If there was a way of getting double the result for the same price, there’s no doubt you’ll jump on the offer, right?
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a strategy that many swear by, for that exact same reason. It’s a way of increasing the number of people visiting your site and taking the steps that you want them to, leading to actual sales or engagement. In many ways, a CRO strategy would go hand in hand with your digital marketing and SEO strategies. While SEO, digital marketing, social marketing etc. would ensure that there is a higher inflow of traffic to your website, the CRO strategy will make sure that this higher traffic gets converted into actual business for your organization.
Let’s get a few important things out of the way: yes, this is a daunting task, and no, it is not simple. It will take time for you to understand exactly what conversion rate optimization strategy is, and how you can get started with the practice (if you want to know more, check out Part 1 of our Conversion Rate Optimization guide here). So, if it is that much effort, why should you be worried about it?
- Your competition is probably engaging a CRO strategy- after all, more people are searching for CRO on Google than ever before. Moreover, the companies that are researching CRO are spending, on an average, $2000 a month on CRO tools and receiving a 223% ROI on the same!
- However, it should be noted that 68% small business report that they don’t have a concrete CRO strategy. This means that the field is still nascent, and can give you a huge advantage over your competition- all you have to do is start at the right time!
- The impact of a concrete CRO strategy can be far-reaching. 7 out of 10 marketers who have a CRO strategy use the results from this to design and execute other online and offline marketing plans. The investment you make into your CRO will definitely extend beyond these confines!
Your CRO Strategy in 2018
Maybe you already have a CRO strategy, entering the game early. However, the landscape of CRO is perennially evolving, since it is informed by a number of shifting factors, like technological advancements, people’s preferences, design trends, and more.
2018 has seen a lot more focus on personalization when it comes to user experiences, and more people-focused design choices. These will definitely play a role in determining your CRO strategy and the changes that you’d have to implement on your own site. This is why you need this guide: a master list of all the best practices for those trying to nail their conversion rate optimization strategy for the year.
How do you apply best practices to your strategy?
Consider this your holy grail (nobody can fault our modesty, after all). These best practices can seriously up the percentage of your conversions, and increase sales for your business.
You can (in all honesty, you will have to) pick and choose the best practices depending on:
- What kind of business you run
- What kind of metrics you’re using to determine your conversions
- What conversions you wish to focus on (micro conversions, macro conversions or both)
You can use a mix of these best practices to personalize your very own CRO strategy, but there will be certain elements that you cannot ignore/remove. This includes:
- Call to Action
You will always need an attention-grabbing, direct, and attractive call to action.
- Information collection
You can do this through Forms- but the idea behind this is to collect valid information from the leads coming to your site, so you can use this information for further marketing.
- A/B Testing
This is probably the first thing you learnt about conversion rate optimization, and for a good reason. The best way to find out exactly what converted a lead into a sale is to compare two test versions, with only one differing variable.
- Multivariate testing
A good CRO strategy is based on constant testing and recording, so you will have to engage in multivariate testing as well. This will allow you to test multiple variations of the same asset (like a landing page), where you can adjust multiple variables, to see what works best!
13 Best Practices to Nail your CRO Strategy
There will be dozens of variables when it comes to your CRO strategy, but thankfully, there are a number of CRO professionals who’ve carried out multiple trials (some successful and some not as much) to tell us exactly what would work and what would not. Here are some of the tried and tested best practices for you to follow.
1. Identify your potential customer
Who exactly are you trying to convert? Who’s the dream customer that you want to convert at every step? You can identify this by creating a buyer persona. This will help you identify the age, gender, interests, patterns, and problems of your target customer, so that you can create content and collaterals that can connect to them.
. 2. Survey users
We mentioned that collecting information from the users would be an integral part of any conversion rate optimization strategy. The best practice here is to identify just how you collect this information. The simplest way to do it is by using forms. Once upon a time, it was thought that the best place to put these forms was on the right-hand side of the page, but that is not a proven rule anymore. As long as your form is intuitive (see what parts of the form can be pre-filled, to make it easier on the customer), and designed in a pleasant manner, the position does not matter as much.
Another key factor you should consider is having the optimal form length. The optimal length of your form would depend on a number of factors such as the service you’re offering, customer expectation, etc., so make sure it is on your testing agenda!
3. Make sure the audience is being driven to the right place
To some extent, your CRO will depend on your marketing and social advertising strategies as well, so you should not divorce one from the other. In fact, your ad relevance score can have a huge impact on your conversion rate (decreasing it anywhere between 13-16% actually). This means, you should focus on matching the audience and your ad to the right landing page. Moreover, you have to make sure there is a true message match: if you have sent out an email, or put out an ad for your site/product/service, you have to make sure that the landing page the ad is linked to will take the customer to the relevant page (with the same words mentioned in the ad).
