hat is Conversion Rate Optimisation?
Broadly speaking, Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is the process of increasing the percentage of visitors to your website who take some desired action—this could be anything from buying a product from an eCommerce store to filling out a contact form to claiming a free quote for your business. CRO involves understanding how users interact with your site, the journey they take and identifying what hurdles they face along the way. CRO is often thought of as an eCommerce-specific concept, however, it applies to any business that operates online. This is because no matter how established a business is, whether they offer products or services, it will still need to convert visitors to its site into qualified leads, customers and brand advocates.
Before breaking down the exact steps you can take to perfect your CRO, it's important to get an understanding of some key concepts:
A conversion is a term used for describing when a visitor or user on your website completes a goal. Goals can vary from site to site and are specific to your business needs—you may even have more than one goal on your website! Goals can be split into so-called 'macro' conversions like purchasing a product or requesting a quote, and 'micro' conversions which contribute towards the 'macro' conversion—this could be creating a customer account, signing up for a newsletter, or even just adding a product to the cart.
The Conversion Rate itself is the metric used to track how many users are completing your goal in relation to how much total traffic or sessions you have on your website. This metric is a percentage figure calculated by dividing the number of conversions by the number of sessions on your site. Let's say you have 20 conversions in a day, and 476 sessions during that same period. Your conversion rate for this period would be 4.2%, a pretty respectable rate for some industries like apparel.
Optimising Your Conversion Rate
To understand what converts a user, you first need to understand UX or “user experience”. This is the experience a user on your site has and expands past just how your website looks. It takes into account how easy your site is to navigate, how fast it loads, what hurdles might stand in the way of a user's journey, where things like your navigation is positioned, and much, much more! When it comes to CRO, we often use a standard marketing term to describe how a user gets guided through to your goal: a funnel. The importance of UX within your conversion funnel is cannot overstated, and by carefully designing your site with UX in mind, you can ensure users are guided toward your conversion goal. When it comes to UX for your conversion funnel, there are two areas to focus on:
Reducing friction means removing all the 'physical' hurdles that a user might encounter. This could include things like wasted clicks (too many steps on the journey), slow page speeds, pop-ups unrelated to your conversion goal and essentially anything else that might stop or hinder a user along their journey.
Reducing 'Cognitive Overload'
'Cognitive overload' is a concept in UX where a user has too much information to process, like what button to click on, or what product or service option to choose. It's essentially another form of friction, but is specifically related to the psychological friction that occurs when a user gets ”decision fatigue”.
Understanding your goals fully before designing a website or conversion goal-specific landing page can ensure you're fully aware of the typical user journey and how to tailor it to reduce the above issues. By looking at your business objectives, and how a user fits into this, you can create a 'flow' to is designed to achieve both your goals as a business (sell a product/service/subscription etc) AND the goals of the user (ultimately they WANT your product/service/subscription etc). This flow will normally have the same steps irrespective of what your conversion goal is.
Beginning the Journey
A user's flow will typically begin in one of two ways: either they will have organically found your site via social media or a search engine, or more typically for conversion funnels, they would have clicked on some kind of ad. Both of these approaches can be optimised for conversion, whether it be beefing up your site's SEO, pumping out quality social media content, or designing ads that are tailored to your conversion goal.
When it comes to paid advertising, the ad must target the topmost point of your user flow. It's important to consider things like what type of user you're wanting to target, what problem they are trying to solve, and how you can capture their attention, relate to them and communicate a message that resonates with them. Careful research of user surveys, previous ad analytics, and user testing can ensure your ads effectively communicates your conversion goal, and have a clear 'hook' to pull them to your landing page or website.
Crafting a Landing Page
Once a user is on your site, it's best to lead them to a landing page. This is a page specific to the conversion goal and can be either something specifically created for your goal, or something more generic like a product page that has been optimised for conversion. This landing page needs to ensure a user stays on their journey toward your conversion goal, which can be achieved through various methods:
- Effectively articulate benefits and back them up with simple proof
- Organising the layout of your site to support and your call to action
- Reducing friction and cognitive overload as mentioned above
- Using compelling copy to hook the user in and create a sense of anticipation
While keeping this in mind, it's also important to avoid 'dark patterns' to push for conversion. This can include things like guilt-tripping users into taking an action, something commonly seen in pop-ups where the dismissing/close action often includes a message like 'No, I like missing out on a great discount". Using techniques like this can create unauthentic customers and can ultimately damage your brand reputation.
When designing your landing page, here are some important elements to include:
A headline is simply there to hook a customer in, and should effectively communicate your value proposition and what you're trying to market.
A Hero Image
This should be an image that relates directly to your headline to reinforce your value proposition and grab attention.
This is copy that backs up the promise laid out in your headline and can include things like benefits and further details related to your conversion goal.
Call to Action
A call to action can vary greatly depending on what your conversion goal is, but examples are usually elements like a product add-to-cart form or a contact form to claim a free quote. There should be several call-to-action touch points across your landing page, but ensure you're not overloading users with flashy buttons and always have a single call to action across all the touch points—trying to have more than one 'action' for a landing page will inevitably result in cognitive overload and decision fatigue.
Psychologically, if we don't have the information we need, we will turn to others' opinions. Having testimonials, product reviews or just general third-party endorsement can help drive home the value of your product/service and build trust and confidence in your brand.
