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Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the system by which advertisers /marketers increase the number of users who make the desired decision when following a sales funnel. This could mean they buy a shirt, take a survey, or fill out a form. CRO involves finding out how to move leads through a site and taking the desired actions.
Increasing traffic is a marketing strategy but that is only half the battle. It’s not enough to get traffic, the goal is to keep the visitors within the site and transform them from mere visitors to customers. Once the first purchase is completed, the next goal is to convert them into repeat buyers.
Technological advancement takes the digital market by storm. Today, e-commerce marketers are seeing the need to improve their website’s performance, become more conscious of their spending, and to invest more in website analytics. Businesses, regardless of size and type, use conversion optimization to boost traffic and sales. This is where conversion rate optimization comes in. It isn’t just dependent on the traffic, it’s about getting the customers into a conversion funnel and making them loyal buyers.
In this digital age, businesses use websites to increase their online presence and generate revenue. There are two ways to do so – to increase traffic and boost sales or improve the site’s effectiveness to boost sales with the current traffic that the site is getting. Conversion rate optimization focuses on the latter. CRO works on the improvement of the website, including its landing pages, search ads, and overall site design.
Evaluating a business through a CRO lens gives organizations the ability to understand their websites and change it according to their visitors’ behaviors to meet the goal. Companies can only get higher conversions with the right practices and campaigns. This article talks about conversion rate optimization in length.
CRO has several processes, and every organization may pick a different place to start. Some also adopt a more lengthy process and a complex framework than others. A basic CRO process, however, can be broken down into five steps.
Before anything else, marketers need to understand what the users are doing on the websites and how the pages and features affect their behaviors. This data can come from heatmaps, visitor recordings, user interviews, customer surveys, Google Analytics, form analysis, and more. The gathered information may become the basis for the areas that can be improved.
The data gathered is the basis of the hypothesis. The proposed plan usually has three parts: the changes to be made, the effects, and why the changes are necessary.
The PIE (potential, importance, and ease) framework is useful in prioritizing your efforts. Look for the pages that don’t perform well and select the pages that bring in valuable traffic. The difficulty level for every page to be optimized may vary. So, start with the easiest to optimize, then go from there.
The testing methods bear different results, so it’s essential to choose the one that fits the site’s needs. It’s also equally important to figure out the length of time needed to run the test and the reasons for choosing a certain test – is it A/B test? Split test? Or a Multivariate test?
An A/B test is the simplest among the three. Split testing is for heavy changes and modification. This test is best when new pages need to be created and when there are back-end changes. Multivariate testing is used when there are multiple changes to be made on a certain page.
Most optimizers only evaluate the effectiveness of the test and not the entire process. The last phase should include analyzing whether the hours, the designs, and other factors are justified. CRO is an investment; companies so site owners must see if the increase in revenue is more than the actual costs spent.
The conversion rate measures the effectiveness of a website’s success. A good conversion rate means improved sales and revenues. Sometimes, however, even with CRO campaigns in place, other businesses don’t see much success. There are many reasons for low conversion rates; here are some.
Powerful CTAs result in higher conversion rates. While call-to-action is short, it is the heart of a conversion action. Often, site owners make the mistake of using a generic CTA (Get it now, Join now, Buy now, Download now, etc.). CTAs have to be unique and relevant to the specific offer. It should be subtle but clear so that visitors know what to do next. Veer away from strong words that suggest taking action. Instead of asking the visitors to do something, a CTA must imply that the users will receive something.
Pop-ups can be an effective conversion technique if used in the right way. However, too much of it distracts visitors. There are intrusive pop-ups that make it impossible for users to see the actual content. Banner ads are good, but they should only occupy a portion of the screen space.
Persuasive language goes a long way. People are drawn to strong and positive language. A business website must address the needs of its target audience and provide specific solutions. The site must be able to explain what it offers, the problems it can solve, and the advantages it has over other similar services.
Visitors must be able to visualize what they’re getting if they choose to click the site’s CTA. Those who edit the site need to create a picture for users to imagine how the product or service will improve their lives. Weak website information will also dissolve a prospect’s interest.
Statista reports that 3.5 billion people own smartphones globally, translating to 44.81% of the world population. Ever since the creation of the first cell phone in 1973, mobile devices have surpassed the total number of people around the globe. Mobile devices are the fastest-growing man-made technology. From 2016 until now, smartphone use has increased by 40%, and sales via smartphones have an average of 65%.
People are glued to their devices and use their phones. While mobile conversion isn’t as high as compared to desktop, it’s still a growing market that businesses should consider. Organizations need a cross-marketing strategy to attract customers on whatever device they’re using to browse and buy products.
Without a specific audience, a website won’t effectively address customers’ specific needs, and it will fail to have conversions. Web and social analytics allow site owners to see how people behave on their site and see what they share on their social media accounts. This information gives the idea of their needs and helps site owners shape the website to match the specific needs.
Demographics, behaviors, how they communicate – these factors are important when creating an experience that’s in line with the customers’ preference. A one-size-fits-all approach won’t deliver a target customer experience.
Brands adopt different types of conversions depending on the industry they’re in. While an online retailer relies on product purchases, a B2B company generates more leads and contact forms.
