Conversion Rates up 220%. Revenue up 300%.
See Exactly How We Did It…
The power of Conversion Rate Optimization is undeniable. An entire online business becomes more profitable when the website can convert more visitors to paying customers. This allows a business to invest more into advertising campaigns which were once out of budget and this leads to rapid growth. This is exactly what is happening with Century Hearing Aids due to our Conversion Rate Optimization services at Prodigal Solutions.
In April 2012, Jon Stoddard, the owner of Century Hearing Aids, contacted us for our Conversion Rate Optimization services. Century Hearing Aids is an online retail site that sells hearing aids. Their sales were declining and they needed a way to quickly increase sales. Their entire advertising budget is spent on Pay Per Click advertising. A dip in sales makes it very difficult for them to keep up with advertising. We needed to increase conversion rates so more of their visitors converted into paying customers. This would allow them to be more aggressive with their advertising instead of scaling back.
If you bid on competitive keywords, you know how hard it is to make a profit. Century Hearing Aids was barely making a profit despite having a large budget for PPC, solid gross revenue and a highly experienced PPC management firm optimizing their PPC campaigns. After 4 months of our Conversion Rate Optimization services, their profits increased by over 3000%!
- Hearing aids can be difficult to sell online because they are not covered by insurance, usually purchased by an older demographic, usually sold by doctors and they are very expensive.
- Jon took advice from several other conversion rate optimization consultants before contacting us, but the conversion rates continued to suffer. When Jon came to us, we recognized that a few changes would not help. The entire site needed an overhaul.
- Google Analytics tracks less than half of the conversions because phone orders make up most of the sales. We wanted to make sure we focused on the revenue and total sales generated rather than watch the conversion rate in Google Analytics. This means A/B testing is not possible. A certain page design could produce more onlinesales which are tracked by Google, making it look like conversions are better for a particular page variation, but what is the point if that page is taking away from phone sales and overall sales?We needed to work on this site the old school way. We had to calculate total sales per visitors to be sure that the changes we made were improving sales.
- There were other limitations such as the checkout. The ecommerce platform that they use is a hosted platform. Customizing the checkout could have caused major issues. Basically, we were told any time the platform was updated, the checkout could stop working. This is unfortunate since we really wanted to change the checkout.
The General Plan
- Change the general look of the site, display the product categories better on the main page and reinforce the reasons to buy hearing aids from Century Hearing Aids.
- Make further adjustments as necessary to the main page, the navigation menu, category pages and organize the entire site so it was easier to navigate.
- We would fine tune any areas of the site depending on what problem areas we find in Analytics.
The above screenshot is sort-of what the site looked like when we got started. I pieced this image together from some screenshots that we have. Sorry that we don’t have the exact screenshot. I forgot to take an initial screenshot of the site as a comparison before we changed it.
Conversions were very low and Jon needed fast results so we made some quick changes that we thought would help…
Why the Creative Process is so important
The screenshot above is one of the first mock-ups that we put up for the main page. We worked very fast and made a ton of little changes to this design in the few weeks that it was up. We don’t always have time to wait for data to come in to make changes. Many times, the next day will give us a fresh perspective of things and further changes are made.
This process goes against what many conversion rate optimization firms believe, but we believe that the creative process is a huge part of conversion rate optimization and that creative process should not be slowed down to wait for data. Don’t take that statement the wrong way. Data is a huge part of CRO and we analyze data constantly, but we also understand that we must keep moving forward to improve the site.
For the last 200 years, every major advertising firm had a creative department. There is an obvious reason for this. You need to have a creative department if you want to sell something. The creative process is a major part of conversion rate optimization.
Most sites don’t have enough traffic to a/b test every change. That is just the simple truth. You need thousands of visitors to each page variation just to get an idea if a change is statistically better. We probably made around 100 changes in the first month. If we a/b tested all of those changes, we would have needed millions of visitors just to the main page. It would take a year to do what we did in a month.
So here is a breakdown of some of the changes we made.
- We removed the subscription form for the free report. We want to focus the main page on filtering visitors to the products they are interested in. Jon was advised by other internet marketers to be aggressive at building a mailing list, but there must be a balance. Building a list should not interfere with selling a product. Selling a product is the main goal of a site like this. If you have an ecommerce site and you want to build a list, then try these:
- Use landing pages and drive traffic to them with separate advertising campaigns
- Have a smaller subscription form on your site that is out of the way
- Offer coupon codes for subscribers
- On a product page, offer a downloadable “report” on that product
- Offer free product samples
- etc.These are some ways to increase subscribers without distracting visitors from purchasing a product.
