Introduction to Conversion Rate Optimisation

Conversion rate optimisation or CRO isn’t about increasing traffic to your website, instead it’s about increasing revenue from existing traffic. Whether you’re seeking to generate leads via your website, encourage visitors to sign up to your email newsletter, or indeed drive sales directly; conversion rate optimisation can help you make more money online.

So what is conversion rate optimisation?

It’s best to think of conversion rate optimisation as a process rather than a one-off activity. In the simplest terms the process looks like this:
1) Set up goals and funnels in Google Analytics
2) Identify user experience issues
3) Identify customers’ objections
4) Identify what your current customers like about your product / service
5) Competitor analysis
6) Analyse your data
7) Create new versions of pages to test against your current pages
8) Continue to iterate and improve the process
9) Make more money!

What conversion rate optimisation is not…

“Someone on the internet says green buttons convert better than red buttons.”

That’s really not what conversion rate optimisation is all about. The truth is that what works for one site might not work so well for another, so rather than leaping in and changing button colours we’d strongly advocate following the process laid out below:

Set up goals and funnels in Google Analytics

Before you leap right into conversion rate optimisation it’s really important to ensure that Google Analytics is set up properly so you’re able to measure things like enquiries / purchases / sign ups etc.

Without existing data you’ll be hard pushed to understand whether or not you’ve actually improved your site. Check out this excellent post from Kissmetrics on setting up goals in Google Analytics. Alternatively if you need a broader introduction then check out our Small Business Guide to Google Analytics.

Identify user experience issues

This might sound scary, but in reality it’s very simple. You need to understand if there’s a problem with your site that is stopping people from buying / enquiring / signing up.

There are a couple of ways you might go about this:

a) Run a ‘coffee shop’ test. Simply grab your laptop and head down to your favourite local coffee shop. Ask their customers if they’d be willing to test your website in exchange for you buying their coffee for them. When doing this it’s best to have a specific task in mind for them. For example you might ask them to try to buy something from your website. Ask them to talk you through what they’re thinking at each stage and carefully observe and make notes about what they do and how. You’ll need to do this a couple of times. Are there any issues with the site that more than one person came up against? Is the messaging confusing?

b) Dig through your old live chat records and customer emails. Are there any issues which seem to come up again and again?

c) Try using a site like User Testing.

Identify customers’ objections

So we’ve looked at user experience issues, but it can also be helpful to look at what your potential customers’ objections might be. There’s a great tool called Qualaroo which can help. I like to ask just one question – ‘why didn’t you buy?’

Obviously if your site doesn’t sell directly you’ll need to amend this question to ‘why didn’t you submit an enquiry?’ (or similar).

This can very quickly allow you to see which objections your potential customers have that you’re not addressing right now.

Identify what your current customers like about your product / service

In addition to finding out what your potential customers’ objections might be, you also need to make sure that you’re communicating the benefits of your product or service effectively. The easiest way to ensure that you’re doing this is by asking your current customers what it is they like most about your product or service.

We’d typically look to do this with a simple email survey tool like Survey Monkey. The results may well surprise you!

Competitor analysis

Finally it can also be helpful to take a look at your competitors. How does their messaging vary to your own?

It might also be worth looking at doing some further user testing to determine which site people would be more likely to purchase / enquire / sign up to.

Analyse your data

So you’ve gathered tonnes of data – now what? It’s time to do some analysis to figure out what you should test. What’s broken? What benefits aren’t being communicated? What objections aren’t being addressed?

Create new versions of pages to test against your current pages

It’s time to start testing. We’d recommend using a tool called Optimizely. It’s usually best to test just one thing at a time. Why? Well, if you change your headline, your call to action and your special offer all at once how are you going to know what worked and what didn’t? Also check out these A/B Testing Dos and Don’ts from HubSpot.

Continue to iterate and improve the process

Did your test work? Great! Roll out the change to your site. But you’re not finished yet. As we mentioned from the outset – conversion rate optimisation isn’t something that you do once – it’s an on-going process. Continue to run tests and make changes to your site based on the results of those tests.

If you’ve got any tips or experiences you’d like to share based on your own conversion rate optimisation tests, or if there are any other tools you’d recommend, do let us know via the comments!