Once people arrive on your site or landing page, what exactly is it that you’re hoping they’ll do next? Everybody wants to get the best possible results from their web pages and landing pages and conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a way to help you get there. But there are a lot of misunderstandings out there about what CRO is and what it involves.
What is CRO?
While SEO is about optimizing a site to make it more likely people will find and visit your site, CRO is focused on making it more likely people will take action, or convert, once they’re on your site.
CRO is a process that involves conducting research to identify UX pain points and other issues that are preventing people from converting. Conversion, in this sense, can mean different things to different companies, and it’s important to note the distinction between micro-conversions and macro-conversions.
Macro-conversions are the main goals you want visitors to your site to complete while on your site, such as making a purchase, registering for a free trial, signing up for a webinar, or downloading a whitepaper. Micro-conversions, on the other hand, are smaller steps a person can take before reaching a macro-conversion. For example, a person might subscribe to a company’s email newsletter or create an account on their website before making a purchase.
CRO Best Practices
One of the most common mistakes people make with CRO is forgetting that it’s a process. Very often, people turn to CRO looking for a quick and easy, one-step fix that’s going to instantly make all the difference. Things like adding a CTA, changing the color of a button, or writing some new copy can all be part of the CRO process, but it’s very unlikely that any one of those things is going to give you the results you’re looking for.
To get the most out of CRO, it needs to be a very data-driven process based on research, not guesses. It’s not the cool or exciting answer people are looking for when it comes to CRO, but research gives you a greater understanding of your conversion funnel and your customer base so that a stronger strategy can be built. Keep in mind that the conversion funnel can vary depending on how people arrive at a page. For instance, if a person goes directly to your site’s homepage from one of their bookmarks, they may just want to browse and see what’s new on your site. But if a person comes to your site from a paid ad, they may be more likely to convert right away.
It’s also important to remember that successful CRO strategies can be very personalized. If you find a case study about how another company had great success with their CRO strategy, it can be very tempting to just copy exactly what they did. But what works for one company might not be as successful for another company.
To get the information needed to build a CRO strategy, there are many different methods that can be used, ranging from simple and direct to high-tech user behavior mapping.
In many cases, one of the best ways to understand why people might not be converting is to ask people who visit your site. Things like surveys can produce extremely valuable feedback that you might not be able to gain through other testing methods.
A/B testing and multivariate testing are CRO methods that both involve serving different versions of a page to visitors so that you can see which version users are most responsive to. In the case of A/B testing, one variable on a page is changed while multivariate testing involves changing up multiple factors like images, backgrounds, and text.
Software can also be used to visualize the ways people interact with your site. Through heat mapping, you can see which elements on a page are interacted with most frequently. Scroll mapping is very similar, but highlights where visitors tend to stop scrolling down on a page.
Components of CRO
Strong communication is always key. If your conversion rate isn’t what you’d like it to be, changing up your content may be able to help. Perhaps the people you’re trying to reach are missing out on key facts or aren’t understanding the benefits of what you have to offer. A/B testing page content is an excellent way to gain a better understanding of which types of content people respond to.
Once people get the benefit of what you have to offer, is the next step clear to them? A call to action (CTA) should encourage them to move on to the next phase of the conversion process. Optimizing a CTA can involve changing up the content of the CTA, changing the color of the CTA button, or creating additional CTAs throughout the page.
Design, Layout & Navigation
Even when people are highly interested in what you have to offer, problems with design and UX are some of the biggest factors that can potentially stop them from converting. If people aren’t able to find the information they need or a confusing layout makes it difficult to move forward in the process, they can drop out of the funnel very quickly.
When a person decides they’re ready to convert, how many steps do they need to take to make it across the finish line? Nobody wants to jump over unnecessary hurdles, but they don’t necessarily want to feel rushed, either. Talking directly to your customers can be a very important part of the CRO process because this is the sort of thing they can give you feedback about. Those who have completed the conversion process may be able to share insights to parts of the process that you might not have realized were causing problems.
If there are issues with your site’s performance, even people who are very interested in what you have to offer can end up not following through. If people are getting error messages, pages aren’t loading correctly, or your site simply takes too long to load, people will quickly get frustrated and leave. Studies have shown that the longer it takes for a page to load, the more likely it becomes that visitors will leave. Because of this, it’s a good idea to routinely check your site for such problems so that they’re addressed before they significantly impact your conversion rates.
As you think about site performance, don’t forget to think about site performance on different devices. Very often, there may be problems with the mobile version of a page that don’t occur on the desktop version. If it seems like more users are converting on one type of device than others, it’s possible there’s an issue on the experience for some device types that’s stopping people.
CRO can be a very complex process, and the best solutions are often unique to each site. The design, web development, and marketing teams at TRAFFIC collaborate to analyze data, understand UX issues, and execute a testing strategy to get the best results for our clients. Do you have some questions about a CRO project? Give us a shout and we can talk about your business goals.