Conversion rate optimisation is a developing science, and not an easy one to practice well. Conversion rates are, for many webmasters, where the rubber hits the road, and where a store proves itself as either well-Optimised, or in need of some help. While this isn't a bad way to take a snapshot of a campaign or page's performance, we've seen some optimisers start to prioritise conversion rates above other metrics.
If that sounds familiar, we've got some rough news for you: you're doing it wrong. Conversion rate is a shiny, attractive number, and one that on the surface seems like it would provide general insight into a site's performance, but for E-commerce optimisers, it's only part of the story.
Conversion Rates Aren't Enough
As the saying goes, the journey is often more important than the destination. This is certainly the case when we're talking conversion metrics. All too often, optimisers focus on the end result of the customer journey, and either willfully ignore, or don't know how to access information about the steps they took to get there.
Why is this a problem? Simple. Measuring total conversion rates can give you information on how many visits lead to sales or sign-ups, but it won't tell you why. A better idea is to dig into the steps a prospect takes en route to becoming a lead or conversion. By breaking down these journeys into distinct “events” - such as pages visited, bounces, or forms filled – you'll have a much better idea of what parts of your site are drawing people in, and which parts are driving them away.
Focus on the Customer, not the Sale
Optimising solely on the back of conversion rates can quickly give even sharp marketers a serious case of tunnel vision. While they're useful in some very narrow-scope applications (campaigns where success is largely determined by conversions, such as a landing page), they quickly lose value when applied to an entire site.
Visitors have myriad reasons for dropping by your site, and can arrive at vastly different stages of the buyer's journey. Over-focusing on conversion rate can give information on those near the end of the funnel, but it completely whiffs on those at the head. In many cases, a visitor's simply reading a blog article is a crucial step toward a conversion, but that read will easily slip under a conversion-oriented analytics dashboard.