How Our Redesign Lowered Conversion Rates and Increased Revenue

8:00 am in PPC Marketing Blog, Usability by brad

A few months ago I created a detailed blog post about our site redesign, complete with the reasons for all of our design changes.

We now have enough data to analyze the results and make a follow-up post to exactly what happened with the redesign.

This should let you compare our design decisions to our results and hopefully give you some inspiration into designing your own site.

As a follow-up note; we have since spent another $50 on a better logo – so the entire cost is 2 days and $199.

The Conversions

In the original post, I worked from the design standpoint to show the decisions. In this one, I’ll look at it from the conversion standpoint.

There are several conversions that we track, and we’ll examine each one individually:

  • Social media followers
  • Social media mentions
  • Blog subscribers (RSS and/or email)
  • Contacts
  • Advanced Google AdWords book sales (via Amazon)
  • Google AdWords Seminar registrations
  • Certified Knowledge subscriptions

Conversions that Drive Traffic

I’ve broken down our conversions into two sections:

  • Traffic
  • Revenue

Increasing traffic doesn’t do any good if it doesn’t increase revenue. Conversely, if you conversion rates go up; but your traffic drops significantly – then you need to examine your design a second time.

First, I’ll examine our traffic after the redesign and secondly I’ll look at the conversions that drive revenue.

Here’s a quick overview of our traffic; so you have an idea of scale (of course, this does not those who read our articles in RSS or email; which is most of our blog readers). We are a small niche site; so we’re not talking about a million visitors a month. I think our top month ever has been about 100k uniques.

image

Social Media Followers

The redesign did very little to increase social media followers who were already on the blog. That didn’t surprise me at all. We already had social media follower icons on our previous incarnation; and this isn’t something we enhanced significantly.

However, we have redesigned all of our Thank You pages (they are the least utilized pages on the web) to include direct calls to action for social media (and some other offers). Our conversion rates for social media followers are higher on the thank you pages than any other section of our website (in fact, our thank you pages are the highest converting pages of our site).

Here’s an example of our Thank Your Page:

image

Social Media Mentions

Our social media mentions, especially on Twitter, spiked considerable after the redesign. Initially we had a floating bar on the side of the page (similar to what you see now); but as it was a 20px offset, people using small resolution screens had issues reading some of the content of the site. I examined our analytics before I inputted this feature, and less than 3% of our visitors would be affected – so I tried it.

I was wrong to use this method. The sheer number of complaints we had amazed me.

I then went back to researching solutions and found another plug-in (thank you Sharebar) that looks at screen resolution and determines where to put the bar. Go ahead, make your browser smaller and watch the bar float from the side of the page to above the blog’s content.

We had enough social media mentions on our popular pages that it only increased traffic about 5-8% (depending on the retweets) on our new blog posts. Where we’ve really seen the difference is in our archives. Mentions of archive pages went from virtually zero to a handful each day; and our older pages have increased in pageviews by 10-15% depending on the day (this one: Step-by-step guide for checking broken PPC links went from invisible to more than 1000 page views in the past month. FYI – Certified Knowledge has a tool to make that process take just a few minutes).

Blog Subscribers

This blog has had a decent following for many years (I started it in March of 2001 on another domain); and most of our visitors are already subscribers; so I wasn’t sure how many more subscribers a redesign would bring-in.

Our blog subscribers grew about 4% faster after the redesign. The biggest culprit was making a button underneath each post to subscribe to the page. However, our highest conversion rates for blog subscribers are on the Thank You pages (seriously – take a look at yours – if they say ‘go away, we’ll get back to you when we’re ready’ then add interactions on them).

SEO

Our redesign wasn’t centered around SEO – it was about getting more people into our revenue generating conversion funnels. However, I just wanted to make a quick note on our organic traffic: it hasn’t changed. It’s grown a little bit after the redesign; but that’s not because of the redesign. Each month (assuming I write at least one blog post) our traffic goes up a little bit from the previous month.

Page Views & Time on Site

Page views, bounce rates, and time on site are measures of engagement, not necessarily revenue; however, the site redesign helped with these numbers as well.

According to Google Analytics, our overall:

  • Page views per visitor increased 3.8%
  • Bounce rate decreased 1.85%
  • Time on site increased 7.56%

Conversions That Drive Revenue

The above methods just talk about traffic, they don’t mention actual revenue.

The main focus of the redesign was to get more visitors into one of three funnels:

Contacts

The vast majority of people who contact us have PPC questions; often related to who to buy services from or clarifying some question. We do make some revenue from this group as our second most common question is about the AdWords Seminars, and the third most is about Certified Knowledge.

