You may know how to build beautiful webpages, you may even know how to drive traffic to those pages, but do you know how to convert that traffic into something of value?
You may have a website that receives 1 million hits per second, but if those hits are not taking the journey through your sales funnel and resulting in profits for your business, your hits are not so impressive after all.
Learning how to convert your traffic into profits takes research, trial and error, but we are going to share with you some of the best practices for conversion rate optimisation that is going to turn you into an expert and blow your profits out of the water.
To start, it is important to know what Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is and what it isn’t.
What is CRO?
- The discovery behind why traffic is not converting to a desirable action
- Fixing the reason behind why that traffic is not converting to a desirable action
What CRO is not?
- Copying what has worked for others
- Looking at data for the only answers
- The only way to boost sales
Achieving high CRO results really comes down to your individual business and cannot be limited to what has worked for others or your metrics alone.
CRO can also cannot be reduced to just simple split-testing on your site, such as changing your call to action button from green to red because it worked in some random study that you found.
CRO is an ongoing practice that helps you to make effective changes to what is already working. In many ways, CRO is about taking what is working and making it better.
This can help you to increase your profits without increasing your traffic and it helps you to reduce your customer acquisition costs.
These are huge benefits for any brand which is why we are going to help you become a CRO expert so you can grow your business for less.
Becoming an expert in CRO and following the best practices comes down to 6 stages, which are-
Stage 1: Customer Research
Stage 2: Analysing Customer Data
Stage 3: Brainstorming Solutions
Stage 4: Testing
Stage 5: Interpreting and Reviewing
State 6: Repetition
These stages really form a cycle and are going to help you navigate through the best practices when it comes to approaching CRO.
Stage #1: Customer Research
For your CRO strategy to be effective, you first have to understand your customer. In fact, you have to do more than understand your customer, you have to become your customer.
Go through your own sales funnel from beginning to end using the eyes of your customer, and see what they may experience from their view point.
If you cant separate yourself from your page, try asking a friend, relative, spouse or co-worker to go to your website and see how they navigate through it instead.
Understanding your audience is crucial to becoming an CRO expert, and will help you to also know where to tweak and make changes.
But, how do you go about truly understanding your audience?
There are a number of effective tools out there that you can use to determine the behaviour and approach of your audience. The most common of these tools and what to look for include-
- Google Analytics: Look for how your users are engaging with your site including- the demographic of users, their behaviour, their conversion rates and the referrals. Study all aspects so you have a solid understanding of who your audience is.
- Customer Surveys: to complement any statistical data, ask your customers to fill out surveys that show you what motivated them to buy and how they felt about your products or services. Keep your survey requirements short and sweet to help promote customers to actually filling it out. You may also want to provide a free reward or prize.
- Heat Maps: set up a heat map on your most important pages on your site to track where your users are being drawn and where the “clickable hotspots” are.
- Testimonials: read through your customer testimonials and observe the language they use to describe your products and services, notice if they recommend any improvements or what they loved about your brand.
- Social Media: observe how your brand responds to your posts and comments on social media. Look for what engages them the most, what posts they interact with the most and any debates, tweets or comments that they have left in regards to your products, services and overall brand.
Really, anywhere that you can gather data from about your customers will help you to better understand them and what elements of your website should be up for your testing consideration.
Remember, becoming an expert in CRO is about becoming an expert on who your customers are first and how they interact with your page.
Best Practice #2: Analysing Customer Data
Data can be useless unless you do something actionable with it. How you analyse your data will depend on what you have collected and what you have found, but the key things to look for include-
- Patterns with your data
- Objections that were found
- Confusion or hurdles that were found
- Common themes
Really take the time to assess your data and come up with at least 5 problem areas on your site that need to be changed.
There may be more areas that need to be changed, but it may be best to focus on just a few of them to begin with. This mentality also helps you to sort out the most effective changes that could be made.
Best Practice #3: Brainstorm Solutions
Now that you have identified your main trouble areas, it is time to brainstorm a solution. It may help to create a spreadsheet of possible solutions that you want to trial, so you are not limiting yourself to just one option.
