Improving Your Conversion Rate on Digital Marketing Strategies

improving your conversion rate

Digital marketing is no longer something that’s a nice addition to your marketing strategy but an essential element for success regardless of your industry, business model, or target market. In fact, for most businesses, digital marketing captures more than half of the firm’s marketing budget. One reason for the rapid growth of digital marketing is that it’s relatively inexpensive when compared with traditional marketing channels. Another is the ability to focus your message so you selectively reach your target market with a message customized for that market, something difficult to do with traditional marketing strategies except for direct marketing. Another big advantage of digital marketing is your ability to track performance to optimize your strategy by focusing on tactics that help with improving your conversion rate.  This ability to focus on the markets, messages, and tactics that work translates into higher ROI (return on investment) since you waste less of your budget reaching consumers who aren’t part of your target market.

e-commerce growth hacking
Image courtesy of Smart Insights

As you can see in the image above, improving your conversion rate isn’t a simple process but involves a series of steps and channel options that lead a prospect through the cyclical conversion process through not only an initial conversion but also a repeat buyer who makes future purchases and recommends your product to others who might also make a purchase. Over the course of the process, you must match messaging and message channels to where individual consumers are in the process. Note that this process takes time, on average 84 days, although this timing varies dramatically with factors such as product category, target market (ie. the time to conversion is much higher for B2B buyers where a buying center makes collaborative decisions), the relative cost of the product, and involvement in the purchase.

Improving your conversion rate

What is a conversion?

There’s no standard definition of conversion, although you might think there’s agreement that conversion means a completed sale. Certainly, sales are one type of conversion and they’re an important type of conversion as sales determine whether your business succeeds or fails. In marketing, we call this a terminal conversion although we could extend the notion of conversion to include repeat purchases.

But, equally important are other forms of conversion. For instance, getting a visitor to create an account on your website or providing an email to subscribe to your email marketing program provides tools to send further communication that entices the user to make a purchase such as email coupons or reminders of products left in a user’s cart. Since this process, termed lead generation, can greatly improve your chances of making a sale, this is an action you should track and optimize (termed an intermediate conversion) if your goal is improving your conversion rate (terminal conversion).

Thus, any user action that moves them closer to buying a product represents something you can term an intermediate conversion as these actions can lead to improving your conversion rate for terminal conversions. Among them are:

  • Visiting a landing page
  • Putting a product in a shopping cart
  • Requesting additional information or accessing a chatbot to learn more
  • Clicking a CTA (call to action) button
  • Starting a free trial or requesting a sample
  • Downloading an ebook
  • Downloading a company app

Of course, there are more intermediate conversion actions to measure depending on your business, target market, and sales process. Hence, the first step in improving your conversion rate is to establish actions that contribute to a terminal conversion, identify which metrics assess the performance of these actions, and monitor how your tactics impact these metrics to identify those with the greatest impact on your terminal conversion rate.

Match messaging to the stage in the conversion process

Now that you’ve defined the metrics that contribute toward completing a sale, it’s time to match your messaging to where an individual is along the conversion process. Let’s take a look at the content lifecycle from the image below, which shows the stages a consumer goes through before they convert (although consumers drop out of the funnel at all stages of the process). Note that different channels of messaging and message types are most effective at different stages along the conversion funnel. Matching the content you produce to the individual’s stage in the conversion process optimizes the chances that they’ll convert.

content marketing builds brand awareness
Image courtesy of Search Engine Watch

That means you need to create a variety of content for social media, your blog, and any other marketing channels you use to ensure you provide content that moves each type of user toward a sale. You can target ads on social media and Google Ads for users in different stages as these ad platforms allow you to customize your audience such as retargeting ads that reach users with a prior visit to your website or ads selectively reaching folks who meet a set of criteria that suggests their stage in the conversion process.

Reduce friction in the conversion process

The average conversion rate for an e-commerce store is only between .3% and 3%. That’s a 10X spread, which puts a lot of pressure on your brand to optimize your conversion rate as much as possible if you want to succeed. A good UX (user experience) contributes to higher conversion rates because visitors can find the content that motivates them to make a purchase more easily and the content flows toward conversion. But CRO (conversion rate optimization) doesn’t stop there. Consider your conversion funnel using the graphic below.

conversion funnel

You want prospects to move seamlessly through this process. Thus, you should spend significant effort to reduce any stickiness in your conversion funnel so the maximum number of visitors flow through the funnel to the thank you page, representing a sale. While this might sound obvious, shopping cart abandonment rates average 70% (the midpoint in studies between observed values of 56% and 81%). Potential customers might leave your landing page without making a purchase if the information provided isn’t accurate or sufficient to make a purchase decision. For instance, when shopping for a wedding dress, consider the most important decision variables such as price, length, color, and material so you can provide filtering that reduces the cognitive load in making a decision. Try to display no more than 15 options according to a study by Caltech. 

