What Is Conversion Rate Optimisation?
Conversion optimisation, or conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is a methodology of testing and improving a landing page on a website such that the percentage of site visitors that take a preferred action (or conversion) is increased.
What Is a Landing Page?
A landing page is simply a page on your website that gets search traffic, paid traffic or other traffic sent to it directly.
It is the first page on the website on which the site visitor “lands” after clicking a link from a Google or Bing search, a paid advertisement, a link on an article on another website, social media etc… So your homepage is commonly a landing page and in many cases will likely get the most traffic.
You may have other pages on your site that get direct traffic as well though. You can find out which of your pages get the most “direct traffic” via your Google Analytics account.
What Value Does CRO Bring To My Business?
Assuming the preferred action your site visitors take is of benefit to your business then CRO has the power to deliver a higher gross revenue from your online marketing.
The following table shows how even small changes can make a big difference.
|Number of visitors to landing page Per Annum||Percentage that converts a lead||Average value per lead in our sample business||Annual predicted revenue for the landing page||Percentage Increase in Revenue|
Remember, this is based upon making a small percentage improvement to a single landing page on a website without increasing traffic to that page.
I Know This Guy That Said That Green Pay Now Buttons Don’t Work – That’s CRO Right?
No. That is not CRO. That is an opinion.
CRO is based on the scientific method whereby we first analyse your business, market and products.
We then audit your existing landing page(s) to identify where people are clicking on those pages – called a heatmap – and conduct a serious investigation of your site’s Google analytics to fully understand what has happened historically on those pages.
We then use all of that information to formulate a hypothesis for changes on that landing page that can result in a measurable benefit to your business when proven.
We then test that hypothesis by creating one or more modified landing page layouts and testing them versus the existing landing page layout (the control).
Each variation is sent the same amount of traffic from the same source. For example if we are running a pay per click campaign and we have 2 variations to test (a new one and our control) then we will send 50% of the traffic to each variation.
This is called a split test or an a/b/..n test and we can test multiple variations. A split test requires sufficient time and sufficient traffic to result in a statistically valid result of course.
A minimum of 2 weeks perhaps for a landing page that gets medium traffic volumes and maybe 4 weeks for a page that receives a low volume of traffic.
CRO And Continuous Improvement
The Japanese have a word for continuous improvement. They call it “kaizen”.
In the west we have borrowed that term for very good reason as we apply continuous improvement principles to our manufacturing processes.
CRO is Continuous Improvement personified. You take the results from your first split test and you use that to create the hypothesis for your next split test.
Even a failed split test (one where the control “wins”) should teach you something so you can never lose with split testing.
Beware The HiPPO!!!
The CRO community has a saying “what a great idea, we should test that!” An opinion, however informed, remains an opinion until it is tested.
Many times the design and structure of a website or a landing page on a website is determined or influenced by the opinion of the HiPPO – or the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion.
If you think you are the HiPPO please do not be offended.
I used to be the HiPPO and I still graduate back to that role until I remind myself “what a great idea, we should test that!” Leaving money on the table or in the pockets of my competitors is far more worrying to me than not getting my own way.
How Do I Know Which Landing Pages On My Website Require CRO?
Ideally it would be great to ensure all pages on your website are optimised for maximum conversion, however, in reality that is not necessary.
The best indicator on which pages to optimize is the relative importance of each page. By importance I commonly mean the page’s potential positive impact on the bottom line of your business.
Additionally you might consider the potential for improvement of your landing pages as a factor.
A page that has a large potential for improvement may deliver a very positive ROI. If you are new to CRO you may also include another factor i.e the relative ease to make changes to any given landing page.
Changing your homepage first without the requisite experience may not be advisable.
Important Factors Relating To Landing Page Evaluation
It is commonly observed that people who are searching for solutions process information faster.
They employ a scanning and pattern-matching process to evaluate the landing page against the initial search.
The LIFT model from widerfunnel.com provides a simple to understand visual representation of the important factors relating to a landing page evaluation;
Your Value Proposition
The most important factor assisting in conversion on your website is your value proposition.
No amount of magic beans will replace a strong and well-communicated value proposition.
If your value proposition is strong and it is poorly communicated on your landing page(s), you then have a great opportunity to improve your conversion rate by improving the layout and / or copy on your landing page(s).
