November 14, 2018
Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a highly-beneficial process that helps businesses increase the percentage of conversions on their website. By understanding the way users behave within a customer journey or website, marketers can optimize their path to conversion by reducing obstacles and giving them more reason to convert.
Wait a sec — what's a conversion rate?
A conversion is any desired action, like filling out a form, signing up for a free trial or buying an item. A conversion rate is the percentage of people who actually convert into a customer. So if you're achieving a conversion rate of 10 percent on product purchases, then 10 percent of your traffic is actually buying your products.
In the most general sense, conversions are goals related to your main business outcomes. To make things easier, marketers split conversions into two types: macro and micro conversions.
Macro conversions are goals related to primary outcomes, such as:
- Product purchases;
- Subscription sign-ups; or
- Quote requests
Micro conversions are smaller and contribute to making macro conversions happen. They can include:
- Account creation;
- Newsletter signups;
- eBook downloads; or
- Adding products to a shopping cart
Why spend time and money on conversion rate optimization?
There are plenty of reasons why conversion rate optimization is well worth your while. CRO has an array of massive benefits, some of which include:
- Making the most of organic traffic without paid ads;
- Improving brand perception through an optimized user experience;
- Improving customer insights by filtering out the wrong people;
- Increasing ROI and generating more revenue by converting leads into paying customers;
- Encouraging customer retention and repeat buying habits;
- Keeping customers loyal by providing them with the experiences they want they want;
- Reducing acquisition costs by avoiding pay-to-click methods; and
- Optimizing scalability by turning more browsers into buyers, rather than mindlessly generating leads
Analytics: the secret to successful conversion rate optimization
Optimizing for conversion rates means analyzing every customer avenue possible. In a nutshell, you need to know the who, what and where to optimize correctly. To do this, you'll need to gather and track all the data you can.
Quantitative data analysis gives you the information you need to see exactly how people are behaving on your website. This means tracking key metrics through an analytics platform like Google Analytics or Heap. As you make changes to your customer journey, keep an eye on your analytics data — you'll want to stay across what impacts your changes are having on user behavior, lead management and more.
Keep an eye the following key metrics to track the effectiveness of your CRO efforts:
- Bounce rate: the percentage of customers who visit and leave without triggering an action or event;
- Average time on page: the average amount of time all users spend on a single page;
- Page views: the total amount of times pages have been fully loaded;
- Unique visitors: users who visit a website more than once during a reporting period;
- Page load time: how long it is taking for your page to load (the less, the better);
- Landing pages: the pages users are landing on first;
- Referrals: websites or channels that push users to your website;
- Device: what mobile device, desktop or browser people are using;
- Demographics: your user's age, location, intent etc.; and
- Drop-off points: where users are leaving your conversion funnel
Using information like this will inform you where to focus your optimization. You'll see the biggest effect by optimizing pages that are popular and receive high levels of engagement.
Best practices for conversion rate optimization
Use this list of best practices as a starting point for a CRO strategy. Feel free to act on any of these by clicking the customer journeys throughout.
1. Profile and target your customer
This one may seem obvious if you're running a business, but many marketers don't go far enough when identifying their customers. Start with personas, but go beyond that and find out who (and who doesn't) belong in your target market.
Doing so will enable you to create messages that are highly targeted and personalized. This data-enrichment template will help identify your audience in more detail.
2. Send out NPS surveys
Ask your users brief, direct surveys that will give you insight into their wants and needs. An NPS like Delighted is a perfect medium for this. It's quick to fill out and provides clean, clear feedback.
Survey your users with a customer journey like this one, then be sure to collate and act on your feedback in order to optimize your conversion rate.
3. Analyze and track everything
Start tracking metrics to gain a clear picture of customer behavior. Use analytics tools like Heap and Google Analytics to ensure you're capturing everything. Make sure you're mapping your customers' journey holistically —- are they reading your blog posts? Lingering on pricing pages? It's all good to know.
Look for trends that you can optimize to boost conversion rates; such as users landing on an unexpected page. And when an important event is fired on your website, make sure you're ready to action it.
4. Take advantage of AB testing
AB tests are incredibly important for CRO — they let you test every variant of an offer before sending it live. Make sure you send your AB Split Test to a large sample audience to receive reliable data — the winner will get the majority of conversions.
Use a customer journey like this to perform an AB test, then send your best performing variation to the rest of your target audience.
5. Heatmap to find out what content is performing best
Heatmapping shows you where your users are clicking the most. Focus on high-traffic pages on your website, such as the home page or product pages. See where people are clicking and how they're using the page — then optimize those journeys to improve conversion rates.
You can also use dynamic integrations like Instapage to generate higher conversions through personalized landing pages.
6. Make informed decisions
It doesn't hurt to start your CRO process with some educated guesses. But don't make it a habit. Once you have your data collection model in place, make your decisions based on what the numbers are telling you.
For example, if your customers are visiting your knowledge base and then dropping off the website — don't assume they've found what they want. Implement a customer journey that will improve CRO like this one:
7. Use User Experience Design (UX) to point customers in the right direction
Strategic placement of CTAs (call to action) will help direct your customers to where they need to go. Navigational panels, button placement and text placement can all be optimized. UX Designers, UX Writers or Digital Copywriters are all particularly adept at doing this.
8. Don't slow your customers down
Follow CRO and UX philosophies to keep customers on a seamless path to conversion. It will take work — you'll need to analyze and refine almost every part of your customer experience. The end result is more than worth it — increased ROI, a spike in sales and more satisfied customers.
But don't let yourself become complacent. Expectations and the market will change — meaning you'll need to stay on your toes to get the best conversion rate in the future and beyond. The more data and testing you do, the better your results will be.