To clarify: no, we're not talking religion here.
Conversion is a marketing term, and it pretty much means getting someone to do something you want them to. No hypnosis or mind tricks required.
Conversion can apply to a variety of things - from direct mail, to cold calling, to email newsletters. In this case, we'll apply it to websites.
So what is an example of a conversion?
The most common example of a successful conversion is getting a visitor of your site to fill out a contact form. Also, in some cases (e.g. a service-based business), it would be signing up for your free email newsletter (where you hope to convert them into sitting down with you at some point down the road).
Why is a conversion important?
Well, do you want people to just come to your site and leave, or do you want them to actually do something and maybe help you make some money? Yes, you want to pay your bills, so you probably want people to buy something from you. It doesn't matter how pretty your website is or even how much it appears in search engines if nobody does anything.
Tips to improve your conversion rates:
- Clear "call-to-action." A "call-to-action" (CTA) is essential on the page. Buttons, such as "Sign up," are calls to action. The key is to not bombard your users with a million different buttons, overloading them with choices and giving them no idea on what to process. Your pages should flow and have a clear action that you are gently implying that the user should take.
- Mobile-friendly. If you read my blog, you probably think I'm the most annoying broken record in the world. But if you want people to stay on your site longer and have a much better experience, you need a mobile site. It will be much easier for them to find and fill in a contact form, for example! All that scrolling and zooming when browsing a site that is not mobile-friendly on your phone can turn me into a bitter and grumpy man.
- Visual appeal. This may seem obvious, but would you rather click a nice-looking button that has attractive colors with a bit of a color change when you hover, or a weird brown static button? Or even worse - a normal text link in small font on a page? If your CTA is a button, make it a nice, large button that is slightly interesting to click.
- Exciting wording. Once again - would you rather have boring text, such as "Click here to talk to us," or something like "Show me how to make money." These examples aren't the greatest, but it's important to focus on benefit to the reader, have exciting language, and ideally have some sort of sense of urgency (without seeming spammy/gimmicky). For example, the bottom of this (and every) blog post has a CTA!