You've managed to get your site traffic up. That's great. But why aren't you achieving your business goals? Why aren't people signing up for your service or buying your products?
If you're having problems converting visitors into customers or leads, this article is for you.
Today, you'll learn everything there is to know about conversion rate optimization (CRO). Not only will you know what it is, but also how to compute for it. More importantly, you'll understand how you can optimize your site.
You'll also find examples of companies that improved their conversion numbers after making site changes.
Ready to get started? Then let's jump right into it.
What is Conversion Rate Optimization?
Conversion rate refers to the percentage of website visitors that took action after landing on the page. An action, in this case, is defined by the site owner. Conversion rates also apply to apps, but this post will focus solely on website conversion rates.
The most common use case is measuring how many visitors bought products after accessing an e-commerce site. Conversion rate can also tell you how many people signed up for a free trial or responded to surveys.
In simpler terms, conversion rate measures how many people did exactly what you wanted them to do on your site.
Conversion rate optimization is a strategy where site owners make landing pages more conducive to achieving their goals — usually by making pages look better and load faster.
Factors affecting conversion rates include confusing text, horrible page layout, and misleading instructions.
Many factors affect conversion rates, like your goal and business category. However, you should strive for at least 2.17%, which is the average conversion rate globally.
Conversion Rate Optimization Formula
So how do you get your conversion rate? The formula isn't complicated at all:
Total Conversions/Total Visits x 100 = Conversion Rate
Basically, you divide your total conversions by the number of visits your landing page got. Then to get the percentage, you multiply the result by 100.
Here's an example.
Say you're about to host a webinar, so you've been promoting it heavily on your social media platforms. All your posts about the event link to a landing page where users can sign up. And now, you want to know how effectively your campaign has converted visitors.
If your landing page received 4,763 visits and 341 users signed up, here's how you get your conversion rate:
Dividing 341 by 4,763 gives you 0.0716. If you multiply 0.0716 by 100, you'll get 7.16%.
That means your conversion rate is 7.16%.
Benefits of Conversion Optimization Process
Why do entrepreneurs need to know their site's conversion rate? Can conversion rate optimization help them generate more business?
There are multiple benefits to knowing your conversion rate. Below are just some of the reasons why you'll want to keep an eye on your conversion rate.
Helps You Understand Your Customers Better
One of the most important duties that conversion rate optimization plays in any digital marketing strategy is helping businesses understand their customers better.
A low conversion rate means your message isn't getting through to most users. It's an indication that there's a disconnect between users and your web pages. If your conversion rate isn't what you want it to be, you'll have to make changes to your web pages.
In short, use your conversion rate as a guide on when to update your site's design to get as many conversions as you can.
What sort of changes should you make?
Most online marketing experts will start with their site's design. They'll look for potential bottlenecks that prevent users from taking the desired action. However, one should also pay attention to the copy used, as that could be causing the low conversion rate.
Maximizes Your Current Website Traffic
It doesn't matter how many people land on your e-commerce site if they're not converting, right?
Conversion rate optimization ensures you get the most value out of every visitor your web page gets.
Search engine optimization is responsible for bringing visitors to your website.
The job of conversion rate optimization is to take all those visitors and bring them down the conversion funnel. If you don't optimize a web page for conversion, your SEO efforts will go down the drain.
Simply put, conversion rate optimization ensures you're working smarter, not harder. By knowing your conversion rate, you can make informed decisions on when and how you should update your site so that users take the desired action.
Decreases Customer Acquisition Costs
Conversion rate optimization can also have financial implications. Improving your conversion rate can offset some of the money you use for paid campaigns like pay-per-click (PPC) marketing. That means lowering your customer acquisition costs.
For the unfamiliar, customer acquisition cost refers to how much one spends on average to acquire a customer. Ideally, you'll want a low customer acquisition cost.
If your customer acquisition cost is higher than what customers spend on average, your company's bottom line will suffer.
You can calculate your customer acquisition cost using the formula below.
Marketers who can significantly improve their conversion rate can stop depending on paid marketing altogether. This gives business owners the option to take their paid marketing budget and allot it elsewhere.
Increases Customer Lifetime Value
Customer lifetime value refers to how much one customer spends on average over the last couple of years since the first purchase. You're basically calculating how much the average long-time customer spends on your site.
Below is a simple formula that shows how you can calculate customer lifetime value.
What does customer lifetime value have to do with conversion rate optimization?
You use conversion rate optimization to make your landing pages more appealing to potential customers. That means updating the design and improving the copy used. But these pages do more than just attract new business. Existing customers will also benefit from the changes.
Sometimes all you need to do is give your existing customers a push for them to make another purchase. And that's exactly what your site changes could do. Improvements made for conversion optimization will increase conversions.
