Have you ever been on a website that bombards you with five different pop up messages and offers in the first 20 seconds of you being on the site? And they leave you wondering why you even clicked on the website in the first place?
CRO, or conversion rate optimization, is the process of systematically turning website visitors into customers. The website that we described above left out the ‘systematically’ component of the definition…effective CRO is not just blasting your users with opportunities to convert.
Given limited resources, conversion rate optimization can be more efficient than focusing on increasing website traffic. Why spend time and money getting more people to your store if the people already in there aren’t buying anything? It’s like pouring water into a leaky bucket. Instead, focus on improving the conversion rate of the traffic you do have, which will drive more revenue and keep your boss happy.
Here are three approaches to keep in mind when looking to optimize your conversion rate:
Best practices are generally technical and data-driven operating procedures centered around psychological motivators. For example, it is generally known that mobile buttons should be no less than 44 pixels on any side, and red call-to-action buttons generally convert better than any other color. Best practices compile broad industry data to make assumptions that can be applied to any website challenge.
However, since best practices are based on proven successes, they can be slow to spread. This means that a best practice can become dated before it’s replaced with a more successful industry practice.
Every audience has its own unique needs, wants and behavioral patterns. Just because you’re an online t-shirt shop, it doesn’t mean your customers will follow the same patterns as all other online t-shirt shops. A college apparel store has a vastly different customer base than a company that makes little league uniforms. While there may be some behavioral overlap, trying to apply the same industry best practice to both is likely to yield different results. Doing research to determine the buyer’s journey of your particular audience is key!
It’s important to use best practices as suggestions (and not as blanket rules) in order to optimize for each specific business and goal. Your team can develop best practices for each business or client you work with over time using the next two approaches as helpful frameworks.
This approach focuses on content marketing and doesn’t sweat the technical variables. Inbound methodology taps into the power of creating intentional content, building good, thoughtful personas and following the Buyers Journey.
Inbound marketers believe that following this methodology and analyzing the results along the way will gradually increase conversion rates over time. By showing personas what they want to see when they want to see it, inbound methodology expects to see conversion rates naturally increase.
The foundation of inbound is guiding visitors through the three stages of the Buyers Journey: awareness, consideration and decision. These phases begin with educating a future customer on a problem they may not even be able to name yet (and are only able to describe the symptoms), guiding them through the landscape of options, and finally ending with a purchase decision.
To fully commit to inbound methodology, you have to prioritize being helpful over being profitable – and many businesses have discovered that prioritization as the best road to being more profitable.
Testing your site is a highly data-centric approach to CRO, but a more tailored, specific and nuanced one. It allows for split testing (also known as A/B testing) to see what performs best, and therefore allows marketers to learn from each unique website visitor. Each client is uniquely different and has a uniquely different audience.
In the example below, a web page is split to test the conversion rates of two different buttons. The buttons go to the same place, but vary in appearance and copy. When the split test ends, marketers implement whichever button had higher conversion rates. Then they test it again, days or months or years later, once they’ve cycled through the full landscape of user elements available for testing, constantly improving the web experience.
In order to do statistically significant split testing, it is important that there is enough data. Basing major decisions on minimal data is not a best practice. If you have the data to enable split testing, use tools like Optimizely or Visual Web Optimizer.
Data testing incorporates inbound methodology, but asks: “What can we refine for this client that is unique to them and their Buyers Journey? What can we test to optimize conversions for this particular client?”
So, which of these three approaches is best for increasing conversion rates? We generally abide by strong data testing methodology to achieve data-driven inbound marketing. Best practices are great as a starting point, but defining your own approach and communicating it well through constant tinkering will yield the best results. Balance strong personas with the power of testing to reduce the risk of missed conversion opportunities. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions!