Increasing website conversion rates is a perpetual priority for both higher education institutions and nonprofit organizations. Considering the massive investments of both time and resources put into building effective websites and marketing campaigns, it might be concerning to learn that the average conversion rate on website visitors is 2.6% in the higher education space and only 1.0% for nonprofits. Here at Cloud for Good, we’ve helped several clients dramatically increase those averages, and we want you to be able to do the same.
To get the ball rolling, take note of your technology and marketing offerings. Do you have a website? Does your website feature forms? Finally, and most importantly, are you currently utilizing Pardot? The odds of increasing your conversation rates go up with each subsequent “yes” to those three questions, and you’ll be pleased to hear that you can increase conversions dramatically with these tools and a few tweaks we’ve learned from experience. Let’s get into it.
Establishing the Basics
Before we get too deep, let’s establish exactly what we’re dealing with here and cover some technical terms:
First, describing what constitutes a website visitor: a website visitor is not defined as a single person, but rather as someone who has viewed your website using a web browser, be that Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or others, on their preferred device, be that a computer, laptop, or smartphone.
Second, we must then explore Tracking Cookies: files containing anonymous data that identifies website visitors through their activity on your website. When someone visits your website, the website sends a cookie to their computer, uniquely identifying each user and storing their visits and page clicks in the user’s browser. Through Pardot, you can set up a Tracking Code that enables tracking cookies on your website. Doing so stores visitor data and delivers a unique Pardot tracking cookie to the visitor’s browser once they accept cookies. We highly recommend editing your cookie message to help set your brand apart.
Third, you should become familiar with Converted Visitors: anyone who has provided their email address to you through their website, most commonly through submitting a form (more on that later). Converted Visitors are also referred to as Prospects in Pardot.
Lastly, know the difference between Pardot Forms and Pardot Form Handlers. Pardot Forms are forms created in Pardot using fields you set up in Pardot for the unique values you’re interested in collected through the forms. Easy enough, right? Pardot Form Handlers allow you to capture and collect submitted data through a form not created in Pardot. These forms are often created through tools like WordPress, FormAssembly, or Formstack. Do note that Pardot Forms and Pardot Form Handlers alike will convert website visitors into known Prospects after the visitor submits a form containing their email address.
Optimizing Your Website
Your website is the foundation on which all quality communication and relationships are built, and you’ve likely made significant investments into that foundation. No matter your organization or institution’s mission, your website is one of the most powerful and invaluable tools helping you reach your mission, providing visitors with a wealth of options to connect with your organization and learn more about the good you put out into the world.
Each day, your website will likely welcome numerous anonymous visitors, perhaps up to thousands upon thousands of visitors that have sought out your website. It is of the utmost importance that you prioritize your digital strategy to convert as many of these anonymous visitors into known contacts as possible. One of the most reliable methods of increasing your website visitor conversions is through the use of forms. Contact Us forms are a must. Newsletter sign-up forms help to bring your visitors back and inform them of what’s happening at your organization or institution. When it comes to forms, the more the merrier as you provide more and more opportunities for your visitors to convert.
Take stock of your website and find out exactly how many forms you have on your website with the ability to capture an email address. Now add even more! Then, make sure they’re all connected to Pardot so all submitted data is tracked and actionable through Pardot’s intuitive and accessible database.
More to Forms Than Meets the Eye
Forms are invaluable when it comes to collecting contact data, but the true essence of their magic lies in their ability to convert your website visitors. Both Pardot Forms and Form Handlers provide you with the ability to reveal anonymous website visitors and their activity on your website, allowing deeper insight into why they visited your website and what they were hoping to achieve or discover. You’ll learn what forms they filled out, yes, but once filled, Pardot Forms and Form Handlers also have the ability to let you see all the historical click activity on your website from each visitor. Even better, all that activity data is then added to unique prospect records in Pardot.
Here’s where things get really interesting: say you’re running a social ad campaign for an upcoming event featuring an ad with a link to the event’s webpage on your website. You’ve included a simple sign-up form on this event webpage. This sign-up form is generated by a form tool outside of Pardot and will drop the data from the sign-up form directly into Salesforce. You’ve just applied a Pardot Form Handler to the form and your website now has a Pardot Tracking Code ready to go.
Now, here’s what happens when a person, unestablished with no prior data in your records, signs up for the event: Salesforce is updated, Pardot is updated, and the email address submitted in Pardot then unlocks the cookie data, converts the visitor record into a new prospect record, and stores all historical website activities and page clicks into Prospect Activities on the new record. You’ve now converted the visitor, unlocked their data revealing their previous activities on your website, gained insights and invaluable information on the pages they’ve interacted with, and even added an attendee to your event! Imagine all the new visitor conversions if you applied the same idea of this scenario into all forms on your website.
The overall goal will always be to exceed the average benchmarks for website visitor conversion rates and leverage the benefits of your organization or institution’s mission by connecting with more contacts that visit and interact with your website. To convert those anonymous website visitors and their activities on your site, make sure to apply your Pardot Tracking Code to your website, update each and every form on your website with either a Pardot Form Handler or a Pardot Form, and, if possible, add even more forms to increase your available options or conversion points, for your visitors to submit their email addresses to you. Using your website in tandem with Pardot and intelligent Form handling, you’re sure to unlock the magic of conversion and increase your overall website conversion rates.