Improving Business Website Marketing Efficacy - dummies

Improving Business Website Marketing Efficacy

By Jan Zimmerman

Marketing efficacy refers to onsite techniques that encourage users to do what you want them to do. One technique deserves special attention here: the call to action. Calls to action are usually, but not always, imperative verbs (such as buy, view, register, and get). They move visitors from one page of the site to another, building interest and desire until visitors take the desired action.

On average, sites lose about half their visitors with every additional click. If visitors wander around your site without finding what they want, they’re likely to be goners.

The conversion funnel

Conversion rate is one of the most important statistics you track for your site. It is the number of people who take a desired action divided by the number of people who visit. Across the board, the average conversion rate is only 2–4 percent, as shown in the following illustration.

That’s a sobering number. While conversion rate varies widely — from 0.1 percent to over 35 percent — from site to site, the 2 percent to 4 percent number is a useful yardstick for predicting and assessing success.


Of course, “average” conversion rate can be quite misleading. Not all industries or businesses are the same, and not all conversions are measured as sales. Assuage your ego with the results of an August 2010 Practical eCommerce survey of online purchase conversions. Three-quarters of respondents confessed to a conversion rate of less than 5 percent; 5.6 percent claimed 5 to 10 percent; and 11.1 percent boasted of more than 10 percent.

The remaining 8.3 percent proclaimed ignorance. There was no explanation why those companies even bothered to have websites.

The moral of this conversion story: Be careful with your expectations, watch for trends, and focus on your own bottom line.

To achieve the standard conversion rate, you must bring 25–50 times as many visitors to your site as the number of conversions you’re looking for. In turn, that number dictates elements of your strategic marketing plan. Again, on average, only 5 percent of people who see your URL somewhere end up visiting your site. Therefore you must generate between 500 and 1,000 URL impressions for every conversion you want to make.

Calls to action

A few simple rules for calls to action can help improve the conversion rate of your site:

  • Set up two clicks to action. Enable users to take the action or action(s) you most want in two clicks or less. Keep your primary calls to action, such as Add to Cart or Sign Up to Save, on the main navigation or catalog pages at all times. A second click submits the request. Your site is off and running!

  • Generate leads. In the world of web marketing, e-mail addresses are gold. If you don’t have a newsletter, offer visitors a benefit to sign up or register, such as Register to download our free white paper or Sign up for savings. Of course, let people opt in to give you permission to contact them by e-mail in the future.

  • Use links as internal motivators. A link is an implicit call to action, with click here understood at this point by most web users. With the right phrasing, a link call to action pulls the user to another page with an appeal to self-interest. For instance, a link might read Live Longer or Warm Nights, Cool Drinks, Hot Dates.

The four-letter word that starts with F

Free is marketing’s other magic word. Especially on the Internet, with its legacy of free information, visitors expect to get something for nothing. It might be free shipping, a free gift with order, a free newsletter, a free five-year warranty, free gift wrapping, free maintenance tips, a free color chart, or free tech support.

Offer anything, as long as it’s free (and you can make good on the offer). Free works even when targeting wealthy retail customers or B2B prospects.

Free is one call to action that doesn’t need a verb. By itself, the word free generates an impulse to act. Without a doubt, free is one of the most potent tools in your online marketing workshop.

OfficeVP uses many different calls to action on its home page, even repeating the most important ones, as shown in the following. Several of them include the magic “F” word.

[Credit: Courtesy of OfficeVP,]
Credit: Courtesy of OfficeVP,