How conversion rate optimisation can improve your digital marketing
- What is CRO?
- Aims of CRO
- CRO Inputs
- 3 Testing Tools For Optimising Your Website
- CRO Is an Ongoing Activity
- The Pitfalls of CRO
- Our CRO Process
- What CRO Success Looks Like
Conversion Rate Optimisation is the process of improving the quality and/or quantity of your website conversions.
Your website conversions will relate to your website’s goals, such as transactions for an e-commerce website, or a quote request for a lead generation website.
Conversions should be one of the most important facets of your website, because no matter how aesthetically impressive your website’s looks, if your goals aren’t being completed by visitors, it is not a successful website from a business perspective.
Why is it important?
CRO is important because it allows you to:
- Improve your website’s success
- Improve marketing effectiveness
- Grow your business
- Gain a better understanding of your target audience
If utilised properly, CRO can be incredibly effective. If you improved your website by just a very small amount, you could see game-changing results for your business. Let’s find out why.
The output of CRO as a service is improved performance of a website without the increase of traffic, essentially maximising the impact of your marketing efforts.
The overall CRO process will often consist of:
- Data Analysis
- User Research
- User Experience insights
- Implementing recommended changes
Although these components do usually follow this order at first, they often become interchangeable and will take place more than once.
- Increase conversion rate – Achieve a higher percentage of conversions per volume of traffic
- Improve user journeys – Provide a better, easier and more satisfying route of progression towards desired goals for users
- Improve site retention – Keep users on your website for an extended period of time and stop people leaving quickly (i.e. decrease bounce rate) through relevant and clear content and improved user journeys
- Setting benchmarks – Understand what you want to achieve through CRO and set targets that match your expectations
A better user experience tends to lead to more customers, a higher average order value and repeat business. User experience is essential.
The significance of marginal gains
Sir David Brailsford CBE is a pioneer of the marginal gains philosophy. When explaining the methodology behind his cycling successes, he stated that “The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.”
“There’s fitness and conditioning, of course, but there are other things that might seem on the periphery, like sleeping in the right position, having the same pillow when you are away and training in different places.”
“They’re tiny things but if you clump them together it makes a big difference.”
CRO creates a cumulative positive effect for your business
The impact of marginal gains creates a cumulative effect. Keep in mind that although some changes may seem minor at first, they can result in a significant improvement to your conversion rate once they’re combined together.
“We’ve got this saying, ‘performance by the aggregation of marginal gains’…
It means taking the 1% from everything you do; finding a 1% margin for improvement in everything you do. Thats what we try to do from the mechanics upwards.”
– Sir David Brailsford
Sleeping on the right pillow may not make your website conversion rate better, but there are lots of things that will.
Think of all the user journeys and interactions on the site – if each of those were a fraction better, then end results would be significant.
These charts demonstrate some typical KPI improvements. Even a small increase in conversion rate can lead to a substantial increase in revenue.
This shows the impact that incremental improvements across your site could have.
|Average visitors per month
||Average order value
||E-commerce conversion Rate
|Average visitors per month
||Average order value
||E-commerce conversion Rate
Achieving your marketing goals
Marketers will often look to increase spend and traffic volume to reach a target rather than looking at the opportunities to make their existing traffic work harder. But before you can do that, you need to understand what your business’ online goals are.
Establish your online goals
A website with e-commerce as its primary function will be focused on generating revenue and making a profit.
The aim is to get the customer to purchase items, complete their checkout with ease and return for further purchases in the future.
This involves providing relevant and persuasive information to users that results in an enquiry to find out more about a particular event, product or service.
The site will aim to capture information via a form or drive the user to a phone number – these become the measurement criteria.
When informing visitors is the primary purpose of the website, we focus on providing interesting information on every page to keep the user engaged and on the website.
The best way to measure engagement is to analyse and assess the average session duration and bounce rate.
Primary goals and secondary goals
Primary goals are usually defined as:
- Quote requests
- Contact form submissions
- Telephone calls
These are often the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of your business.
However, having a set of secondary goals and optimising the pages they feature on – and how they’re presented – can also be important, due to the part they can play in contributing to achieving your primary goals.
There may be times when improving the journey or interaction around a secondary goal has a large positive impact overall.
Here are some examples of secondary goals:
PDF downloads – Downloads of your PDF content can indicate interest in finding out more about your brand and your approach before making a purchase or submitting a quote request – make sure your PDF content is interesting, relevant and persuasive.
