Who’s getting involved?
Every day people visit the webmaker.org website. They come from many places, for many reasons. Sometimes they know about Webmaker, but most of the time it’s new to them. Some of those people take an action; they sign-up to find out more, to make something with our tools, or even to throw a Maker Party. But, most of the people who visit webmaker.org don’t.
The percentage of people who do take action is our conversion rate. Our conversion rate is an important number that can help us to be more effective. And being more effective is key to winning.
If you’re new to thinking about our conversion rate, it can seem complex at first, but it is something we can influence. And I choose the word influence deliberately, as a conversion rate is not typically something you can control.
The good thing about a conversion rate is that you can monitor what happens to it when you change your website, or your marketing, or your product. In all product design, marketing and copy-writing we’re communicating with busy human beings. And human beings are brilliant and irrational (despite our best objections). The things that inspire us to take action are often hard to believe.
For the Webmaker story to cut-through and resonate with someone as they’re skimming links on their phone while eating breakfast and trying convince a toddler to eat breakfast too, is really difficult.
How we present Webmaker, the words we use to ask people to get involved, and how easy we make it for them to sign-up, all combine to determine what percentage of people who visit webmaker.org today will sign-up and get involved.
- Conversion rate is a number that matters.
- It’s a number we can accurately track.
- And it’s a number we can improve.
It gets more complex though
The people who visit webmaker.org today are not all equally likely to take an action.
How people hear about Webmaker, and their existing level of knowledge affects their ‘predisposition to convert’.
- If my friend is hosting a Maker Party and I’ve volunteered to help and I’m checking out the site before the event, odds are I’ll sign-up.
- If I clicked a link shared on twitter that sounded funny but didn’t really explain what webmaker was, I’m much less likely to sign-up.
Often, the traffic sources that drive the biggest number of visitors, are the people with less existing knowledge about Webmaker, and who are less likely to convert. This is true of most ‘markets’ where an increase in traffic often results in a decrease in overall conversion rate.
Enter, The Snippet
Mozilla will be promoting Maker Party on The Snippet, and the snippet reaches such a vast audience that we just ran an early test to make sure everything is working OK and to establish some baseline metrics. The expectation of the snippet is high visits, low conversion rate, and overall a load of new people who hear about Webmaker.
By all accounts, a large volume of traffic from a hugely diverse audience whose only knowledge of Webmaker is a line of text and a small flashing icon should result in a very low conversion rate. And when you add this traffic into the overall webmaker.org mix, our overall average conversion rate should plummet (though this would be an artifact of the stats rather than any decline in effectiveness elsewhere).
However, after a few days of testing the snippet, our conversion rate overall is up. This is quite frankly astounding, and a great endorsement for the work that is going into our new landing pages. This is really something to celebrate.
So, how did this happen?
Well, mostly by design. Though the actual results are even better than I was personally expecting and hoping for.
You could say we’re cheating, because we chose a new type of conversion for this audience. Rather than ‘creating a webmaker.org account‘, we only asked them to ‘join a mailing list‘. It’s a lower-bar call to action. But, while it’s a lower-bar call to action, what really matters is that it’s an appropriate call to action for the level of existing knowledge we expect this audience to have. Appropriate is a really important part of the design.
Traffic from the snippet goes to a really simple introduction to webmaker.org page with an immediate call to action to join the mailing list, then it ‘routes’ you into the Maker Party website to explore more. That way, even if you’re busy now, you can tell us you’re interested and we can keep in touch and remind you in a weeks’ time (when you have a quiet moment, perhaps) about “that awesome Mozilla educational programme you saw last week but didn’t have time to look at properly”.
It’s built on the idea that many of the people who currently visit webmaker.org, but who don’t take action are genuinely interested but didn’t make it in the door. We just have to give them an easy enough way to let us know they’re interested. And then, we have to hold their hands and welcome them into this crazy world of remixed education.
A good landing page is like a good concierge.
The results so far:
Even with this lower bar call to action, I was expecting lower conversion rates for visitors who come from the snippet. Our usual ‘new account’ conversion rate for Webmaker.org is in the region of 3% depending on traffic source. The snippet landing page is currently converting around 8%, for significant volumes of traffic. And this is before any testing of alternative page designs, content tweaking, and other optimization that can usually uncover even higher conversion rates.
Our very first audience specific landing page is already having a significant impact.
So, here’s to many more webmaker.org landing pages that welcome users into our world, and in turn make that world even bigger.
On keeping the balance
Measuring conversion rate is a game of statistics, but improving conversion rate is about serving individual human beings well by meeting them where they are. Our challenge is to jump back and forth between these two ways of thinking without turning people into numbers, or forgetting that numbers help us work with people at scale.
Learning more about conversion rates?
- This talk I gave a little while ago covers most of the theory: Things they don’t tell you about conversion rates