Conversion is an important metric in digital marketing. In fact, most of what marketers do eventually boil down to conversion. For this reason, marketing experts with proven expertise or a certification in conversion rate optimization are highly sought-after by most firms.
For those who are still trying to grasp what conversion is and how it affects your firm, let’s start with the what and how of CRO.
In defining Website Conversion Rate Optimization, it is best first to understand its two primary components. That is Conversion (Rate) and Optimization.
Conversion is the number of people that visit a webpage and then click on a call to action to take up an offer. Conversion Rate is the number of people visiting the web page and taking up the proposition expressed as a percentage.
Depending on a website goal, a conversion can mean different things. Website goals can, for example, include an eBook download, signing up for membership, signing up for a free trial, purchasing a product, etc. If a website visitor, for example, ends up buying an item then this is a conversion. Also, if a visitor clicks on a call-to-action (CTA) on a landing page and registers for an eBook, then your conversion rate has just increased.
In the context of CRO, optimization means improving your overall marketing funnel or a specific component of your marketing campaign such as your landing page. The purpose of optimization is to make it easier for visitors to understand the use of the webpage or campaign and therefore convert on your offer without hesitation.
As a marketer, the importance of a marketing funnel as a tool cannot be overstated. The marketing funnel helps to inform, educate and engage prospects about what you have on offer. If the stages of the marketing funnel are personalized for opportunities, then converting them to become customers becomes a lot easier and predictable. CRO helps you achieve exactly this.
Essentially, therefore, Conversion Optimization is the continuous process of ensuring that the marketing funnel works as planned and that it is successful in converting visitors (and sometimes even strangers) to become customers through the assistance of different optimization processes eventually. The optimization processes can include usability tests, multivariate testing, A/B testing (Split testing), on-page experience improvements, etc.
When is Conversion Rate optimization right for you?
Just because you have high volume traffic coming through your website, advert or landing page doesn’t necessarily mean that you will automatically get more customers. Furthermore, it is also probable that you may have already reached the optimum number of visitors or leads being driven by your strategies and therefore you may be experiencing diminishing returns from your efforts.
As discussed earlier, to convert prospects, you not only need to have a marketing funnel in place, but you also need to optimize it.
Principally, the best time to use CRO is when you already have a marketing funnel in place. Then and only then will using CRO, and its different elements such as testing, psychology, UX, visual design, customer behavior, copywriting, be productive and most efficient at moving strangers, visitors or prospects further down the marketing funnel.
If you want to maximize the results of your marketing campaigns, then CRO should be perfect for you. For example, in the e-commerce category, you can use CRO e-commerce, to optimize online experiences for your target customers. In doing so, you will quite easily convert visitors to leads and leads to customers and you therefore also lower costs of customer acquisition and retention.
At the end of the day, CRO is meant to help you get more from what you have and make it work better for you.
The relationship between CRO and marketing funnel
Understanding the marketing funnel and going beyond the funnel, allows marketers to contextualize their CRO efforts and therefore prevents them from making glaring mistakes in strategy. For example, as a marketer, instead of being satisfied by CTA clicks on a landing page, you would realize that this is not the end of the journey and you need to continue down the funnel to the retention stage.
To better understand the relationship between CRO and marketing, it is important to discuss each step or stage of the marketing funnel because each stage needs optimization to make the most of CRO. Accordingly, the phases of the marketing funnel and their corresponding CRO strategies are as follows:
Top of the Funnel Strategies – Awareness/discovery stage
The goal of this stage of the marketing funnel is education and brand awareness, mostly through indirect customer acquisition strategies. The idea is to let prospects know that your product is the best solution for the problem, challenge or pain that they are experiencing. At this stage, the content that you use should be educational and should be a soft sell. In effect, no personal details should be gathered; you should just give information.
Additionally, the information should be an ‘easy read’ that engages prospects and offers a dedicated landing page to promote all your offers.
Some of the content formats at this stage include blog posts, eBooks, email newsletters, videos, guides, and webinars. This content should be ‘free’ but should contain short-form lead capture forms on respective landing pages for each offer.
Middle of the Funnel Strategies – Consideration stage
At this stage, you have already succeeded at engaging your leads with information about their problem and pain and about your brand. The goal at this stage is, therefore, direct customer acquisition because you want your leads to buy.
At this stage content that you produce and promote should align the problem of leads with the relevant products or services in your portfolio.
