CRO: What is Conversion Rate Optimization?

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Are You Spending Enough Effort on Conversion Rate Optimization?

Let’s face it, most marketers are strapped for time, strapped for budget and barely keeping their heads above water. We know that we should be doing more testing but just have trouble finding the time.

What is CRO?

We do find time for all sorts of activities aimed at driving visitors to our websites, but, I would argue, don’t allocate nearly enough effort to figuring out how to get that traffic to convert at higher rates. Conversion rate optimization or CRO is often considered a part of search engine optimization and is the process of increasing website leads and sales pipeline by employing analytics and user feedback to achieve specific conversion goals on your website, landing pages or campaigns.

Conversion Rate Optimization Success Stories

Little changes can make a huge difference. The internet abounds with examples of how small changes to landing page design, button placement, calls to action, imagery, headlines and more can yield BIG results in terms of conversion. KISSmetrics, a leader in CRO testing, consolidated 100 great examples of conversion optimization. Many of the results are not intuitive which is what makes testing so critical. Some of my favorites include:

  • Maker of underarm sweat shields boosted sales by 93% simply by switching to a more action- oriented headline, “Put an End to Sweat Marks!”
  • Online watch vendor increased sales by 107% just by adding a “Seiko Authorized Dealer” seal
  • SAP’s Business Objects increased report downloads by 32% by increasing the size of the button
  • Software provider Veeam increased CTR by 161% by changing “Request a Quote” to “Request Pricing”
  • eCommerce tool vendor saw 60% bump in landing page conversions by removing the sign-up form
  • Increasing the product image size drove a 63% increase in conversion for Skinner Auctions

Create Your Conversion Rate Baseline

CRO does not cost a lot of money, but does require a disciplined approach. The first step, if you are not already doing it, is to create a baseline for website and/or landing page conversion performance. Using tools like Google Analytics, you can track site visits, bounce rates, exit rates, time on site and page views to get an idea of current website visitor behavior. You need to be clear on what conversions you are trying to achieve, e.g., free trial sign-ups, request a consultation form fills, resource downloads, video views or simply contact us requests. To track how successful you are at driving specific outcomes, you may want to include data from off-line conversions such as retail sales metrics, store visits or calls to get a full picture of the relationship between website activity and desired outcomes. If your conversions involve form fills, be sure to track the ratio of form page visits to form completions. This will help you understand if your form complexity or length is impacting conversion which is a very simple fix.

Form Some CRO Hypotheses

The primary drivers of conversion involve the clarity of your message, the ease of use/visual appeal of your site and the effectiveness of your calls to action. When formulating hypotheses on how to improve website conversion, start by asking yourself the following questions:

  1. Is your value proposition resonating with your target market? Is it clearly communicated on your website/landing page?
  2. How relevant is your primary message? Does it quickly address the reason the visitor came to your site?
  3. How easy is it for visitors to find the information they are looking for?
  4. Are there distractions/obstacles that take the visitor’s attention off the desired conversion?
  5. Are there red flags that cause the visitor to not want to complete the desired action?
  6. Is there anything that creates a sense of urgency to drive faster conversion?
  7. Do you have a compelling call to action? Is it prominently displayed to drive conversion?
  8. Does your site inspire trust in terms of security, quality and customer satisfaction?

Create a Test Plan

Based on your baseline analysis of current activity, you should be able to prioritize the issues you want to address via testing. For instance, if you are getting plenty of form visits but few form fills, you may want to look for ways to simplify your forms. If you are experiencing high bounce rates on your home page, that page may not be effectively communicating your value proposition or addressing the primary driver of the visit. In this case, testing alternative messaging, imagery or layouts may be recommended.

The key is to let the data lead you to the most likely causes of conversion weakness, then brainstorm and prioritize the most likely fixes. Beginners will want to start with a series of A/B tests where learning from each subsequent test will help you drill down on the most important optimization factors.  Experienced optimizers may move on to multivariate testing to speed the learning curve. I recommend testing the easy fixes to start like size and placement of your calls to action, headlines and primary images just to get your feet wet before moving to full content re-writes and homepage redesign. When creating your test plan, make sure you take into account sample size.  To get a relevant test, you need to serve the control page and the challenger page to a sufficient number of visitors to drive statistical significance of the results. The pace of your learning will therefore be dependent on the number of visitors to your site.

Executing Your Test Plan

To execute and read A/B tests, you or your website partner will need to employ one of the many tools available to support website optimization testing. Google Analytics Content Experiments, Optimizely, and Unbounce are three of the most popular tools to support CRO. They all have free and paid versions depending on your needs and some offer support not just to set up the test, but also to design the challenger pages.

How to Use this Information

Are you spending most of your resources trying to drive more visits to your site and very little energy on optimizing conversion of your site visits? You are not alone. If your website messaging and design is up-to-date and your site is performing relatively well in terms of SEO and overall traffic, then your next point of focus should be conversion rate optimization. Webolutions can help you create your baseline analytics to help drive your test plan development. Call us today at 303-300-2640 to schedule time to discuss company’s CRO opportunities.

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