Getting new customers to your website is hard enough, having to block and tackle up against all your competitors’ advertising on Google, Facebook, and elsewhere. But, that is only half of the challenge. The other half–the more important half – is getting those site visitors to convert into a lead or a sale. And, that process of maximizing conversions is known as Conversion Rate Optimization, or CRO for short. This post will help educate you on what CRO is, how to do it, and why this matters to your bottom line… big time!!
What is CRO?
At the simplest level, CRO is optimizing the ratio of conversions, however, you want to define them (e.g., transactions on your website, email lead form submissions, phone calls) as a percentage of the total visitors going to your website. So, as an example, an average e-commerce website may have a conversion rate of 3%, when looking at the ratio of online transactions to website visitors. But, there are wide ranges in conversion rates; a brand new startup with no brand recognition may only convert 1% and a huge trusted e-commerce portal like Amazon may convert 8%. Said another way, there is an 8x difference in revenues to be had, whether you are at the low end of the range, or the high end of the range. So, CRO is a critical part of maximizing your revenue and needs more focus than most startups give it.
How is CRO Optimized?
First, you are optimizing for every variation of your user experience across devices. There is not a one size fits all solution. Optimizing for desktops, tablets and mobile devices are completely different. And, more often than not, in today’s world, mobile is the most important experience that needs to be optimized, given it represents the majority of inbound traffic for most companies these days (although many designers are still overly focused on desktop design).
Second, you are optimizing your user experience (UX). That includes things like your site’s usability, navigation, page design, process design, email form design and overall site speed (and speed really matters for Google to get higher up their search results). This is changing things like page headlines, copy, voice, creatives, offers, calls to action, colors, sizes, messaging, etc., constantly A/B testing different variations of each, to see which one helps drive conversions the most.
As you study users playing with your website, you are going to learn where the drop-off points are in the conversion funnel. How many site visitors, lead to product searches, lead to shopping cart additions, lead to starting the checkout process, lead to a completed sale. Every step of that process needs to be optimized, from beginning to end.
Third, another part of CRO is seeing how your marketing efforts impact conversions. Do any marketing channels work better or worse? Any variations by customer demographics? Do variations in landing pages from the ads, have an impact on conversion rates? Do certain products convert better than others? So, this is not only about optimizing the UX of your site, it is working in partnership with the marketing department to optimize what they are doing, to help maximize conversions.
How is CRO Measured?
There are many ways to study your UX, to learn how consumers are engaging with your site. You can survey customers to learn what they like and don’t like about your UX. You can A/B test different variations of your page design, to see which version performed better. You can study your Google Analytics data, and they have e-commerce funnel optimization tools, to learn where the drop-offs are happening. There are many technologies that can help you learn here–things like heat mapping where a user’s eyes are focused on the page, recording user web sessions, doing scroll bar mapping, or using other software that can help you study your customer journey on your website (e.g., Content Square, Crazy Egg, Hello Bar).
Who Can Help Me With CRO?
And, if you don’t have an internal UX team or enough time to do this yourself, there are many agencies that can help you audit your CRO and make specific optimization suggestions for as little as $5,000. There are dozens of agencies that can help you here, but I know agencies like The Good, Mirgo Digital, Underwater Pistol, Thrive Digital, 1 Digital Agency, and Boostability have expertise as CRO-focused agencies.
Too often an entrepreneur is focused on getting a minimum viable product into the market as quickly and cheaply as possible, which is the norm for most lean startup launches. But, your website experience is a key part of maximizing revenues, and it needs professional attention, sooner than later.
Imagine you were shopping in a retail mall, and you walked by a store where the front door was half-closed, the light bulbs were off and you couldn’t walk through the aisles of the store without bumping into the racks of merchandise or other shoppers. You would simply leave and move on to the next store that gave you a better experience. It is that same logic online, with the hundreds of competitors trying to get those same customers to visit their websites.
So, with a little bit of effort here, you can materially increase your revenues and profits by expanding your conversion rates–the only metric that really matters at the end of the day.