Conversion Optimisation: A simple, pragmatic approach to increasing sales online.

It’s surprising how many companies in South Africa are not yet clued up with what they should really be doing online. Apart from everyone jumping into bed with social media, SEO and PPC experts to get as much traffic to their website as possible, they forget about the last crucial step in their online marketing strategy: turning visitors into sales. I’m not saying that it’s not important to get high quality traffic to your site, but what are those visitors doing when they get there? Does their visit turn into a lead or sale? Are they doing what you actually want them to do? It’s pointless spending all that money if you haven’t thought about the end goal – selling your product.

Understanding your current situation

Let’s assume you’re a marketing manager of a big brand in South Africa and your company website does fairly well. By “fairly well” I mean your website ranks somewhere on the first page of Google and the quality of traffic you are receiving is resulting in around a 30% bounce rate (visitors who arrive, view one page and leave). Let’s assume that for every 100 visitors to your site, you get around three to five leads. That, Mr Marketing Manager, is substandard. Your website has the potential to reach a conversion rate of up to 20%, so why are you faffing around at 3% to 5%? The opportunity cost is clearly a bit high – I’ll show you how to fix that.

Identifying your goals and getting to grips with the basics

As with every strategy, you need to define a set of goals. However, with conversion optimisation, a “goal” represents a specific action you want users to perform on your site, such as filling in an enquiry form or downloading a brochure. Create a list of the pages that you consider a “conversion”.

For most companies, getting an enquiry through their website can be valuable and can be considered a conversion or goal. On average, every 10 leads should equate to one sale. This is dependent on a number of factors such as your industry, competition, the nature of your product, etc. Along with your list of “conversion” pages, try attributing values to these goals. For example, if your product sells for R1 000 and it takes you 10 leads to make a sale, your value for that goal should be R100. This will help you with reporting and allows you to work backwards to find out which channels produced the most return on investment.

Creating a strategy to reach your goals

At this point it’s important to take note of a few metrics and their meanings before continuing.

  • Conversion rate: The total number of conversions divided by the total number of visitors.
  • Cost per lead: The total cost of the specific campaign divided by the total number of conversions.
  • Landing pages/Pre-sale pages: These are the pages that are instrumental in producing your conversions. Pages such as the “Contact Us” or “Product” page can be considered landing pages.

­Conversion optimisation (which is what you are embarking on) is the process of increasing your conversion rate and subsequently reducing your cost per lead, thereby increasing your return on investment. As fancy as that sounds, it’s really all about common sense and a ton of testing. With the right tools and insight, you can radically improve conversion optimisation.

Most of your strategy should be focused around creating alternative “pre-sale” pages in order to test the effect on your conversion rate. These landing pages need to contain high quality, relevant and well-thought out content and media. The calls-to-action on these pages need to be prominent and produce somewhat intuitive reactions from the user. They need to know what to do next.

Further reading: Smashing Magazine’s article on The Ultimate Guide To A/B Testing by Paras Chopra

There is a vast number of resources online that suggest best practices when it comes to creating landing pages for your products. All of these resources are based on elements that help increase your conversion rate. I’ll be discussing these elements in greater detail in the upcoming weeks. For now, I have listed them with brief descriptions of each.

  • Trust: Does your landing page contain elements of trust? If your visitors are making an online purchase, do you have an SSL certificate? If you do, show them that you do with a badge.
  • Intuitiveness: Do your users intuitively know what to do next? I.e. is your call-to-action prominent and part of the natural flow of the webpage?
  • Imagery: Using the correct images and media plays a major role in conveying your brand message, and how many of your users convert into leads or sales.
  • Content: Is your content of high quality?
  • Calls-to-action: Do you have too many calls-to-action?
  • Layout: Testing different layouts may lead to higher conversion rates.
  • Incentives: Are you incentivising your calls-to-action? E.g. free shipping.
  • Congruency (core value proposition): Is the content on your website all delivering the same message without conflict?
  • Page load speed: Is your excessive page load time tampering with your conversion rate?

