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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.

Setting goals

Setting CRO goals

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:

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.

Video Source: Mouseflow

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

Surveys for CRO

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.

Multivariate testing through VWO. Image source: Crazyegg

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.

‘Make a great product, and they will come’ has never been less true than in today’s crowded marketplace. For e-commerce businesses, having a watertight marketing strategy is essential in getting your brand noticed and converting visitors into returning customers.

A marketing strategy is something that evolves over time, incorporating the latest techniques and channels. As such, this guide isn’t just for new e-commerce businesses or products. If you feel like your marketing strategy could be working harder, many of the elements below can easily be moulded to suit your business.

With that in mind, here are the eight most important areas that you should include in your e-commerce marketing strategy, as well as ways to measure and refine your processes.

1. Develop a mission statement

A mission statement defines who you are as a business. It’s the first thing that customers will see on your ‘About Us’ page and will define your brand story. Mission statements are particularly useful for larger organisations, or those who work across different sectors, as they provide focus and consistency across different areas. This post from 60-Second Marketer covers how to create a mission statement.

mission statement

Image source: 60secondmarketer

2. Build buyer personas

Buyer personas are fictional, generalised representations of your ideal customer. They help your team to understand and visualise your audience in order to focus marketing efforts towards this demographic.

You can use existing customer data to form personas, as well as interviewing a representative customer group for more in-depth insights. You’ll need information such as demographics, what channels the customer uses and who influences them. Hubspot’s post explains how to create buyer personas in more detail.

3. Engage in competitor analysis

You may know exactly who your competitors are, but take a deeper look at their digital strategies and it can fuel your own marketing initiatives. You can easily find out which competitors rank highest for key search terms. Then there are a number of helpful competitor analysis tools that will give you statistics on web traffic and what channels competitors’ customers are using. Details of their backlink profiles may also give you ideas for your own link building strategy.

4. Set your goals

Now that you have a clearer picture of who your customers are and what your competitors are doing, you should set some measurable goals in your marketing strategy. This part of your plan will be ever-evolving, so it’s important to revisit yours regularly.

You need to set achievable goals which cover all areas of marketing. For example, ask yourself what is an attainable figure for new customer acquisition or engagement on social. You can also audit your current website content and set yourself the target of increasing web traffic by a certain percentage.

5. Produce engaging content

Content works in a number of ways to bolster your e-commerce website, so it’s key to incorporate a content strategy into your overall marketing plan. Firstly, content is a tool for driving traffic to your website through optimised product descriptions and landing pages. Although you may sell products that can be found elsewhere online, it’s important that your content is unique in order to avoid duplication issues.

Another area where content is important is in encouraging conversion through the use of attractive product descriptions and compelling CTAs. A content strategy will cover all channels and content types, integrating them into an overarching plan – from creating a blog of original articles; to driving traffic to your product pages; producing video content for social; or formulating engaging email newsletters.

6. CRO

Content is just one element of your website that will affect conversion. You should make Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) a part of your marketing strategy and regularly set aside time to split test any new pages added to your website. Using heatmaps and funnels like the ones from Mouseflow allows you to see where customers are focusing their attention on your site and what journey they take between pages.

Mouseflow - Session Replay, Heatmaps, Funnels, Forms & User Feedback

You can use this information to improve menu navigation, checkout processes, mobile functionality and more through A/B testing. By changing one element at a time, from wording to imagery and the placement of important information and links, you can quantifiably test what works best.

Another element that has proven CRO results is adding a review function to your website. This user-generated content is trustworthy as well as answering customers’ questions. Plus, to alleviate the common issue of customers leaving things in their cart without checking out you can add a campaign of remarketing, or retargeting, to your strategy. Either email customers to ask if they forgot to checkout or use limited-time display ads reminding people of what they viewed.

7. One-off campaigns

As well as ongoing keyword optimisation to improve your on-page SEO, you’ll also need to plan limited-time campaigns. These often revolve around big events for your company, such as new product launches or upcoming holiday deals.

Sponsored ads on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are ideal for targeting certain demographics. You pay for a set amount of time, so you can run the campaign from the two weeks leading up to an event or the month before a big holiday.

Another one-off example would be hiring a social influencer to review some of your products and post about them for a short period. Using visual channels like YouTube and Instagram, influencers can demonstrate your product to a well-established following.

8. Retention and analysis

As you add more campaigns to your marketing strategy, remember to rinse all content through your buyer personas (do they fit the target audience?) and your mission statement (does the content align with your beliefs and style?).

You’ll also need to track your efforts and the responses to them – whether through Google Analytics, customer feedback or social media statistics. Analysing engagement and traffic allows you to measure the effectiveness and ROI of each campaign, as well as streamline your efforts for a personalised user experience.


Each e-commerce business is different and will have its own set of strategic goals, which will change over time. Therefore, it’s important for your marketing strategy to be flexible and for you to regularly test different marketing channels and strategies to see which ones are most effective.

Keeping up to date with the latest marketing techniques to use in your strategy can be hard work. For more advice on both tried-and-tested and emerging e-commerce marketing strategies, get in touch with us.