When it comes to fitting these elements into your landing page, it's important to consider the length of your landing page. There is a lot of debate over what form to take with your landing pages, but our research has distilled it down to these key points:
A long-form landing page is important when you have a particularly complicated product or service you're trying to sell. Longer pages by nature allow for more information to be communicated and can also work to build trust with the user for newer brands. Short-form landing pages on the other hand work for products or services that are easy to understand or when your business has a strong existing brand awareness—you don't need to sell yourself, just the product.
For the call to action, be sure to not jump the gun. It's better to delay your call to action and 'pitch' until a user is fully hooked in. You can have a simple call to action within the 'hero' section of your page, but don't ram an offer down their throat until they are engaged. With that said, don't make users hunt for your call to action either—use clear buttons that describe the 'action' they are being called to take and deemphasise other less important but potentially visually distracting elements.
Retaining Your Users
So you've got a user to your landing page, a landing page you've carefully curated to fit your conversion goal. Next, you need to actually convert them. This is where it's important to start monitoring your landing page to ensure it's having the effect you desire. Key red flags to look out for here are 'exit rates' and 'bounce rates.
An exit rate is the percentage of people who leave after viewing your page. This means they have actually seen your site but didn't convert. A high exit rate means something isn't right on your landing page and how you're communicating your value proposition, or you're targeting the wrong market.
A bounce rate is technically a form of exit rate but is specifically when a user leaves fairly instantly after landing on your site. This could be due to any number of reasons, from slow page loading times to a headline and hero image that doesn't effectively 'hook' the user in. Bounce rates can be found in analytics platforms so be sure to hook something like Google Analytics up to your site to monitor this.
Common culprits for a high bounce or exit rate can be that your site is visually unappealing, difficult to use, doesn't meet users' expectations (e.g. wrong target market), or that you simply have no clear call to action. It's important to gather feedback from others when designing a landing page, as your own bias means it's easy to overlook issues that could result in a user exiting too soon.
Here are some key strategies we recommend:
1. Simplify Your UX
Simplicity is key. It takes around 50 milliseconds for a user to form a first impression when landing on your website, so make it count! Don't overload users with excessive images, animations, text and buttons. Stay on brand, simplify your design and effectively communicate your value proposition.
2. Create Text-based CTAs
It's easy for a user to have what's called banner blindness, where they simply ignore the banner type information available on your site. Adding text-based calls to action, like text lines to your landing page over flashy hero sections can help hook in those users who tend to skip over your banner CTAs.
3. Run Tests
Data doesn't lie. Normally. Testing a landing page is incredibly important, so gathering as much data as possible around how your conversion funnel is performing is paramount to good CRO. A common technique used is A/B Testing—where you try out two (or more) versions of your landing page to see which performs best. Changing images, headlines, layouts, call-to-action buttons and more can all subtly change how a user interacts with your landing page, how well they are hooked into it, and ultimately how well they convert. Using data you gather through testing allows you to continue tailoring your landing page for optimal conversion rates.
4. Add Messaging
Use a messaging option like ManyChat, Shopify Inbox, or Gorgias to let customers chat directly with you. If your landing page doesn't answer all the questions a user may have, an easy-to-use chat option can allow you to add a personal touch and get them over the line. Set up automations to improve your workflow and get users' responses faster.
5. Optimise your Blog Posts
Blog posts serve as an incredibly important pillar of an effective SEO (search engine optimisation) strategy, by using keyword-rich copy to improve your search engine visibility. Due to this, you may find that certain blog posts are attracting a large number of visitors. Take advantage of this to optimise your blog for conversion by adding calls to action and links to your key landing pages. It can end up becoming a passive top of your conversion funnel with no paid marketing required!
5. Leverage Retargeting
The truth is that a user will often never convert the first time around. Often the first visit will help introduce the user to your brand, services, or product and seed the idea in their mind that might convert. Retargeting on platforms like Meta allows you to put paid advertising back in front of a user to remind them of your value proposition. Carefully considered ad copy and design are important here to ensure you're not just becoming repetitive—make sure you introduce new benefits, proposals, or even discounts. Retargeting itself deserves a blog post of its own, but the key takeaway is that just because a user didn't convert the first time, it doesn't mean they're a dud lead.
6. Show Off Promotions
Use pop-ups and announcement/welcome bars to show off sales, discounts, free shipping, and more! Be sure to have these not be obtrusive, or they can be off-putting. Also, this is an area where those dark patterns mentioned above can creep in so be careful!
7. Build Social Proof
As mentioned previously, social proof is an incredibly important part of building trust and confidence with your potential customers. Implementing testimonials and product reviews is an effective method of building social proof, as is showcasing high-profile influencers promoting your product in an authentic way.
8. Use Quality Content
Good-quality images and videos are an absolute must, especially in the eCommerce space. 93% of users consider visual appearance a key deciding factor in purchasing decisions, so bad product image quality can seriously impact your conversion rate. Our professional studio space at Studio Launch offers product photography services so be sure to get reach out if you need to take your product content to the next level!
9. Send Abandoned Checkout Emails
Within eCommerce, even once you've got a potential customer as far as the checkout, they may still decide not to purchase. By sending abandoned checkout emails, you can gently remind customers of the purchase they failed to complete. Take it to the next level and even promote a discount within the email—tailor it to first-time purchasers or make it a single-use discount code to ensure it's not abused.
Want to take your CRO to the next level?
Get in touch with us today to see how we can support your business in tailoring the CRO on your existing website, building out new landing pages, or developing marketing strategies to perfect your conversion funnel.