These are nine of the many elements that could increase (or decrease) your conversion rate. Finding the right balance between these elements is the key. The only way you’re going to do that is by testing, testing and more testing. You may end up blue in the face, but your ROI will breaking through the clouds.

Further reading: Kiss Metric’s article on 10 Little Known Factors that Affect Your Conversion Rate


Tracking and measuring your results

It’s pointless being gung-ho about strategy and then sitting back and hoping for the best. Every scientist needs to track and measure their progress in order to prove their theories. Similarly, there are a number of great tools to use to track and measure your conversions within your website. The three tools I have listed below can help you create the foundation for a winning formula. Used correctly, these tools give extremely insightful information that can help you increase your conversion rate from 3% to over 10% in a matter of weeks. Gets you excited doesn’t it?

Google Analytics

Used to measure traffic, visitor behaviour and to set up goals so that you can track which marketing channels are producing the most ROI.

Google Analytics
Google Analytics



This essential tool allows you to record mouse movement, mouse clicks and more. It aggregates all your visitors’ behaviour and supplies you with amazingly insightful reports allowing you to make informed decisions regarding your landing pages and website. My personal favourite functionality is that it allows you to playback visitors’ mouse recordings.



Google Website Optimizer

Google Website Optimizer allows you to test various landing pages against each other and provides you with a report on which variation is performing the best.

 Website Optimizer

Website Optimizer


Further reading:

Creating a site conversion optimisation strategy by Smart Insights

You’re Only as Good as Your Last Conversion Rate by Unbounce

7 Tips to Convert a Click into a Sale by ClickMaven



Google Analytics – track visitor traffic, behaviour and ROI

Google Website Optimizer – Measure effectiveness of various landing pages

ClickTale – Track mouse movements, clicks and visitor behaviour

ABtests – Library of different theories that have been tested

How to reduce your CPA with minimal effort

Forget about how great your click through ratio is and how many visitors your managed to get off that one keyword and take a moment to focus on your actual CPA, or Cost per Acquisition (a.k.a. Cost per Lead). This has become somewhat of a buzz word in the South African online advertising industry as of late, though it really should have been a key factor straight off the bat. Online agencies have been focusing their attention more on CTR’s and the sheer volume of visitors and have forgotten to focus on what really counts – you’re Return on Investment!

Reducing your CPA can take a lot of brain power, epic late nights and can add to your grey hair at a rate second to none. With that being said, I have decided to help you out with a series of tips to keep you “above the fold”. These tips will help you reduce your CPA in a matter of days, rather than months. The steps below are related to how you can optimise your landing pages in order to reduce your CPA.

Remove 99% of the links on your page

Depending on your product or goal of your landing page, ensure that you have removed any links that can distract the user from turning into a sale or a lead. If you have all the information that the user needs on your landing page, the user shouldn’t need to click on anything but the call to action you want them to click on. By simply removing the navigation and other distracting links from your page you will reduce the movement away from your page by up to 30%, which in turn can improve your conversion rate by 3% or more.

Optimise “Instinctiveness”

The user needs to instinctively know what to do on the page. Whether they need to fill out an enquiry form or add an item to a shopping cart, make sure that the CTA is as clear to them as a crack in their car’s windscreen. Make the CTA stand out by using different colours to that of your brand and layout. A study has found that a softer blue colour appeals more to users in the morning while an orange tone appeals more to afternoon visitors – fact!


Trust plays a massive psychological role in the way a user interacts with your website or landing page. Ensure there are trust elements such as testimonials, SSL certificates and any other image, badge or message you believe will help the user trust your product or service. If you are using SSL, make sure that you have a big badge displaying the fact that the user’s information is secure – this will help increase your conversions by more than 5%


Optimising these three elements of your landing page could double or even triple your current conversion rate and thereby reduce your CPA with little effort. Remember to keep testing different variations of your landing pages in order to fully optimise your CPA.