June 29 2017

Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

conversion-rate-optimization-croYour site traffic is thriving. Visitors are flowing in through an effective inbound marketing strategy, consisting of a mix of search engine, social media and content marketing. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, the people visiting your site are not yielding your intended goal, because they are not converting. This is a common struggle of many marketers, yet through a series of trusted steps, you can transform your site into a conversion powerhouse, increasing the success of your campaigns and allowing you to measure success.

Understanding conversion terms

A conversion is the successful completion of an action that you intended your users to make on your webpage, such as filling out a form or downloading a file. Conversion Rate (CR) is the percentage of your total site users that completed a specific goal. The higher the CR, the better your site is performing. Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is the process of using analytics and testing to improve the performance of your website by optimizing the number of valuable users. Essentially, CRO is the method of converting the more passive website visitors on your site into more engaged users who will purchase your products or take your desired action. 

Why CRO is important

Today, your audiences are more selective than ever with what content they choose to view on the web. Your target markets are actively avoiding ad content and instead are choosing what to click on, read, download, and buy, while also deciding what not to interact with. Additionally, users are becoming less and less engaged with the content they see and are typically not staying on the sites long enough to act. This is where CRO comes into play. CRO takes advantage of the traffic you already have and does a better job of converting them once they get to your site. CRO will help you focus in on the needs of the most engaged viewers to increase conversions and help maximize your profit with little to no cost at all. Ultimately, CRO creates a greater return on your current investment, since converting visitors is much more cost-effective than attracting new ones.

Understanding your current position

Your optimization strategy should first begin with you putting yourself in the shoes of the users of your site and analyzing the process of your current site. While doing this, you should be looking for potentially confusing or difficult points in the buyer journey, and identifying if these are barriers to conversion. Example questions to ask yourself might include:

  • Is your call to action clear and easy to find?

  • Are your graphics relevant, well-placed, clean and unique – or are they distracting and overwhelming?

  • How long and how many clicks does it take for users to reach the conversion you intended?

  • Does your site feel trust worthy to visitors?

  • Have you optimized your SEO efforts?

Once you have answered these preliminary questions, it is time for you to conduct the baseline test. To properly conduct this test, you want to look at the metrics of your site and conduct user testing and surveys to understand how your users are currently interacting with your site. For example, let’s say your site has a high bounce rate. You could use Google Analytics to identify the problem pages on your site.  Then you can implement advanced analytics tracking or perform user testing from websites like UsabilityHub and Userlytics to see where people are clicking and how far they’re scrolling on the page. Additionally, you could ask users questions on what they’re looking for and whether they could find it on your page. Once you have those results, you will have the data you need to compare your optimization results against later.  

Build an optimization plan

The first step in creating this plan is to identify the problem. This is the point where you go back and analyze the data you gathered in your baseline tests. For example, when reviewing if your analytics, that one specific page is causing your high bounce rate, then you would want to look at that page specifically when creating your optimization plan. Then you would decide if you want to create an entirely new page design, or if you want to change just a few elements on the page. Most likely, if you have a solid foundation for your site, you will only need to improve a few elements.

The next step is to create a hypothesis. This is where you will take the information you collected from your site testing and use it to propose a solution to the identified problem. For example, on the page with the high bounce rate, you might test moving the call to action button closer to the top of the page because you predict your users would interact more with the button if it was the first thing they saw. In addition, you could test if the button attracts more clicks when placed on the left, right, or middle of the page. Although it might seem easier to have less variations, the more options you test, the more complete your results will be.  This is truly the foundation of what is going to change on your site.

Test your optimization plan

Once you have created a plan and hypothesis, it is time to put your optimization plan to the test. These are the results you will compare with your baseline test and will determine if the changes you made were a success or not. If the test is a success you will move on to the next problem, but if it is a failure then you will need to go back and revaluate your data to redesign a new test. 

Regardless of the results you get from this round of testing, it is important that you think of optimization as an ongoing process. Business is always evolving and customers’ needs are constantly changing. There is always something that can be optimized to make your user experience better.

Implement best practices

Finally, once this round of testing is completed you are ready to watch the conversions roll in and analyze your results. It is very important to understand what works well and what doesn’t, and note everything you have learned from the testing phase. You’ll also want to think about implementing the solutions you found on to other similar pages, because it is a safe bet that these enhancements will result in an increase in your conversions, too. 

Again, it is important to remember that CRO is a long-term strategy. The many small optimizations you make will add up to a substantial increase in your bottom line. By investing your resources and time into learning how to optimize your sales funnel, you can have a better ROI than almost any other business activity.

  • Analytics
  • Landing Pages & Microsites
  • Website

ZAG Interactive is a full-service digital agency in Glastonbury, CT, offering website design, development, marketing and digital strategy to clients nationwide. See current job openings.
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