What is Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)?
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is that the method of optimizing your website or landing page expertise based on website visitor behavior to assist improve desired actions (conversions) on the same page.
CRO is an ongoing process of learning and optimizing. If you’re unable to get visitors to enter your conversion funnel in the first go, the chances of them coming back and performing the desired action are quite low.
This is nothing but an opportunity lost for your business. The best way to improve your possibilities and acquire a lot of conversions is by running a good CRO campaign.
A good CRO campaign not only means that saving high on some time, money, and efforts but also exploring new growth strategies that were unknown in the past.
In other words, CRO helps you in understanding your website’s usability better while giving customer behavior insights and tips on how to make your UX better to meet your goals. To fully understand the essence of conversion rate optimization.
Benefits of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
There are lots of ways employing CRO techniques will positively impact your website. Some of these benefits will come as no big surprise but there are subtler ways in which your website will benefit from CRO:
- Understanding your audience better: The methods of CRO yield much insight into the behavioral patterns of the audience.
Additionally, the process helps to fine-tune the communication with said audience. The same information can be used in SEO to attract the right audience to the website in the first place.
- Acquisition of new customers: Building upon the first point, using the correct language to attract your key audience will drive up the number of visitors to your website, who are then more likely to convert. It is a benefit of SEO which in turn impacts CRO again. Win-win.
- Identify blockers to conversion: CRO techniques take the guesswork out of design, development, and content decisions. While people in-house create a website with the best of intentions in mind.
These intentions are not always communicated effectively and could send the wrong message to users unintentionally. This could well mean the difference between a conversion and a drop-off. CRO identifies these spots with actual data and helps you find solutions.
- Encourage repeat custom and reduce churn: Audiences are not limitless, and attracting new customers is more expensive than encouraging existing users to convert multiple times.
Optimizing an existing website, by making changes with lower resources, can have a significant impact, and thus is an excellent way to maximize ROI.
Landing Page Design
Landing page design is the first and foremost element that defines the usability and success of a website. The more aesthetically designed a site is, the more traction it will get!
Let’s understand this using an example most of us maybe familiar with.
Assuming that most customers landing on any of Amazon’s product pages come with the pure intention of buying its product(s), understanding the importance of design in driving conversions (how it can make or break a deal for the e-commerce giant), is important.
The giant has strategically designed each of its product pages so as to make even the minutest of details prominently visible to its customers.
For instance, when on a product page, customers can instantly add the product to their cart by conveniently clicking on the “Add to Cart” button (in a color that’s prominently visible Orange) placed right next to product info column.
What will conversion need to do with your business?
To get a true sense of what conversion is, we need to discuss what it does for a business and thus establish its importance.
Let us consider a typical business scenario at the very least, the goal of any business regardless of sector or industry is to make a profit through the sale of goods or services.
To that end, marketing is used to attract new customers, sales are carried out to exchange goods and services for payment, and finally, customer service is offered to retain customers.
When a marketing strategy successfully results in a sale, that’s considered a conversion.
Applying the same template to a business website, which can and often does straddle all three functions to varying degrees.
One finds that the concept of conversion is practically the same as a potential customer becomes a customer. Or in more general terms, every time a website user completes the desired action, it is a conversion.
Defining a website conversion?
It is tempting, but limiting, to think about conversions only as website sales. Conversions are best thought of as accomplishments of any one of an established list of site goals.
What is the site goal?
Site goals are essentially website actions that align with the overall business objectives of the company. For instance, for a website that sells products, an obvious site goal would be the sale of one of its listed products.
A sale could be a primary website goal in this case. However, there are other actions a user or visitor can take on the website, which may eventually lead to the sale of one of its products.
Signing up for a monthly newsletter is a good example. This is a secondary site goal because it doesn’t directly result in a sale. But it could indirectly influence a purchase decision and that’s the aspect to focus on.
Micros and macros
So we have primary and secondary site goals, but how do those tie into conversions? Proportionately, as it turns out.
When a primary goal is achieved on the website, it is considered a macro-conversion, and when a secondary goal is achieved, it is considered a micro-conversion.
Micro-conversions are not unrelated to macro-conversions. They are the small actions of user or customer engagement that should ideally nurture leads into eventual macro-conversions.
Tracking and purification micro-conversions are thus as crucial as optimizing for macro-conversions.
So what constitutes a conversion?
After all those details about conversions, it is time to get to the meat of the matter. Where is the list of website conversions that you need to optimize?
There isn’t one returning to our case study from before, a product-selling website considers a sale to be a conversion. Suppose a website sells subscriptions, which can also be purchased annually.
If that website considered a sale clicking the ‘Buy’ button on the subscriptions page as a conversion, the conversion rate would be dismal.
Dismal is bad, but far worse, it would be inaccurate too, as the conversion rate doesn’t paint the correct image of the website’s efficacy.
Therefore, just as your website is individual to your business, your list of conversions is highly individual to your website also. Figure out which business objectives are being served by the website, and then identify site goals that lead to those objectives.
A good place to start is to examine the sales funnel. At the very least, it will yield information about the most important site goals
Best Practices of CRO
There are lots of ways employing CRO techniques will positively impact your website. Some of these benefits will come as no big surprise but there are subtler ways in which your website will benefit from CRO.