After all of the initial changes, conversions actually dropped. Something was definitely wrong. After talking to Jon a few times, we realized he removed “in-the-ear” hearing aids. He did this due to low profit margins. The problem with this is he is bidding on a ton of keywords such as “digital hearing aids”. By not having in-the-ear hearing aids, he is missing out on over 50% of the market. After realizing that this could really be hurting sales and he was missing out on additional profits, he put them back up for sale.
We also cleaned up the main page a little more and added testimonials…
Traffic Source Issues
We continued to analyze data to make sure we had a better understanding why conversions were still low after our initial changes. We realized another problem could be the keywords he was bidding on. Jon assured us that he hired an experienced PPC management firm and the traffic source should not be an issue. I had my doubts because the keywords that were generating the most traffic did not seem right. These keywords did not seem like keywords used by people who are ready to buy hearing aids online. I talked Jon into letting us look at his Adwords campaigns.
I am a bottom-line guy. I want to see sales and profits. I can care less about click thru rates and “performance” of ads. If ads are not generating sales, they are not performing in my eyes. Plain and simple.
I broke down each keyword to check the sales, conversion rates and profit margins. I found several of the largest campaigns were losing a ton of money while the most profitable campaigns were not taken advantage of.
After I showed everything to Jon, he let us set up all new campaigns and things were starting to look much better. We were able to generate more PPC traffic while also increasing the productivity of the traffic.
Sometimes you can have a great site, but if you are driving the wrong type of visitors to your site, conversions will be low.
Conversion rates improved drastically and so did revenue. We let the site sit for a little while to gather some good data and made a few changes before moving to the next stage.
A More Drastic Change
After seeing a large improvement in conversions and gathering solid data, we moved forward with a more drastic change to the site. You can go to http://www.centuryhearingaids.com to see what we did.
- We moved the products off the main page. We wanted to filter the visitors to product category pages instead of listing all of the products on the main page. The category pages could then do a much better job at explaining/comparing the products on the same page. This way visitors did not have to guess which product they were interested in from the main page. Now, visitors have much more information all on the same page about the products they are interested in.Although, the main purpose of moving the products off the main page was for SEO. At this time, Jon was generating more profit due to the increased conversions and he wanted to invest in SEO. We wanted to target keywords that were related to the types of hearing aids. We did not have a good page focused on “behind the ear”, “in the ear” and “open fit”. So which page would be considered relevant for these terms in Google? We removed any pages that could be cannibalizing these terms and focused all links to the pages that compared the products of a particular type (in-the-ear, behind the ear, open fit). Now each page can focus on one keyword and be very relevant for that keyword rather than stuffing different keywords on the main page.
- We then organized the entire site and the top menu. The menu had random links in pull down menus. It was too much. We simplified the top menu to only a few options and created a “learning center” for the resource pages of the site.
- The “Made in USA” image was moved to the top header. This was another way to enforce the quality of the products.
- Basically, we tried to make the site look much more professional overall.
After we made all of the major changes, we watched data and made changes where necessary. We noticed that overall conversions were about the same after these changes.
Traffic Flow Issue
One of the concerns was adding an extra step to the checkout. With prior versions of the site, visitors would go to the main page, click on a product and add it to the cart. Now they go to the main page, choose a category, choose a product then add it to the cart. We felt this should not be an issue since visitors are being filtered and prepped better for a sale.
We checked the data after a couple weeks and the checkout page visits were very low. We knew this might happen and even though sales still were doing great, we were not satisfied. We analyzed the visitor flow to see which part of the site people were dropping off. The main page and the product pages were amazing. The issue was with the category pages. A large percentage of people were dropping off of the category pages.
The category page looked like this…
Visitors coming from the main page to a page that compared the features of the products was not a good idea. We developed the following page to give visitors a general description of the products so they can make an easier choice between them…
After fixing that speed bump, conversions continued to climb to over 200% higher.
Well, CRO never really ends. We accomplished our main goals and we are happy to increase conversions by 220%, revenue by 300% and most importantly, profits by over 3000%