This should go without saying, but it should never be difficult for customers to give you money. I know. It sounds obvious. But this simple truth can sometimes get lost during the web development process. Take this example:
In this video I reviewed a website that listed jet ski tour packages on their homepage. Clicking the “book now” button for any one of the tours redirected me to a new list of available tours. From there, I had to select my desired tour (again) which redirected me to the tour description. On that page, I had to select my dates and click “book now” again before I finally arrived at the page where I could enter payment details. That’s four separate clicks to get from the home page to the payment page. That’s WAY too many.
Creating efficient pathways to the checkout on your website is part of what we call conversion rate optimization (CRO).
What is conversion rate optimization (CRO)?
CRO is the science of convincing more people to take action on your website. The action you ask them to take might be downloading a brochure, signing up for your newsletter, or making a purchase—whatever you decide is valuable to your business.
When optimizing your website for conversions we look at several areas including (but not limited to) website design, navigation, site speed, copywriting, and messaging.
The cool thing about CRO is that when it works you can increase your bookings without spending more time or money on advertising because the marketing you’re already doing generates additional leads and sales for you.
CRO quick start guide
In truth, there is an entire science behind CRO that involves analyzing your existing traffic, calculating conversion rates, generating ideas, setting up experiments, and testing, testing, testing. If you’ve got the budget for it, I highly recommend hiring a CRO expert (which, to be clear, I am not).
But here’s the thing, a lot of people have already spent a LOT of money on CRO. So you and I have the benefit of industry best practices we can lean on to get started.
1. Have a clear and compelling call to action
Your call to action is the thing that you want visitors to do. Typically, that’s “book now” for a travel website, though it might also be “schedule a consultation,” “download our travel guide,” or “join our mailing list.”
Whatever it is that you want people to do, that call to action should be immediately apparent on your homepage. Don’t hide it at the bottom of the page. Don’t confuse people with multiple offers. Just politely encourage people to do whatever it is you want them to do.
2. Make your site easy to navigate
Make it easy for people to find what they are looking for. Relocate or remove non-essential links. Use labels that everyone can understand (“about us” is fine, no need to go get overly creative). And make sure the links go where people expect.
3. Speed up your website
People are impatient. If they have to wait more than a second or two for your webpage to load, they’re gone. Making sure your site works fast is equally, if not more, important than making it pretty. That might mean sacrificing some of those high-resolution, bandwidth-sucking images and videos that are so popular on travel websites.
4. Make it easy to reach you
Sometimes, no matter how much you optimize your site, people still have questions or concerns. In these situations they need a quick and easy way to reach you. The more communication methods you can provide, the better, but at least one of the following should be on every page of your website: a phone number, a chat window, or your direct email address (as in firstname.lastname@example.org).
In short, make booking a snap
In some ways, CRO boils down to “don’t make people work in order to give you money.” The easier you make it for people to find what they’re looking for and place their order, the more likely they are to finalize their booking.