Digital marketing uses a terminology with many concepts that may sound confusing if you are not familiar with them. In this article, we will explain some core concepts by using a practical (but simplified) example to make things clearer. Imagine you want to do webinar, and you want people to sign up for it. From a digital marketing viewpoint, what needs to be done? The approach described below can be used for other digital marketing campaigns as well, e.g., to sell a book you wrote, etc.
People need to be able to sign up for your webinar, so you need a registration form. If it is a paying webinar, you will need to offer a payment option. So, you want people to get to that registration form and sign up. Before people will be willing to sign up, they will want to know more about the webinar, and they will have to be persuaded to do so. To accomplish that, you will use a landing page that provides them with the necessary information and invites them to sign up. And for them to find your landing page, you want to direct people to it by several means you have at your disposal, like social media, ads, an announcement on your website, a mailing to people who would be interested, etc. So, your digital marketing strategy looks something like this.
A first set of concepts you should get familiar with have to do with conversion. In the widest sense, you want to convert the people who see your ad or notification on your website, social media or in your email campaign into customers who sign up for your webinar. To get them to do that, we are using different steps, where each time we want them to take a specific action: click on the link that leads to your landing page, and then go to the registration form, and then sign up. The term conversion is also used for each one of these steps, when your prospect takes the action that you want them to take. (For convenience’s sake, we will use the term visitor below as a rubric term for all who visit your website, see your ad, see your social media posts, read your email campaign, etc.)
In electronic commerce, this approach is called conversion marketing. It is marketing with the intention of increasing conversions, i.e., converting visitors into (paying) customers. The conversion rate is the percentage of visitors that convert, i.e., take the desired action:
Conversion rate = (conversions / total visitors) * 100%
In our example, we have three successive actions we want them to take, and you want to guide them through that process: click on the link to the landing page, click on the link to register, and then sign up. Each time only a percentage will take the desired action. That is why this approach is often called a conversion funnel.
In this context, the concept of a bounce rate is relevant. The Wikipedia describes a bounce rate as “an Internet marketing term used in web traffic analysis. It represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and then leave (“bounce”) rather than continuing to view other pages within the same site.” If we take our example, for this campaign you would have three specific pages on your website: first an announcement, e.g., in the news section or in your blog, then the landing page, and finally the registration page. If the visitor leaves your website from the page with your announcement, from your landing page, or from the registration page before they register, that would be a bounce. The bounce rate allows you to keep track of how each step performs.
So, in our example, we want three successive conversions, and we want to be able to track the conversion rate for each one of these steps (which is called conversion rate tracking). Keeping track of the conversions rates for each one of these steps is done for conversion rate optimization (CRO) purposes. Conversion rate optimization is often defined as “the practice of increasing the percentage of users who perform a desired action on a website. (…) Think of it as the process of focusing on understanding what drives, stops, and persuades your users, so you can give them the best user experience possible—and that, in turn, is what makes them convert and ultimately improves your website conversion rate.” (Hotjar.com).
It is worth noting that platforms that sell ads, as well as most social media offer built-in ways to track how your ad or post is doing. By default, websites do not have that facility built in, but is possible to install tools like Google Analytics or web log analyzers for tracking purposes. They, too, will provide you with the necessary information. (We will pay more attention to web traffic analyzers in a next article).
Crucial in this approach is your landing page. This is where you will provide your visitors with the necessary information to convince them to sign up. A landing page “is a standalone web page, created specifically for a marketing or advertising campaign.” It is where a visitor ‘lands’ after they click on a link in an email, or your ad, or your post in social media, etc. “Unlike web pages, which typically have many goals and encourage exploration, landing pages are designed with a single focus or goal, known as a call to action (or CTA, for short).” (Unbounce.com).
Typically, your landing page will open with a short, positive, and empowering statement about your webinar that focuses on what the attendees will gain. Then, you can provide a short text that provides the necessary information about what and why. It is important to not just offer this information in text, but also as well as a visual – either an infographic or a short (2 to 3 minute) video. Make sure to include some social proof, i.e., testimonials of existing clients and/or people who have attended previous webinars. Then lastly, you have your call to action, which on your landing page is a button with a link to subscribe. Again, it is a good practice to make this call to action an empowering statement (e.g., “Yes, I want to know how to …”).
So, a Call to Action is an invitation for your visitor to do something. In our example, we will have a CTA in each step: a link in the ads, social media posts, web pages, etc.; a link to the registration page, and a button to actually register on the registration page. For a CTA to be as effective as possible, all links to other pages than the one you want to direct your visitor to, should be avoided. If you want to provide some optional additional information, use a pop-up screen instead.
Another term that sometimes pops up in this context is Key Performance Indicators (KPI). You probably already are familiar with the term from the software you use to manage your law firm, where you can, e.g., define how many billable hours per month each lawyer must generate. That is one example of a KPI. In our digital marketing context, the conversion rate also is a KPI. Conversion rate optimization can then be seen as a way to improve your KPI scores.
To keep track of what works best to improve your conversion rate, you can experiment with different versions of an ad, or a landing page, etc. A common practice is to do some A/B Testing. “A/B testing (also known as split testing) is a process of showing two variants of the same web page to different segments of website visitors at the same time and comparing which variant drives more conversions.” (vwo.com).
In future articles, we will focus more in depth on landing pages and on the metrics that help you evaluate your conversion rates.