The practice of conversion rate optimization, or CRO, fills a void in the user journey that is often defined by gut-feeling and guesswork. Because of this, CRO as a marketing discipline receives increasing attention and popularity.
Read time: 7 minutes
After reading this blog post you’ll understand the basics of CRO, how CRO fits into an overall marketing strategy, and how to get started testing on your website.
What is CRO?
CRO is an abbreviation of Conversion Rate Optimization, meaning it is, in essence, the practice of increasing conversion rates. It is easy to define, yet it is a major challenge to most websites to increase their conversion rate. There is more to CRO than just the basic definition.
CRO is a framework and mindset for testing variations of a page or funnels (i.e. checkout-flows) up against the live version, and getting data to validate changes to a website. We want to get past gut-feeling and have a trustworthy result based on data. Because we need data to drive decisions, there is one key factor to be able to do CRO – visitors.
In my experience, you need at least 1500 visitors for each version of a page or funnel to reach statistical significance. Do bear in mind, however, that you will reach statistical significance faster if you’re allowing as many visitors to each variation as possible. This goes for any case. Therefore you should always consider how many variations you want to divide your visitors across. Sometimes more variations can give results fast, and in other cases, the best approach is to test one variation up against the control at a time.
Statistical significance means reaching a result where the test would under all circumstances reach the same result, and the test result would not differ in another setting.
Something about getting rid of that gut-feeling, right?
If you do not have traffic to reach a significant result for your website or a specific test, your tests will not receive a valid data foundation for you to make the data-driven decision. It would likely still be guesswork at this point. If you are in a situation where only a few pages on your website is reaching at least 3000 visitors a month (1500 for the control/live part of the test and 1500 for the variation), then begin testing there. Your conversion rate to optimize in this case would be pageviews further down the funnel. A conversion does not have to be a form completion or a transaction.
Why you should make time for testing
Do you have any interaction on your page that is valuable in any way? Disclaimer; you should make time for testing. Never have I ever met anyone saying that all they care about is getting visitors to their website. The true value is getting visitors to perform the interactions, that is valuable to your specific website.
You might have heard of, or are currently part, of a business, where changes to a website are launching because someone feels, thinks, or is certain, that the change will optimize the visitors’ experience. Too often it’s the HiPPOs of the world, or – dare I say – design manuals, deciding what a website should look like, and not the users visiting and using the website. CRO gives the power back to the users of the website.
Think of the next time you see changes to your website or a website you’re affiliated with. You should ask the question; “Was the change tested and resulted in an optimization?” You will prove that you care, and are not afraid to challenge decisions, that might, in fact, harm the business. Go you!
I am already doing SEO and SoMe, is CRO really needed?
Let me ask you a counter question; do you prefer a bucket that’s leaking water of a bucket that keeps it in? Your website is your bucket. Is it leaking all those visits you worked to acquire?
Marketing disciplines such as SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SEM (Search Engine Marketing), often referred to as PPC, and Social Media Marketing, are aimed at increasing visits to a website. Once a conversion or lead is acquired other marketing disciplines like Email Marketing, are focused on retention of converters and nurturing of leads.
The gap between getting a visit and nurturing users after a conversion has been made is where CRO excels.
The visitors’ experience of a website is not just important in terms of CRO, but will also influence the quality of your SEM and SEO activities in the acquisition phase. One of the main parameters for securing strong SEM campaigns is Quality Score. The Quality Score is highly influential to the price you pay for your ads on Google. There are a variety of factors determining the Quality Score of a website, one of which is called Landing Page Experience. In essence, the visitors’ experience of a website is directly linked to the price you pay for advertising.
A great article on Search Engine Land, explains:
As search engine algorithms become more sophisticated, many believe user signals will play a greater role in search rankings.
If we adapt and adopt the UX skill set, we will remain in control of the levers influencing organic search performance. This will be beneficial to brands and consumers alike, as we’ll be better placed to deliver the best experience throughout the purchase journey for each search a consumer makes.
And how CRO improves the nurturing phase? The more leads or conversions generated, the more users to nurture, and the more data to analyze and continuously improve.
It is important to optimize the user journey, not just to improve the conversion phase, but essentially to give both the acquisition and nurturing phases the best conditions.
Where do I begin?
Start with the small tests. Change colors of buttons, change the wording in headings, and try different layouts for your content. The world, or well… your website is your oyster.
But what if I do not know how to code? Don’t worry. Most A/B testing solutions give you a WYSIWYG-editor where you can drag-and-drop, point-and-click-to-change, and all the good stuff without coding. Bear in mind, however, that you should stick to few changes per test – otherwise you will not know which individual change caused the effect.
What does WYSIWYG mean?
What You See Is What You Get
A/B Testing Tool-Time
Here I’ll list some of the A/B testing tools that I have personally used and recommend.
Take a look at their offering and plans. They’re delivering A/B testing solutions, so their website should be fully optimized for you, the user. All the tools offer free trials so give them a test run and go with the tool, that suits your business and situation best.
I will give more comprehensive reviews of the testing tools on offer in a future blog-post.
With this blog post, I hope you’ve seen the light and potential that is CRO. There is inevitably an optimized version of your website out there waiting for you – it’s just a matter of testing your way towards it.
If you are not seeing at least 3000 visitors to any of your pages on a monthly basis, then focus your time and effort on traffic-driving marketing efforts such as Social Media ads, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), or SEM/PPC (Search Engine Marketing). Then once you are acquiring the traffic volume needed, you will be able to open that awesome treasure at the end of the rainbow called Conversion Rate Optimization.
I would recommend giving my post on The Blind Spot of Google Analytics a read as inspiration for why you need to start testing your website. While data in Google Analytics will give you a lot of insight, it will never give the answer to why a page performs how it is, or why your conversion rate is not higher. You need to research and test to answer this why.
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