Product purchase is one of the basic types of conversion. This approach is best for eCommerce platforms and businesses selling tangible goods. Product purchase has several facets that businesses can decide to improve on. Some of these are landing pages, product pages, donations and gifts, and shopping and checkout.
Conversion from lead generation is more difficult as it needs a certain level of interest and trust for the brand. Site visitors are handing over contact information that the sales team will use for follow-up. Lead generation has no direct value to the conversions and unlike product purchases, asking for money is far different from asking for information. It is not certain whether visitors who gave out information will later on fall into a sales funnel.
Email subscriptions are a more lined out version of lead generation. Instead of asking personal information, this approach only asks for email information that will be used for future email marketing campaigns. There’s not much hesitation giving email addresses as opposed to giving personal information.
Optimizing websites enables businesses to lower their customer acquisition cost while gaining more value from their current traffic. A successful conversion rate means increased profit and increased ad spend budget. Businesses pay for ad campaigns to bring in more traffic to their site; while this is true and effective, it is also costly. Increased conversion rate means that the current traffic is already making revenue; these already repeat customers. There’s no need to invest more in advertising since you already have the quality traffic.
CRO is also helpful in identifying the website’s strengths and weaknesses. The lack of an optimization plan is detrimental to the business as it blindsides site owners into making new features that may or may not work. Content optimization is dependent on data; this empirical evidence reduces risks and saves valuable time. Aside from that, putting a content optimization plan pushes businesses to improve their website and the offered user experience. Changes based on data reduces friction and customers’ shopping anxiety.
CRO is beneficial for businesses regardless of size and industry. Some of the common businesses that started using optimization are B2B, eCommerce, media publishing, travel companies, and other agencies.
A B2B/SaaS business that uses lead generation to capture customers’ interests. They can direct visitors to the site to gather information via surveys, sign-ups, forms, and convert them into repeat customers. POSist is a SaaS-based restaurant management platform that uses CRO campaigns to identify their customers and their needs. The company tweaked its homepage, added more content, and made it conversion-centric.
The improved user-experience resulted in an increase of 52% lead generation in just a month. POSist’s conversion rate of 3.4% hiked up to 25%. Changes in a website’s design made user-experience more efficient and resulted in increased revenue for the company.
Shopping cart abandonment is a common problem for eCommerce platforms. According to the Baymard Institute, about 69% of eCommerce visitors fill their shopping carts and later abandon them. The reason a customer might abandon their cart can vary, but the most common factors are distractions, complex check-out processes, and hidden charges. PearlsOnly, an online jewelry store, used CRO to improve its conversion rate.
The website analysis has shown the visitors were distracted with the checkout page, prompting them to leave before making it to the purchase action. The company decided to optimize the website, and within a month, PearsOnly increased its revenue by up to 10%.
Travel agencies face cart abandonment as well. Travelport reports that 65% of travelers search flights with agencies but make bookings elsewhere. People prefer booking directly with hotels, airlines, and car rentals instead. OTAs (online travel agencies) compete against the current because many agencies are focused on getting bookings instead of offering a better travel experience to their target audience.
PlanetAmex.com gets thousands of site visits monthly, and 91% of that are new visitors. The downside is that these people aren’t sticking to the website for a long time; they simply browse and leave. The company used A/B testing and decided to improve its design, copy, and content. This resulted in a 48.4% increase in phone call conversions.
Bizztravel Wintersport, a Dutch travel agency, also increased its conversion by up to 21% by offering simplified holiday destinations on its websites. They took out irrelevant contact and just kept the necessary information on the homepage.
Optimizing the web page isn’t enough to increase the conversion rate. Here are a few optimization tools we recommend.
HubSpot is a marketing automation platform that allows users to create and customize pop-up forms without the need for coding. The platform is connected to HubSpot CRM to make reporting and transfer of data more efficient. This tool provides insights on the behavior of people who are already in the site’s database and prospects. The dashboard shows the conversion and facets that site owners can optimize to improve the campaign.
This tool offers more than just analytics. It allows users to create landing pages, sticky bars, and pop-ups. It also compares a company’s page to another to help business owners determine the healthy conversion rate that they should be aiming for. Included in the insights are the page’s loading time and whether the images take too much space. Unbounce costs $99/month.
Crazy Egg has heat maps, click tracking and detailed reports on site visitors’ behaviors. It evaluates link effectiveness and offers a useful AB testing tool. The data helps site owners decide the changes and improvements that have to be done on the site to drive better conversions.
This tool is also good for A/B testing and customizing advanced CRO features. It is user-friendly that even beginners can easily start using it for scaling their tests. It is also one of the most secure tools as it doesn’t store any personal data and only uses first-party cookies to avoid tracking the digital footprints of the visitors.
Visitors often complete forms, but many don’t put much effort into capitalizing their forms for conversion. Leadformly provides a multi-step form design that allows for more detailed data points. Site owners will see how much time visitors finish filling up their forms, how users interact with the forms, or at which point users decide to drop filling up the form.
