The success of a business in today’s wired world depends a lot on the performance of its website. Online visitors are potential customers and you need to nurture leads to build a strong sales funnel.
Conversion happens when a website visitor carries out an action that you want him or her to take. It could be signing up for your newsletter, creating an account and a password, taking a survey or purchasing something. Depending on your needs the desired action can be virtually anything, but unless and until you have more visitors converting, it will be difficult for your business to grow.
CRO or conversion rate optimization is a set of tested and validated changes you make to your website to convert more of your existing visitors. CRO does not try to attract more traffic, it instead tries to maximize the existing traffic, and that is the reason why it is highly effective.
CRO is scientific and empirical, and has a set of implementable best practices. Here are a few of them.
1. Analyze Your Current Status
Each business is unique and so are their needs. You cannot blindly implement CRO tactics that have worked for another business because they may not give the desired results for you.
B2B and B2C businesses will have very different requirements, and so will an ecommerce store.
The biggest and most profitable names in business invest in continuously improving their websites. They want to delight users, meet customer needs and set new benchmarks in customer experience.
Conduct surveys or take feedback from existing customers to know about problems in your conversion funnel. Once you are aware of the problem points then it will be easier to create a focused CRO strategy.
2. Install Tools to Gather Data
So the first step is to assess where you stand and for this you need to collect data.
Decide upon and choose data gathering tools that will equip you with required insights into the performance of your website.
Analytical tools like Google Analytics will give you basic data regarding page performance, user behavior, and visitor segmentation. KISSMetrics and Mixpanel help you gauge conversion rate, and user interaction software and heat maps enable better understanding of what a user does on your website.
Analytical tools and software need to run for a couple of business cycles to generate enough data. Peep Laja says that stopping tests too soon will give you skewed results that do not reflect actual picture. Also, after a while you will get to know which tools are effective and which are not, and you can streamline your data gathering accordingly.
Also, check whether your website is performing well on other fronts. It should be easily navigable, user-friendly and quick to load. Efficient managed WordPress hosting will ensure that you can concentrate on other aspects of your website performance, without worrying about slow-loading time driving away visitors.
3. Work on the Data
Tons of data alone will not provide you the in-depth info you need to optimize your website. You need to dig in, analyze and identify key takeaways from the data. This is a very important step in analyzing hurdles in the conversion route on your website.
You need to identify the high-value pages on your website, the pages that pull in most online traffic. You also need to determine where they stand in your conversion funnel. Is it your blog that attracts more traffic? Or is it your product pages? Blogs are early in the sales funnel and need to pack in quite a punch to drive a customer towards purchase. High-traffic product pages have high chances of converting, are located late in the funnel, and a small improvement in their conversion rate can give fabulous ROI.
You should ideally calculate the value of leads coming in from each page and rank your pages in order of their potential value.
4. Study What Works and What Doesn’t in Your Webpage
All web pages and all conversions do not work equally, so you have to understand how users interact with your site.
Do they stay long and proceed in a manner you want, or do they leave pages without much interaction? You can also analyze whether users get the information they want and if they find onsite content relevant. If they scroll over pictures, cards, and sections, it means that you have got distracting info on your site that users are not interested in.
It is crucial that you analyze conversion rate on each page, whatever stage of funnel the page is in. Conversion here as stated earlier is the visitor proceeding with the desired action and, importantly, staying on the site. Zero in on pages creating the most valuable conversions and optimize those pages.
Average time on page, bounce rate and conversion rate combine to give you the very clear idea about the value of individual website pages. It is always better to decide on the handful of high-value pages that your CRO plan needs to focus on and then work on them.
It is also at this critical stage that user feedback becomes important. Qualitative data that is formulated on the back of customer surveys, interviews and user testing will help you understand the ‘why’ behind less-than-ideal user behavior. Until and unless you see and experience your business website through the eyes of a user, you will not be able to maximize ROI of your site.
On-site surveys are also a great tool to gather spontaneous, unbiased and real-time feedback from users as they move around and interact with the site.
After analyzing the qualitative data, you will be able to make informed guesses about what is/are a hindering conversion on particular pages. You can then decide on a few changes or tweaks that you will make to the web page design, layout, UI or UX. If there are too many changes then it may be better for you to start afresh and test a newly created page against the old version.
5. Form a Hypothesis and Test Away
A hypothesis is a supposition or proposal stating that if X changes are made to an existing webpage then there will be Y% increase in conversion rate because it solves a pertinent problem that a user faces.
The next stage is testing the hypothesis. Popular testing tools like Optimizely and Visual Web Optimizer give you in-depth statistical tracking and performance data. You will be clearly able to make out which version or page performs best.
If the results aren’t up to your expectations, iterate and test again.
Recording test results and monitoring performance are keys to a successful CRO plan. If certain changes are resulting in great conversion rates you can consider scaling the results and applying them to other similar pages as well.
A great and profitable conversion rate optimization (CRO) plan is a well thought out and long-term strategy that is a part of a company’s holistic marketing efforts and growth initiatives.
Conversion rate optimization is essential to drive maximum results from your business website. It is also essential to exploit the full potential of a robust website to make a powerful contribution to your bottom line. An effective CRO plan requires investment in terms of time and money, but pays you back by increasing profitability multi-fold.