Having your organization's website optimized for conversion represents a unique opportunity to gain a competitive edge over your competitors who do not understand the benefits of conversion rate optimization, or have not committed time and energy into a proper optimization strategy.
Many businesses and organizations are now starting to focus on the importance of conversion rate optimization because it allows you to lower your customer acquisition costs by gaining more value from the traffic already visiting your website. To understand how to improve your organization's conversion rate, we must first define what a conversion is and why it’s so important for your organization.
What is a Conversion?
A conversion is a meaningful action taken by a visitor that has a specific value to your organization. This doesn't necessarily have to be a sale, but simply the process of moving from one stage of your inbound funnel to another. Two examples would be a website visitor who decides to subscribe to your newsletter or a visitor submitting a form indicating they are becoming a prospect to your organization.
The type of conversion can and will be different depending on your organizational goals, particular web pages, and what actions are important to you. Ultimately, the rationale behind conversion rate optimization (CRO) is to reduce the cost of acquisition, improve profitability, and increase the overall efficiency of an organization's entire digital marketing program.
What Is Conversion Rate Optimization?
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a strategic and data-driven process used to increase the percentage of website visitors who take a specific desired action or “convert” on your website. This process involves understanding the motivations of your visitors, improving web page elements and triggers, and then validating those improvements through A/B testing. By measuring the rate at which users convert and on what pages they are converting on, you can identify areas for further improvement.
Metrics Used to Analyze Conversions
In order to optimize conversions, we must first find the baseline for measurement. To do this, we need to know one piece of data: what is the current conversion rate? We find this by taking the total number of users who completed the desired action your organization is targeting as a conversion (such as a completed purchase, form submission, email signup).
We then divide that total by the full number of visitors to your website. For example, if your website had 50,000 visitors and 1,000 of those visitors converted, this would result in a conversion rate of 2%. Once you have established your baseline, it’s time to start analyzing the following important metrics on your website.
This metric evaluates which pages are causing site visitors to leave. Every page has its own specific exit rate which you can easily find using Google Analytics. An exit rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your website after visiting a specific page. If you notice certain pages having a higher exit rate than they should, you should take note of this.
Average Time on Site
Average time on site is a great metric to evaluate if users are actually reading and interacting with your organization’s content. If your content is relevant to the user's search and is displayed properly, well written, and properly optimized, you will have a higher average time on site. Keep in mind that this number has a direct correlation with the bounce rate. The lower the average time on site, the higher the bounce rate will be.
The bounce rate is the percentage of users who leave your website immediately after viewing only one page on your website. A high bounce rate can indicate several things ranging from slow page load speed or poor design to receiving traffic from weak sources or having pages that are not optimized for conversion.
Average Page Views
This engagement metric informs you of how many pages a user views on average before leaving the site. This metric can be a little tricky as this could represent good engagement with your website, or it could mean users are having a difficult time finding the answers to their questions and are searching for clarity. You will have to weigh this metric alongside others to find the proper lens in which to view your findings.
Interactions per visit
What are your visitors doing? Even if they are not converting, they may still be interacting with your website at a higher level. What elements of landing pages are they clicking on? How far down your page are they scrolling? Are they reading product pages or blog posts? There are a few great tools available to help you gather and understand visitor interactions, two of which are Hotjar and Crazy Egg. Both tools do a fantastic job assisting you in developing an understanding of how visitors are interacting with your website.
Where are your website visitors coming from? Different types of traffic will have different expectations for levels of engagement, so understanding where your visitors are coming from is important. There are three main sources of traffic: direct traffic (users that get to your site by directly typing in your web address), referrals (users that clicked through to your website from somewhere else), and search visitors (users who found your website through a search engine usually Google or Bing).
It’s always important to protect yourself by keeping your traffic sources diverse, as relying heavily on one source of traffic can increase the risk of losing a lot of your traffic overnight.