The number of contacts we receive hasn’t changed at all (nor did we try to increase this number).

However, the number of contacts we generate some revenue from has increased due to our thank you page. Overall, this area was pretty static.

Buying Advanced Google AdWords

When the book first launched, it received a lot of press and had quite a few sales.

After a couple months, the novelty started to wear and the book dropped from number 3 on Amazon’s top Advertising books to around 15-20.

In the redesign, we devoted some space on the site to the book and it immediately jumped back into the top 10.

The book does fluctuate from 5-20 on Amazon (often based upon my speaking schedule); but the redesign has helped aided in selling a few thousand more copies.

On the analytics side; the pageviews for the book increased 28% after the redesign (and excluding the time frame immediately after it launched) and the conversion rate has remained steady.

Registering to Attend the AdWords Seminar

The redesign had a devastating effect on our conversion rates for the seminar.
The redesign had a fantastic effect on our revenues from the seminar.

Do these statements not make sense together?

I think overall conversion rates are useless.

I measured seminar conversion rates in this funnel (starting at number 1):

  1. Viewed overview seminar page
  2. Viewed individual event page
  3. Filled our event info
  4. Filled out credit card info
  5. Viewed Thank You for Registering Page

This is one of the two places where I was really working through the redesign to improve revenue. We have a lot of blog visitors; few of them convert for the seminars. Now, this makes sense as the seminars are geographically focused.

We added the rotating banner at the top of all the blog pages. I put buttons on the side of the page about the seminars.

This had the effect of increasing people into the seminar funnel by more than 62%. Yes, that’s right; more than 62% additional people entered the funnel.

They didn’t all convert.

Our overall conversion rates dropped by 34.5%.

That might not be bad news.

Our seminar revenue went up by 6.8%.

How is that possible?

The conversion rate of our visitors through other traffic sources (besides the blog) didn’t change. All we did was add additional people to the funnel; so even at a lower conversion rate, any conversions were an increase in revenue.

Let’s do some basic math (easy rounded numbers – not actual):

Visitors Conversion Rate Total Conversions Price Revenue
Original Visitors 1000 9% 90 $549 $49,410
Blog Visitors 620 1% 6 $549 $3294
Total 1620 5.9% 96 $549 $52,704

Since we didn’t affect the current traffic to the seminar pages, but increased traffic to them from blog visitors, the redesign had an incremental impact of increasing revenue.

The lower conversion rates from the blog visitors was not surprising. The events have a geographic focus and many of our visitors are from areas outside of our events (especially all of our European and Asia readers); however, the blog readers were learning more about the events overall.

Subscriptions to Certified Knowledge

Certified Knowledge is our new online, on-demand, interact as you will AdWords training, PPC toolset, and community system.

I wanted the redesign to accomplish two things:

  • Increase awareness of Certified Knowledge
  • Increase traffic to Certified Knowledge
  • Increase subscriptions to Certified Knowledge

Now, as Certified Knowledge had barely launched when we did the redesign, it’s not really fair to compare the traffic difference on Certified Knowledge’s site.

However, our second most common exit site is Certified Knowledge (our top is Adobe, where we send more than a thousand visits a month to for plug-in help).

Our blog is the top referrer to the site, and that site is doing a few thousand uniques each month (not bad for absolutely no money spent on marketing yet); I’m happy with how the design is sending traffic to the site. The site’s traffic converts on the membership site a little bit higher than other forms of traffic, so the redesign is helping there as well.

Conclusion

I wasn’t sure when I put the big banner on all of the blog pages if it would alienate the blog readers because there’s an in-your-face rotating ad on every page, which could have lowered pages per visit, time on site, and increased bounce rates or if it would increase revenue for the company as a whole.

Changing the seminar pages and layout was a big risk as I had a nice revenue stream and I was messing with it.

However, I love testing and had to see what would happen if we started increasing the awareness of our other products.

So far, I’m very happy with the redesign.

So far, everyone who has commented about the design has also expressed their like of the site (after I fixed the share bar on the side of the page to never block content).

In fact, I took some of our very early leanings from this site when I designed Certified Knowledge. That site is by far the prettiest site I’ve ever built (to be fair, I started with someone’s custom designed theme and then I went crazy on the CSS, layout, etc for a few days).

A grand total of two days of work and $199 in expenditures lead to more than $3k in additional revenue for each seminar, additional revenue to Certified Knowledge, and more blog subscribers.

Not a bad payday.


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