Consider this scenario: you've accomplished the hard task of driving traffic to your website, but those visitors seem to be slipping through the cracks, leaving without taking any action. You're not alone: although conversion rates vary by industry, for US shoppers in Q2 of 2021 to Q2 of 2022, the conversion rates were between a mere 2% and 3%, meaning up to 98% of your hard-won traffic is failing to convert. Not ideal!
The good news is that there are tried-and-true strategies to improve this. While general conversion rates are always going to be on the low side, using conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategies for your website can help you potentially pump those numbers up to 2 to 3 times the average.
In this article, we'll delve into the basics of CRO and explore essential techniques to skyrocket your conversion rates. Whether you're just dipping your toes into the waters of online marketing or are a seasoned growth marketer looking for more strategies, this guide is what you need.
What is conversion rate optimization and why should you care about it?
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of CRO, let's first understand what it is and why it's essential.
Conversion Rate Optimization is the process of improving a website's performance by enhancing its ability to convert visitors into customers or leads. In simpler terms, it's about making your website work smarter, not harder.
So, why is CRO vital? Here are a few reasons:
- Maximizing ROI: Every dollar and hour spent on marketing is an investment, and CRO ensures your investments yield the highest possible returns.
- Better User Experience: A well optimized website provides a smoother and more enjoyable experience for your visitors, leading to enhanced trust and loyalty.
- Competitive Advantage: In a crowded digital landscape, a high-converting website can set you apart from your competitors.
- Data-Driven Decision-Making: CRO relies on data and analytics that let you make informed decisions based on real user behaviour.
Conversion rate optimization strategies
Finding the right CRO strategies can be a challenge, especially considering it's still a budding field. In fact, research shows that 56% of those specializing in CRO have fewer than 5 years of experience.
Despite this, some strategies have become established best practices for CRO. In the following sections we will delve into these approaches and explore how anyone can apply them to their own website. But before doing so, consider this: CRO isn't just about individual pages; it's about optimizing the entire user journey. By understanding your customer's path from awareness to conversion, you can identify areas to improve the process. This holistic approach ensures that every touchpoint contributes to conversion, from initial ad all the way through to your website. That said, here are the main strategies:
A/B testing is the cornerstone of any CRO strategy. It involves creating two versions of a webpage (A and B) with a single differing element, such as a headline, CTA button colour, or image. You then expose your visitors to these different versions and measure which one performs better. Pinpointing what resonates with your audience and what doesn't allows you to optimize accordingly. Microsoft famously used A/B testing to increase Bing’s share of searches in the US conducted on personal computers from 8% to 23%.
It’s surprisingly easy to set up A/B tests, with many tools available that allow you to set up experiments without modifying your website directly. One of the cheapest and easiest is Zoho PageSense.
User experience design (UX)
Imagine walking into a physical store and finding it cluttered, disorganized, and hard to navigate. You'd probably leave without buying anything. The same principle applies to your website.
A seamless, intuitive user experience can make all the difference when it comes to conversions. You need to make your website easy to navigate, visually appealing, and quick to create a good first impression. There are reams of resources online discussing the principles of good user experience, but the main thing you need to worry about is how your own website performs. There are many ways of testing this, but two tools we recommend are CrazyEgg, which creates heatmaps of your users’ on-site behaviour so you can see what they’re focusing on and where they’re getting stuck, as well as anonymous recordings of user visits that you can watch back to see how they interact with your site, and UserTesting.com, where you can upload your website and get feedback from real people as they navigate your website. Zoho PageSense also does all the same stuff as CrazyEgg but slightly cheaper.
Calls To Action (CTAs)
Your call-to-action (CTA) buttons are the bridge between visitors and conversions. They should be clear, compelling, and strategically placed. Four main things to consider here:
- Language used: use action-oriented language like ‘Get Started’, ‘Subscribe Now’, or ‘Buy Today’, and no longer than three words per button.
- Type of CTA: buttons that lead off to another page are common and work well if the next page is optimal. But you can also use email capture, social sign-up and other forms of action as your main CTA. Try different ones to see which one drives action.
- Visibility and contrast: make sure your CTA is very clearly visible and contrasts well against the background. It should really pop. You can use a service like Coolors to come up with strong colour schemes.
- Placement: you should have a big, clear CTA in your homepage hero section and then strategically placed around your site. Try with different positions throughout your site and always have a link to your main CTA in your site’s header on every page.
Experiment with different CTAs to zero in on the ones that resonate most with your audience. Again, a tool like CrazyEgg or Zoho PageSense will help you here.