Add to basket – This is an indication that a visitor is interested in purchasing an item. If the rate of visitors that complete the goal add to basket is very high, and the checkout goal (primary goal) completion rate is very low, it tells you that there is interest in your products, but there may be a problem when checking out.
Visits to contact page – The completion of this goal involves landing on the contact page of your website. Monitoring this goal will help you gauge the initial interest in contacting your company. An indication of this page’s current success is whether the rate of contact forms, calls made or emails sent is high or low in correlation to the amount of page visits.
The culmination of your marketing efforts
CRO is arguably the first and final marketing activity. To achieve the best website results, you should look to improve your website’s performance with tests and user research before and after driving relevant and quality traffic to the website.
Driving this kind of traffic to a website is often best achieved through marketing channels such as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Pay-Per-Click via Adwords (PPC) and Email.
Once these channels have been utilised, you should look to optimise your conversion rate even further by performing tests on the quality traffic you have acquired and then making subsequent website changes in correlation with how each test has performed.
Improve your website, as well as your marketing
In digital, we are constantly looking for ways to improve and optimise our marketing channels and the ways we operate them in order to achieve the best performance.
However, sometimes we become so focused on these channels, it becomes easy to forget that we also need to be improving and optimising our website’s performance.
You can invest money and time into digital marketing, but are you using budget and resources to convert traffic? If not, it could be a missed opportunity to generate revenue and leads at best, or a waste of money and time at worst.
Your audience will consist of the general demographics, hobbies, desires, requirements and purchase habits of the people that your product is aimed at. To gain an in-depth
understanding of your audiences in order to create tests with meaningful effect, these are the inputs that you’ll need:
Understanding why user journeys aren’t working, or how they could be improved. Adds context to the data, removes guesswork, and helps tests be more successful.
Understanding your goals and what you’re trying to achieve.
Understanding how your site is performing, and what journeys or interactions might not be working as effectively as they could.
Ensure that you have all the necessary resources available to get the maximum benefits from your CRO inputs.
Data gives us a view of what is happening with your website. Combining data with User Research will help you to understand the why of what is happening – e.g. why a user journey was too difficult, or why users preferred one version of a page to another.
Be data driven
Data is vital. It is the most effective and non-biased way of reading into what is happening on your website. By looking into statistics regarding traffic figures, goal completions, and page views, you can form conclusive, evidence-supported insights on how your audience is behaving and how your website is performing.
Put simply, data replaces assumptions about your website’s performance with facts.
These facts will help you decide what to test in order to optimise your conversion rate.
Data can determine success
Data should tell you how your website is performing in relation to the benchmark figures and targets you have already set. For example, data will tell you if you are achieving above or below the monthly profit that you set out to achieve.
Data allows you to discover trends and the effects of seasonality (e.g. Christmas) whilst also giving y ou more knowledge on your audience and your products and/or services – allowing you to plan your strategy and marketing activity accordingly.
Data collection tools
Remember – data tells you what is happening on the website. Next you need to understand why
User research is vital
There is not one definitive model that allows every website to convert at a desired rate. This is because every audience behaves differently. Therefore, knowing your audience is essential when looking to increase your conversion rate.
Find out the motivations of your consumer market
- Research gives you more insight and allows you to have a deeper understanding of the motivation behind customer behaviour.
- Understand your audience – is there a pattern in their consumer behaviour, beliefs or habits? If so, conduct tests in correlation with this pattern.
Don’t rely on opinions; conduct User Research. Make sure you’re open to all possibilities within data and outcomes – don’t let your data be tainted with bias and pre-conceived ideas.
UX boosts ROI
Website projects based on usability have been proven to lead to an increase in desired metrics of 83%. Returns from projects that have a focus on usability typically sit at around 300% – significant when you consider the investment.
The most effective research methods
- High volume of responses
- Feedback from cross section of audience
- Identify response patterns
- More qualitative answers
- Build on understanding and explore answers
- Discover needs and wants
Face to face/strong>
- All the benefits of Phone interviews
- Can also perform tasks online while supervised
- Understand the impact a surrounding has on a user with contextual research
Quality versus quantity
You will learn more from a face to face interview than you will from a survey. Specific stories and quotations from users will help you to understand their behaviour.
On the other hand, a survey is a great way to collect high volume statistical data. A survey will tell you less about a specific user, but will help you understand broader trends in your audience.
