This guest blog post is provided by the Business Development Bank of Canada BDC, which offers financing, subordinate financing, venture capital and consulting services to 28,000 small and medium-sized Canadian companies.

A common misconception about websites is that once you have a professional-looking design, you should focus on attracting more visitors.

While there's no denying a site needs traffic, what's the point if visitors never become customers?

Just as it's more cost-effective to keep an existing customer than attract a new one, optimizing your site for conversion yields a better return on investment than techniques that simply drive more visitors to your site. So, how do you do it?

Step 1

The first step in conversion optimization is getting a sense of where you stand today. To do so, there are a number of free and low-cost web analytics applications you can use. The information they provide will help you quickly determine your most visited pages as well as where visitors exit your site without taking any further action.

Step 2

The second step is to think about your ideal visitors. Who are they? What do they like? And most importantly, how do they buy? This will help you visualize the customers you are targeting and improve the design of your website, including its visual aspects, writing and calls to action.

Step 3

Armed with statistics and thinking on ideal visitors, your third step is to determine the path you want people to follow on your website and make it easier for them to do tasks such as buying products or signing up for an e-newsletter. Make sure your forms require as little effort and thought as possible to fill out.

Step 4

The fourth and final step is to consistently test your assumptions and make incremental adjustments. This suggests you should work to optimize individual pages for conversion rather than trying to redesign your site all at once.

The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) has developed a free, easy-to-read eBook to help entrepreneurs navigate the world of online marketing and sales. Download your copy of Boost Your Sales with Online Marketing: A Guide for Entrepreneurs.