You can't improve what you don't measure. Tools like Google Analytics provide invaluable insights into your website's performance. You must track key metrics like bounce rate, click-through rate, and conversion rate to understand what is working for audiences and what isn’t. Acting on data to identify bottlenecks and areas for improvement lets you refine your strategy continually.
If Google Analytics is too complicated, you can also use simpler analytics in tools like the aforementioned Zoho PageSense or CrazyEgg to give you some more basic insights as a starting point. However, understanding each stage of the conversion funnel is essential so tools like Google Analytics’ Funnel Analysis can really help you identify bottlenecks.
Not all visitors are the same, so why treat them as such? Personalization involves tailoring your website's content, offers, and recommendations to different user segments. By providing relevant experiences, you can significantly increase the likelihood of conversions.
Start by dividing your target audience up into different groups. For example, if you’re a property website you might have private homeowners, landlords and commercial property brokers as different segments. Then create individual landing pages for each segment with language and CTAs that appeal specifically to them. You can then link this up to your PPC strategy by segmenting your ads in the same way and driving different ads to different landing pages.
Again, with tools like CrazyEgg and PageSense you can do this without needing to change your website, but a more streamlined approach is to use a dedicated landing page builder tool like Unbounce, which gives you even more granular control over the things you can test.
Related to personalization is the crucial concept of message alignment. Have you ever clicked on an intriguing ad only to be disappointed and/or confused by the landing page? That's a classic case of message misalignment. Basically, make sure your ad copy and landing page copy are consistent. Visitors must find what they expect when they click through to increase the chances of conversion.
This is common sense and good marketing practice anyway, but with platforms like Google Ads you can actually be punished by their algorithm for having misaligned copy between your ads and landing pages, impacting your ROI.
Page load speed
Slow-loading pages can be a major turn-off for visitors, to the extent that the probability of a bounce rises to 32% when the page load time goes from 1 to 3 seconds. Investing in optimizing your website's load time not only improves user experience but also positively impacts search engine rankings.
With the rise of smartphones, a significant portion of your audience is likely to access your website from mobile devices. Take the example of online sales. A 2021 ADEI report found that 40% of online retail sales in the US, almost half of all online sales in the UK, and 61% of all sales in Japan were made on mobile devices.
You must make sure your site is mobile-friendly, with responsive design and fast load times. Neglecting mobile users can lead to missed opportunities for conversion. Google PageSpeed will help you to identify some of the performance issues, while tools like BrowserStack will give you a comprehensive suite of tools to test your website and/or app on lots of different devices.
People trust the opinions of their peers, especially when it comes to online purchases. A 2021 survey found that trust is a deciding factor in the buying decisions of more than 80% of customers, even though only 34% trust the brands they use. So where are they building their sense of trust from? Other customers.
You can utilize reviews, testimonials, and social proof to boost your website's credibility. You can instill confidence in potential buyers by highlighting positive customer experiences. Try collecting testimonials from your existing customers using a survey service like SurveyMonkey, or a customer reviews service like TrustPilot. Encourage people to leave reviews after they purchase from you and embed those reviews on your website. Make sure to deal with any negative ones though!
Not all visitors convert on their first visit. Retargeting allows you to re-engage with those who didn't take action initially. Presenting relevant ads and offers based on previous interactions with your website can be a powerful way to win back lost opportunities. A service like AdRoll does exactly this.
Related to this is form and cart abandonment, where you send follow-up emails and/or ads to people who started a checkout process or form on your website but didn’t complete. ActiveCampaign is an easy to use tool for this.
When a visitor is about to leave your website, they're a step away from being lost forever. Exit-intent popups are popups that appear when a user hovers their mouse over the back button on a browser. It is intended to capture their attention with a compelling offer just before they leave. Whether it's a discount, a free trial, or a downloadable resource, these pop-ups can turn exits into conversions.
There are lots of tools that can do this for you, including some of the ones already mentioned above. However, if you’re looking for a dedicate solution then OptinMonster is one of the best and integrates with most website builder platforms like Wordpress.
The best way to optimize your conversion rates
Mastering CRO is clearly a priority for growth marketers and startups slugging it out in hard-fought markets. But there are so many ways to go about it, so many elements to take care of, and only so many resources to work with.
That’s where Growthmode can help! Our team of experienced entrepreneurs, strategists, creatives, and techies have deep experience optimizing conversion rates for businesses of all sizes and sectors.
Contact us today for better conversion rate optimization outcomes.