Case study: How a company increased conversion rate by 390% in 5 months

Conversion rate is a metric that every web manager pays attention to. The number of visitors who convert on your site, whether it means signing up to a newsletter or purchasing a product in your e-commerce store is is highly important. Each web manager has a goal of increasing conversion rate. Experts claim conversion rate to be a science and that it requires an understanding of customer psyche and behavior, I disagree. This post will explain how one website increased conversion rate by 390%.

A multi-channel approach

At the end of the 2011, the global conversion rate  of a travel company was 0.43%. At the start of the year, the conversion rate dropped to 0.20%. Travel industry professionals know that January is the busiest sales month of the year and we quickly set an action plan to increase our online efforts. The focus was to improve on-site SEO and PPC, increase email marketing activity, conduct usability testing and implement customer survey on the site. Each week we monitored our progress.

In February 2012, the conversion was 0.20%, with approx 30 transactions per week and revenues of approx €35,000 (value of €1.8 million per year).

The improvements quickly made an impact on the bottom line and as of today, the conversion rate is 0.98%, with approx 100 transactions per week and revenues of €120,000 (value of €6.2 million). That’s a 390% increase in conversion rate.



Sales continue to grow to now more than €100,000 per week and year on year revenue is up by 31%.

Conversion rate

Conversion rate

Conversion rate has increased by 390% since February

Travel is a very seasonal industry. However, the chart below compares this year’s increase with 2011.

Conversion rate 2011 and 2012

2011 conversion rate between Jan-Jul was 0.34%.

Four channels to improve web traffic quality

Here are the exact steps we took to increase conversion rate as per each marketing channel:

Search Engine Optimization

  • Sign up to SEOmoz and fix issus found under crawl diagnostics
  • URL rewrite with user-friendly keyword URL’s
  • Improved page titles and meta descriptions
  • Uploaded XML sitemap to webmaster tools

We now rank top of the SERPs for our most competitive keywords

Search Engine Marketing (PPC)

Click through rates have increased by more than 700%

User Experience

  • Launched 4Q customer survey
  • Emphasized the benefits of booking online
  • Added guest reviews to key pages
  • Launched a pricing calendar

Users can now complete tasks on site much quicker

Email Marketing

  • Newsletter sign up on front page
  • Emphasized the benefits of signing up
  • Monthly email marketing activity based on segmentation
  • Personalized newsletters

High open rates and click through rates with low unsubscribe rates

Having a clear goal and focus

These efforts were not the result of a highly experienced online marketing team. In fact, the team that lead us to this remarkable achievement had no prior online marketing experience. Through self-educating, a clear direction and implementing like hell, conversion rates and sales have increased.

When this project was started, the goal was bring the conversion rate back to a minimum of 0.43%. By having a clear goal, online sales have tripled and the approach will now be rolled out globally and implemented on several websites, which potentially could lead to more than €42 million in increased sales.

 How has your conversion rate increased in 2012? Post your comments in the section below.

How to get 100 000 fans on Facebook in less than a year

In September 2011 a small company had 1 600 fans on Facebook. The company had no clear Facebook strategy and there was little activity on their Facebook page. Less than a year later, the company has over 100 000 fans, a very active base of enthusiastic fans and a Facebook page that contributes significantly to the bottom line! What happened  during this year? What can we learn? Strategy is simple. Execution is difficult!

Some Experts will tell you that you have to develop a detailed plan, set specific goals and get management on board  before you start. Other experts have a more practical approach to success with social media. I think this story will show that the practical approach is more effective .

Facebook growth

In order to succeed on Facebook, you need to attract and engage fans and measure effect in order to share success stories. Here´s the story.

1. Just do it

Some activties require little planning. I consider them “no brainers” when it comes to any Facebook effort. Here´s a short checklist:

When you start implementing, you trigger reactions from other people in your organization. You get people to think and you create a positive “sense of urgency”. You might even inspire other people to take action! You´ve essentially kick started your company´s social media efforts. No planning or meetings required. Just do it!

2. Do some research

You don´t have to reinvent the wheel. Look at what other companies do and emulate them until you come up with something truly unique. Expand your horizon. Look across countries and industries for inspiration. Read reports and blog posts about Facebook success stories. Learn from the best companies in other countries:

  • Who´s the best? Make a list of the 5 leading companies in the world.
  • What do they do on Facebook? How do they use Facebook on their own websites?
  • What do they publish on their Facebook pages?
  • How are they different?

3. Choose a general direction and implement like hell

After you´ve completed step 1 (Just do it) and step 2 (Do some research), you´re ready to really get going with your social media efforts. Test different approaches and adjust along the way. Remember that ideas have no value if you don´t implement.

  • Contests & promotions
    Facebook promotions are a great way to attract fans. In September the Norwegian company used Wildfireapp to launch a promotion. The first attempt failed, but in October they launched a new promotion using a quiz-app from Offerpop. The second promotion was successful and the fan-base  grew to 5000 fans.
  • Simplicity is genious
    In November the company launched a Facebook Christmas gift app. The idea behind the app was to make it easy to give Facebook friends Christmas gifts. The service had several social mechanisms to maximize viral exposure.  It´s also worth noting that Walmart launched a similar gift app around the same time. The app was not a commercial success, but the company gained some valuable social experience!
  • Christmas calendars 
    Alot of companies launch Christmas calendars before Christmas. It´s quite boring, but it works. People love quizes and contests with daily prizes. If you add a grand prize at the end, you´re guaranteed success. Read more about the Facebook activity that lead to 45 000 new fans.
  • Copy Groupon
    Groupon offers daily deals to a large customer base. If you have 100 000 Facebook fans, it´s worth trying daily deals towards your own fans. Only approx. 16% of your Facebook fans see any given post (source: Facebook – don´t remember exact source..)so you can post almost daily without wearing out your fans! Don´t abuse it and remember to focus on relevancy!
  • Common sense
    Mark Zuckerberg once said: “Communities already exist. They´re already doing what they want to do. The question you should ask is how you can help them do that better”. This is key to success with social media. What are your customers, partners, employees already doing? How can you make it easier for them to do what they´re already doing?

