Companies often wonder why they have invested so much time and money into their site if it can’t even meet the most realistic conversion goals. The most basic SEO and PPC strategies can prepare your site to generate traffic, but only after you have studied your website’s visitor behaviors will you get closer to maximum returns from the generated traffic. That is where conversion rate optimization comes in.
CRO: Where to Start?
The most common question with CRO is, “Where do I start?” While there is no perfect answer to this question, here are a few steps that will get you closer to an answer:
1. Form Hypotheses
Forming hypotheses throughout every step of your CRO strategy is essential. These hypotheses are the basis of your research and the foundation of any future optimizations to your site.
2. Pick a Tool
There are so many free and paid tools at your disposal to study and optimize your websites. That being said, picking the right tool for the job can be difficult. Ask yourself questions like, “What type of research am I running,” “What is the end goal for my research,” and “How much time and money am I looking to invest in this project?” The answers to these questions will help you narrow down your search for the perfect tool to fit your needs. The only way to know which tool best fits your needs is to test it out, but in the meantime, feel free to reach out and I'd be happy to recommend some of my favorites.
3. Begin Your Research
This is where the rubber meets the road in CRO. There are infinite possibilities for researching and testing your website’s conversion funnels, but here are some of my favorites:
Create a Heat Map
Setting up heat mapping on your site allows you to gain further insights into user interaction with specific pages on your site in a visual way that’s easy to interpret. The two main types of data gained from heat mapping are click and scroll data.
Click data will provide insight as to where on-page users are clicking, and scroll data will display how far the average user scrolls down your page. These heat maps demonstrate the value of each button, image, link, and can even give insight into the optimal page layout.
Track and Record Users
User tracking and recordings are the best way to gain further insight into the ways one, specific user interacts with your website. Tracking user behaviors as simple as exit rates and pages within Google Analytics can provide monumental insight into your website’s conversion funnel. A more detailed way to track users on your site is through session recordings. These recordings will track the user from the time they enter the site, to the time they leave, and will provide invaluable insights into usability and behavior that would be impossible to hypothesize otherwise.
A/B testing is where you can really put your hypotheses to the test. Whether you are testing the button text of a call to action, or a complete landing page overhaul, A/B testing is one of the most concrete ways to gather statistical evidence about needed changes. A/B testing can be catered to any site or page. With only a few thousand visitors a month, you will need to focus more on macro level hypotheses and goals to attain actionable results. If you are testing a site or page with tens of thousands of visitors or more, you can focus more on micro level hypotheses and goals. Either way, A/B testing can be one of the least time consuming CRO strategies to run due to its automated nature, but can also be one of the most expensive too.
Many site’s conversion funnels include a type of form fill. Tracking these form fills provides valuable insights into user drop off data that can streamline the form fill process. Form fills that are not optimized properly can be roadblocks in the conversion process. The difficult part with any form is to make it as simple as possible for the user, while still gathering the data you need. By tracking your forms, you can achieve the best of both worlds.
4. Rinse and Repeat
Conversion rate optimization is an ongoing process that is essential to any website’s success. Along the way you will stumble upon pot holes for users that need fixing. Much like a highway, your conversion funnels need constant maintenance and care to provide the best possible user experience, and in turn, maximize conversions. Just when you think your website is “good enough to get the job done,” it's time to rinse and repeat.