For your spreadsheet, consider having the following columns set up-
- Test Idea eg. new headline
- Hypothesis eg. helps to stir emotion
- Goal eg. get more sign ups
- Result eg. 10% more conversions
In order to begin with creating a solution, think about your goals and how you can prioritise the actions that you need to take to get the fastest result with the most improvement.
A few solutions to help you get started include-
- Changing the position of text/ call to actions/ buttons/ ads/ images
- Editing, changing or adding to the copy
- Changing the colours
- Adding elements eg. video
- Long versus short copy
- Reducing clutter/distractions
- Changing the layout
- Reducing steps in the funnel
- Offering a free trial vs. buy now
- Live chat feature
- Changing pricing or terms and conditions
- Increasing trust through text, badges or social proof
Best Practice #4: Testing
When it comes to testing your webpage, it is best to change just 1-2 things first to you can effectively manage the impact those changes have. If you change too many things to quickly, it will be difficult to navigate and you won’t be able to determine which change is creating which outcome.
After selecting the 1-2 things you are going to test, you need to find the right type of testing tools to help you.
The software you choose to use will depend on what you are testing, but the most popular are:
- Google Content Experiments
- Visual Website Optimiser
When it comes to running your test, be sure you test each element for at least 7 days, depending on your traffic, before you make a conclusion on your results. You also want to keep testing each element until it is well and truly out-preforming your original variation.
The most popular form of testing for CRO is A/B tests which allows you to run two examples of your site at the same time to see which one performs best.
You should be able to set up these tests easily using one of the software tools mentioned earlier.
Best Practice #5: Interpreting and Reviewing
After you have run your test for 7 days, it is time to review the effectiveness. It should be pretty obvious if your changes are performing better or worse, however you want to see at least 20-50% improvement from your original variation to stop the testing.
If you can’t seem to reach the 20 percent mark, you may have to think about changing another element on your page to deliver more pleasing results.
When it comes to reviewing your results, you want to take a look at improvements to your-
- Engagement rates
- Click through rates
- Sales/ Profits
- Sign Up Rates
- Social Media sign ups
Even if your change helped to fulfil your goal, you want to make sure it didn’t have a negative impact elsewhere on your site. This is why it is important to assess all factors of your webpage and take into consideration how it is affecting other elements on your site.
Once you have started to see pleasing results, it is also important to develop your ideas further by increasing what you are testing by adding more, or testing out the same changes on other pages of your site.
As you can probably begin to tell, testing your webpage is something that will be an ongoing process and needs to become part of your routine on a regular basis.
While you don’t want to make drastic changes often, you always should be tweaking and finessing what you are working with.
What do you do if your conversion testing fails?
It is important to keep in mind that you are not going to get a win every time you run a conversion test.
If you are not seeing any significant improvements with you testing, it may be time to return to the drawing board and consider taking a different approach.
You may also have to let things run for longer than just 7 days in order to determine more effective results.
Also, keep in mind that often the bigger the changes, the bigger the results. So if you are only testing small elements on your page, you may not be seeing huge results.
It is unrealistic to expect your conversions to double over night just because you make a change, so take it as a process and keep tweaking until you strike gold.
Here are some suggestions that may help if you are not seeing pleasing conversion results-
- Run an A/A test to confirm the accuracy of your software
- Review your copy and try adding “power words”
- Try alternative ways to present your content ie. images/video
- Work on building trust
- Keep innovating and brainstorming
- Track all your results
- Create more focus in what you are testing
- Making bigger changes
- Be patient
Again, testing is an on going process that is always teaching you how to be a better marketer, better writer and better sales-man or woman.
Best Practice #6: Repetition
The next step with becoming an expert with conversion rates is to repeat the cycle again for other areas of your page until you are satisfied.
The life cycle of conversion testing relies on repetition to not only get the best results, but to also help you stay up to date with the latest trends and changes in technology and customer behaviour.
After you have tested multiple elements on your page, it is also important to reflect on whether you have actually solved your initial problem or you are still struggling with the same problem areas and hurdles.
The only way that you are going to determine this is if you keep testing and analysing your customers and how they interact with your page.
We have taken you through the top 6 best practices for becoming a conversion optimisation rate expert, but what about the worst practices?
In order to be an expert, you also need to know the common pitfalls that people make when it comes to running tests and determining the success of their CRO campaign.
