CRO, better known as conversion rate optimization, is a process aimed at increasing the revenue generated by your website. However, in practice it can also be performed on any metric that your business deems important. CRO is the systematic testing and analysis of how certain pages and page elements drive your users to take desired actions.
In this guide to conversion rate optimization, we’re going to walk you through the basics, as well as share some helpful tips and tricks to get you started. If you have any questions as you’re reading through this post, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments and we’ll respond to you there. :)
Where should you start your CRO process?
When you’re first stepping into the world of conversion rate optimization it can feel pretty overwhelming. How are you going to track your test data? How do you set up an A/B test? When will you know that test results are conclusive? But before you run back to the familiarity and safety of ignorance, try this:
Examine your funnel.
When you step back and think about your business, no matter what type of business it is, you can likely map out a buyer journey and define where a person is in that journey by examining different metrics or events (better known as KPIs, or key performance indicators).
When you structure the buyer journey KPIs in chronological order, you start to see a funnel. If you’ve done a good job of identifying your KPIs, this funnel will give you insights that can dramatically impact the health of your business. So let’s start examining that funnel. Do you see any points where there’s a dramatic drop in the number of people who advance to the next stage? As you begin to identify the most prominent funnel drop-off points, you’re simultaneously discovering where you should start your CRO efforts.
Now it’s time to build a plan. Which funnel drop-off point are you going to focus on first? What measurable goals are you aiming to achieve? Do those goal align with the broader business goals? It’s best that you don’t design this plan in a vacuum; include other stakeholders in your organization to ensure you’re attacking the problem from multiple angles.
Finally, I can’t stress enough how important it is that you let data dictate your CRO decisions. Acting on hunches or assumptions will lead you down a nasty rabbit hole.
How to use A/B testing as part of your CRO process?
First and foremost, it’s important to remember that A/B testing is not CRO. It’s only one part of any optimization process. With that said, A/B testing is one of the strongest tools in your CRO toolkit. As long as your website has enough traffic, you’ll be able to leverage quantitative data to make incremental improvements to your site. If you’re not familiar with A/B testing, check out this guide to A/B testing where we discuss the different tools available in the market and how you can get started.
So what kinds of things should you be testing as part of your CRO process?
- Design and Layout: Hopefully, your website is designed to be at least somewhat aesthetically pleasing, but the person who designed it may not be the best representative of your customer base. Ask around your organization to see what people like and dislike about your site’s pages. This should give you a few different ideas that you can start testing. Do your CTA buttons perform better when they’re blue or red? Does the hero image of women perform better than the hero image of men? Does showing your newsletter signup form perform better on the right or left side of the page? All of these simple design and layout changes can be tested to identify what a majority of your customers prefer.
- CTA Copy: When it comes to the exact wording that drives a person to take action, you would need a crystal ball to always make the right choice. The best course of action when it comes to CTAs is to constantly be testing. If your site has enough traffic, it’s possible to achieve statistical significance very quickly. This is especially important if you’re an ecommerce site running a holiday special.
- Images: When it comes to A/B tests, the most overlooked aspects of your page are often the images. Recent studies that reviewed eye tracking on different images revealed that specific images have drastically different impacts on what people are looking at and thinking. We’ll talk a bit more about how the emotion of users while they’re on your page can impact conversion in the next section, but suffice it to say that certain imagery will lead to higher conversion rates.
It’s important to note here that you need to be careful when running A/B tests on different elements on the same page. We always want to be able to track attribution back to a specific change. If you change an image and then the CTA copy immediately below it, you’ll have a tough time identifying which change is actually driving any additional conversions you see.
What else goes into the CRO process?
While A/B testing is an extremely valuable part of your CRO toolkit, it isn’t the only part. The main reason for this is because it only involves quantitative testing, meaning you’re just putting two things out into the world and measuring them against each other. Another key part of conversion rate optimization is qualitative research. This focuses on examining the motivations and thoughts behind your users’ actions.
So how can you do qualitative research?
- Ask your users: One way to perform qualitative research is to tap the visitors of your site. An easy way to do this is to implement an exit intent pop-up. As a person attempts to navigate away from your page, prompt them with a question: What would have helped you complete your purchase today? Did you find what you were looking for? Once you have a large enough set of answers you’ll be able to get a much better sense of what your users need when they visit your site.
- Do usability tests: If you have an online product, it can be extremely rewarding to do usability tests. There are multiple tools that allow you to record a person’s experience while on your site, but you could even just ask people at the local coffee shop to sit down and use your product for a few minutes. Usability testing will help to identify confusing experiences that you’re unable to see because of your familiarity with the product.
- Tap into your support questions: Your customer support team is often an untapped reserve of user feedback. As users encounter issues on your site or reach confusing points, they’ll often reach out to support for help. By including support in your CRO process, you’ll be able to improve the overall customer experience while also (hopefully) reducing support volume. It’s a win-win!
An important note on qualitative research is that you’re only going to get value out if you put work in. Doing one or two usability tests, or only looking at a few support tickets, won’t give you a strong data set to base CRO decisions on. Before you begin the qualitative part of your CRO process, make sure you define how many samples you’re going to collect before you make any decisions.
Still looking for more CRO guidance?
If you’ve read through this post sharing the basics and are still concerned about venturing off into the world of CRO alone, don’t worry. There are plenty of conversion experts who can help – starting with the guy who wrote this post. Feel free to leave any notes directly in the comments and we can start talking there! ;)
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