Conversion rate optimization or CRO is a process that enables you to turn your web traffic into sales and conversions. It is one of the most effective ways to make visitors take action on your website.
CRO should be a priority for your marketing and sales efforts because of the higher your conversion rate, the greater your revenue.
In a recent Simplilearn webinar, Lilach Bullock, one of Forbes’ top 20 social media power influencers discussed the various ways you can optimize your conversion rates. You can watch the complete webinar here:
The Obama Re-election Campaign: A CRO Case Study
One of the most well-known examples of CRO at its best is Barack Obama's 2012 re-election campaign. He became the first-ever candidate to receive 1 billion dollars in donations, out of which 690 million dollars was raised through online donations.
The campaign's CRO strategy was to run multiple tests on their website. With this strategy, their online donation conversions increased by 49 percent and their online signup conversions increased by over 161 percent.
Here is a screenshot of the two versions of their donation forms. The first donation form comprised of a long process and required visitors to input lots of information. The second form was a much shorter version to make it easier and quicker for people to donate. This simple change increased their online donations and conversions by 5 percent.
The CRO Process
CRO involves a lot of testing. The secret to Barack Obama's re-election campaign was that they were constantly trying out different variations of their landing pages and design to help them reach their goals faster.
The five most essential steps in the CRO process are:
Before you start optimizing your conversion rate, you need to know your audience and learn as much as possible about them to optimize their user experience. Another essential part of the discovery phase is to identify the key areas of your website that need to be optimized so that you can develop a better plan for visitors to get there.
A hypothesis is about listing all the different tests that you can carry out in order to boost your conversion rate. For example, a hypothesis could be: if you increase the number of fields and questions in the lead, your conversions will increase by 5 percent.
All the different tests listed in the previous stage need to be prioritized since you can't carry out all of them at one go. Take time to consider the changes that you are proposing and which changes will have the most significant impact on your conversion rate.
At this stage, you should know exactly what you want to test and why. After your priorities have been set, you can leverage A/B testing and multivariate testing techniques to see which hypotheses turned out to be true.
The final stage of the CRO process is to assess your results and figure out which changes make a positive difference and which don't. This is a follow up of the testing phase and you might need to perform several other modifications and variations, while you measure the outcomes of your previous test.
The Six Phases of Persuasion
The six principles of persuasion were first established in the 18th century by Robert Cialdini and they are known as the basic standards for encouraging sales.
- Scarcity - People want more of the things they can have less of. The first principle of persuasion is to give visitors a push to buy things using words such as, ‘limited offer’, ‘final sale’ etc.
- Consistency - The second principle is to get visitors into your funnel by making them commit to something small first - giveaways or free gifts. With consistent marketing, it is likely that they will move from that small step to make bigger purchases.
- Reciprocity - Another way of persuading your visitors is to provide potential buyers with benefits (free gifts, valuable information or special offers). It is very likely that they will return the favor by buying from your site for their next purchase.
- Social Proof - Customer reviews are critical to people because they serve as evidence for the product. People are more likely to trust the reviews of other clients rather than your promises.
- Authority - Endorsements by influential people in your niche can make people want to buy your product. Most businesses focus on getting the support of social influencers in their industry or learned specialists for endorsements.
- Liking - This principle suggests that the more your users like you and associate with your brand, the chances of them becoming your potential customer grows. The best way to connect with your visitors on a human level is to create a well thought out ‘About Us’ page to show the people behind the business, goals, passions and other personal information.
Heatmaps are eye-tracking tools to help you learn about user behavior. They can explain exactly why your pages aren't performing as well and how to improve them.
A heatmap can detect what users look at on your pages, what they click on, what they don't notice and so on, and this is what it looks like:
Heatmaps can help you to:
- Determine the effectiveness of your CTA
- Determine the elements distracting your visitors from taking action
- Understand how users interact with your website content
- Improve website design by finding design flaws to improve the user experience
- Improve shopping cart conversions
- Discover any dead ends so that you can add a call-to-action and other navigational paths to keep people on the website for a longer time
There are several ways to use heatmaps. Depending on which tools you use, each one has its own set of features. Some heatmaps also allow you to see details about the actual people visiting your websites, such as their company name and contact details.
Testing is the basis of any successful CRO strategy. In order to keep growing your conversion rate and sales, you need to continue testing new strategies and content. Amazon founder and
CEO Jeff Bezos said, “If you double the number of experiments you do per year, you're going to double your inventiveness.”
Before the Test
Before you start testing anything, you need to establish exactly what you're going to test and prioritize the most important ones. Everything on a web page can be tested but you need to identify the most important elements which will have the biggest impact on your CRO.
There are several things that you can test:
- Page layout
- Colors used
- Website copy
- Visuals used
During the Test
A/B testing is a CRO process that involves setting two versions of a web page. An equal amount of traffic will be sent to both the pages so that you can monitor the conversions made for each variation of your page. You can continue running as many tests as you want and pick the one that performs the best.
After the Test
So how long should you wait before measuring the results of your tests?
Although there is no straightforward answer to this, it depends on the volume of traffic that is coming to your website. If your website gets a lot of traffic, then it's best to measure your results by the number of visitors. For example, you can measure the test for every 10,000 visitors.
If your website doesn't get that many visitors, then it's best to measure the tests over a specific time period.
Each change gives people enough time to interact with that web page so that you can gather enough data and make an informed decision.
The Amazon Case Study
Here is an example of how important the call-to-action button is and how it evolved for the biggest e-commerce website, Amazon. If you look at the Amazon ‘Add to Cart’ button during the 90s, you'll notice it's very different from what it looks like today.
During the 90s, people were new to the Internet and needed reassurances for shopping online. Amazon pointed out that even when users added an item to their shopping cart, they would be able to remove it later on. They also underlined the word ‘Guaranteed’ and put it in a different color so that visitors would be assured that shopping with Amazon is safe.
The ‘Add to Cart’ button is entirely different today. With more people shopping online, customers are not bothered by safety guarantees, especially from e-commerce giants like Amazon. Rather, they just want to buy what they want as soon as possible. Amazon has made this possible with the 1-click checkout. This feature pays for your order and ships it automatically to the address associated with your 1-Click settings.
User Experience Personalization
Personalization is one of the biggest buzzwords in marketing right now. Every website is increasingly leveraging personalization to keep people around for a longer time. Personalization can have incredible effects on CRO.
If someone is on a website but they don’t resonate with the user content easily, it is likely that they will leave that website and look for a better solution. On the other hand, if they see content that is relevant to them, they will spend a long time on the website, visit multiple pages in one visit, download forms or even buy something from that website.
The first step in the process of implementing personalization techniques is to establish and define the customer or audience persona. Hubspot is a great example which offers solutions for different personas.
They have a marketing hub that targets marketers, a sales hub that targets salespersons and service hub that targets people working in customer service.
HubSpot Blogs also consists of a collection of blogs designed to target a different audience. They have four different types of blogs - marketing, sales, service and news & trends.
CRO is an essential part of every business. Getting traffic is not enough and you need to get that traffic to take action in order to generate leads consistently. Simplilearn’s Advanced Website Conversion Rate Optimization Certification Training will teach you how to create a systematic, repeatable framework that can consistently improve your conversion rates.