Here are the 8 most common “worst practices”:
- Expecting your CRO strategy to be a silver bullet: your CRO strategy is not going to solve every problem on your site. While it can have huge benefits when used the right way, it needs to be integrated into other strategies such as ensuring your content and products are valuable.
- Running Before and After Tests: this is when you run one particular variation for a period of time and another variation for a different period of time. Some experts use this instead of A/B testing, however it often won’t give you as accurate of results. When you are running these types of tests, every day is a new day, and the only way you will be able to determine the most accurate results is if you test both elements side by side during the same time period.
- Ending Testing too Soon: this is a common mistake as marketers get impatient, especially when they are not seeing results. The length of time that you choose to test something will depend on your traffic and other factors unique to your brand, but for most accurate results, you should test any variation for at least 7 days, if not longer.
- Trusting Everything You Read on CRO: there are a lot of tips and “best practices” lists out there, including this one, but it is important to understand that your business is unique and it is not going to run like everyone else’s. What may work for another site, may not work for yours, so read everything but be sure to determine your own opinion and testing.
- Expecting Big Results from Small Changes: When you make small changes on your site, such as changing your call to action button from red to green, don’t expect to see huge, life changing results. Even though you might, majority of the time, smaller changes lead to smaller results and bigger changes lead to bigger results. Of course, the results can be both positive and negative, so set your expectations appropriately.
- Making Testing Your First Action: you may be super excited to start testing elements on your page, but sometimes tweaking and making changes directly before you begin tests can be easier and more rewarding. Think about what you would like your page to look like, if there is anything blocking your customers from making a sale and if there are obvious hurdles that can be addressed before testing. Leave testing for when you have created an awesome, top notch website that needs to be finessed, not for when you need to do a massive overhaul.
- Running too Many Tests at Once: we have already touched on this, but when you run too many tests all at once, you loose your ability to see the effect your variations are having and it makes it harder to more accurately determine results.
- Changing Things To Often: overtime, your customers will get to know your page and be comfortable with your layout and style. If you continually change things all the time, it could lead to creating more confusion rather than helping. Be mindful over when you make your changes, but continue to strategise and stay ahead of how your goals are converting.
Becoming an expert in getting your traffic to convert into your most desirable action has many benefits.
Firstly, it can help your brand generate more sales with the same amount of traffic and it can help you to learn about your customers and how to market to them more effectively.
In order to become an expert in conversion rate optimisation, you first need to think about your customers and what they are looking for when they come to your page.
Chances are your customers have a problem that they are looking to solve, and the more you can tailor your page to solving that problem, the more likely you are to win their business.
While this sounds simplified, we all know that it takes constant research and trial and error to develop a page that will speak to your perfect demographic and get them to convert into life long customers.
Ready to see if you are an expert yet?
The real proof will be in how you run your own conversion tests, but to summarise the main ideas explored in this article, here is a bullet list of all the signs that you are now a conversion rate optimisation expert-
- You realise that conversion optimisation starts with learning about who your audience is and what their needs are.
- You have created a top notch website before you even think about testing things.
- You work on creating a testing plan, spreadsheet and strategy before runnings tests.
- You understand that what works for others sites won’t necessarily work for you.
- You choose to run your tests based on what your data, customers and analysis have shown you.
- You have found the perfect software for your brand that will help you to run effective tests, including A/B tests.
- You hypothesise the results before you run a split test to see if they are on track with your expectations.
- You have selected just 1-2 elements to test on your page at any given time, these elements are most likely a call to action.
- You are carefully monitoring your testing and have created strict and scientific testing conditions for the most accurate results.
- You are allowing your testing to run for at least 7 days in order to see effective results.
- You give preference to A/B tests rather than before and after tests.
- You analyse results not only to see if it has achieved your goal, but also how it has affected other elements on your page.
- You understand that small changes will often lead to small results and bigger changes will often lead to bigger results
- You learn something from every test that you run and keep learning as you go.
- You understand that making changes isn’t always the only tool you have.
- You realise that CRO is an ongoing process that needs to be regularly reviewed.
If you can move through this checklist and feel confident about these steps, then you are truly on your way to become a conversion optimisation rate expert for your brand.