What is Conversion Rate Optimisation?
Conversion rate optimisation (often referred to as CRO) is an approach taken in order to improve how well your website converts its users, whether it be turning them into customers, or completing a desired action or goal on the page.
It’s an area which is often neglected with many sites, with there being just a massive focus on bringing people through to the site, and hoping that gets the job done. With this in mind, it’s also a massive area of opportunity for many sites, with it being an untapped area of vast potential.
It’s important to ensure that your site is structured in a way which encourages the conversion, whether it be a purchase, signing up for a webinar, building a mailing list, or just driving users to another area of the site through a larger funnel.
In SEO and digital marketing, so much work is done in order to bring users through to your site. Whether it’s an ecommerce site or a fresh-faced startup, getting eyes on your product(s) and content is massively important.
But then what?
You’ve got them to the site, but what do they do at that point? What is the end goal, and will they be directed towards it? Having heaps of traffic is great, of course, and is something we’re all striving for – but actually driving this traffic towards a conversion is the aim of the game.
This is where conversion rate optimisation comes into play.
Here, we’ll have a quick look at what conversion rate optimisation entails, a list of experiments you can conduct, as well as key areas that need to be attended to in order to fully make the most of your site, and vastly improve its conversion rates.
Use Behavioural Testing Tools
When you’re optimising your site with conversion rates and general user experience in mind, the use of behavioral testing tools can prove to be vital.
These are tools which allow you to gain further insights into how people are using your site, right down to the most particular details, such as the most often clicked areas of your landing page.
In terms of personal favourites, there are a few that you could use during your conversion rate optimisation experiments:
HotJar: This is heat mapping software, which offers insights into how users click and scroll throughout your chosen landing page, or your site as a whole, across both mobile and desktop devices. This is highly recommended, as it can tell you whether users are interacting with key calls to action (whether they’re clicking on them or not), if they’re being distracted and are going elsewhere, or if they’re not even seeing it (looking at where the users tend to scroll).
This piece from ConversionXL provides some key points that can be found through heat mapping software, such as how the use of imagery effects the user, differences between demographics,
User Testing: In terms of finding out how people use your site, user testing software gives you information directly from the users themselves.
Tools like these will provide you with insights from users, and go through any potential problem areas that you’ve highlighted, whilst answering any particular questions of yours.
This is a great way to get a neutral view of your site, while also gathering information from different demographics. Just recently, we conducted a test using this software on an ecommerce client of ours. It offered plenty of great insights, as several different users from different demographics pointed out issues across the site’s purchasing process, with there being common issues between each review, giving us clear areas to target.
Key Takeaway: Use resources such as user testing and heat mapping software to find out precisely how people are using your site, which will tie into the conversion process.
Improve Site Speed
One of the bigger issues that users face throughout many conversion funnels is the actual site itself, and how quickly it serves the contents of the page. This can also be a highly overlooked part of the conversion process, with websites not really paying much attention to the user experience side of things, providing a site that performs poorly as a whole.
A study was conducted regarding this, and it concluded that two seconds is generally how long people will wait for their information. On that note, another study/experiment states that 57% of visitors will leave the page if content isn’t served within 3 seconds.
If a potential customer is looking for a product on your site and the product page takes far too long to load, they’ll happily check out one of your competitors whose site performs much more efficiently.
In terms of pure page speed issues, you can use a raft of different tools out there to identify the more technical issues that your site has when it comes to serving content.
Google Pagespeed Insights is the first that springs to mind. A quick scan of your site will provide you with some insights into the key areas of your site that should be attended to, as well as a performance score and suggestions for changes.
GTMetrix does the same, as does Pingdom. These two in particular can be used to track the performance of a site over time. It’s absolutely worth using these in conjunction with one another, finding common problems across all three tools and targeting them.
On top of these tools, you can dive into Google Analytics to find out how the pages of your site are performing in terms of page speed.
Go to Behaviour > Site Speed > Page Timings, and you’ll get a breakdown of how the top pages on your site have been performing.
Any pages that appear to be massively skewed above the average speed of the site can then be further assessed, with any potential issues being ironed out. The example above is for the Rice site, though here’s an example for an ecommerce client:
The two key landing pages that appear slower than the site average have been made clear to us, and changes can be looked into from there onwards.
There is also a Speed Suggestions section within Google Analytics, which provides a direct link through to the Pagespeed Insights report for that page.
Key Takeaway: Ensure that your site performs well with regards to site speed, as a slow site can be massively detrimental to how well it converts.
