Conversion optimization has become a big deal in the analytics- and measurement-crazed world of online marketing. At its heart is the singular concept of conversion.

Whether or not you know how to optimize the customer-meets-business interaction, the simple truth is that conversion is the most fundamental element of online business success.

To click or not to click. That is the question.

Conversion's purpose is to provide the maximum return on your marketing spend—a concept rooted in common sense, yet shrouded in the mysteries of behavioral psychology.

Conversion is the mechanism and process of pouring targeted consumers into, through, and out the other side of the marketing funnel. Persuasion is not a dirty word when spoken in the right way, at the right time, to the right person.

That is the essence of "Clicking Me Softly": Convince, don't coerce. Guide, don't deceive.

And remember: Sustainable marketing success is achievable only when you help people get what they want.

Conversion Fundamentals

For the next five days we'll explore the ideas, tools, and methodology necessary to maximize the efficacy of your customer's life on the Web page. In doing so, we'll make your pages better, more focused, more persuasive, and ultimately more successful.

Each day contains a concept coupled with a short task designed to turn you into a conversion expert.

Day 1: The Economics of Conversion

Most people know that it's cheaper to keep a customer than it is to find a new one. Similarly, it makes sense to get the most from the traffic you already receive by improving the conversion rate.

Sounds blindingly obvious, right? But many businesses are either too content or too lazy to invest in conversion improvements.

There are two options driving traffic to increase business:

  1. You can buy more traffic
  2. You can spend a portion of your budget on improving your site

If you are in any doubt about which of these options makes more sense, I'll make it easy for you—it's the second one.

An Example

If you have a marketing budget of $1,000 per month dedicated to driving traffic to your site, you may observe the following scenario. (These numbers are based on some average Google AdWords pay-per-click stats.)

Now, if we use strategy No. 1 to buy more traffic—doubling the budget:

Notice how the cost of acquiring a customer remains the same and your budget stretches in a predictable manner. That is why many companies just throw more money at their marketing. More cash = more customers. It's predictable, but it's lazy—and inefficient.

For strategy No. 2, we're going to take some of the budget and spend it on optimizing the destination page to increase its conversion rate. Remember that your goal should be to reduce the cost of acquiring a new customer.

What that scenario shows us is that as we increase the investment in conversion optimization, our traffic spend decreases. The result is fewer visitors, but the improved conversion rate more than makes up for the decrease by bringing in more customers and ultimately reducing the cost per acquisition (CPA).

By month three, pausing the conversion investment (because you've already optimized the conversion process) produces a further drop in CPA.

The beauty of conversion optimization is that once your page is converting better, it stays that way almost indefinitely.

Alternatively, you may choose not to use your traffic budget and instead invest a few hours of your (or an employee's) time on optimization.

If you are just getting started with conversion optimization, you'd be smart to get a free expert review by a company specializing in optimization to uncover some initial opportunities for improvement. With no impact to your traffic budget, it would be a "win win." See the resources below for companies that offer this service.

Day 1 Resources

Check out the book Web Design for ROI for an extended discussion of optimization investment vs. traffic spend.

Optimization expert Wider Funnel is offering a free landing-page evaluation for qualified businesses.

Brian Massey, The Conversion Scientist, offers a free 45-minute consultation.

Day 1 Task

If you have a marketing budget, plug your own numbers into the tables above to see the effect that focusing on conversion could have. Then, use resulting "ammunition" to convince your boss (or yourself) that conversion matters.

MarketingProfs Resources

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Clicking Me Softly: A Five-Day Crash Course in Conversion (Day 1)

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Oli Gardner is a co-founder of—The DIY Landing Page Platform. He writes about conversion-centered design, landing pages, and marketing theory. Reach him via email at and Twitter @unbounce.