Planning is an important skill in any business. You need a business plan to guide your overall business activities to ensure what you're working on today, this week, this month, and this year are all helping you move closer towards your long-term business goals. And the same rule applies for Conversion Optimization planning. In the beginning stages, you may just see Conversion Optimization as a one-time project. But eventually, to master this world, you'll need a long-term plan setup to track your progress and keep you and your team focused. Just like a business plan will constantly evolve as your business goes through its natural ups and downs, a Conversion Optimization plan will be there to help guide you through the smooth and choppy seas.
NOTE: This post is part of a complete series about Conversion Optimization. This is the final post in the series. To read the other installments, please check out the posts listed below:
Why You Need A Conversion Optimization Plan
As I mentioned above, the most important reason for having a complete long-term plan is to keep you focused on the right goals, the right projects, and the right tasks to help you achieve your goals. Your GOALS really are the most important part of any plan, including your Conversion Optimization plan. This is sort of a "chicken-and-egg" issue because the most important thing is having clear goals and the only way you can get really clear goals is by creating a plan.
Most people start down the path of optimizing their website's conversion rate with some very specific task or project in mind. It usually starts with something like "I wonder if I could convert more people if I change X, Y, or Z." This is an excellent way to get started with conversion rate optimization (as we already covered in part 1 of this series) but it's really just the tip of the iceberg.
Eventually (hopefully) this one "I wonder" will lead you towards many more revelations about your website, your sales process, your business and so on. Optimization should be fundamental to every business plan and fundamental to every part of your business. For conversion optimization, you should begin by thinking about your business globally and coming up with bigger questions like, "How can we convert more callers into sales?" or "How can we convert more leads into one-time special offer sales?" or (my personal favorite) "How can we increase the average Lifetime Customer Value across our business?"
This is why you need a long-term conversion-optimization plan that covers much more than just your basic opt-in rates and these surface issues.
How To Build Your Step-By-Step Plan
Planning is a tricky thing, no matter what kind of plans you're making. I'm always reminded of the John Lennon quote: "Life is what happens when you're busy making plans." This is definitely true if we let our plans get too much power and control. I'm also reminded of the warning to not fall into the trap of "paralysis by analysis." Yes, planning does have it's limitations.
Still, more importantly, plans form the backbone of what we do. John Lennon might be right, but let's not forget that "Failing to plan is planning to fail." When you have important things to do and important goals to achieve (like business and conversion optimization) you need a set of plans -- a blueprint -- to help you get there.
Here's what you need to do to create your Conversion Optimization plans:
1. Create a flowchart of your business processes.
The idea here is to focus on how your business "works" in terms of sales. Use a program like NovaMind or a sheet of paper and create a flowchart that maps how your leads move through every step of your process.
2. Create a list of speculative conversion optimization questions.
This will be questions like I listed above, "How can we increase average transaction size?" "How can we get more leads to buy sooner/faster?" "What's the number one reason most leads fail to buy?" and so on.
3. Identify the most profitable questions on your list.
This is the tough part. You'll need to prioritize the questions you just came up with in order of "profit importance." In other words, if you could improve all of these areas, which do you expect to have the biggest impact on your profits (not just sales).
4. Create a master schedule of your conversion optimization plans.
Now you can begin organizing this list with your most important conversion optimization projects first.
5. Implement the plan.
Finally, it's time to put the paper and ideas to work and actually get things done.
The Art And Science Of Conversion Rate Optimization
We've been through quite a lot in this 5-part series. You've learned the basics of Conversion Optimization, A/B split testing, analysis, and planning. As we close out the series, I want to remind you that Conversion Optimization is a little bit science and a little bit art. The science part should be obvious. Testing, analysis, objective decision-making, etc. But the "art" side of things is still important.
This final section on planning is more of the subjective side of things. Making decisions about what to work on and how to prioritize your lists isn't easy. You will need to rely on your intuition and your gut in the beginning, but the better you get at this process the more informed your gut decisions will be.
I hope you enjoyed this series of posts. If you have any questions at all, please leave your comment below.