Conversion Rate Optimization 101: How to Convert When You've Never Converted Before

03/23/2015 11:36 am ET | Updated May 23, 2015

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Optimizing your conversion rate is an important first step in any marketing campaign.

No matter how you attract your web traffic -- whether it's through organic searches, referrals, word-of-mouth traffic, or social media visits -- once your traffic gets to your site, it's your job to convert those visitors to customers. High traffic numbers might look great in Google Analytics, but if that traffic isn't making purchases or contacting you directly, you won't be making any money.

The principle behind optimizing for conversion is simple: make your visitors want to convert, and make it easy for them to do so. In practice, however, things grow exceedingly complicated. Some factors of conversion optimization are simple; they are one-time changes that work like a light switch to instantly allow more people through. Others are subjective, and will require gradual tweaks over time until you find just the right combination.

Make It Obvious

First, make sure all your visitors have a chance to convert. Make your form or call to action as visible as possible, including it on your home page and every internal page where you can. You might even want to have a temporary pop-up prompting users for their information, though it might detract from your overall user experience. The goal is to make sure your call to action can be seen easily.

Make It Pleasant

Flashing lights and arrows drive people crazy, myself included. Make your call to action visually pleasing. This is subjective and dependent on your brand standards, but people shouldn't be turned off of looking at your call to action. Run some user testing; if their first reaction is to close the window, you'll have to go back to the drawing board.

Make It Valuable

People don't convert for nothing. Attribute some value to your call to action. Maybe you'll given them a free whitepaper in exchange for submitting their information, or maybe you'll give them a discount for ordering now. The choice is yours.

Make It Action-Driven

Language is your friend. Use strong, action-based language to persuade your visitors to convert, and be concise about it. Spend some time sculpting your ideal message into the shortest possible phrase, and try out different variants until you find the perfect candidate.

Follow Up

Just because someone leaves your site doesn't mean you've lost all hope of conversion. Use remarketing or email drip campaigns to continuously follow up with your visitors and potential leads.

The process of optimizing for conversion is complicated and difficult, especially when you first start, but as you grow more comfortable with the system, you'll eventually find a perfect balance that converts the greatest number of web visitors to paying customers.

Jose Vasquez is a serial entrepreneur and tech enthusiast dedicated to helping startup technology companies get the direction and momentum they need to succeed. As the founder of Build. Brand. Blast., Jose has established a collective resource for tech entrepreneurs to consult when brainstorming, creating, launching, or expanding a new business. Jose is also the founder and CEO of Quez Media Marketing, a marketing firm that combines technology and creativity to help new and growing companies get the results they need.

Jose graduated from Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.

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