Conversion Rate Optimization: Consistency Pays

My first attempt to summarize this article went like this: If your web pages echo the scent that hooks traffic, then your conversion rate from paid search, display, and email campaigns will soar.

Talk about mixed metaphors! I count four right there and four creatures come to mind: a bat, a dog, a fish, and a bird. Bats use echo-location, dogs follow scent, fish get hooked, and birds soar.

So please bear with me as I blend all four metaphors into a four-part recipe for conversion rate optimization, using this visual aid.

Sheplers Consistency

A 4-Part Recipe for Conversion Consistency

  1. On the left of the image above is an email that arrived on my iPhone. As a price-sensitive shopper (and these days who isn’t?) the clearance sale offering up to 55 percent off caught my eye. So I clicked on that.
  2. People who arrive at your website by clicking on your paid search or display ads or email offers are valuable because they have demonstrated an interest in what you’re offering and you’ve made an investment in them. In terms of fishing, they have taken the bait. In hunting terms, they have caught the scent.
  3. On the right of the image above is the page I saw on my iPhone when I clicked “55% clearance sale” in that email. Despite the small screen, one thing is quite clear: I’m on the right page for that 55 percent clearance sale. This retailer is doing it right, holding my interest by making sure that the page I see after the click is consistent with the message that brought me to that page. The hook is set, the scent maintained.
  4. The next step takes us deeper into website and the purchase process. Even people who are interested in what you’re selling can be distracted during this process, so you should echo that original “hook” throughout the site experience. For example, when I’m browsing possible purchases in the above example, that 55 percent offer should be visible. It should also be visible when I view my shopping cart and on the other pages in the purchase funnel until I make my buy and you reel me in.


Yes, it’s easier to write this recipe down than it is to bake it into a website, so let me present some incentives.

How about a 267 percent lift in conversion rate? That was the result in one of the first tests of display ad consistency run by my company for an online retailer. In other words, visitors who were shown a banner on the site that matched the display ad which brought them to the site were about 3.7 times more likely to convert as visitors in a control group who saw the ad but not the banner.

Or how about a 15 percent increase in revenue? Not such a huge number maybe, but it’s a dependable number, and possibly enough to put the CMO in line for a bonus. That 15 percent is typically what we see when the look-and-feel of an email offer is echoed on the website. That consistency lowers bounce rate and increases relevance, it increases the comfort level of the shopper, and ultimately drives conversion and revenue.

How you go about creating this consistency depends on many factors, like your site design, your CMS, and your marketing workflow. That makes it hard to give specific instructions on implementing this conversion optimization strategy.

However, workflow and digital asset management play an important role. For example, when you have someone design a campaign, be it display, search, or email, get them to include a few extra creatives that can be used on the site when the campaign goes live. Matching that look-and-feel pays dividends when people catch the scent of what your website is offering them.

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