No matter how successful you might appear today, the true sign of a healthy business is the ability to sustain and grow revenue over time. Having a comprehensive understanding of your customer journey and identifying and eliminating any pain points along the way is an important part of the process. If you aim to convert users online, every element of their experience, from the copy and the UX, to the “add to cart” button or site navigation tools, can be a potential deterrent or positive push towards conversion.
Enter conversion rate optimization (CRO). The process of using learnings from website visitors’ experience to implement site or landing page optimizations that help increase user conversions. In the sections below, we’ll dive deeper into why continual conversion rate testing is important, the different types of CR optimizations available for you to experiment with, and our top tips and tricks for making these types of improvements a regular part of your business operations.
What is Conversion Rate Optimization and Why is it Important?
In layman’s terms, optimizing your conversion rate is taking any and all actions possible to improve the probability that a visitor to your website or landing page will take the actions you desire. Depending on the type of business you run, that action might constitute completing a purchase, subscribing to a newsletter, gathering personal information, and more. The conversion rate is calculated by dividing the number of conversions by the number of visitors to a page. If 50,000 people visit your site and 1,000 of them complete your lead form, you have a conversion rate of five percent.
So what constitutes a “good” conversion rate and how do you measure it? Depending on the sector, B2B, B2C, e-commerce, the benchmark for conversion rates can range from one to five percent, but on an individual basis, the most important metric is continual improvement. Is your CR today better than yesterday? If that pattern is upheld, you’re moving in the right direction. A number of popular third party-tools will help you track conversion rates and your holistic user funnel. A great place to start is with Google Analytics, the most widely used service for tracking traffic, advertising ROI and analytics on the web.
As you get a sense of areas of weakness you might want to optimize, consider creating a conversion roadmap and outline the steps you need to take to tackle the problem. Prior to entering the testing phase, consider conducting qualitative and/or quantitative research, as well as competitive or user behavior analysis to ensure effective and actionable results. Let’s look at some areas you might want to start with when making on-site improvements to the user experience.
Types of CRO Tests
All of the following tests you can run on your site will fall under one of two categories. The most common type is A/B or split testing, which involves comparing two different versions of the same webpage. Over time, versions “A” and “B” of the page are shown to site visitors and the one that attracts the most qualified leads or converters “wins” the test, indicating its effectiveness. Only one variable is swapped between the two web pages, to eliminate any confounding factors.
Multivariate testing is a CRO test in which several variables are adjusted in order to determine the best combination of factors that will drive traffic and conversions. Both of these test types can be applied to any and all of the following CRO adjustments you can apply to your site.
- Copy – One of the quickest upgrades you can make to your site is on the copy side. The perfect headline, or even just clearer language might serve as the subconscious push customers need to complete their purchase. Experiment with tone, headline length, question vs exclamation language and level of description detail to find the style that best resonates with your market segment.
- Call-to-Action – Wording makes a bigger difference here than you think. Ensure your CTA clearly and succinctly showcases the value you provide to your customers, but also can’t be glazed over. Unique messaging or special offers often outperform generic phrasing like “download now!” Visual optimizations also come into play here, with the option to test out different button, color, and font combos that could increase conversions.
- Landing Page – On the paid search side, some marketers unfortunately overlook the vital landing page experience. The reality is that you have only seconds to communicate your product offerings and convince potential converters not to navigate away. Testing out messaging and UI combinations should be a top priority, as the upper funnel experience will determine your maximum conversion output. A/B testing is an extremely effective way of letting your customers tell you which experience they prefer.
- Acquisition Funnel – From a consumer’s perspective, is it easy to get from initial visit to final conversion? Removing as many barriers as possible from the purchasing process (or whatever your desired outcome may be) is a simpler-than-you-think method of driving conversions. Require users to enter as little personal information as possible, and maybe experiment with re-directs directly from a centralized homepage.
- Additional Features – The options are nearly limitless for what you can add to your site, and you won’t know what will work until you try. In the e-commerce space, customers love to read reviews and third-party testimonials. A complicated B2B product might benefit from a live chat pop-up option. Balancing the need to stand out from competitors in the space, while maximizing usability and customer value is key.
- Fewer Features – We know, here us out here for a second! Going too far in the opposite direction and overloading your site with features and popups, can not only lead to a cluttered and overwhelming look, but also slow down site speed. Consider testing more streamlined versions of your landing pages as well; you might be surprised at how little information you really need to communicate your message.
Improving Your Conversion Rate: Top Tips and Tricks
Ready to take the plunge into the wide world of conversion rate optimization? Before you go, here are our top overlooked tools of the trade to consider before you launch any tests!
Take Care of the Backend
Reducing page loading time is absolutely crucial to convincing visitors to your site to stick around, so do what you can here in regards to keeping theme’s lightweight and removing any unused features that could slow things down. Performance testing tools like Google PageSpeed Insights can be helpful here too.
Consider the Mobile Experience
Mobile visits actually exceed desktop traffic, a fact that’s easy to forget when you’re only working on your site in a work setting. Take on a mobile-first philosophy and consider the challenges in advance of creating an easy and secure experience for a phone or tablet-based customer.
Maximize Payment Options
If you’re playing in the ecommerce space, don’t lose out on any potential sales by not offering widespread support across the numerous payment options available to consumers today. Payment gateways like Amazon Pay and Stripe will communicate with the bank’s for you and allow for integration with all major credit and debit cards, as well as services like Apple Pay and Paypal.
Before running CRO tests, take inventory of basic features, such as your site’s navigation. As your online presence has grown, is the page structure still simple and intuitive? Move unnecessary content out of the navigation bar and take a visitor-centric approach to your interface.
Set an SEO Strategy
To reach your maximum potential, take a holistic approach, completing search engine optimizations (SEO) alongside testing on the consumer and internal site experience side. At the most basic level, you’ll want to take stock of title tags, keyword tracking, page URLs and canonical pages. Adding auxiliary content that your users might also find helpful (like a blog!) is another strategy you can utilize to improve your page rankings. Check out our write-up on common SEO mistakes to avoid to learn more.
Calculate Investment and Understand Goals
It’s worth repeating that before embarking on any testing strategy, you should have a roadmap in mind, and a means to to collect data and implement actionable results. CRO is an ongoing practice, so remove the guesswork and calculate the returns you expect to see based on your testing investment.
While there is no “correct” one-size-fits-all approach to conversion rate optimization testing, we hope this article has given you a good place to start thinking about on-site improvements. If there’s one guiding principle you should keep in mind, it’s to always take a data-driven approach to CRO, and as long as your conversion rate is rising steadily over time, you’re on the right track!