4. Measure results and share success stories

It´s much more fun to share success stories when you know the exact numbers at the beginning of your quest. Before taking on a new project, it´s essential to look at the numbers. There´s a variety of good tools out there: Facebook insights, Allfacebookstats and Socialbakers are good tools that make it easy to track progress.

Next steps

The story about the small Norwegian company that gained 100 000 Facebook fans in one year shows that you can succeed on Facebook without extensive planning and huge budgets. The key is to choose a general direction and implement like hell. It´s hard work and somebody has to take action. We hope that this short story inspires others to share success stories!


Hurtigruten increases online sales from $3 million to $100 million

From 2008 to 2012, Hurtigruten increased sales from $3 million to $100 million. The growth was a result of several things and the online efforts played an important role. Here´s some insight into some of the focus activities.

In 2011, Hurtigruten improved the online user experience by introducing key functionality (booking box) on the home page. Since then, continuous improvements have been made and documented, such as the results of what happened when we move the functionality above the fold and how the improvements increased sales online.

Since launching the booking box, we have continued to increase online sales and improve the user experience. The blog post will review the impact to online sales of each improvement.

February Week 2, 2011

On February 15th, 2011 Hurtigruten launched key functionality on the home page. The booking box was implemented below the fold but the results were immediate as initiated bookings increased by more than 173%. Online bookings increased by 28%.

Increased initiated bookings

Initiated bookings

June Week 1, 2011

On June 1st, Hurtigruten moved the placement of the booking box to above the fold. The reason for this was that during usability tests that were ran in March, 2011 only 2 of the 10 testers found the booking box on the home page. The results were immediate as online bookings increased by 4%.

March Week 2, 2012

On March 5th, Hurtigruten implemented a new booking box after extensive research into 2011 sales data. The new booking box included both passenger selection and cabin requirments, thus giving the user a more exact price earlier in the booking process. The results were immediate and online bookings increased by 42%.

June Week 3, 2012

On June 18th, Hurtigruten launched a new version on the website in Norway. The improvements were based on the results of the usabiity tests in March 2011. With a new web design and improved booking box, online bookings increased by 15%.

Booking box design improvements since Feb 2011
[Left booking box on both above and below the fold]

Booking box

In September 2012, further improvements will be implemented as we introduce tours (currently live on the German site) and a five day calendar view on the search results. These improvements are in line with feedback from usability tests we have performed.

Mock-up of new booking box

New booking box

The current booking box is targeted towards Hurtigruten’s Norwegian market.  However, during the last 12 months, more than half of the total web traffic has been from countries outside of Norway. Most international customers do not know where Kirkenes or Bergen is, and most travellers do not know their specific travel date. This information is critical in the decision making process. Thefore, an international booking box will be created for non-Nordic web visitors. We expect this improvement to increase conversion rate.

Prototype of International booking box


Gerry McGovern once said „I can’t think of a successful website I’ve dealt with hasn’t had a continuous improvement management model“. In 16 months, Hurtigruten have continued to improve key functionality and online sales have increased tenfold. We will continue with our improvements.

All the sales information in this blog post have been presented in publicly available reports.

Do you have any success stories on continuous improvement? Do you have any suggestions on how we can improve the booking box further? Suggestions are welcome in the comments box below.

Stop wasting your online marketing budgets!

Every day executives all over the world are making decisions based on bad data. Reporting accurate data is one the most important aspects of your business. You cannot effectively market your brand or increase revenues if you are reporting the wrong information yet companies do not prioritize accurate reporting. This blog post will look at the value of reporting accurately within your organization and help you spread this message internally.

35% of marketing budgets are wasted annually

In April 2012, Experian released a report titled  „The data revolution – liberating lost budget“ that analyzed wasted spend to cost companies as much as £1 million in additional profits compared to those who accurately reported data.

Of the 900 companies surveyed, 55 per cent cited revenue generation as a driver for better data quality. Inaccurate data is forcing you to waste budgets and costing you profits. Further insight by Experian into inaccurate data reports:

  • Globally, businesses estimate a loss of 6% of annual revenue due to bad data
  • 89% of companies believe their budgets are being wasted due to inaccurate data
  • 96% of organization view data accuracy as essential yet nearly one-third don’t enforce it
  • 92% of business believe that some aspect of their data is flawed
  • 77% of companies confess shortcomings in data quality have an effect on their bottom line
  • 63% of respondents believe that up to 35% of marketing budget is wasted due to bad data
  • In the US, businesses admit to losing 7% of revenue due to poorly managed customer data

Accurate data is a competitive advantage

With many brands struggling to report accurately, being able to analyze accurate data is now a competitive advantage. In 2012, only 15% of companies have set a target of 100% accurate data as a goal.

By generating timely and accurate data about your business, you can identify and prioritize existing problems. With more than £1 million in additional profits potentially being missed out on, your business can no longer afford to report inaccurate data.  Viva la data revolution!

Have you improved your bottom line by reporting accurate data? Feel free to add your comments in the box below.

Source material:

  1. How to Stop Bad Data from Wrecking your Marketing Budget [November 2010]
  2. 20% of budget wasted by poor data [April 2012]
  3. The Impact of Contact Data Quality [August 2010]
  4. The Data Revolution: Liberating lost budgets [April 2012]

This post was written by Steven Macdonald. You can find more about Steven in the About Tribes section.