Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is the data-driven process of optimising your website in order to create more conversions, such as sales or leads.
Tools such as Google Analytics make it possible to track the paths that users are taking to reach your site, otherwise known as ‘funnel tracking’. Funnel tracking shows which sections of your site – and which actions – most commonly lead to conversion. It also gives a clear view of where users are typically dropping out. Asking your visitors directly using on-site surveys is another good way of getting insights into what they like and any bugbears they have with your site.
Once you have this information, there are a number of actions you can take in order to improve conversion. For example, you can better optimise your website’s navigation structure, or test which layouts and content elements work best to encourage conversions.
We’ll delve further into the sophisticated world of heatmaps, session tracking and split testing for CRO below, but the importance of CRO stands proud as a means of quantifiably turning your website traffic from just numbers into business.
Before we look at the ins and outs of CRO, it’s important to first understand what your individual conversion goals are. It’s likely that your business will want to generate profit, but the exact goals will be different for every company and may include:
- Increasing overall sales, or for particular products/categories
- Reducing cart abandonment
- Increasing charity donations
- Increasing sign-up (e.g. to a newsletter, event or subscription)
- Increasing the number of visitors who complete a contact form
- Increasing the number of visits to an important webpage
- Increasing the number of downloads for certain documents
Each of these goals can be achieved in different ways. For example, to boost sales you might want to funnel traffic to high performing or seasonal e-commerce pages; and you could change content and design elements on the page to increase conversions. Or to improve sign-ups, you could test the language and positioning of the sign-up button to increase clicks, as well as the content of the sign-up box/page itself in order to encourage submissions.
Measuring current conversions
Here comes the science bit, as CRO isn’t based on guesswork. You can use a number of tools to find out exactly what visitors are doing on your website, the likes of which will help you to determine which elements work and which could be improved on.
Heatmaps, such as those from Crazyegg and Mouseflow, show you where on a page the most activity occurs in a colour representation, with warm colours being the most active areas. They can highlight areas where users click on a page, or even where the eye is drawn, using eye-tracking technology. Scroll heatmaps are also useful for pages that are heavy on written content as you can see how far down a page users scroll, in order to improve content or adjust its length.
If heatmaps don’t provide you with enough insight, page recordings almost certainly will, as they show real customers’ journeys across a page. You can see where the cursor moves and what they click in what order, as well as text that is tapped where you could add a link.
And for businesses who rely on leads from their online forms, form analysis from the likes of hotjar can uncover the reasons why visitors abandon contact or download forms. Using all these insights in relation with the conversion funnel information from Google Analytics will give you a greater understanding of how visitors currently interact with your website. Now it’s time to make changes to chase those conversions by testing what updates work best.
Using surveys for insights
The above tools help you see what is and isn’t working, but to be sure of what your web visitors want, a good customer survey can provide specific reasons why people aren’t converting. Let’s say your contact form has high traffic, but a large percentage of people are leaving before they submit the form. This shows that some sort of action needs to be taken on the submission page – but how do you know what needs to be tested? Well, you can ask your customers in a short survey and identify their reasons for not submitting.
It’s easy to set up an auto email to anyone who leaves the form without submitting it, asking if there was any reason why. Perhaps they felt like they had to give too much information, meaning you could simplify the form; or perhaps they clicked on the contact button by mistake, meaning you should optimise placement of the button.
The same action can be taken for cart abandonment on an e-commerce site. A prime example of re-marketing that works, you can send an email reminding customers what they still have in their basket. Plus the email can also be used to ask if there was any site-specific reason they changed their mind.
Testing for CRO
The final stage of your CRO process is changing the elements that you’ve found hinder your conversion goals. Split testing, or A/B testing, is a method of trying alternative design and content elements across different urls to see which version works best.
Changing one element at a time, you can tweak the wording, placement or colour of a CTA and send half the traffic to the new url, keeping the existing url as a control. Then, keep the highest performing page and continue to methodically update any other elements your surveys, heatmaps or form analysis unearthed.
Make your website work harder
Your website is one of your strongest assets for bringing in business, but in many cases it can work harder for you. CRO allows you to measure exactly what changes bring the greatest return, in order to systematically update pages. It doesn’t have to be a big task as you can focus on your key pages first, and transfer what you learn to other pages over time.
If you need help with carrying out CRO on your website, get in touch with Ad-Rank today.