The web is becoming a more profitable place by the day. With more and more people getting online for things like social media, videos & music, one out of every four people are spending more time online than they do asleep. This has been accompanied by a rise is the number of websites trying to sell them things & the number of choices people have. Because people now have nearly countless options for any product or service they can find online. Conversion rate optimization is becoming more and more important.
Tools are covered first because without them, your CRO efforts will results in a bunch of guessing and luck.
Probably one of the greatest innovations of the recent technological age is website analytics. Analytics give you incredible detail about what is going on with your website, they can tell you about where visitors came from, where they clicked, and how they left. Some of the most popular platforms include Google Analytics, KissMetrics, and Piwik.
Customer Contact/Data Collection
Probably one of the few things that analytics cannot tell you is what is going on inside your customer’s head, or what they are doing when they are not clicking around on your site. This is not as hard as it seems. Sites like Crazyegg allow you to see where your visitor’s mouse was via heatmaps. While software like CallMe allows you to see in near realtime what your visitor is doing as well as call them through the computer. There are also services like Survey Monkey that allow you to give you customers surveys to fill out about your site.
You will need some platform for what is called split testing. Split testing is taking a website designing two different versions of it, and testing them against each other. You can split test almost anything, from the offer you give your customers to the headlines. I will go into greater detail behind this in later sections. There, once again, many different choices for split testing pages. If you want to you can develop your very own platform that is customized just to your business. That is a lot of work. There are several solutions that come ready to go. A few of my favorite are Optimizely, Unbounce, & of course Google Analytics Content Experiments.
Okay so now you’ve got all the tools you need to go on a conversion rate optimization spree. Where do you start? With the data of course.
This is where the analytics you’ve chosen come into play. Depending on the platform, you will be able to see all kind of wonderful details about your website. The key here is to see where visitors are failing. A few of the key details to look at are bounce rate (how many people are leaving your page in less than 10 seconds), the pages that have the highest drop off (how many people are leaving from that page), and how many people are converting once they get to your conversion page (the page where the conversion takes place). Additionally use the tools mentioned above to find out why people are leaving your site/not converting. Whether it is a survey or a phone call, try and find out.
Once you’ve got all of the information you can handle you should have a pretty good idea of why people aren’t coming to your site. Find the problem areas; look for the most bounces, least conversions and highest drop-offs. Use the other data you collected from the actual customer to determine if it is the page or the offer. If they aren’t leaving the page immediately, but instead are hanging out and not buying, maybe you have a price issue. Consider everything. Assume nothing about your customers.
Once you have decided what you are going to test, it is time to design the test. If you think the price is what is holding people back, design three different pages with different prices. If you feel like customers are missing some vital piece of information, try and put the information in a few different places on the page. Again consider everything, and to add to that try everything. That change you may think is worthless could bring in the big bucks.
Now you’ve got your test designed. It’s time to carry it out. Now depending on your traffic & audience depth this may take a while to get good solid data. I would give anyone with less than 4000 visitors a month a two-week minimum for each test. This is where your platform comes in handy. They will handle all of this part for you.
Analyze & Implement
Once you have let the test run for a little bit. See what the results say. Let the data talk. Did the changes matter? If not then test something else, if they did then you were successful. Look at the same metrics you did to determine the problem. Looking at time on site when you were trying to increase conversions has very little value to determining the effectiveness of a test. Once you have a winner, make those changes on your site and repeat the whole process.
Because everyone may not have huge amounts of traffic, it is important to follow a few best practices up front.
Make it obvious to your visitor what they are supposed to do. People don’t like to think on the Internet. Make very clear, very concise directions on each page of your website. It doesn’t have to be gaudy, just make it obvious.
Don’t make it hard for people to get around. Make buttons big, and links blue. Don’t surprise them with things ever.
Reading on Web Pages
There is a saying that has been around for a while now about how people read webpages on the Internet “They Don’t”. Keep text to an absolute bare minimum on sales pages. If people want information send them to your blog.
Don’t make it hard for people to give you their money. If you only accept American Express make that very clear up front to avoid potential frustrations. Keep the number of steps from landing on your website to buying in very very short. Don’t make them jump through hoops.
If you weren’t previously aware of the concept of conversion rate optimization, I hope I’ve given you a good understanding of it. Let us know how you’re working CRO into the inbound marketing process!
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and may not reflect the views of Webaholic.
Chris is a marketing consultant that enjoys helping businesses to reach their full potential. He also maintains a blog where he discusses the latest trends in PPC, CRO and SEO Strategy. Find him on Twitter at @ChrisKent12