What is CRO, and why do you need it?

What is CRO, and why do you need it?

Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is all about turning browsers into buyers – here’s how it works, and why it’s so important.

There’s so much marketing out there today – swarms of adverts and content vying for people’s attention – that it’s easy to get side-tracked by the need to achieve cut-through and get consumers to take notice.

Getting web traffic to your store is extremely difficult in this environment – but eyes on the page is only the first step for a marketer. The goal is always to convert prospects into customers.

What is it?

Simply put, CRO is a way of increasing the percentage of visitors who complete a certain task (your conversion rate) by improving your site. Often, businesses like to focus on the task of making a purchase, but it can be something else, such as subscribing to a newsfeed. Like many of the best marketing techniques, CRO is scientific, in the sense that it is based on observation, plus trial and error.

How does it work? Well, CRO is conducted using a variety of techniques based on user feedback and analytics. Here are three of the most common:

  1. A/B testing

The most commonly used method in recent years, ‘A/B testing’, consists of creating two slightly different pages for people visiting part of your site (A and B). The difference might be in colour scheme, layout, tone, call-to-action or some other aspect. You then measure which of the two results in more sales to identify problems. When you use three or more different pages, this process is called ‘multivariate testing’.

  1. Surveys

Asking consumers for feedback about your site is a good way to find potential issues. A simple question about whether they are likely to recommend your site to a friend or colleague provides a quick and unobtrusive way for them to help you determine whether there is a problem.

  1. Analysing the customer journey

This is the process of figuring out the entire customer journey in order to look for the most effective ways to get conversions and iron out problems.

It is a difficult prospect now, as customers ping back and forth between different devices and locations. Figuring out whether a customer was converted because of the TV ad they watched two weeks ago or your SEO is tough. You will have to gather information from many channels, and analysing it will require skill with interpreting data.

Fortunately, there are tools out there to help you. Google Analytics, for example, can be used to create a conversion funnel to identify the problem points on your site – whether the issues are caused by bugs, design problems or unconvincing language.

If you discover that your site is getting in the way of achieving your objective, it’s time to apply some trial and error. Improving a site with CRO is not normally a quick fix – it is a process of gradual refinement. In fact, it’s recommended that you continue testing your site regularly, even after you’re sure it is fit-for-purpose.

Why is it important?

First of all, because pleasing customers is key to repeat business. Though the aim of your CRO is probably to increase revenue, it will also help you to iron out any technical or design problems on your site – improving the overall customer experience.

Secondly, because the people who take the time to visit your web store are interested in purchasing one of your goods or services. Good site design will encourage the purchasing impulse – bad site design is like turning away business.

Why would you lose the opportunity to win new customers and improve their buying experience, when a few simple tests and design tweaks can make so much of a difference?

Want to learn more on this topic? Sign up to our Conversion Rate Optimisation in a Day, and discover how to build an end-to-end conversion optimisation package that suits your business’s goals and budget.

Rob Coston Reporter CPL
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