Mid-funnel content should focus on:
- Nurturing leads and drawing them closer to purchase
- Educating prospects and current customers on what differentiates your brand
- Inspiring active engagement through emotional connections with unique audience segments to build brand loyalty and brand ambassadors.
- Retargeting prospects who may have shown interest in your offers in the past
Some of the content and content techniques at this stage should include; case studies, targeted emails, live events, product demos, webinars, and marketing automation.
Fundamentally, mid-funnel content focuses on nurturing the relationship with customers. In B2B companies where the sales cycle is more complicated, efforts at this stage are mostly spent cultivating relationships and prospects. In contrast, in B2C companies, efforts are mostly spent on Customer Relationship Management (CRM).
Bottom of the Funnel Strategies – Decision/conversion stage
Every marketer’s ultimate goal is to get to this stage and yield a positive result in their favor. If you tick all the optimization checkboxes in the preceding steps, then you should have valuable and highly targeted offers directed at customers who are willing to transact with you.
The type of content or offers at this stage include; customized emails/newsletters, Q & A sessions, free trials, live demonstrations, customized pricing, comparison sheets.
The offers at this stage are to the point and valuable designed to convince prospects to ‘buy-in’ fully.
CRO best practices
As discussed so far, to create and implement a CRO strategy, having a well thought out marketing funnel needs to be an integral part of the process. Thereafter, following CRO best practices for your approach will guide you towards success with your marketing goals and business objectives:
Use analytics software for data analysis
The fundamental underpinning of the optimization process in CRO is data analysis using a web analytics tool.
“A problem clearly stated is a problem half solved.” – Dorothea Brande (1893 – 1948), American Writer and Editor
Essentially, you cannot come up with a proper plan if you don’t know the problem with your web pages, landing pages or adverts. Additionally, analyzing marketing campaigns and keeping sight of what’s working and what’s not working can redirect your efforts towards continually improving results.
A lot of times, the simplest solution to any problem is to merely ask what works best. In the context of CRO, this is best done through surveys to get feedback from customers. If you want to get the most useful answers, then it is also essential to conduct a segmented study where you can get more accurate answers to specific problems. The branching logic system can be beneficial in asking specific questions based on the previous response provided.
Such surveys are very useful in generating good leads because you can discover details about your customers that you simply cannot get through analysis of on-site behavior.
A/B Testing is probably the most popular technique used in the CRO process. It primarily involves experimenting with two or more variants of a web page, where users are shown the different pages and statistical analysis is conducted to determine which variant of the web page performs better based on a specific conversion goal such as an item sale or subscription for a service.
The A/B testing, however, needs to be structured to be most effective. When planning A/B testing, you need to keep in mind the following steps:
- Collect Data: to help you pinpoint where to start optimizing.
- Identify Goals: for example; item purchased, CTA button clicks, signing up for email, etc.
- Generate Hypothesis/generate A/B testing ideas: Define why you think one option will be better than the other and prioritize accordingly
- Create Variations or make the desired changes
- Run Experiment and wait for visitors to participate
- Analyze the Results
Multivariate testing involves testing multiple variables that have been modified based on a hypothesis with the goal of determining the combination of variations that best performs out of all possible combinations.
For example, 2 variations of text and 4 variations of color on a CTA button are combined to create a total of eight versions of content that are all tested to find out the best variation.
If you are wondering about the difference between A/B testing and Multivariate testing, well, its that with multivariate testing you can eliminate the need to run numerous sequential A/B tests on the same page and with the same goal. Basically, with multivariate testing, you run more tests in a shorter period.
By creating personalized content for your visitors and customers, you effortlessly draw their attention and become not only a relevant but a chosen source for the information that they crave. The targeted messages that you create for your audience can take the form of banners, popups, landing pages, etc. and should also be based on your goals.
When designing such personalized experiences for your audience, it is critical to bear in mind your goals and your strategy for reaching those goals. Doing so will direct your efforts and lead to the practical results.
CRO tools and their benefits
One of the fundamental benefits of CRO is that it helps to optimize marketing budgets since it illuminates the source of traffic. Basically, if you know where traffic is coming from, whether through Pay Per Click (PPC), search, Social media or affiliate marketing, you can optimize your marketing budget to get the most out of each channel.
The insights that CRO provides should help you to follow better the 70-20-10 rule, where your marketing focus should be:
- 70% on tried and tested marketing. Or on marketing that is working well so far.
