are generating little to no ROI at all!
2. Too Busy to Actually Crunch the Numbers
Online business owners have to wear a ton of hats during any given day including accountant, operations/fulfillment, customer service, marketer, etc. By the time you get done servicing your clients, who has time left over to pour over spreadsheets and calculate ROI for marketing campaigns? The answer: Not many, that’s for sure!
3. Keep Thinking the “Back End” Will Compensate for Lack of Front End Sales
Ideally, we’re taught to try and calculate the “lifetime value” of a client which includes repeat purchases, monthly residuals, etc. Yep, great in theory but doesn’t do jack shit for your cash flow, does it? Look, I’ll share the same thing I share with clients on this issue: Run your numbers based upon the initial purchase and make sure you’re profitable with that front end transaction. Then, any residuals or repeat business is a true bonus and you aren’t sitting around with cash flow problems “waiting” for that lifetime value to kick in.
For whatever reason, many simply don’t realize how unprofitable their current traffic generating strategies truly are. But even on campaigns and sources that are profitable, one nagging problem persists:
All additional sales from SEO, PPC, SMM or even Content Marketing require significant and ongoing investment. Things are so bad out there that some of our clients are coming to us with fully 50% of their total online revenues being consumed by marketing costs. Well, that’s great and all but by the time you factor in overhead, fulfillment costs, merchant fees, and any labor costs–well, where’s all the profits?
The simple and undeniable truth is that you simply can’t afford to have 30,40, or 50% of your total online revenues being devoured by marketing costs. But, what can you do about it and actually increase website sales without increasing your marketing budget?
Conversion Rate Optimization
Also known as CRO, conversion rate optimization experts employ website traffic analysis to find and fix the problems on your website that are scaring away conversions. When complete, your site will generate 25, 50, or possibly 100% more sales with zero increase in marketing budget. But far from simple split testing, conversion rate optimization is a systematic process that includes:
- Website Traffic Analysis
- Heat Mapping Analysis
- Fixing Copywriting, Design, and Programming Problems
- Designing Testing Protocol and Verification
- Testing and Final Verification of New Conversion Rate
You honestly have to be a nerd and love statistics to really be any good at conversion rate optimization.
But let’s get to the point and the real reason why you’re here:
How Do You Invest Your Time & Money to Net the Biggest Increase in Overall Profits?
Return On Investment baby, the big ROI. That’s what we all want to know about. Should you go with SEO, social media, content marketing, paid advertising, or CRO?
Well, for the biggest ROI and the best long-term investment, nothing even compares or can increase website sales more than CRO for three simple reasons:
CRO Permanently Fixes Conversion Problems to Increase Website Sales Long After Job is Done
Just try stopping your investment in SEO, social media, or content marketing and see how long it takes for sales to start nose-diving. You are lucky if you get a few weeks before they really start falling and they drop off immediately with PPC. So while these Internet Marketing strategies may increase website sales in the short term, all sales come with marketing costs and will dry up soon after your investment stops.
But conversion rate experts don’t just help increase website sales today, they permanently fix problems on your site so that your ROI continues to grow for potentially years after the optimization work is complete by fixing issues in your web programming, CMS, web design, and copywriting. Then, the new conversion rate is verified over a sufficient sample size and the site will hold that rate with minimal decay until new competition enters the market or you make significant changes to your business model.
CRO Actually Reduces Marketing Costs
Most websites rely somewhat on paid traffic sources like Facebook or Adwords ads. But while most clients are virtually brainwashed by PPC experts to pay attention to things like click-thru-rate (CTR) and cost-per-click, the only thing that matters is the conversion rate of each keyword. Conversion rate optimization experts will actually refine PPC campaigns to eliminate non-converting keywords. While this strategy may not increase website sales volume, it will lower your PPC costs by up to 40% or more with no loss of conversions.
CRO Helps Make PPC, SEO, SMM, and Other Traffic Generating Investments More Profitable
Because conversion rate optimization will boost the overall sales by up to 40% or more for potentially years to come, it will also make all your traffic generating investments more profitable as well, including:
- Email Marketing (if they redirect to the website)
- Social Media Marketing
- Content Marketing
- Affiliate Marketing
- Mobile Marketing
In terms of overall ROI and for anyone looking to increase website sales over the long haul, nothing even compares with conversion rate optimization. However, CRO services aren’t cheap because they require a team of copywriters, web analysts, web developers, and web traffic experts (like SEO, SMM) to complete.
So for smaller websites, CRO services may not be able to increase website sales enough to justify the initial investment. This is because if traffic volume is too low, even a big increase in conversion rate will not generate a sufficiently large boost in overall sales volume to recoup the investment. So before you hire any CRO experts, be sure to ask them how much they can increase website sales at your current traffic levels to calculate if the ROI will be sufficient to justify the expense.
But for websites with 5,000 or more unique visitors each month, conversion rate optimization is often the best investment you can make to boost sales without increasing your long-term marketing costs. If you are unsure if CRO will be profitable or not, consider hiring some CRO consultants who can evaluate your site and estimate the increase in conversion rate before you commit to anything.