You put a lot of time and effort into bringing traffic to your website. There seems to be a whole alphabet soup’s worth of digital marketing techniques and tools for this purpose: SEO, PPC, CMS, GMB, and countless others. All these simultaneous campaigns are enough to overwhelm the most seasoned business owner, but your efforts are showing results. Your website is busier than a freeway during rush hour! The only problem is that your high traffic isn’t translating into increased revenue. This is where Conversion Rate Optimization can help you.
You may think that leading people to your website is the end goal of your marketing, but that’s just the first step of the sales funnel. Now that people have found your website, it’s time to turn your viewers into customers. CRO does just that.
CRO, short for “Conversion Rate Optimization”, is the process of using data to inform website design. You may have some of those words used in marketing, but have no idea what they all mean together. In fact, that definition may raise more questions than it answers.
Now you may be wondering:
- What is a conversion rate?
- Why should I care about it?
- What kind of testing are we talking about?
- How does this relate to website design?
Don’t let the jargon fool you; the concept behind CRO is simple. It’s the process of actually doing CRO where things get complicated. For now, let’s answer the basic questions one by one.
Question 1: What is a conversion rate?
A conversion rate is the percentage of website visitors to take a desired action.
If you have 10,000 website visitors and 100 of them complete the desired action, then you have a conversion rate of 1%.
The desired action is usually called a “success metric” or “goal”, and the recorded number of times that action is completed is called a “conversion”.
Any goal you wish to achieve on your site is a potential metric, but the most common conversion goals are:
- Appointment Booked
- Quote Request
- Phone Calls
In CRO, there are many metrics you can track to gather data, but the one thing they all have in common is that they are all related to user behavior.
Question 2: Why should I care about my conversion rate?
In a nutshell, increasing your conversion rate is the best way to get the most out of your marketing efforts.
Think of it this way: 1000 likes on a social media post doesn’t pay your bills, but what if you could turn 10% of those likes into orders? Wouldn’t you do it? That’s how CRO works. CRO shows you how to turn the attention you are already getting into revenue.
You do this by learning your audience’s preferences and pain points on the website, and learning what changes you can make to make the shopping experience as smooth as possible.
We learn this through testing.
Question 3: What kind of testing are we talking about?
Conversion rate optimization is almost synonymous with A/B testing. While A/B (aka split testing) is a large part of the process, multivariate testing, redirect testing, heatmap assessments, and other forms of data collection are also utilized. To keep things simple, we’ll focus on A/B testing.
A/B testing is the process of splitting your website traffic between different versions of your website and comparing the results of each variation. Here’s an example of how the testing process might look.
Example: A company wants to know which image to use on their hero banner. They have 3 new images taken during a recent photoshoot but aren’t sure if they should replace the current banner.
Business Question: Which hero banner image do customers want to see on the homepage of the website?
Hypothesis: Using one of the new images from the photoshoot will refresh the homepage and pique their customer’s interest in the brand.
- Original variation (in this case, the current hero banner image)
- Photo 1 from the photoshoot
- Photo 2 from the photoshoot
- Photo 3 from the photoshoot
A test, also called an “experiment”, is built where the hero banner image is the only change made to the site. This isolates the variables of the experiment to ensure validity. As a further validity measure, the experiment sessions are randomized (meaning website visitors are sent to a variations at random). All variations are allocated equal traffic. In this case, each variation will receive 25% of the website traffic.
You can test almost any sort of website layout or design choice you can imagine, but keep in mind that the data collected from these tests are only as useful as the test design and experiment validity. When done properly, split tests can offer a wealth of valuable information about your audience and their preferences. An experienced data scientist can help you design and analyze tests for maximum efficiency.
Question 4: How does this relate to website design?
The testing process, as outlined in the answer to question 3, will show you how your online audience responds to different changes. By comparing the performance of each variation against each other and the original version of the site, a skilled data scientist will be able to make recommendations in regards to website improvements, design changes, and future testing opportunities.
Data and testing take the guesswork out of website design. Instead of wondering if a proposed change will have a positive or negative impact on your website or business, you can test it before committing to a permanent change. In this sense, CRO will not only help you create data-driven designs that are proven to increase the ROI of your website but also save you time and money on development by testing designs before implementation.
While your other marketing efforts focus on catching customer’s attention and bringing them to the website, Conversion Rate Optimization focuses on turning those website browsers into customers by learning what drives customer behavior through testing.