Why we Gave our Conversion Rate Optimization Services Away and how it Landed us $32,000 in Sales

Conversion Rate Optimization Case Study

$1,500 per month. That’s the minimum of how much our Conversion Rate Optimization services costs. And yes clients from all over the globe do get them. Recently, however, we are giving parts of it away for free and it has already landed us over $32,000 in sales – just for 1 client.

“It’s an extremely competitive set of keywords.”

I was pacing the short hallway of our office back and forth. I do that whenever I’m thinking – and extremely stressed out.

“How are we going to get through this?”

I asked myself that question over a hundred times in 15 minutes. It felt like an hour.

We bought the domain name, designed the website and published it on June. It looked beautiful. It looks like no one will get the navigation wrong. The contact form was working perfectly. What the hell was missing?

Conversions. That’s what we needed. And for this client, it meant leads.

The thing is, we’ve already made the site so good that we couldn’t seem to make it any better. Our SEO is coming in quite slow since it’s a very, very crowded and competitive industry – so SEO would creep in but we needed things to happen – and fast.

The client was getting impatient because there were few leads coming in and the way we do SEO doesn’t exactly work like an on and off switch.

So I finally decided to give them our Conversion Rate Optimization services for free.

A Depressing Conversion Rate Problem

First thing we did was benchmark where we were. Even with a beautiful website, our sessions to leads numbers were extremely depressing.

From June to December 2015, we received 6,735 sessions according to Google Analytics but we were only ever able to convert 49 subscribers.

In short, we were converting at a dismal 0.7%.

I was on my way to depression.

Even if we were going to increase our traffic by 10x, if we had a 0.7% conversion rate, the client won’t be happy. More than that, I know I myself won’t be happy.

I communicated it to my Web Development and User Experience team and we made it our mission to improve the conversion rate to at least 5% as the SEO team was working to improve the rankings.

Here’s what we did:

  1. Checked most visited pages and improved it
  2. Checked what browsers people were using and made sure our website worked nicely on all those browsers
  3. Improved site speed significantly
  4. Asked for all their catalogs, price lists – scanned it and uploaded it to be given away in exchange for emails
  5. Figured out problems people were experiencing in terms of usability

Our conversion rate since implementing these 5 things on January improved by a colossal 729%.

From January to March, we were able to gather 166 subscribers with 4,529 sessions according to Google Analytics. That’s a staggering 3.6% – a long way off from our previous rate of 0.7%.

March alone had a 5.8% conversion rate – hitting our 5% mark.

So for your benefit, I’ll try to go ahead and elaborate a bit on those 5 things that we did:

Checked Most Visited Pages and Improved it

Take a look at this screenshot. This came from the client’s Google Analytics data under Behavior -> All Pages

Page Analysis

From this picture, we took 3 pages as an example.

As you can see, the first 2 pages have lots of sessions and can retain people well due to the low exit rates on those pages. These pages are the product page and the catalog page. They have high intent and they have a call to action to turn visitors into leads.

The third page, however has a huge number of unique hits and a huge number of people entering through that page. It’s a page in the blog so naturally, a lot of people would exit the page after reading the article.

But we don’t want them to ‘just exit’. We want them to turn into a lead.

So we checked each page and found out how we can funnel the visitors from page 3 to pages 1 and 2.

Next thing we did was to check the browsers our visitors were using to check out our site.

Checked what Browsers People were Using

Browser and OS Analysis

We uncovered that Internet Explorer – which is a browser we very much took for granted, was actually bringing us visitors with good numbers. So we proceeded to fix that.

We also discovered that our most valuable traffic came from Firefox which is leagues away in terms of user behavior than all other browsers.

As expected, Chrome brought in the most volume of traffic but also had a considerably high bounce rate. In any case, that’s the first browser we optimized for.

Improved Site Speed Significantly

The website loaded slowly – slower than perhaps 90% of all other sites in the web. And that’s because the images were many and we didn’t have site speed in mind when we developed the site.

It wasn’t a long hurdle though as I simply used this site speed optimization guide. Long story short, we implemented:

  • Browser caching
  • Object caching
  • Database caching
  • Minify
  • An extremely fast and reliable CDN (we use MaxCDN for ourselves and our clients)

That took our site from slower than 90% of all websites out there to faster than 77% of all tested websites. We used Pingdom’s tool to get this data.

Gave Away their Products and Prices

Well we didn’t really give the products itself away. We simply asked for all their product catalogs, price lists, etc.

We scanned it and uploaded it to be given away in exchange for emails. As it happened, their site visitors were very much inclined to download them because that increased our leads conversion rate significantly.

What we learned: Even if the traffic we were getting through SEO for our client wasn’t huge, it was very targeted. People were interested enough to give away their email addresses and download the product catalogs and price lists to know what our client has in stock.