We’re already a quarter of the way through 2018, and search engine and social media giants are pushing boundaries in the name of improving user experience. From shoppable social media posts to drastically condensed search results, here’s the biggest marketing news from digital and SEO in March.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg announces security changes in light of Cambridge Analytica scandal

Facebook’s association with data mining company Cambridge Analytica has made global headlines this month, as it’s been suggested that data gathered through the platform may have been used to influence elections. The news has once again thrown into question just how secure our online data really is.

In light of the scandal, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg this month announced plans to strengthen security and reduce the likelihood of third-party apps being able to access personal data. Key changes include a thorough investigation of both new and existing apps that use the platform, as well as further restrictions on the amount of data developers are able to access.

“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you”, explained Zuckerberg in a statement posted on the platform this month. Despite this, many have continued to call for a boycott of the social networking site, with ‘#DeleteFacebook’ trending on Twitter throughout the latter half of March.

Google introduces mobile-first indexing to a growing number of sites

Google mobile first index

As promised, Google’s revised mobile-first algorithm was rolled out to more sites this month, with affected developers and site owners notified of the change via Search Console. Sites that “follow the best practices for mobile-first indexing” are the first to be switched, according to a blog post from Google Software Engineer Fan Zhang. The change follows a long period of testing, as the search engine prioritises mobile users, which currently contribute to the majority of traffic on the platform.

Sites that are affected will begin to see the mobile version of each web page being used for ranking and indexing. Even so, Google is keen to reiterate that mobile-friendliness is just one of a range of ranking factors. Sites that offer users a seamless mobile experience have long been favoured by search engines, yet desktop pages still have the capacity to rank well if they’re filled with useful, relevant information. Check out our guide to mobile optimisation for handy tips when preparing for the full roll-out.

Instagram rolls out shoppable organic posts

Facebook-owned social sharing app, Instagram, this month announced it was bringing its shoppable post feature to the UK. Shoppable posts have been available in the US since 2017 and were this month rolled out to Brazil, Canada, Italy and Spain, among others.

A blog post from Instagram’s Business Team describes the feature as “a visual shopfront [for users] to explore new products from businesses they follow”. The feature is expected to have a positive impact on businesses that use the app as part of their digital marketing strategy. “Tagging a product is as simple as tagging a person in a post. And for shoppers, a shopping post’s tags get rid of the guesswork and allow for easy access to a tagged product’s information”.

This focus on providing users with a seamless e-commerce experience is crucial to Instagram’s growth. US beauty retailer TYME have reported a 44% increase in traffic from the platform since implementing shoppable posts into their feed. And with an estimated 2 million Instagram accounts visiting one or more business profile every day, it’s likely that UK brands will be just as keen to get in on the action.

Google experiments with removing organic search results

Google ran a week-long test this month that saw zero search results being implemented for calculation, conversion and time-related queries. Instead, users were presented with a single answer and the option to ‘Show all results’, without those organic blue search result links we’ve become so accustomed to seeing on the site.

Following a rush of intrigue from users, Google’s Danny Sullivan confirmed the test on Twitter, posting “For calculator, unit converter & local time, we’re experimenting with a condensed view to further speed up load time. People who search for these tools rarely use full search results, but the results will remain available for those who want them via the ‘Show all results’ button”.

The experiment didn’t last long, however, with Google pulling the zero results pages a week after they were rolled out. Citing a need to develop the feature further before rolling it out in full, it’s expected that it won’t be the last we hear of Google dropping organic results from specific pages.

For more information on any of the stories discussed, or to discover how Ad-Rank can help your business to stay ahead of the latest trends in search and content, get in touch today.

An interview with SEO manager of Findmeagift.co.uk

There's no question that ranking higher than your competitors in search results is a must. But how can you ensure that your ecommerce site is the one that rises to the top. We caught up with Will King, SEO Manager at online gift store Findmeagift.co.uk to talk about the SEO challenges that ecommerce businesses face and how they can increase organic visibility and, in turn, sales.

Tell us about Find Me A Gift and your role there

Find Me A Gift is a UK based online gift retailer. We sell about 6,000 gifts targeting as many occasion and recipient based market sectors as possible.

As SEO manager, I’m primarily responsible for maximising and maintaining our organic visibility across search engines such as Google and Bing. Being a gifts company, it’s essential we have strong organic visibility during seasonal periods such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, so a lot of our day-to-day work revolves around preparation for the upcoming peak.

What are some of the biggest challenges faced by ecommerce retailers when it comes to SEO?

Preventing any negative impact from search engine algorithmic updates is more of a challenge than it used to be. Google make changes to its search algorithm every day and a poorly maintained website can easily experience a reduction in organic visibility. Managing your website's relationship with Googlebot to ensure healthy crawling and indexation is a huge challenge, especially on massive ecommerce websites with thousands of pages.

"With so many ecommerce websites targeting the same customers, and new websites entering the market all the time, maintaining a competitive advantage is an ongoing challenge."

