Not too surprisingly, one of the questions we hear most frequently has to do with traffic and conversions. It might surprise you to know that those asking the question aren’t people who don’t get enough traffic, but instead, those who already have plenty of traffic, just not enough conversions.
Attracting thousands or even millions of people to your website won’t help you if those people don’t convert. Whether you want them to subscribe to your list, schedule an appointment, or make a purchase in your online store; the content and structure of your website has to be geared toward these visitors taking that action. Let’s get real here; no one is going to act on crappy or inconvenient sites or content. We know we wouldn’t.
And that, friends, is where conversion rate optimization (CRO) comes in.
(Side note: For those who are still missing the plenty-of-traffic bit in their online presence, reach out to us).
What is Conversion Rate Optimization?
If you’re at our site, you’re probably already familiar with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but you might not know about conversion rate optimization, so let’s get that cleared up for ya.
Conversion rate optimization is a methodical, scientific way to take traffic and turn it into profit.
In other words, by reviewing and optimizing elements of your website, you can convince the people who visit your site to take the action you’re looking for. The very heart of CRO is piecing together what exactly potential customers are looking for when they arrive at your site. Once you’ve figured that out, you can decide what will improve the experience by providing users what they’re looking for to a point in which they convert from mere viewer to client.
The key to CRO is testing and evaluating data. That’s right, your site is now a badass science experiment with the potential for monetary payout. Nice, right?
The data or metrics you’re considering are commonly called key performance indicators, or KPIs. KPIs are any value you’re looking to improve, but often include purchases, new appointments, etc. They’re how you’ll judge your site’s performance and priming for conversions.
Ultimately, KPIs indicate whether or not your visitors are translating from browsing, passive viewers into customers, actively engaged and converting. By this, we mean instead of just “Oh, that’s nice” viewers, you have “Oh my gad I’m buying that right now” customers who make purchases.
For even more, here’s a rad informational video from Moz with more on CRO’s bigger picture:
Obviously, you still need to think about SEO, but the time and effort you put into optimizing your site for conversions will pay off in a big way.
As another note to bear in mind: weirdly enough, it usually takes longer to optimize a low traffic site than a high traffic one. Sites with lower traffic indicate less data is available, which means it takes longer to get reliable data. Seems odd, but makes sense, right? If you have less traffic, you’re simultaneously building traffic and thus have less data to work with or consider, whereas a site with established traffic has a plethora of data to sort through and use based on having that larger volume of data available.
Why CRO Matters
CRO isn’t just another scheme or time suck. You’re performing CRO for both your brand and your potential customers’ experience. You’re giving them an enhanced, tailored experience. Bottom line reasons you should be interested and invested in upping your CRO game:
- Money. No, really. The better your conversion rate, the better your rate of return on investment (ROI) and the higher your profits can soar.
- You prove your users matter to you. You understand and cater to the needs of your audience, which raises brand value, trust, and even your fanbase.
- Cost effectiveness. CRO is more money-saving than simply attempting to grow a larger audience who may not convert anyway. Pleasing the audience you have is surprisingly easier with some data and research that’s already available to you. We’re not saying don’t attempt to grow your audience, we’re saying doing it for the wrong reasons honestly won’t solve your conversion problems and is likely to just waste money.
What to Consider before You Optimize
Before you attempt to optimize your site for conversions, it’s time to crunch your numbers and do some statistical analysis. We promise, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Stick around.
First, it’s a good idea to review:
- Data from your site
- User behavior
Both of these things can help you make informed decisions about how to optimize your site.
Your data (derived mostly from traffic and, later, user behavior) can tell you how many visitors your site gets and how often they convert. That number will give you your current conversion rate.
If you had 25,000 visitors and 2,500 of them converted, you have a current conversion rate of 10%.
Sure, visitors divided by conversions equals conversion rate, but what’s a good number? Does 10% mean you’re killin’ it or about to be killed?
Based on a study from Wordstream, average landing page conversions tend to roll around 3% with the average top performers roll around 5-6%. In other words, if you had 10%, you’d be nailing it. Theoretical high-fives all around!
User behavior is a large portion of your data that can nail down what specifically you need to work on. User behavior can help you pinpoint trouble spots and/or where you’re going wrong. Maybe people are abandoning your opt-in form or bouncing away from a particular landing page. Whatever their behavior shows you, really analyze what this behavior means and come up with a hypothesis to test to improve your CRO.
Here are some helpful metrics to evaluate from an outstanding article from Shopify on user behavior:
Page views per visit, aka sessions
Failed internal searches
Product page conversion
Additionally, if you’re specifically looking for tools to assist you in your user behavior analysis, UX Planet has a tremendously useful article that lists 20 different tools that can aid you, including options such as Qualaroo and Usabilla.
Bottom line with user behavior is that you need to also be on top of your user experience (UX). A lot of the data you’ll be looking at can be the result of your user experience. You can’t expect to have good CRO if you don’t take the time to look at your site from a user’s point of view.
Here’s what you need to be looking for:
- Does your site have plenty of white space? Is the text broken up with images, bullet lists, and other formatting to make it easy to read?
- Is there anything preventing people from accessing your website? Can people with color blindness see it? Do all of your videos include closed captioning?
- When people visit your site, is it easy for them to understand what to do to convert?
- Are your copy, images, and other content all working together to persuade users to convert?
- Is your site mobile friendly?
It can also be worthwhile to pay for some user testing so you can get a neutral opinion about your site’s functions and features. Another alternative is to conduct a customer survey to help you identify potential areas of improvement.
Optimizing Your Site
Let’s run through the basic steps you should be all over to optimize your site for better conversions. Ultimately, every element of your site should be open to scrutiny. Your design, content, and usability can all have an impact on conversions. Keep an open mind and stay dedicated.
- Dig into your data to calculate your current conversion rate and look for clues as to where your site might be falling short. It’s a good idea to look at bounce rates, abandoned forms and carts, and other metrics (see above) to get an idea of where you can improve.
- Conduct user testing, customer surveys, or both.
- Evaluate the results of the testing and/or surveys. You should pay close attention to any words or complaints that crop up more than once as those should be the first things you address.
- Come up with a hypothesis for a single element. If you think your call to action could be more strongly worded, then come up with an alternative to test.
- Run an A/B test to determine which option does a better job of convincing people to convert.
- If your new options wins the day, update your website accordingly. If it doesn’t, it’s time to come up with a new hypothesis to test.
Optimizing your site for conversions may feel like a painstaking process, but clearly, it’s a worthwhile endeavor.
Remember, the best SEO in the world won’t help you if you can’t convince the people who visit your site to convert. Instead of just focusing on keywords, look at your statistics and user experience. They can easily point the way to a higher conversion rate – and higher profits for your company. If you need assistance, we’re always on hand, not to mention damned good at what we do.