- Data-driven hypotheses: Guesswork rarely yields consistent results. Use information gathered from various sources to substantiate your CRO plan.
This approach will also weed out trivial changes that commonly masquerade as ‘best practices’ online.
- Clear hypotheses and reasonable tests: Don’t test too much at once.
- Use segmentation: Targeting an audience will generate the most usable insights.
- Be patient: Let tests run their course. Pulling out early from tests is never a sound strategy.
- Customize your CRO plan: There is a plethora of knowledge available online for the marketer just starting out with CRO. There are checklists of quick changes that can be easily implemented, which promise dramatic jumps in conversions.
These get-conversions-quick strategies are rarely as successful as they claim, and lack the foundation to be genuinely helpful. Of course, there are helpful guides around this is one but use the insights offered within the context of your organization.
- Prioritize: Yes, micro-conversions are very important. Yes, they lead up to macro-conversions. Yes, they should be considered in a CRO plan.
However, adopt a balance. Macro-conversions directly add to the bottom line, so by definition, they are the most important. Don’t miss the forest for the trees.
- Have affordable expectations: CRO isn’t consistent across industries and even across websites within the same vertical.
A solution that causes someone’s Conversion Rate Optimization to jump by 200% may not have such startling consequences for your website. Try out strategies, keeping the individuality of your organization in mind.
What are the typical barriers for conversion?
There could be any number of reasons why someone chooses not to convert on a website. While there is certainly no way to address them all being as some of these reasons may well be unrelated to the website altogether there are definitely those that can be smoothed out.
These are the few blockers that are usually seen across websites, that are simply fixed through the utilization of CRO techniques.
Our list is meant to cover the usual culprits and thus get you started on your CRO journey, but by no means is it an exhaustive list.
- Lack of trust
With the proliferation of scammers online, customer skepticism is very much a given. Consider the psyche of someone shopping online, and evaluate your website from their perspective.
Does it convey trustworthiness? Are there customer reviews on your website? How do they know your website isn’t one of the thousands out to unlawfully separate them from their money?
Address these questions with adequate communication, and with a transparent security policy.
- Poor communication
Although adequate communication is subjective to the audience in question, there has to be the bare minimum of messaging about your product or service, and your company.
For instance, when purchasing a physical product, most customers would want to know the shipping policy in place. Is shipping extra? What countries are serviced? And so on. Leaving out this information would most likely result in a missed conversion.
Thus, while it may be impossible to address all customer queries, at least ensure that the critical information is available and easily understandable.
- Bad design or UX
Poorly designed websites result in many conversions drop-offs. By now, responsive website design for several screen sizes should be an absolute given, and yet so many websites neglect to perform any sort of cross-browser testing.
It then becomes a frustrating experience to navigate a poorly designed website on a handheld device, and thus a customer is lost. As a corollary, a poorly conceived user experience can also hamstring website performance.
Why is statistical significance important for CRO?
The idea behind using statistically significant data is to ensure that the results are valid data. By allowing a test to reach a 95% confidence level.
You are effectively saying that there is only a 5% chance that the results have come about by random chance, and therefore you can reasonably act upon those results.
How to ensure statistical significance
Most Conversion Rate Optimization tools will calculate the threshold of statistical significance for the marketer. Having said that, it is helpful to know some of the factors that go into the calculation behind the scenes:
a. Adequate sample size: You want to have enough people participate in the test to generate sufficient data to make the results relevant.
The more people who participate, the more accurate the results will be. Too few, and the results will not be valid, and have a greater chance of having occurred due to a multitude of unrelated reasons.
b. Sufficient test time: There are several reasons why results can be overwhelming positive or negative in short spans of time.
There could have been a marketing blitz which causes traffic to surge temporarily, or there could be server outages that prevent whole swathes of people accessing the website. A longer time frame ensures that these spikes in data are evened out.
c. Segmentation: Randomised sampling, especially when dealing with multiple variants, is an important consideration of statistical significance. If there is a split between the audience, on the basis of source traffic.
For example, then the traffic needs to be split across the variants equally. If all the email traffic is sent to one variation, and all the social media traffic is sent to another, then the results of the variants are not comparable.
However, it is vital to assess the practicality of implementing those results. If the conversion rate changes dramatically, then it makes sense to implement that hypothesis.
If not, then it makes well be worth the effort to construct a new test altogether.
How to do CRO even without abundant website traffic?
As a general rule of thumb, the more traffic a website gets, the less time it will take to achieve a statistically significant result.
However, lower traffic is not a reason not to carry out CRO, but the scope will necessarily be limited.
1. Go big or go home: If you are looking to make changes to a website with low traffic, then consider making those changes big. Testing little changes won’t justify the hassle or resources of CRO implementation.
2. Focus on the big picture: Macro-conversions should take center stage here. Forget about button colors and banner placement. Follow the money and track the revenue.
3. Reduce test scope: Variants require traffic to generate results, so with less traffic, don’t test too many variants in one shot. You’ll end up with a dribble of traffic on each variant, and waiting indefinitely for statistically significant results.
Conversion Rate Optimization could be a comprehensive method that sprawls across a mess of stages. A successful CRO campaign is the one that uses in-depth data to analyze results, runs multiple tests, tweaks content to make it more relevant to the visitors, and draws necessary conclusions.