Elements of Conversion Rate Optimization
What exactly can you do to improve your conversion rate? Which page elements should you update?
There are a lot of changes you could make to optimize your site and increase conversions. However, the following site elements should be your main focus. Note that you might need help making some of these changes, especially if you're not comfortable working with HTML and CSS.
Landing Page Design
The landing page design is the first thing people notice when they visit your website. So it's only right that you make it the priority.
You want your site to look great. Use a layout that makes it easier for people to find the information they're looking for. Avoid using too many colors. Some knowledge of color theory will help you immensely.
Marketers should also pay attention to the images and videos they use on landing pages. If you place too many of them throughout the page, you might distract users from what you need them to do.
User Interface and Experience
What does your site structure look like? Is your site easy to navigate?
You should pay close attention to how pages on your website are linked. Imagine that you're a customer. If you land on your homepage, how many clicks will it take to get to the page you're looking for?
A customer will click away if it takes too long to get to the destination.
To fix the problem, you can categorize products into categories to improve navigation. And make sure that you have visible links to the most important pages on your site.
What's written on your web pages is just as important as what the site looks like. Your pages need engaging content to convert site visitors into paying customers.
Through conversion optimization, you can update the copy on your website so that they take the desired action. And you can add user-generated content like customer testimonials to get people to convert.
The tone you use will also affect your conversion rate. You should know who your target audience is and adjust your tone accordingly. For example, you should use a more casual tone targeting a younger audience.
Call to Action
What do you want website visitors to do when they land on your site? No matter what that is, you'll need a call to action on your landing pages if you want better conversion rates.
Most e-commerce sites will have call-to-action buttons on their site. A Buy Now button would be a great example. But a call to action can come in many forms — and you can place them in different areas too. For instance, you could ask readers to subscribe to a newsletter just before the conclusion of an article.
The wording of your call to action matters. Test out different copies to see which one improves your conversion rate.
Just how important is site speed? More than 20% of website visitors will leave a site if it takes more than 4 seconds to load.
That means you'll need to make your pages load faster if you want to improve your website's conversion rate.
Unfortunately, you'll need to tinker with your site's code to make significant changes to your load times. If you don't know how to do that, you might want to consult with someone who does.
You can help by only uploading compressed images to reduce their file size. Media files with reduced sizes will load faster.
Conversion Rate Optimization Examples
Does conversion rate optimization work? You bet it does.
Below are just a few examples of businesses that managed to improve their conversion rates by testing a few designs and making all the necessary changes to their websites.
TruckersReport Improved Conversions by 79.3%
TruckersReport is a site that connects professional truck drivers through its forum. The site also provides a service that finds drivers better job opportunities. All they had to do was fill out an online resume.
The problem was there weren't enough people signing up for the service.
There were a few problems with the landing page:
* Truckers used the site while on the road, yet the pages weren't responsive.
* The original headline didn't state what's in it for the drivers.
* No social proof was provided.
* The company used stock photos.
* The website design didn't look professional enough.
So the layout and the copy were improved. The landing page now clearly states what drivers get for signing up. The call to action is also made clearer.
After launching several variations, TruckersReport increased its conversions by 79.3%.
BaseKit Increased CTR by 25%
Basekit is an online platform for people that want to create their websites. It wanted to move more people from its Plans and Pricing page to the Buy Now page.
The old Plans and Pricing page had several issues, which could be why it's not converting as many users. Small tweaks to the design were made to make it look brighter and bolder. The currency options are now more obvious.
The call to action was also changed.
BaseKit felt the improvements were felt within 24 hours. Conversions moved up by 25% almost immediately.
But the company isn't stopping there. It's continuing to test other variations to see if they can keep those numbers up. If you find yourself in a similar situation as BaseKit, updating your pricing page can help.
Performable Improved Conversion Rate to 21% by Changing Button Color
Sometimes the smallest change has the biggest impact on conversion rates. That's what Performable found after running tests on its website.
You test button colors through A/B testing. That means having at least two landing page versions go live simultaneously. In this case, the two landing pages were identical except for the button colors.
Run the two pages simultaneously, then check which pages get more conversions.
Performable tested red and green on their landing page. Both colors had their advantages and disadvantages. For example, red invoked feelings of excitement, but people also associate that color with stopping. So the results could go either way.
So what did the tests show?
Performable found that red call-to-action buttons worked best for its site as they outperformed green buttons by 21%.
Vidyard Increased Email Opt-in by 100% by Using Videos
Vidyard wanted to see if videos would help it generate more email opt-ins.
Sometimes, using text isn't enough to show what your product can do for customers. You need videos to show everyone certain features to communicate your point more effectively.