Click-through rate (CTR)
Understanding your click-through rate will allow you to have a clear view of how your offer resonates with searchers who have no pre-existing bias towards your organization. If you have a low CTR, shifting your focus to find out why search visitors aren't responding is important. By making tested and educated changes to your page title tag you can discover the messaging that resonates with your audience and incorporate that messaging into your landing pages.
Identifying Areas To Optimize
Now that we established our baseline conversion rate and have analyzed data from key metrics, it’s time to identify areas for improvement. You want to begin by focusing on pages that receive the highest amount of traffic or the pages that are currently providing the most conversions. Though this may seem counter-intuitive, by starting with these pages, they give you the greatest opportunity to make a fast impact on your visitors.
Next moving to the pages that would hold the highest value to your organization, and finally working your way down to all other underperforming pages.
Optimization Fundamentals & Best Practices
There are a few tried and true methods when it comes to optimizing your website for conversions that always help, but the most important aspect to keep in mind is establishing trust, credibility, and safety for your website visitors. Below are a few best practices that go a long way towards achieving those goals.
Social Proof & Testimonials
Social proof is “a psychological phenomenon where people conform to the actions of others under the assumption that those actions are reflective of the correct behavior.” Bottom line: social proof helps to build credibility and trust with potential customers. Social proof comes in many different forms such as certifications, awards, client testimonials, industry experts, social shares, and media exposure. Whenever possible, place these elements on your landing pages in strategic places to help build trust and credibility.
Customer Persona Development
Before you can craft content to speak clearly to your target audience, you must first know who they are. Developing user personas will give you the ability to create content and establish messaging that will resonate with the wants and needs of your target audience. This can sometimes be a difficult process for organizations to handle internally due to existing bias towards who they have always believed the target audience to be. If this proves to be true, partnering with a company that specializes in persona development and user experience (UX) design is vitally important.
Improving Site Speed
Users expect a webpage to load quickly. In fact, during a recent study on the effect load-time has on shopping behavior, 40% of people will abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load. With this in mind, it is very important to make sure your website loads quickly. Site speed is also an important search engine optimization (SEO) ranking factor.
Adjust your Calls-to-Action (CTA)
CTAs are triggers that encourage users to perform a certain desired action. Make sure you are using bright colors and clear active language to help entice your visitors to click. One example of using an effective call-to-action would be saying “Sign up for free” or “Send Me Specials Now” instead of “Submit.”
Use Heatmap Analysis
A heatmap is a visual representation of the actions users are taking on your page allowing you to easily see where a user's mouse has traveled or clicked on while viewing your page. Another great tool heat mapping provides is called scroll depth tracking, this allows you to find out at what part of your webpage users stop scrolling down. Having access to this information allows you to run a variety of different experiments designed to help improve the usability and design of your website.
Performing a customer journey analysis can help to pinpoint pages that are the most important during the conversion process. This allows you to focus your efforts on the most important, or "highest value", pages of your site. Optimizing these specific pages first gives you the opportunity to gain your highest return as quickly as possible.
Run A/B Tests
Continuous testing is the most important action that must happen to ensure the changes being made will have a positive impact on your conversion rate. A/B testing or (split testing) should be completed constantly to test your theories and help you make informed decisions about the design and messaging on your website. Once you have the results of your test, make improvements. Rinse and repeat this many times until you have a fully optimized page.
Simply put, does your website look professional? If your website looks spammy, has a lot of clutter, improperly sized images, and/or bad typography, you will not be trusted. Make sure your website is clean and easy to navigate with professional designed elements and images as it should be the most powerful marketing tool you have.
Ready to Improve Your Conversion Rates?
I hope we have helped you to gain a better understanding of the importance of conversion rate optimization and what measures you can take to optimize your website for conversions. If you still have questions, would like to have a (CRO) audit completed for your website, or need a custom strategy created to fully optimize your website’s potential, reach out to our team.