Among the factors contributing to shopping cart abandonment are: 

  • High shipping costs
  • Unexpected charges or higher price than expected
  • Forced to create an account
  • Limited payment options
  • Website security concerns

Try to streamline your conversion funnel by removing unnecessary steps to increase the conversion rate. For instance, Amazon offers a 1-click conversion for registered users, resulting in higher conversion rates.

Build trust and credibility

Consumers face scams from various sources, which makes them leery of buying from an unknown company. If you’re a big company like Amazon or Apple, consumers trust you to make things right if they experience a problem with your brand because you have a track record of delivering high-quality products and services to consumers. If you don’t have a brand name with household recognition, you must strive to build trust and credibility as a first step toward improving your conversion rate.

There are many ways you can build trust and credibility as an unknown company. For instance, you can feature recommendations, reviews, testimonials, and other forms of social proof that suggest that others should trust you. Or, you can create content for your website that demonstrates your expertise, support for customers, and other elements that help visitors trust your brand.

Building trust and credibility also comes from acting ethically, transparently, and providing superior support for customers. Supporting your community and demonstrating your corporate social responsibility goes a long way toward convincing would-be buyers that they should choose your products over those offered by competitors. As you can see in the graphic below, there a many activities a company can use to demonstrate they’re trustworthy, although the success of individual tactics varies with demographics.

customer trust
Image courtesy of Edelman

Create urgency

Sometimes it’s not a matter of convincing a consumer to make a purchase but prompting them to make a purchase NOW. Even the best messaging can fail if consumers decide to delay making a purchase. In the intervening time, the consumer might forget their intention to buy from you, lose the link to your website, purchase a competitor’s product because the timing was right, or talk themselves out of making a purchase.

Creating a sense of urgency stimulates the consumer to buy now rather than later. And, there are lots of ways to create a sense of urgency.

First, you can offer products for a limited time or with discounts that expire. This year, with purchases totaling nearly 6% more than last Thanksgiving, consumers outdid themselves by buying products in the time between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Doorbusters convinced consumers to plan their shopping trips to maximize their savings by visiting stores with the best bargains on needed items early in the day. Some lined up outside retailers in the pre-dawn hours waiting to get one of the deals. Amazon even used a countdown clock to show that only a few items remained during some of their holiday sales. While pre-Black Friday sales cut into the urgency of getting out on the Thanksgiving weekend, millions still filled parking lots and retail spaces.

Testing and monitoring

Improving your conversion rate isn’t a guessing game. You must carefully monitor metrics related to conversion of time and across marketing actions to identify the most effective channels, content types that drive the most conversion, and who is buying from you. By knowing this information, you’re in a position to optimize your conversion rate. For instance, here’s a graphic showing the average conversion rate for various social media platforms across B2B and B2C products.

improving your conversion rate
Image courtesy of First Page Sage

Obviously, your results might differ significantly from those shown above, but this graphic offers a great place to start in building your conversion rate. You should assess your performance to see whether you should adjust your initial tactics to focus on the platforms that give you the best conversion rates. Luckily, Google Analytics, especially GA 4, provides all the information you need to optimize performance but you’ll have to dig a little for the information.

Just as you can assess the performance of each marketing channel to optimize performance, you can do the same with the content you product. This might require coding the content to get a more nuanced view of how the content contributes to your conversion but that’s fairly simple. By coding, you can assess an individual email message or social media post to follow the click all the way through to determine whether it resulted in a sale or other form of conversion.

Finally, you can break down conversion on your website to determine who is buying. Armed with this information, you can adjust your messaging. For instance, if you see that a higher conversion rate or higher average order value comes from men, you might adjust your messaging to appeal more to that demographic (ie. the Swedish Bikini Team used by Budweiser in their campaigns). Or, you can adjust your ads to appeal to more women if you feel this demographic has untapped potential.


There are many other ways for improving your conversion rate and I could easily provide more information on each of these tactics. However, I don’t want to overwhelm you with information on conversion rate optimization. Suffice it to say, this is an important topic and one you should explore in greater detail. Now is the perfect time to put this information into practice as you build your marketing strategies for next year. Let me know how these tactics work out for you by commenting below. Good luck!

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