If you are clearly promoting your value proposition as an entry point to the landing page then your landing page must reflect your value proposition clearly and consistently in page hierarchy, titles images textual content etc.
This is very important for traffic from organic searches, however, even more important, and some would say entirely essential for paid traffic.
The message and design must be consistent. The following will commonly assist your landing page’s clarity;-
- Clear and simple (commonly non-technical) language
- Descriptive headings that relate directly to the value proposition
- Short sentences and paragraphs
- Use bullet points wherever possible
- Logical flow of information
- A relatively large font size (such as 16px) with a line-height of at least 1.5 times the font-size
- A clear and obvious call to action that stands out strongly from the remainder of the content
Your objective is to minimise the time it takes for your site visitor to understand your value proposition and take the required action.
The design of your website is an important factor which should increase the clarity of your landing page(s).
As stated in the book “You Should Test That: Conversion Optimization for More Leads, Sales and Profit or The Art and Science of Optimized Marketing” – “Designing for clarity creates an unimpeded eyeflow, an unobscured message, and a prominent call to action.
The best designers know how to use design to promote the content being communicated rather than taking attention for the design itself.”
Is the page relevant to what the site visitor expected to see?
Is the page relevant to the action you require the site visitor to take?
The page must be relevant to the value proposition and to the source of the traffic.
So for example If you are sending someone to the page from Google Adwords then the text and title of the advertisement must be relevant to the content on the landing page.
Ensure your landing page uses titles, copy, images, font colours and styles that are consistent with your traffic generation source wherever possible.
Think of how comfortable you are with taking an action on a website that you have visited?
Would you provide that company with your name? Email address? Phone number? Company name? Job title.
The level of anxiety you create on your site for your site visitors has a direct effect on your conversion rate. Deliver an experience that lowers the anxiety level and your conversion rate should improve.
Think about this when you design your webforms.
What is the least amount of information we need from site visitors? How can we improve their level of trust in the business.
How easy is to make a decision when there are distractions all around?
For most of us we will deal with the distractions first and then perhaps come back and make the decision – if those distractions have not taken us off on a completely different tack in the meantime.
Distraction is perhaps the most common issue we see with landing pages. Some of the common distractions include;-
- Multiple calls per action on the one page
- A menu at the top of the landing page with links to other pages on the website
- Prominently displayed social media links
- Prominently displayed site search areas
- Product options
- Links to blog posts or blog post summaries
The more distractions you remove from a landing page the more your call to action should stand out and that can only help your conversion rate.
A sense of urgency in the mind of your site visitors can have a direct positive effect on your landing page conversion rate.
To some extent, however, urgency is governed both by the type of site you run and by the urgency of the site visitor.
An ecommerce site will likely to be able to drive urgency via time-limited or volume-limited sales offers.
A b2b lead generation site (like our own website at Oracle Digital) does not have the same opportunity.
A strong value proposition may positively drive urgency. In our case we may be able to clearly show that a business owner is leaving money on the table every day by not implementing a data driven online marketing program.
Adding clarity in the presentation of our value proposition by clearly reinforcing the cost of lost opportunity whilst removing other distractions on our landing page would certainly drive urgency in the mind of our target client.
An Organisational Culture Shift
As stated in the book “You Should Test That: Conversion Optimization for More Leads, Sales and Profit or The Art and Science of Optimized Marketing” – “Consider the far-reaching effect of testing your value proposition, for example.
By running controlled tests of your messaging approaches, you can gain statistically significant learning about which messages move the most customers to action.
Yes, those tests can give dramatic lifts in leads, sales, and revenue. But beyond that, the insights can lead to even greater changes in your marketing and business strategy.”
In short, in addition to driving increased revenue from your web marketing, you can use Conversion Rate Optimisation techniques to teach you about your customers and how they react to various stimuli.
Such information can be invaluable to your marketing and your overall business strategy.
A closing quote from “You Should Test That: Conversion Optimization for More Leads, Sales and Profit or The Art and Science of Optimized Marketing” sums it all up nicely – “We listen to our gut, and then test what it says. We gather marketing research, and then test it.
We create best practices, and then test them. We listen to opinions, and then test them.
We hear the advice of experts, and then test it.
We believe in art and science, creativity and discipline, intuition and evidence, and continuous improvement.
We aim for marketing insights.
We aim to improve business results.
We test because it works.
Scientific testing is our crucible for decision-making.”
But don’t take our word for it – “you should test that!”