You’ve built your website. You’ve done your SEO homework. You’re even starting to get traffic and some sales.
For most website owners, hitting this achievement shows that their site has truly “made it” and is starting to gain fans, followers and loyal customers.
But what if you could do even better?
Would you want to know how?
A conversion audit can help. A conversion audit looks at your site from the perspective of a potential customer and identifies all the areas of friction that could cause a user to leave the site, abandon their shopping cart, or otherwise be confused or hesitant.
You can choose to hire a skilled conversion expert to do your audit for you, and in doing so, they’ll typically look at the following areas for improvement, using the following questions to create a sort of checklist as they go through your pages.
Your website’s design is the very first thing that greets a visitor when they land on your page. In addition, how you’ve chosen to lay out the various sections of your site, and the tone and style of your design all reinforce the brand’s overall appeal and its connection to customers.
- Is the design mobile responsive? Does it load equally well on mobile devices like tablets and smart phones as it does on a PC or laptop?
- Is the design aesthetically pleasing? Is the eye naturally drawn to the most relevant and important area on the page?
- Is the choice of font and font color easy to read across different devices?
- Are form fields clear in the information they’re asking for and include various ways to input it? (For example, can a user write their phone number as (XXX) XXX-XXXX or XXX XXX XXXX and would both be accepted by the system?
- Does the layout use plenty of whitespace, margins and padding to denote different content areas? Do all the elements on the page have plenty of “breathing room”? This is particularly important for mobile devices, where smaller screens can cause page elements to look cluttered and confusing.
- Is the page navigation laid out in a way that makes it straightforward and easily understood? Can the visitor easily move ahead and back between pages?
- Is there a button or other call-to-action that makes it clear and understood what will happen when the customer clicks? Common examples might include “Click here to create your free account”. Or “Click to subscribe and get a coupon for 10% off your first order”.
These days, social media optimization has become just as important as optimizing your site for the search engines (if not more-so). Google and many other search engines take social media signals into account when ranking pages. This is particularly true of YouTube (owned by Google), where videos can easily appear as the very first piece of content to a search query.
- Does the site have an established and ongoing presence on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other leading social networks (such as Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn)?
- Does the site regularly publish new content or invite discussion on its social media page?
- Is website content properly formatted for ease of indexing by the search engines, such as the proper use of headings, tags and links?
- For older or updated content, does the site make use of 301 redirects so as to not lose any valuable backlinks or search engine “clout”?
- Is the site’s content, namely title, keywords and description, formatted according to the best practices and search engine guidelines?
E-commerce pages span a variety of uses to not only inform and educate the prospective customer, but also entice them to take the next step toward a completed order.
How easy this process is often depends upon the choice of shopping cart and finding a single cart that’s made for conversion optimization while fulfilling your needs and those of your customers can be tricky. At the very least, you’ll want to answer the following questions:
- Is free shipping offered? Free shipping is the biggest e-commerce conversion-booster. If you offer it, make sure the customer knows precisely what their threshold should be to get free shipping and display it prominently throughout the site.
- Can the customer easily access their cart and see the items in it at any time, on any page?
- If an item is unavailable or out of stock, can the customer sign up to be notified when more arrive or are they given an alternative suggestion?
- Can the customer easily personalize or select the details of the product from within the page before adding it to their cart?
- Is pricing (including taxes and fees) clearly shown before checkout?
- Are the payment methods that are accepted clearly shown before checkout?
- Can a customer see exactly how many steps there are, and what they are, while going through the checkout process?
- Can the customer easily access their order details, receipt or other information after checkout has been completed?
- If there’s a problem with checking out, is the error message clear and understandable? No customer likes to be greeted with “Error 5005938” instead of “your shipping address zip code is incorrect.”
It can be difficult to review a website’s content unless you know precisely what to look for, since the tone and style of the writing will vary. At the very least, you’ll want to scrutinize your website’s content carefully and ask the following:
- Does the website include testimonials or reviews from happy customers?
- If the company has been mentioned in the media or used by high-profile brands, is this noted on the site?
- Are product descriptions clear and easy to understand?
- Does the content compel the customer to want to learn more?
- Does the content inspire trust, credibility and authority? Or is it easily forgettable?
- Is there a clear reason why the customer should do business with you as opposed to a competitor or, opposed to doing nothing at all?
As you can see, there’s a great deal of scrutiny and analysis that goes into a conversion audit. That being said, it isn’t done purely to be critical, but rather to plug any leaky holes that could be causing visitors or customers to leave your pages.
What’s more, this is by no means an exhaustive list of all the possible questions that can be asked during a conversion audit. A professional conversion optimization specialist will custom tailor your audit to reflect your site’s goals accordingly, and there’s no “one size fits all” approach to doing such a review.
By asking these questions, you’ll not only have a greater sense of how your website is displaying and reading to customers, but you’ll also be able to see what areas of which pages are causing them concern and making them hesitate.
And the sooner you can smooth out those bumps in the road to a conversion, the sooner you’ll be well on your way to increasing your sales and improving the overall customer experience. Good luck!
Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve conversion rates through best practices in design, analytics and copywriting. To learn more, visit iElectrify.com and download your free website tune-up and conversion checklist.