Conduct A/B Tests
With any site that is aiming to convert users, A/B tests are something that you absolutely should be looking into. Otherwise known as split testing, a/b tests are where you take two different versions of a page and compare them for their efficacy with regards to conversions.
Doing this allows you to see which version of the page performs and converts better – a key part of the CRO process. In terms of the planning process, you should have an understanding of your audience and precisely what you’re looking to test, as opposed to simply changing a few aspects of the page and seeing what happens.
Using aforementioned behavioural tools, as well as other resources such as Google Analytics (key metrics such as the amount of traffic to these pages, bounce rates, how long they’re spending on the page, as well as the User Flow section) will give you an initial base of information for you to know what is working, and more importantly, what isn’t.
The general process would be along the lines of:
- Collecting the Right Data: using the aforementioned resources and looking into your user base, in order to find information about your users and how they’re interacting with the site.
- Identifying Your Goals: it’s also important to assess the actual goals you have for the landing page, and the site as a whole, before you go about changing your landing pages.
- Identifying Problem Areas for Users: look into data and behavioural testing resources and find potential areas where people are having trouble on your site. It could be the signup process, the checkout, or even a poor contact form. It’s important to know precisely what areas are causing issues before changes are made.
- Analysing Your Data and Generating Solutions: based on the issues people may have, or are having – potential solutions and changes can be drafted based on them. If you’ve used heat mapping software and discovered that users aren’t scrolling to a particular key point, perhaps change the page to ensure that the key point is above the fold, or users are driven down the page.
- Creating and Running Your Experiments: this would entail making changes to the page, and implementing any of your previous hypotheses onto the landing page(s) of the site. From here you’d track the differences between the two versions of the page with regards to how well they’re converting.
- Analysing Your Results: After a certain amount of time, you’d then analyse any differences between version A and version B, identifying whether the changes have made a positive or a negative difference. This would be measured within analytics software, looking at the conversion rate and general on-page metrics, as well as possibly running the aforementioned behavioural software to reanalyse the page and how people are interacting with it.
The actual tests can vary massively. You can simply change the colour of the main CTA on the page, or you could tear it all down and redesign the page entirely, finding out which version performs better.
Here are several different A/B tests you can conduct on your landing pages:
- Landing Page Title: The title of the page itself, as well as the main header used on the landing page itself, can play a key role in the conversion process. The language used, as well as the clarity of the title will need to be attended to, ensuring that they’re getting the right information and are being driven towards converting.
- Use of Form Fields: a form field is one of the more standard parts of a landing page, where users fill in the required information. In terms of tests, you can experiment with the fields used – are there too many/are you asking for too much? Are the fields used confusing users?
- Call to Action Button(s): A massively important part of the landing page is the call to action button which finalises or initiates the conversion. In terms of experiments here, you can change the copy used, the size of the button, as well as the placement of the button. Previously mentioned user behaviour tools will prove helpful here.
- Landing Page Copy: The actual text used on a landing page has to be done with the user in mind, with it being both actionable and informative, driving the user to a conversion. A simple experiment here would be changing the copy used across the landing page.
- Use of Social Proof: This involves providing information which inspires trust in the user. Do you provide testimonials on your landing page? Are certifications being displayed if you’re offering a service?
- Use of Videos: The use of videos can help on a landing page, as they may be used to provide more information for the user, or something such as a guide for the product they’re interested in. Check your competitors and see if they’re utilising videos and informational content in general.
- Use of Pricing: One of the more important areas of many landing pages would be the use of the price for products and services. Are you making your pricing structure abundantly clear for the user? If you’re providing an offer, is that being made clear? How can you further tell the user about the value that your product/service offers, possibly in relation to the competition?
- Landing Page Layout: One of the more radical changes you can undertake with a landing page is a complete overhaul. If you’re doing this, you really should have a raft of information at hand with regards to how users are using the site, knowing that the current iteration of the page isn’t performing well at all. In terms of what you’re looking for, implementing all aspects listed above – forms, CTAs, copy, and the placement of them all, would be looked into.
Here are a few great resources on conducting A/B tests:
How to Perform an A/B Test on Your Website – Buffer
A Beginner’s Guide to A/B Testing – Kissmetrics
How to Run A/B Tests – Peep Laja
The Ultimate Guide to A/B Testing – Unbounce (it’s a downloadable resource that you’ll need to enter some data for, but Unbounce really are fantastic. Plus it’s a solid example of a landing page!)
Key Takeaway: Do your homework before conducting A/B tests. Find out the problems users are having on the site, and work on fixing them by running tests based on your research.
If you’d like any advice on improving your site’s conversion rate optimisation, then do not hesitate to get in touch.