In Vidyard's case, it used animated explainers on its landing pages.
The video helped Vidyard get more conversions. And as a bonus, the video also appeared on search engine results page queries for relevant keywords.
The video provided the company with content for its social media platforms. That generated leads from channels like Facebook and Twitter.
Did Vidyard manage to improve its conversion rate? Yes. Its email opt-in went up 100% after adding the video.
Best Conversion Rate Optimization Tools to Use
Your conversion rate will tell you whether there's something wrong with your website. But how will you know which aspect of your site prevents users from converting?
You'll need to use third-party tools to know what to work on.
Here are a couple of conversion rate optimization tools that will help you achieve your goals.
Crazy Egg is a tool made specifically for conversion rate optimization. It has many features that let users see what they can do to improve their landing pages.
One of its best features is Heatmaps. What it does is it helps you understand your customers by showing you which elements site visitors interact with the most.
In short, it tells you what people click and don't click on your site.
Use this information as a guide when you update your site's design. If people aren't clicking on a call to action, then change it to something better.
You'll also need analytics data if you want an in-depth understanding of why you're struggling to meet your conversion goal. That's where Hotjar comes in.
It lets you see all the problem areas that are making site visitors bounce before taking any action.
For example, you can use Hotjar to find bugs that constantly annoy your customers. And you'll be able to see the bug in action as Hotjar records customer interactions with your site.
When you use Hotjar, you'll also see which optimization projects you should prioritize. That means less guesswork when deciding which page elements to fix.
Qualaroo lets you create surveys for your website or app that visitors and users can answer.
It's more effective than asking users via email since Qualaroo lets users answer surveys as they're using the site. That means they can provide feedback while the experience is still fresh in their minds.
You can also do exit surveys which clarify why some users fail to convert into customers.
And you can prompt surveys to appear at key moments. For example, use Qualaroo to ask people why they're leaving as they prepare to exit the page.
When you talk about conversion rate optimization, you can't mention A/B testing. This refers to running two or more similar landing pages to see which would perform the best.
If you've never done A/B testing before, you'd want to use a tool like VWO.
It lets you set up tests minus all the headaches. It's beginner-friendly, too, so you won't have any trouble setting up your tests.
VWO will even give you the expected conversion rate as you run your control landing page versus the variation. It's a small thing, but the tool lets you know if you're headed in the right direction.
Conversion Rate Optimization Best Practices
How can you make the most out of your conversion rate optimization efforts?
The following tips can guide you toward improving your top landing pages. Keep these in mind as you optimize your website.
Understand Visitor Behavior
You can't force people to take an action that they don't want to. So a call-to-action button won't work no matter how large you make it if users don't have the proper incentive.
That's why you need to understand visitor behavior before implementing sitewide changes. Determine what's making people leave your site.
Start with their interests. What do they want to see? If you're selling insurance online, know what pain points you can solve for your customers. Then make sure that you point that out in your landing page copy.
Demographics will also play a key role in understanding user behavior. Age, ethnicity, gender, and other factors can impact your conversion rate. You need to ensure that your landing page can sustain the interest of your target audience. A younger demographic tends to be less patient than older users. Their priorities will also be different. You need to have a site design that reflects that.
Use third-party tools to see what's causing your site visitors to hesitate. You can use the tools mentioned earlier in this post to create surveys that users can answer before exiting your website. Or use heatmaps to see which page elements people are avoiding.
Once you understand your audience, it'll be easier for you to make all the necessary changes to your website to optimize conversions.
Define Your Experiment's Goal
What are you trying to achieve with your A/B testing? What do you think is going to happen after you make your changes?
These are some questions you should ask yourself as you formulate your plan. Come up with a goal before you optimize your site.
Put some real thought into your goal. It should be more than "get more clicks."
Think deeply about what those design changes would mean for customers. If you want to get more conversions, what's the target percentage? Do you want to increase your conversions by 2%? Or maybe 4%? Whatever the number is, keep it realistic.
And if you're planning on having users sign up for a service, how many of them are you expecting to join? Use that number as your goal. Once you reach that goal, you set a new one and optimize your site again.
Not only should you have a goal, but you should also have a hypothesis. Using quantitative data, consider why your conversion rate is what it is today. Only then can you come up with possible solutions to the problem.
Plot Out Your CRO Roadmap
Having a plan is one thing. But how are you going to execute that plan? You don't want to start a project without a plan in place. It would be best if you had a conversion rate optimization roadmap before starting your project.
You don't want to play it by ear. Any change you make to your site will impact its performance. You want to make calculated moves to minimize any negative effect your changes could cause.
A roadmap will also make sure that you don't go rogue. You want to stay on track — something you can't do if you keep getting distracted by other changes you want to make on your website.