Takeaway: If your client has catalogs, price lists or other collateral that their users may want at the get-go, ask for it, scan it, redesign it if necessary then upload it for your site’s visitors.

Plugged Usability Issues

The site was beautiful. That’s my opinion.

But you know what? Opinions don’t matter. Take it from Richard Pryor,

“Opinions are like assholes. Everybody’s got one and everyone thinks everyone else’s stinks.” Richard Pryor from the movie Home for the Holidays (1995)

So we finally got our hands dirty and tried to find out what usability issues people were experiencing in our site. For this, we ran a Qeryz survey that asked a very simple question:

Qeryz Usability Question

We ran this survey on all the pages of the website. We wanted to know if people were actually getting to where they want to be. If they were getting the information they really wanted from our website.

If they said ‘Yes‘ we gave them this message with a clickable link in it that encourages them to send us a message.

Qeryz Usability Message

If they said ‘No’ we asked them what exactly they were looking for.

Qeryz Usability Question 2

At first, we were getting a lot of No’s – which was alarming. How can a beautiful website be so bad in getting people to where they want to be?

So we looked into what people were really looking for and here’s what we found out:

Qeryz Survey Analysis

People were looking for the same product which I recall was already up in the site.

At the back of my head, I was wondering “How come people were still asking for this when it’s in the categories section of our main menu?”

I was quite perplexed. Until I found out that this same product was showing in the homepage – BUT what was in the homepage was the 2015 version of the product.

That’s why people couldn’t find it!

With this insight, we changed the homepage to reflect the 2016 version of the product. After that, we got a lot more ‘Yes’ responses than ‘No’.

Consequently, we got a lot more leads too.

After we improved our sessions to leads conversion rate, the client renewed our contract with them which amounted to a hefty $32,000. It’s not much, but for a startup company like ours, that means a lot.

Conversion Rate Optimization Practices that we did not do

I think it’s also important to note that there are CRO best practices that we did not do and not because we couldn’t do them but because we did not see the need to run them. Plus we already hit our goal of at least a 5% conversion rate.

Here are the things that we did not do:

  1. A/B testing – didn’t see the need for it as conversions already skyrocketed
  2. Activity capture – Inspectlet is an expensive tool and we use it for premium clients only. I couldn’t afford to give it for free this time. It’s an extremely awesome tool though.
  3. Heuristic changes – We didn’t see the need for this since our initial design has an almost perfect feel to it already. We stuck more on data.
  4. Heatmap/clickmap/scrollmap – We wanted to go deeper than just clicks and scrolls so we used Qeryz surveys to uncover them instead.

One of the reasons why we didn’t do these things anymore is because it’s also a lot more expensive to run from our end. Plus it takes more time to implement and create action points from these.

SEO is awesome but if we focused on SEO and traffic and did not do the things we did for CRO, we’d still be converting at 0.7%

We would also probably be $32,000 short.

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  • manoj

    nice information thanks for sharing this.

  • Vlad

    Check out hotjar for heatmapping, a lot cheaper than inspectlet.

    • Hotjar is awesome for starters but once you’re past a specific point in your CRO needs, I find other tools to be able to serve my more ‘advanced’ needs better.

  • Thanks for the MaxCDN mention, Sean. Not sure if you already know about this, but one of our customers noticed a correlation between adding a CDN and an upbeat in organic traffic. You and your readers can check out the case study here: https://www.maxcdn.com/blog/rebateszone-maxcdn/.

    But you’re right – SEO is just one (small) piece of the puzzle. You can receive all the organic traffic in the world, but if you’re not converting, what’s it for? Nice piece.

    • My pleasure! And yes there surely is a bit of a correlation because site speed is a widely known ranking factor. MaxCDN has worked perfectly for me over the years and comes highly recommended.

  • sumit

    nice blog for seo services

  • William Wallace

    Hi Sean, you’ve missed out one of your links “Improved site speed significantly (link site speed optimization guide)” Just a heads up :)

    • Haha thanks for that. Caught me with my pants down :))

  • carlo

    Thanks for Sharing the valuable information about the CRO.Really helped me to test my website

  • Bundle Joy

    Great article, Thanks for sharing best conversion rate optimization, Your article have lot of information.

  • 49/6,735 is 0.7% and the final lift is 729%.

    • Hi Benoit,
      Thanks for the correction. Changing it now.

  • Sef Gojo Cruz

    Great article and +1 on the last words. Some are still obsessed in rankings and traffic but not so much obsessed in conversion. Conversion does not always follow even if they get #1 in rankings or high traffic from search/referral/direct :)

  • very effective and helpful post. Really appreciate your work, Sean.

  • Thanks Sean great article. This will help me a lot while I’m more focused at SEO

  • I am learning SEO, This article is very helpful for me. Thanks for shaing

  • B-Fast IT LImited

    helpful Article …

  • shake farid

    this post good post

  • this is really helpful.thanks for posting these valuable information

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