- 20% should be on programmatic, automated, rules-driven or machine-driven and executed to respond to different market stimuli. It is not planned.
- 10% of your marketing should be purely responsive so that it is sensitive to new marketing channels as they rise and fall
There are dozens of tools that can be used for CRO depending on your needs. That said, below are some of the most popular and useful ones:
Provides SEO tools to improve organic search rankings and especially Page Authority and Domain Authority. You can use it to track the most profitable long tail keywords for your site. Additionally, its useful for measuring and monitoring competitors search ranking concerning your ranking. You can also use it to fix on-site SEO gaps, and ensure that search engine crawlers find and favor your web pages.
It is an experience optimization platform that features quantitative tools for A/B testing, multivariate testing, behavioral audience targeting and so on. This tool makes use of predictive analysis to personalize audience experiences. The tool is also useful for interface customization, campaign management, and mobile web compatibility.
Basically, a heat map tool that finds the most engaging areas of a web page. It uses a color coding overlay to give you visual clarity for where to focus page optimization.
Most useful for building engaging landing pages including those for mobile devices as well. You can use tried and tested landing page templates, or you can design your own. Additional features include; account transferring, campaign grouping and IP filtering.
Mostly helps to optimize on-site elements and search engine rankings for WordPress websites.
Benefits of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) tools
CRO tools fundamentally help to improve sales by improving website visitor’s engagement. More specifically, the benefits of the CRO tools are as follows:
- Clarify and contextualize customer needs
CRO tools help you to identify who you are engaging and how you are doing so by analyzing traffic and customer behavior. You can therefore easily segment your audience to effectively launch and manage campaigns explicitly directed at different groups according to; age, gender, location, profession, etc. The result will be finding a perfect match for customer needs and your interests and therefore increasing conversion.
- Realize new markets
CRO can easily help you to discover new untapped markets as your product line expands. This is possible since CRO tools allow for a clearer understanding of exactly who your audience, prospects, and customers are.
- Facilitates growth
Since CRO allows for a targeted approach to satisfying customer needs, you not only turn more visits into sales, but you also add to the number of repeat sales to old customers as well. CRO tools, therefore, facilitate growth through better addressing or targeting audience needs.
- Help to leverage leads and sales
With CRO tools, you optimize pages and processes by measuring the impact of changes to different elements including CTAs, social proof elements, headlines color, images, etc. As a result, you can, therefore, maximize on leads and sales without investing more in traffic.
- Improves ROI
By using CRO tools, you can increase your ROI because you lower costs of customer acquisition and retention. By understanding the relationship between your customers’ needs and your valued assets including; landing pages, content, deals, white papers, etc., CRO tools help you to increase sales.
Conversion Rate Optimimization (CRO) case studies
Given below are some CRO case studies that highlight its usefulness.
Hypothesis: Adding chat increases conversions by 211%
The QuickBooks maker found out through their customer service that customers were only upgrading after getting frustrated about using a product that did not match their exact needs. Intuit realized that speaking to already frustrated customers was not the best use of their resources. Instead, they decided to provide a solution to this problem earlier in the buying funnel.
They determined that since the ‘Review Your Order’ and the ‘Product Comparison Pages’ were among the pages that represented the highest purchase intent, these are the pages where they would seek to connect with customers.
Intuit partnered with LivePerson, to implement a live chat solution on especially these pages (among others) where customers had questions about what would be the best choice precisely for them.
Every page with this added live chat feature increased conversions and revenue for the company significantly. Additionally, customer satisfaction was increased since customers were less frustrated by the purchase process and this has led to better long-term relationships.
Hypothesis – Shortening landing page improves signups by 13%
Through the experiences of their conversion agency, DesignBoost wanted to test the hypothesis that shorter landing pages were typically better for free offers. They used CrazyEgg to find out where the attention of visitors to their long version webpage begun to fade using the scroll map feature.
With data from CrazyEggs’s scroll map feature, a shorter version of the web page was created. They then A/B tested the long page and the short page using Visual Website Optimizer and decided to go with the shorter page based on data from their tests.
As expected, a shorter homepage got more email signups, 13% more to be exact, while the courses page where a shorter page was also implemented experienced 25% more click-throughs
To better understand and use CRO, the what why and how, it is important to remember that having a holistic approach is critical. Essentially, having a complete inbound marketing strategy is important if you want to get the most out of any component of your inbound marketing strategy, including Conversion Rate Optimization.