CRO: gimmick or goldmine?
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CRO: gimmick or goldmine?

If you work in marketing, chances are you’ve heard much talk about conversion rate optimisation (CRO) in recent times – and with good reason.

ConversionXL’s 2016 report, which surveyed 722 optimisation professionals, stated that 55.5% of respondents planned to increase their CRO budgets year-on-year.

Marketers love a good statistic to help make a point, and big numbers like those certainly indicate that CRO is becoming increasingly essential to successful digital strategies. No wonder everyone’s CRO-ing on about it! (Sorry.)

Essentially, CRO, or landing page optimisation to some, is the art of encouraging website visitors to take your desired action whether that be making a purchase, downloading a whitepaper, or signing up to your newsletter, and so on.

Thus, your conversion rate is the figure you get when dividing your number of conversions by the number of unique page visitors. For example, if you had 10 conversions from 200 page visits, your conversion rate would be 5%, since 10 ÷ 200 = 5%.

The aim of the game is to make incremental edits to your site – be that the layout, design, words on the page, colours of call-to-action (CTA) buttons, imagery, and so on – so that your conversion rate steadily improves.

Refine and shine

As you might imagine, there are a multitude of elements that can be tested, re-tested and optimised for each of your web pages  and if you’re serious about increasing conversions, it’s crucial that you commit to regular tweaking to see what works.

In the past, it was all too easy to hit ‘publish’ and leave pages to sit there collecting digital dust. Even if you invested in other marketing activities to drive traffic to your target pages, such as SEO, PPC or social media promotion, too few companies would monitor conversion rates and actively test the waters to improve efforts.

Now, though, everyone’s waking up to CRO, and that can only be a good thing, especially for marketing professionals who are constantly under pressure to prove ROI. With that in mind, here’s a brief guide to CRO success.

Take stock

At the very least, you‘ll need to install Google Analytics, a conversion analytics programme such as KISSMetrics, and possibly a heatmap interaction tool like Crazy Egg.

You can then start analysing user activity on your web pages, paying close attention to metrics such as average time spent on page, your bounce rate and, naturally, your conversion rate.

With your user interaction tool, you can track movement on your page. So ask yourself: are our users finding the key information on the page? Do they pay attention to the most important features (such as buttons and forms)? Is there unnecessary content on the page, photos that people don’t take note of or blocks of text that they quickly navigate away from?

Taking time to look for obvious elements that are preventing conversion will pay dividends down the road.

Road test for success

Typically, you can go down one of two routes when conducting a little trial and error:

  1. If you see there’s plenty of room for improvement, you could try out a completely different page to see if you have a dramatically different conversion rate. This can then inform a basis for future testing.
  2. A/B test one element at a time, such as making CTA buttons bigger or maybe a different colour. You could also try changing the font, or getting your copywriter’s hat on and reworking the content  focusing on creating persuasive wording that emphasises the benefits of your product or service.

Essentially, there are multiple ways to solve any conversion issues you’ve identified. So by experimenting with different versions of the page, you can get a good understanding of what works best.

There should always be a method in the madness. So instead of making random changes to see ‘what if’, be sure to think carefully before each edit  ensuring that you focus on the end result you expect (and hope) to end up with. In other words, positioning the button in the centre of the page should (hopefully) result in more clicks.

There are various testing programmes, such as Optimizely, which will let you run two variations of the same page concurrently – allowing you to track user behaviour in real time, and providing accurate data on which version should be prioritised.

Marginal gains for big business

The basic process noted above should be a continual project, rather than a one-off fine-tuning. Embracing the incremental improvements and committing to studying user behaviour will see you make ongoing enhancements that can eventually make a big difference to your bottom line.

Knowing what’s going on in your customer’s mind is a challenge every marketer and business owner faces on a near daily basis, but taking CRO seriously can give you a much clearer insight that’s virtually guaranteed to turn browsers into buyers.

You can learn more by signing up to the Conversion Rate Optimisation in a Day course, running on selected dates in London throughout 2017.

Ross Howard Editor InsightsForProfessionals.com
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