Object reference not set to an instance of an object. Converting online visitors into customers
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There is a lot of talk in the Internet marketing industry about increasing website traffic - after all, if your potential clients aren't finding your site, what good is it doing you? You can only promote your business' products and services to those who actually find you online.

Because of this, many businesses spend a lot of time and money on increasing traffic to their sites through various Internet marketing initiatives, including pay-per-click campaigns, search engine optimisation, and email marketing. These are all very effective ways to increase site traffic.

So, you can get traffic to your site. But if visitors immediately leave your site without doing anything, the time and money you spent to get them there simply wasn't worth it. Is there actually something more you can do for your site? If you only focus your efforts on increasing traffic, you're only doing half your job.

The answer: Increase conversion. You need to be able to convert visitors to your site into customers - either by making a direct sale or by having them sign up for your newsletter so you can continue your relationship with them long after they've left your site.
For example, if 5,000 people visit your site each month, and 50 of them turn into actual customers, your website conversion rate is 50/5,000, or 1 per cent. If each of those customers equals an average sale of $200, your business has made $10,000.

However, by increasing your conversion rate to even 100 customers out of 5,000 visitors, your conversion rate has increased to 2 per cent. Using the same average sale amount above, you have increased your income to $20,000 - without increasing the amount of money you spent to get customers to your site! You had the same number of visitors, but your profits doubled!

Important Factors to Increase Conversion

Simplicity is important in Web design because the more complex the design, the harder it is for visitors to focus. Complicated flash animation or large images on sites can sometimes cause more harm than they're worth, especially if visitors to your site are unable to load them. If your load time takes too long, visitors will leave without a second thought. Be sure that the focal point of your home page and inner pages is what you want your customers to absorb the most: what your business is, why visitors should browse through your site, the benefits you can offer them, and how to become a customer.

Web surfers are notoriously fickle, so don't make them read through pages of content and decide for themselves why they should choose your business. If the benefits of your product or service are clearly outlined and backed up with sound content, they are more likely to turn into customers.

Include Calls to Action

Many websites don't convert visitors into customers for one simple reason: they don't ask the visitor to take action. All pages should encourage visitors to take action - either to purchase a product or service, sign-up for your newsletter or to contact your business.

Use Effective Navigation

Understand where on your site you want visitors to go most, and make it easy for them to get there. If the goal of your website is to encourage visitors to use your eCommerce functions, link to your eCommerce shopping cart wherever it seems logical - don't make them search for it. Try to think like a visitor to your site browsing through your products or services, and make it easier for them to become a customer, not harder.

Pay-per-click advertising is a great way to generate traffic to your site, but one of the most common mistakes that many business owners forget to do is take the customer where they want to go. If the customer found you for the search term "Hotel in Kingston" then ensure you're directing traffic to your selection of Kingston hotels, not your homepage. This act alone will greatly increase your conversion rates.

After you've made these changes to your website and you've increased your conversion rate, imagine the results you'll get when you implement a marketing plan to increase traffic to your site! If you use a pay-per-click or email marketing campaign and optimise your site to make it more visible to search engines, your profits can increase even more. Using the example given above, if you increase traffic to your site from 5,000 visitors to just 7,500, just look at the results:

7,500 visitors with a 2 per cent conversion rate = 150 customers.
150 customers x $200 per sale = $30,000!

That's a $20,000 increase from what you were making in the beginning. So, you can see that just increasing the number of visitors to your site is not the answer - you need to convert these visitors into customers to make your Internet presence pay off for your business.

We've only begun to scratch the surface on the topic of conversions. There are additional strategies and tactics to help increase your online conversions - resulting in increased revenues for your business. I will elaborate in my next article. Let's start profiting from the Internet today!

Wayne Marsh is an Internet consultant with WSI Internet, Consulting and Education. You can email him at marshwa@wsiwebprofits.com

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