What is Conversion Rate Optimisation (And how do I do it?)

What is Conversion Rate Optimisation?

Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is the process of reviewing/analysis a customers journey on your website, finding where problems are occurring or what streamlining can be put in to make customers achieve the goal of your journey easier / with more confidence. In short, it’s all about learning from and improving your website and then repeating this process again and again and again forevermore. Always keep reviewing, learning and trying to improve your customers’ lives. After all, the easier it is to convert a new visitor into a long-term customer the better. Even more so if you can find and remove any barriers annoying your returning customers then they’re more likely to stay loyal and keep spending (and we all know it’s easier to keep existing customers happy then it is to find new customers through Organic and Paid marketing). Talking about new customers, If you have a digital strategy that involves SEO and involves PPC but doesn’t yet involve any sort of CRO or even an understanding of CRO then you’re missing out?  Why?  You’re driving traffic to the website and most likely working very hard to do it but you’re not paying attention to what happens when they get there. You’re hoping that they’ll follow the signposts you’ve set up and if they don’t follow it then you’re likely to blame the quality of traffic or the customer themselves. Good CRO linked with SEO and PPC will have you reviewing your landing pages (pages of your website you’re directing traffic towards with PPC or have been using SEO to boost) using heatmap and analytics software – seeing where they get stuck or where they are unsure and improving it (again and again) which means that you’re starting to get more sales without having to drive more traffic (and spend more on Paid search or social).

Is CRO worth my time and money?

The easiest way to think about this is what your current websites conversion rate is. Conversion rate is simply the percentage of people that complete a goal and if you’re an e-commerce website then the most important conversion rate is going to be when you make a sale (It could be that you also measure success when you get a new customer sign up for an account or email newsletter). Most e-commerce websites have a conversion rate under 5% (I’ve seen them as low as 0.3%) which means on average 5 in every 100 visitors convert to a sale. Now if you’re able to improve your conversion rate from 2% to 2.5% then that’s a 25% increase in sales, if you manage to get it up to 4% then that’s a 100% increase in sales without ever having to drive more traffic.

So where do you start with CRO?

  1. You’ll need to identify customer journeys. What is it that you want your customers to do and what ‘journey’ do they take interacting with your website to reach this goal.
  2. Install Google Analytics, Install a heatmap software (like Hotjar) and monitor that customer journey. Use a general overview to see on what pages people are dropping out.
    1. Using Hotjar (or other Heatmap and customer recording software like Mouseflow) watch how your visitors are interacting with the website – Are they clicking where you expect? Can you see any drop in confidence (delay in clicking, or erratic mouse movement? Is it at a certain step of your journey that is confusing?
  3. With your list of identified possible problems start to bounce ideas around on what could make the process easier (Are the buttons big enough, or the right colour? Are your shipping instructions and prices clear from the start? Are you giving enough USPs and confidence boosts to your customers? What about your registration forms, are all the fields needed or are they just nice to have – try and remove any un-needed clutter).
    1. Involve your creative teams, marketing teams and even your customers. Nothing can give you a clearer view of what to improve and how
    2. Speaking directly with a number of your customers. 
    3. Remember that it’s those that never made it to be customers (those that left the website too early in the process) that are the problem in the first place so go that extra step further and speak to random members of the demographic your site is aimed at (use Surveys, UX testing etc).
    4. Remember that challenging the status quo is what CRO is all about and only to stop once the spend to achieve no longer is worth the reward.
  4. Implement a change to your website – Here’s the important part – Don’t make too many changes at once.  If you want to know if your change really is having an effect (positive or otherwise) then you need to limit your changes into carefully controlled small batches.
    1. If you can you should follow an A/B testing method where you only show your improvement to 50% of your visitors over a set period and compare the results and conversion between the on-going before and after. This way you get a fair set of results unaffected by marketing campaigns, time of year or stage of pandemic.
  5. Review the data just like in Step 1 and Step 2 all over again to see if your change had a positive effect. If it did keep it (but review again to see if it can be improved upon) if it didn’t then give it a post mortem see if you can figure out exactly what the change you thought worth making had the opposite effect.
  6. Repeat. Keep going and Keep improving the users’ journey. Remember that it doesn’t have to be about big changes. CRO can be all about the small changes. I’ve known tweaks like removing a single field from account registration, bolding delivery price on a product page and changing the colour and wording of a proceed to checkout (the change was Proceed to Secure checkout) to easily increase the entire websites conversion rate with very little effort.

Don’t make the common mistakes with CRO

The most important advice I can give you when looking at CRO is that it’s not about how you use the website. You were there doing its design, its development and you’ve moulded it over the years… You wrote the content and you can fill in the gaps and jump over any problems or confidence issues. You need to look at your website through the eyes, ears and actions of your customers. You shouldn’t be surprised when they use it differently to you and in ways you consider wrong. Customers aren’t idiots for getting it wrong, you just need to help them a little more and give them the confidence. The best ways to learn from your customers and get into their mindset is to speak to them directly, Make use of heatmap software and make use of Usability Video services.

Start with the idea that you’re wrong and ask your potential customers.

Usability Video services allow you to ask complete strangers that have never used your website before to do certain tasks and talk about those tasks as they do them (based on questions you ask). This is great for testing out customer journeys. You can always limit the type of stranger that can do the test for you based upon age, hobbies, employment status, family life etc which means you can see exactly how your likely visitors/customers will react and think in the most transparent way. What you shouldn’t do is ‘pretend’ to be one of your customers. I’ve watched a man in his late twenties in a relationship but no children pretend for the purposes of a UX (User Experience) and Conversion Rate Optimisation to be an early twenties mother of one. It just doesn’t work like that… Please don’t… even if you run a mothering store and have done for a decade – I won’t argue with your experience and gut feelings you have but don’t ever replace using actual customers or the actual demographic to test, review and improve your website.

Still confused, or don’t know where to start with your own journey?

Fitting one-off or on-going CRO into your digital strategy isn’t the easiest thing to do. Send me a message and let’s talk through some ideas of where you can start and potential easy wins to increase your conversion rate.