4. Run A/B tests only on only relevant assets
As we mentioned, an A/B test is a way of creating two versions of the same page, to see what micro-elements perform better. This will help you identify a better way of communicating about your brand or your call to action. It is very easy to get carried away by this process, and conduct A/B test to validate all the micro transactions on your site, but as Tim Mehta puts it, “…it’s not an efficient use of your time”. As he himself opines, constrict yourself to testing only the important micro-assets the ones that will actually have an impact on your KPI.
Expert Tip: If you get a CRO tool, like Crazy Egg, you’ll get a built in A/B testing function, which will conduct the test and compile the results on its own, saving you a lot of time and effort.
5. Discover the exact journey users take through your site
It’s always useful to create a customer conversion path for your website, as it will give you a lot of juicy information about where your customers are coming from and where they’re going. Google Analytics’ User Flow comes in extremely handy in this process, as it will give you a clear idea about the path taken by each user, which pages they spend a lot more time on, what assets foster more conversion and interest. You can also use Google Analytics or Hubspot to understand which parts of your site are losing more traffic, and focus on those assets to drive higher conversions.
6. Focus on your page load times
There is nothing more annoying than the loading page, and nothing infuriates potential customers more than long waiting times. They click on the subscribe button, and the page takes a few too many seconds to load? Forget how well designed the page is, you’re definitely losing the customer. How much of an impact can this possibly have? Aberdeen found that a mere one second delay can cause a conversion loss of 7%!
7. Create content for conversion
Content is and will always be king. A good CRO strategy should always focus on developing content that people want to read. There are a few ways you can operationalize on this particular practice. You can use heatmap analysis to determine what landing pages and content are more sought out, and focus on the ones that still need work. You can take the buyer persona you built a step further, and optimize content for your ideal customer. In 2018, that means:
- Using friendly and impersonal language, like ‘We’ and ‘us’, and avoiding the passive voice
- Adding videos (short and relevant videos) on important landing pages
- Adding user-generated content such as photos, reviews, ratings, testimonials etc. to the page.
8. Guide your customers
Once they are on the site, you’ll have to guide the customer to the steps that you want them to take, and a clear, well-designed call to action (CTA) will do the job just right. A good call to action will:
- Use direct and unambiguous language so the customer knows exactly what they’re signing up for
- Have a customer value proposition, or a reason why the customer should click (why should they do business with you, and not your competition)
- Be placed above the fold (a proven factor that can increase your clickthrough by 41%)
There are some simple ways in which you can encourage users to engage with the CTA more. Design plays a vital role here: something as simple as switching the colour from green to red can increase the conversion rate by 32%!
9. Remove any obstacles
Remove any obstacles or friction that might slow the user down, and make them rethink their engagement with your site. This would involve removing any clutter on your site, and making it clean and accessible. In 2018, white space has become a dominant design trend, so try and integrate that within your web design. This will allow the user to focus on the important steps, instead of being distracted.
10. Design, Design, Design
The design you use for your site is more than just aesthetic, it showcases your branding and your ideals as well. It shows how relevant you are, and could determine whether your buyer wants to engage with you or not. So, what best practices can you adopt for this?
- Understand the current design landscape, so you’re not stuck with a website that looks like it’s from 2005 (absolutely nobody will want to engage with your site if you’re still stuck looking like Myspace).
- Use photos smartly. It has become quite outdated to use stock photos, as people are looking for personalization (this case study shows that using a personal photo can increase subscriptions by 35%).
11. Test all the changes you make
We agree that these are all tried and tested best practices: but do not take only our word for it. The last thing you want to do is make a big change to your conversion rate optimization strategy based on assumptions. So, take your time, and test all the big changes that you’re making. If you’re changing your CTA, do an A/B testing to find out which works better. Do a multivariate test for your landing page to see what kind of photos and headlines work better. Experiment- don’t assume!
12. Make use of machine learning to identify your website issues
Machine learning is growing to be the most relevant field of study in the upcoming years. Its impact spreads across all sectors- including customer relations and web design. If you want to be ahead of the game, one of the best ways of doing it would be to integrate machine learning into your web design and CRO strategy. You can utilize machine learning to understand visitor behaviour, pattern recognition, and problem areas. Want to get started? SessionCam’s Customer Struggle Score is a pretty neat tool for you to experiment with!
13. Don’t forget the mobile users
As of 2018, 51.89% of the global web traffic runs through mobile devices. This is a huge market you cannot afford to ignore. Whether it is web design, or site speed, you have to optimize it for mobile users as well.
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