Your Marketing Website’s Optimization Checklist

by Katie

You’ve spent time and energy on your website. You’ve agonized over site design, colors, fonts and layouts until you have the most beautiful site possible. And then…

… nothing.

Your conversion rate is dismal and you’re frustrated. How can such a great website not be producing the results that you want?

There’s a good chance you’ve struck a problem that is actually quite common among website owners – your site looks great but it isn’t optimized for traffic. You can spend as much time as you like tweaking colors and fonts, but beautiful design means nothing without a good optimization strategy.

Where can you get started to improve your website optimization? If you were to search online, you’ll find an overwhelming number of ideas, but we find that it’s usually better to begin with a few basics in place. In this part of our 90-Day Marketing Plan, we’re taking you through the strategies we would focus on first:

This is part 3 in our 90-Day Marketing Plan. Download the entire eBook here. Or dive into specific sections:

Download your copy of our website optimization checklist here

Where can you start?

The goal of website optimization is to make it as straightforward as possible for a customer to arrive on your website, then take the key action or “conversion” that you want them to.

In a previous article, we talked about the customer journey and how it can be mapped to stages of the sales funnel. A great place to start for your website optimization is with that bottom of the funnel (BOFU) first.

As a reminder, BOFU is the stage where the customer is ready to make a buying decision. They are prepared to take up offers, such as free trials, consultations or coupon offers.

Now, you might wonder, why start with the bottom of the funnel first? Why not prioritize optimizing for the earlier stages? We make BOFU a high priority early because that’s where your end-goals for your marketing website lie. All the other marketing work you do through other stages (content addressing key problems, creating lead magnets etc.) won’t matter at all if you’re not able to convert the customers who come to your site.

Your website won’t necessarily need an enormous overhaul – sometimes making one or two changes is enough to smooth the way for the customer and improve your conversion rate. Let’s look at 5 key optimizations we would look at first:

Without bottom-of-funnel conversion optimization, your other marketing efforts are wasted Click To Tweet

5 key optimizations

You could look at these strategies as being targeted specifically at conversion rate optimization. As mentioned, if you were to search for optimization strategies, you’ll find an overwhelming number of answers aimed at optimizing various aspects of your website. Take a look at these 5 key optimizations for that BOFU part of the customer journey:

Optimize your homepage

How quickly does someone who lands on your homepage understand what you’re all about? There are so many examples of websites out there which require clicking around or perhaps browsing through reference material in order for the visitor to know what they do and who for.

The point is, most people won’t bother. If you can’t capture their attention within a few seconds, they will be gone.

Key information needs to be presented upfront so that the visitor can clarify that they are in the right place. For your marketing website, this means leading with the pain or problem you are solving and getting to the point very quickly. Your audience should be able to identify within seconds that your product or service might be right for them.

Here are a few examples:

Ops Calendar – Our own site opens with a clear value statement, then further down outlines a few common problems that the software helps to solve; “you can’t keep a consistent publishing schedule,” and “your best ideas get lost and never published.”

Quickbooks – Accounting is a common pain point for businesses and Quickbooks addresses that upfront with statements like “pursue your passion, we’ll handle your books,” and “keep more of what you earn.” Both of these statements address problems that small business owners often feel.

Basecamp – The project management software opens not only with statements about the pains that businesses feel trying to stay organized, but they use a cartoon to illustrate the problem and how they can provide a solution.

Have keyword-targeted feature pages

Another key optimization is to map your features out to keywords, then build out dedicated, content-rich pages to each feature. The idea is that your BOFU target customers will be searching for certain types of keywords so you want your feature tour pages to come up in searches.

Consider where that target customer is positioned on their journey – BOFU means that they’re ready buy from someone, although they may still be comparing options. Think about keywords that are related to the problem or feature and that display a “buying intent.”

Here is a definition of “buyer keywords” from Alexa:

“Buyer keywords are the phrases people use in search engines when they are searching to buy a product or service. The intent behind buyer keywords shows that the searcher is actively in the buying cycle, already aware of their need and seriously considering the solution they want.”

Examples might include searches like:

  • “Best accounting software for small business”
  • “Camping stores in Reno”
  • “Discount code for (product)”

Remember that at the bottom-of-funnel stage, the customer has probably also decided on a shortlist of “must-have” features that they need for their particular solution. Consider what those keyword searches might be and how they relate to your product or service. The customer will probably search for those when comparing options. For example:

  • “Customizable content calendar”
  • “Track team workload”

Include a good mix of comparison and buying keywords that answer to the problems the customer aims to solve.

Sharpen your copy

Copywriting is a great skill to hone as it is the language that actually sells your product or service. A common mistake that people make on their marketing websites is to base a lot of their copy on describing their features, without enough going into highlighting the benefits for their customers.

“What’s in it for me?” is a question which should be addressed upfront.

Your benefits should go back to those pain points that your product or service is solving. To borrow a couple of tips from copywriting legend, David Ogilvy:

  • Your headlines are read by five times more people than your body copy – make them count.
  • Answer all “Why should I buy” questions in your copy. For example, why is this product the best? Why should I be interested? Why is this a good deal?

As a second point here, make sure you are both showing and telling information about your product. Give the customer images, videos and any other sort of visual presentation that shows them why the product will be of benefit to them.

Provide social proof

We all want to know that other people are using and having success with a product before we buy. Social proof is a powerful tool to help sell your product and reassure people that others like using it.

Take a look at our homepage for Ops Calendar. We have real customer reviews embedded where they explain the benefits they have realized from using the tool. Note how we include a photo of the customer, their name and their company – we’d recommend doing this as a standard so that people can easily trace the reviews to real people and know that they haven’t been made up.

As another example, check out how Basecamp incorporates statistics along with customer reviews on its homepage. For example, “84% report more self-sufficient teams” is paired with a review that highlights accountability for tasks. This is a great way to highlight benefits, then back them up with reviews.

Optimize your CTAs

Your calls to action (CTAs) are the word or sentence that compels people to take action with you. They also help to make it clear to the customer what you’d like them to do – don’t make them guess!

CTAs are an element that you might like to split-test to see what gets better results. There are a lot of possible versions you could try and there’s no one “right” way to construct them. For example, you might split test “give (product name) a try” and “get one month free here.”

Here are some elements for optimization:

  • Appearance – does your CTA stand out with a noticeable button? Colors are another thing that can be tested.
  • Size – is the button big enough? Does making it larger or smaller make any difference?
  • Copy – test different versions of copy for your CTA. A tip here is to use language that invites the customer to go further on their journey. Don’t use language that sounds too final or rushed, such as “buy now.” That sort of language is better left to sale sites where scarcity is a factor. Another tip is to say exactly what the CTA does – vague language like “submit” doesn’t tell the customer what’s going to happen.
Get your copy of our website optimization checklist here

Time to optimize…

If you’re finding that your conversion rate is dismal, then it’s time to look at the reasons why. Assuming you’ve created an excellent product or service that is genuinely needed, there’s a good chance that your website simply isn’t optimized to convert traffic.

We would start by going through a few steps to optimize for your bottom-of-funnel first. All of your marketing efforts will be wasted if this segment of the funnel isn’t honed in. Aim to smooth the customer journey to getting to a “yes” with you.

Get your conversion rate cranking by optimizing your website. Once you’re done, head on over to the next step in our 90 Day Marketing Plan, Content Marketing Strategy: From Planning Through Execution.