Driving traffic to a website or a landing page is just the first step in making a successful sale online. The next step is getting that visitor to convert to a customer. The ratio between the number of visitors that visit your website and the number of them that take the action you wish them to do is called the conversion rate. The action can be any number of things: a sale, signing up for a mailing list, answering a survey, or anything else that helps your business along.
Conversion Rate Optimization, or CRO, is a set of techniques and tests that website owners use to make taking a conversion action more appealing to a visitor. It is part web design, part psychology, part market research, and all vital to your business. Yet businesses spend far more on getting traffic to their sites than getting people to convert.
The first thing to do when developing a CRO plan is to determine exactly which types of customers you’re wanting to reach and what you’re wanting to have them do on your website. Different market segments are going to respond to different advertising methods, so these segments must be defined clearly at the outset.
The next thing is to develop the flow of actions you wish your customers to take when they visit your website. This is where the psychological placement of elements comes into play. When customers visit your site, there is a set of steps they must perform in order to become a convert. For example, they could start by seeing a headline, then travel down to the sales pitch, then see a conveniently placed button or email box that encourages them to take the next step. The customer journey can be very simple or quite complex. Analyzing how your visitors react to each of these steps is crucial.
If you can get people to let you observe them using your site, then usability testing may be an option. In a usability test, people who haven’t used your site before are analyzed to see how well they’re able to use it, how much they’re able to recall about it, and their feelings about using the site. Many times this is done through online surveys, but it is possible to hire people to use your site as well.
The sales pitches on your landing pages must be optimized for your varied demographics to get the biggest response. This is copywriting 101, but with testing and refinement over time. Consistent testing turns CRO from a one-off activity to a useful tool that improves your results over time.
A/B Testing is the bread and butter of CRO. A/B testing allows you to set up two different versions of a web page and gather data on both of them to see which is better. This should be a tool that should be used often in your business. The smallest tweaks can cause a big boost in conversions.
CRO data must be gathered and studied in a structured manner to gain the maximum benefit. Many companies find that is best to have a single person or a small team directly responsible for their CRO effort and to incentivize them to find better designs for your web pages. In a sense it’s very much like a traditional ad design job, but with much faster feedback.
One of the most important things for your CRO team to do is Customer Journey Analysis. This is the process of analyzing how well customers are following the flow of actions on your website. Discovering that a particular portion of your sales funnel has a high bounce rate shows that your conversion tactics have sprung a leak!
Finally, once you have your process and metrics in place, you should never stop testing. There’s always room for improvement in a CRO plan. Customers may become unresponsive to certain tactics over time, or new technologies may develop. Keeping up with the latest advertising techniques and testing them will keep you one step ahead of the game, and keep your conversion rate high.
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)