How else can a roadmap help?
A roadmap makes sure that you prioritize changes. You can start with changes that will have the most impact before moving on to more minor, less significant changes. That way, you will see larger gains straight away. Prioritizing tasks will move you closer to reaching your goal at a faster rate.
You don't need special tools to create a conversion rate optimization roadmap. You can make one using a spreadsheet document.
Create a document showing which pages you're working on and what changes you're making. There should be dates indicating when a task will be finished and when the next one will start.
Execute and Document Your Experiment
Don't forget to document your progress as you run your experiments.
As mentioned a while ago, any change you make will have an effect on your conversion rate. Sometimes the results are good; other times not so much. That's why you need to record everything. It's the only way you'll know what caused your conversion rate to change.
Your documentation will serve another purpose. You can use it as a reference before you make changes to your other pages. Having a record of everything you've done to the website means you'll avoid repeating the same mistakes.
It's also a good reference for those of you who would be creating several landing pages that target different audiences.
What sort of stuff should you document?
You can start with your initial observation. Write down your hypothesis, along with any important thoughts you may have. Indicate the landing page in question, who your target audience is, and what's the current conversion rate.
Then list down your plan of attack. What changes are you going to make? How are you going to check your progress? What does the timeline look like? When do you think you'll be able to roll out the new landing page?
When you document everything, it becomes easier to keep track of your progress.
Plan for Your Next Test
What is your plan after launching your new and improved landing pages?
Conversion rate optimization never stops. You could always make a tweak to bring your conversion rate even higher than it is now. You only have to come up with new theories to start the process all over again.
You might even come up with new theories as you implement your changes. In this case, you should note those and wait until the latest round of changes is over.
Take all of your learnings when you plan your next test. Think about everything that went wrong the last time. What did you fail to take into consideration? How did users react to your changes? What did user surveys tell you? Did your conversion rate go up or down?
Think about your site layout, copy, media assets, and colors. Is there anything you'd like to change? What about your site speed? Are your pages loading fast enough?
These are just some of the things you should think about as you plan your next round of improvements. And while you're at it, take a look at other pages on your site. See which ones deserve a fresh coat of paint. Maybe these pages can help improve your conversion rate too.
Hiring a Conversion Rate Optimizer for Your Business
The reality is that conversion rate optimization can be difficult, especially for those that are optimizing their pages for the very first time. You don't know where to start, much less what you should do.
Or it's possible that you don't have the time. Maybe you'd instead focus on other areas of your business. And that's perfectly fine.
If you'd prefer someone else handle your conversion rate optimization efforts, you can hire an agency or a freelancer to do the work for you.
Hiring a conversion rate optimization specialist can benefit you in so many ways.
First, you'll be confident that whatever the specialist recommends will be based on industry best practices.
Also, the bulk of the work will be taken off your hands. All you need to do is approve any changes that will be made to your landing pages and wait for the results.
Many people will hire a conversion rate optimization specialist for that very reason.
But what will a conversion rate specialist do for you?
* Assessment — The specialist will assess your site and find opportunities for improvement.
* Research — The specialist will install tracking software on your website with your permission. This will be used to analyze user behavior, like their scrolling patterns.
* Recommendation — The specialist will send you recommendations on what to do to improve your website.
* Implementation — The specialist will apply the changes that you agree to.
* Monitoring — The specialist will track your progress to see if the changes made had the desired effect.
What page elements will the specialist check on your website?
* Content — The specialist will look at your text, videos, images, and other related page elements.
* Conversion Funnel — The specialist will look at how your pages take users from the homepage to the checkout page.
* User Experience — The specialist will look at how users interact with your pages on desktop and mobile devices.
* SEO — The specialist will look at the condition of your SEO conversion rate, including page load time and search rankings.
How much will it cost to hire a conversion rate optimization expert?
Freelancers can cost anywhere between $5 and $500 depending on their offer. Some freelancers will only do the initial site analysis and present their recommendations. That means you'll have to implement the changes yourself.
If you have the budget, you can hire digital marketing agencies that offer conversion rate optimization services.
However, it should be pointed out that using a marketing agency can get expensive real fast. It's not the ideal solution for small- to medium-sized businesses.
If you own high-traffic sites that don't get as many sales, there's no question that you need to look into conversion rate optimization. It's the best way for you to reach your business goals.
At the very least, you have to compute your optimization rate so you'll be aware of whether your landing page can convert users.
You can research and implement the necessary changes yourself using third-party tools. But if you cannot optimize your site, you can hire a conversion rate optimization specialist to handle it for you.
It's worth investing in conversion rate optimization because of its different benefits. Don't miss out on sales opportunities. Optimize your website and get more sales.