This is another behavior analytics tool that determines how users navigate in a site. It records data from heat maps, funnels, form analytics, and more. Typical analytics tools show users’ activities in the web page, but Mouseflow shows the users’ motivation whenever they’re on the page. It answers more of the why than the what.
Conversion rate practices are crucial to businesses. These practices aim to influence user behavior and stir their interest. There is no standard practice, and not all guidelines are true for all businesses. Some approaches work for others, while some don’t. Site owners must rely on metrics and analytics to see which methods are effective for the website.
Conversions don’t happen overnight, and businesses may not see the results in a week. It takes time, effort, dedication, and patience. Marketers often assume immediate results or compare the outcomes to other case studies from the company. Incorrect expectations will inevitably lead to disappointment, and the marketing team may end up slowly losing interest in the CRO programs. This will also lead to a loss of investment.
Consumers go online because they want quick transactions. It cuts down travel time and falling in line; it allows them to spend their time on other activities. Shoppers expect efficiency and convenience, and when that’s not given to them, they leave and look for faster options. Pew Research Center reports that 83% of US adults like to ask questions before buying something. They look at the FAQ page for their answers; they don’t go to the trouble of calling up customer representatives. Buyers prefer to communicate via messaging than calling.
A refined web page provides answers to consumers before they even ask. Live chat is also a great feature that promotes quick solutions to shoppers, thus improving user experience.
The checkout page is almost the end of the sales f and determines whether the conversion is complete or not. Even when visitors reach this part of the funnel, it’s still not a done deal. eCommerce retailers lose billions of dollars due to cart abandonment. This goes to show how many businesses fail to optimize their checkout pages. Retailers often don’t display extra costs for products until the checkout page. Shipping costs and other additional payments have to be reflected and displayed as a banner or next to the pricing details. This promotes transparency, and other big brands using this approach have seen tremendous results.
Amazon displays its shipping costs and terms below the items. Buyers immediately know how much they’re paying up for every item they purchase. They won’t feel deceived since they’ve seen the total cost beforehand.
Adding a trusted seal is also effective. Consumers often abandon carts because they don’t trust the site with their card information. The alarming rate of online scammers has caused anxiety to users. The trust seal is good proof of the business.
Conversion optimization is not easy. It’s always changing and depends on the trend and purchasing behaviors of the target audience. Many are still hesitant with conversion optimization due to several factors.
The technology is advancing, tests change and improve, metrics change, analytics change. This is increasingly apparent when it comes to mobile engagement. With billions of people stuck in their smartphones most hours of the day, many transactions are now made via the phone devices. More than half of the world’s traffic comes from mobile phones, but this is still a new frontier. Not all companies have optimized their sites for mobile and are losing some valuable traffic and conversion sources.
CRO is an interconnected process; the lack of knowledge is a stumbling block. Without the proper procedure, businesses will continue to try and improve through trial and error. That wastes time, effort, and valuable resources. It is difficult to measure success without experienced employees in data management strategies. 58% of CRO professionals have been in the job for at least a year or more. Some companies hesitate to spend more and hire a CRO specialist unless there’s an immediate value. CRO is not always seen as a necessary marketing strategy.
Small businesses and start-ups face this challenge as they still don’t have an ample digital presence. Unbounce surveyed CRO practitioners, and results have shown that growing industries do not have appropriate budgets. About 53% of the respondents said they don’t have an exact CRO budget, while the 26% can define their budget allocated too little. In 2013, most companies using conversion optimization only spent 5% on CRO activities, but this budget gradually increased.
The solution lies in budget allocation. Before deciding on a CRO campaign, an organization must analyze the return on investment from CRO. This includes checking out web pages for credibility, relevance, and motivation. It is also necessary to gather information from live chat logs, customer surveys, and more. All these collated data points help in making the best tools to use and invest in. It gives owners the ability to allocate the proper budget for their CRO campaign.
Sometimes, variation test results are better than the control. There’s an increased conversion rate due to micro-conversions, there are more form submits and blog sign-ups. However, this doesn’t directly imply that the macro conversions are increasing. Just because there are more sign-ups and traffic doesn’t mean that the revenue is also increasing. Others make the mistake of celebrating the micro-conversions so much that they forget the macro conversions (the revenue).
It is well-advised to revisit the campaign and tie micro and macro conversions together. Small wins, micro-conversions, should be celebrated, but only if it is tied to the bigger goal, the increased revenue.
There is no effective CRO campaign without accurate data. It’s impossible to decide which test to do or what changes to make if there’s no data available. With data comes reports and many team members aren’t interested in making detailed reports, more so if it has to be done daily.
Reporting is even more challenging and time-consuming the more tools that the site is using. Reporting is a critical step in the CRO process because it identifies any issues as they occur.
A data manager can make a good conversion campaign, but a CRO specialist can make it even better. CRO agencies ensure that all the aspects of the conversion rate work as planned. They generate ideas to develop the elements of the websites, they evaluate the idea, and they use several variations and tests. Small businesses and start-ups choose to outsource a CRO agency than build an in-house team.
When choosing a CRO agency, the business must explain its goals and expectations. It’s also good to share the business’ initial plans for the CRO campaign so that the agency understands where it’s going to begin proposing the changes.