Testing is the ultimate component of CRO. Testing different variations and models of website pages based on the research you’ve carried out will then allow you to measure the impact and prove the value of changes as you go.
Once a page within a user journey is identified as having a high dr op off rate, or if the page with the goal completion potential has a low conversion rate, this is where you should begin testing by creating and then assessing alternate versions of these pages.
There are two main forms of CRO testing:
A/B Testing (Split Test)
Two different variations of a page are tested: the original website page and a new page. Traffic should be split evenly between the two variations.
Multiple variables are modified and tested – two or more different variations of a page.
A/B testing gives you an overall result at a faster rate, which is “what version performed better, version A or version B?”. However, it provides less information on why it performed better, as this would require many test versions of the page to establish this element.
Multi-variate testing allows you to test smaller elements at the same time, but it usually takes longer to conduct and it often needs high amounts of traffic in order to see significant results.
What should you test?
You can test many different aspects of a website’s page in a variety of ways. However, what you decide to test should be based on the data and user research findings.
Examples of what you might decide to test include the following:
When it comes to testing, there’s a fine balance to strike. Test too many changes at once and you won’t know which change made the difference. Test very small changes and
you won’t see enough difference to tell if it’s helped.
Understand the testing process – time is key
Now that we’ve taken a look at how to perform CRO, the time has come to test and implement changes based on results. It’s important to realise that CRO can’t guarantee specific results or outcomes in a short period of time.
For example, both A/B Variations of a test could perform badly even after sufficient time has been given, which would mean changes in testing would need to be made.
However, even if the testing doesn’t bring the end results initially, it does allow you to find out what doesn’t work in order to avoid repeating it in the future.
A marathon, not always a sprint
- Testing takes time – data takes time to collate and show the true results behind customer journeys and behaviour
- Do not rush the conclusion of experiments – wait for statistically significant results to find a proven winner
CRO demands a commitment to change and improvement. Keeping up with or being ahead of trends in behaviour and technology is essential for online marketing to be successful.
If you stop testing and researching your audience, it becomes difficult to keep up to date with the latest in customer behaviour and expectations. This is why you must be open to continuous improvement.
Not a one-off project
There are always things you can improve and test. You should not assume you can get conclusive results in a month.
Don’t stop once the website has been designed or when a month has seen a marginal increase – you could be missing chances to bring even better results and long-term improvements to your business.
The launch of your website should not be the end of the project, it should be the beginning.
The implementation of incremental changes to your website could avoid a major rebuild every two to three years to keep in sync with changing technologies, attitudes and customer expectations – saving you money and time.
With a dynamic CMS framework/platform in place, a site can evolve based on a solid CRO Strategy. This strategy will allow you to see the facts first-hand and understand why your website is performing a certain way. Then you can make a series of small changes in order to improve your website’s performance on a continuous basis.
There are some potential pitfalls of CRO to be aware of in order to make sure that you avoid making mistakes wherever possible. Here are some examples of how mistakes can be made:
- Understanding the capabilitiesIt’s important to know if there are any limitations in regards to your CMS or otherwise before creating a strategy and activity plan to improve your website’s conversion rate.
- Review the siteThis is where we would look for any visually obvious (e.g. navigation, aesthetics, user journey) issues with your website. Changing these becomes a priority and would allow us to know what to immediately test.
- Review the dataA review of your data allows us to set appropriate benchmarks in terms of our approach and expectations.If the data suggests any problems with tracking, drop offs or low conversion rates, this can tell us which area of your website to fix or test.
- Review the usersThis provides us with a detailed insight into why there are problems, and will help provide us with information on how we can solve these problems for users on your website.
- Finalise test plan and initiate testTaking into account what you’ve learned from your reviews, decide which pages and which elements you are going to test.Keep in mind what you’ll be measuring and what would constitute a success.
- Learn from the results and repeat the processLook at the results – how has the test performed? Did you achieve the success you were looking for?Based on your results, you may need to test another approach to the same page – or you might be ready to move on to another area of the site.
Below you will find some examples of how CRO has driven real measurable successes for our customers.
The foundations of our approach to CRO are rooted within our overall philosophy, which is providing marketing you can measure™ Coast Digital is:
- Driven by understanding your challenge
- Fanatical about interpreting data and implementing insights
- Inspired by user insight
Download the guide