Why CRO Techniques are the Hidden Levers of Power for your Website
Compared to other areas of digital marketing, Conversion Rate Optimisation remains fairly unknown. In the digital world full of TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms), such as SEO, API, CTA, CPC, and PPC that people assume you know, slipping the term CRO into the conversation will still often raise a baffled eyebrow or two.
Too many people still think that if you’ve built a pretty website, people will come. Wiser people understand that you need to get people to come and visit the website, so they do some marketing and SEO work. But at this point the job still isn’t done, which is why so many people have disappointing experiences with online marketing, because simply attracting visitors won’t necessarily translate into a benefit to your bottom line.
In order to understand Conversion Rate Optimisation, it helps if we are clear about what we mean by “Conversions”
What is a Conversion, and how do I Optimise it?
Conversions come in all shapes and sizes. Just because your site doesn’t have a full featured ecommerce store, doesn’t mean you don’t have or need conversion actions. Any website for any commercial organisation should have some type of desired outcome and some means of measuring it.
The nature of a conversion depends largely on how you sell your product or service.
- A newspaper or content site where we make money from advertising might define a conversion as someone visiting several pages in a single session, a repeat visitor or a newsletter sign up. Anything that lets us show more advertising to that visitor is going to be a commercial benefit to our site, so we’ll want to track these as conversions.
- A B2B site in an industrial market might have a very personalised sales process, complex products and a lead time of many months. Our first point of enquiry is likely to be with a salesperson, so we would want to track leads, such as phone calls, completion of contact forms or downloads of product sheets or white papers.
- A brand led site for a consumer product which sells its product through resellers might want to generate interest, awareness and desire but not sell directly. In this case we will want to measure engagement, through things like social interactions, time spent on the site, and the use of any widgets or games.
- An e-commerce site with online store. It might seem obvious to track sales, but this is just the start, we can consider recency, frequency and value metrics, newsletter signups, social interactions, and so on. We can even consider ‘negative’ conversions like abandoned carts and try to minimise these.
Essentially, a conversion is the moment a site user performs any interaction that we want to measure and once we have measured it, try to improve the commercial outcome.
So What About Optimisation?
Simply put –CRO is about discovering why your visitors aren’t converting and fixing it. After all, higher conversion rates lead to higher ROI and therefore higher profits.
Whereas SEO focuses on driving traffic to a website, CRO focuses on getting them to do what you want, whether it’s buying a product, creating an account, or downloading a PDF.
For your website to be effective, you have to understand what your site visitors are looking for when they arrive on your website and make sure they find it.
CRO works by analysing your data before making educated changes to your website in order to improve the users experience, lead them towards a clear and defined goal, and then persuading as many of them as possible to complete that goal.
These changes can be simple as rewording some text or changing the colour of a button, or as far-reaching as a total redesign of the navigation or change in server architecture to improve site speed.
User focussed design, persuasive copywriting, technical considerations and an understanding of human psychology all have a part to play, but for each change, the most important thing of all is to test and measure, test and measure, through multiple iterations, taking your site towards its maximum potential.
Putting CRO into perspective
If you’re running a website for any kind of commercial purpose your conversions and conversion rate will ultimately define just how successful and how profitable you are. Thinking about the financial impact of online conversions is therefore a critical part of the modern business.
Let’s put some simple example figures into the mix to show how CRO can impact the bottom line in some different industries.
On an ecommerce site selling cameras, customers might have a typical conversion rate of somewhere around 2%. We’ll keep things simple and assume this site has 10,000 visitors per month and an average order value of £100. That means that currently the website will generate revenue of £200,000 per month.
So what if we can increase the conversion rate by just a moderate amount? If we can get 2.5% of visitors to buy a camera instead of 2%, we can easily see that we can make an extra £50,000 per month, but CRO has knock on effects, too.
Increasing the conversion rate means each click to our website is now worth more to us, and that might mean we can justify higher marketing costs, so let’s say we can now afford to send an extra 1,000 PPC clicks to the site – we’re now making £275,000 per month.
There’s more. Using CRO techniques we can improve not just end to end conversions, but average order values too. Perhaps we can make it easier for people to add SD cards and camera cases to their purchase and doing that can help to raise the average order value to £110. The cumulative effect is that our monthly income to the website is now increased by over 50% at £302,500 all from a relatively modest boost to conversion rates. That’s an extra £1.23million a year for our camera store, and that’s why implementing an ongoing CRO strategy is important to any commercial website.
How CRO Works in Practice
At this stage, probably the most important point to remember is “follow a clear and defined process” when you set up your tests. CRO isn’t complicated but mistakes can affect your results and lead you to the wrong conclusion.
The most common form of CRO testing is A/B testing. This runs a simultaneous experiment between two or more pages to see which performs or converts the best. The original page is called “control” while the test version is called either “variation” or “test”.
The following process is a stripped down guide to the basic steps you should take.
Depending on what you’re testing, you’ll need access to your analytics and testing software that can split visitors between your original site and the test site. Examine your analytics data and look for areas that need to be improved. Make an educated guess as to how you could improve this. Define your hypothesis (depending on your statistical skills, you could introduce a null hypothesis and an H1). Make the changes and run the test. Analyse the results.
Depending on your results, you’ll either have made a change that has performed well and should be kept or you have made things worse. If this is the case, return to stage 2.
Even if the control page performed best, this doesn’t mean it can’t be removed. Define another hypothesis and start again.
If done successfully, CRO will have a positive and lasting effect on your site and your business. It is a continual process and can change at a moment’s notice so the more prepared you are, the better.
For Priden Engineering, a single sale can be worth a lot of money, so it’s imperative that they do everything in their power to convert site browsers into leads for their sales team to contact.
To The End helped with some on-site content changes and conversion rate optimisation and Priden reaped the rewards with a steady stream of web sales helping them to exceed targets and grow their business.
Putting Things into Wider Perspective
It’s a fact that your website can always be improved, no matter how good it is, that’s why at To The End, we don’t ever consider the sites we build as ‘finished’. A commercial website is a process not an outcome, and it needs to continually evolve with your customers and their technology.
As we’ve seen from our camera example, though, CRO doesn’t work in isolation, by reducing your lead costs it can make every penny of your marketing spend more effective.
There are other feedback effects too. Google rewards websites with low bounce rates with higher search engine rankings, and faster websites get a rankings boost too. And in mobile searches, websites with optimised mobile experiences also rank higher, so CRO techniques can dramatically improve your search engine optimisation efforts too.
CRO can also lead to happier customers. If you have a website that offers them exactly what they want and is easy to navigate then you’ve saved them time and made their experience better. A happy customer is more likely to return and recommend you.
In short conversion rate optimisation can offer a virtuous circle of improved performance and more traffic that can have a transformative effect on the profitability of a website.
That’s why talking to us is a good idea, we have a team of experts in all of the various specialisms that feed into conversion rate optimisation and the experience to know what’s most likely to get your site onto the fast track to success.
Call us on 020 3868 8744 or enter your details below for a no-obligation chat about your site’s conversion pinch points.