 

The Google search engine results page has evolved way beyond the 10 blue links it used to be. More often than not, Google can answer a searcher's query through the featured snippets on the SERP without them ever having to leave. PPC ads also take up way more of the SERPs than they used to, especially on mobile. This naturally reduces the visibility of the organic listings and reduces the likelihood of a customer seeing and clicking them.

Google Analytics

What are some of the top SEO errors online stores and ecommerce websites often make?

I see a lot of websites with poor Google Analytics set-ups. Every ecommerce website should take the time to configure their analytics to ensure they get clean, accurate data, and are able to get the most value from it. Quick wins include excluding local traffic, macro and micro goal tracking and dedicated views for each source/device combination.

It’s clear Google are placing huge importance on content quality. Ecommerce websites in particular need to pay close attention to this, and make sure the content they make available to Google for indexing is high quality and provides value to users. With products continually being added and discontinued, a process needs to be put in place to ensure legacy pages are dealt with.

Most ecommerce websites allow users to browse through categories and apply ‘sort by’ and ‘category’ filters. A strategy needs to be put in place to ensure this doesn’t cause indexation bloat and that the right page is indexed on Google.

Additionally, managing 301 redirects on a huge ecommerce website can easily go wrong. It’s common to redirect users from page A to page B when it makes sense for the user experience, but too often the redirect is set-up incorrectly. A common error is not redirecting directly to the final destination page, which can result in users hopping from page to page. This can result in a loss of page rank.

How do you measure the effectiveness of an SEO campaign?

It very much depends on the goal of the campaign. For a common content marketing campaign the initial metrics will focus on coverage, link acquisition and brand mentions. We use a range of tools for this, such as Ahrefs.

Longer term, organic traffic growth and online visibility are measured using tools such as Pi Datametrics.

searchmetrics

If you were to prioritise the various SEO metrics, how would you list them in order of importance?

Profit should be the primary SEO metric. It’s no use investing time and resource to bring traffic to your site if it doesn’t convert into profitable business.

Organic traffic is more important to us than keyword rankings. Rankings are influenced by factors such as location and personalisation, so we pay less attention to them. Finally, we monitor our aggregate organic visibility using various tracking tools such as SEMRush, Search Metrics and Pi Datametrics.

 

If you want help optimising your ecommerce site, get in touch. Ad-Rank has years’ of expertise in the field, so we can help you get the sales your business needs.

A new study by WooContent has revealed that the majority of consumers feel that they are being spammed by brands online, with 75% adding that they would boycott their product or services as a result.

We asked over 1000 internet users the following questions, and here is what we found out…

Do you trust Google to display the most relevant content you are looking for?

Yes – 79%

No – 21%

Users said that they feel they can trust Google to display the most relevant content in their search results, likely due to Google’s ever evolving spam-filtering algorithm.

Do you think Google is getting better, worse or staying the same as a search engine?

Better – 34%

Worse – 9%

Staying the same – 57%

The majority of users either feel that Google is maintaining its standards or improving as a search engine – again, this is likely to be related to their continuing work on spam-filtering.

Do you think the quality of content online has improved over the last few years?

Yes – 70%

No - 30%

Improved search, and filtering out of thin or irrelevant content, means that users are finding it easier to seek out high quality content relating to their needs.

“Targeting consumers with relevant, useful content has never been more important,” said WooContent’s Managing Director, Chad Harwood – Jones, commenting on the findings.  “With so much information available online, brands need to build trust.”

Are you familiar with the term ‘advertorial’?

Yes – 17%
Somewhat – 20%

Not at all – 63%

Are you familiar with the term ‘spam’?

Yes- 100%

No – 0%

Do you regularly encounter spam content online?

Daily – 58%

Once a week – 20%

Infrequently – 22%

While it is likely that users are encountering both advertorial and spam content regularly online, only one term is commonly understood. This is likely because of the negative connotations – users will work to avoid something that annoys them, but may not pick up on subtle marketing if it is tailored to their needs.

Harwood – Jones goes on to say “I suspect that when most people think of spam, they think of junk emails. However, the rise of social spamming is a more recent trend, and as the internet evolves businesses will always seek to take advantage of new channels and platforms to reach large numbers of people at relevantly low costs, especially compared to paid-for advertising such as Google AdWords.”

Would you stop buying from a brand if they continually send you spam content?

Yes – 75%

Maybe – 24%

No – 1%

This is a particularly important discovery – that giving users irrelevant content could actually lead to them boycotting your brand. While the term ‘spam’ can be interpreted in different ways, being known for producing spam content or for spamming users can clearly have a negative impact on reputation and sales.

“It’s interesting to see that people are willing to go as far as completely disengaging with brands products and services as a result of being overly targeted with poor quality content. This is a stark warning to businesses who push the boundaries when it comes to implementing content led marketing tactics,” says Harwood – Jones.

 
Do you read content to help you decide on purchases?

Yes – 90%

No – 10%

Another important result – users are looking to online content to make decisions on how they spend their money. Producing original, interesting content that is relevant to user needs will create better results than risking lower-quality content that could be ignored or perceived as spam.

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