One of the problems of getting what you want from your website can be the ridiculous amount of information floating around on the web. Basically, what most of us want is a return on investment (ROI).
That’s a simple enough concept to get our heads around in principle.
In reality, though, trawling through vast numbers of blog posts and infographics on the internet can end up taking all day, every day. It’s difficult sometimes to know what applies to you.
What will work with your product, service or site? Just narrowing down areas for action can be an ordeal.
This article is here to help you to combat that confusion.
We’re going to work in easily digestible chunks of detail.
We’ll look at some of the measures you can use to start making your website more productive in terms of conversion rate.
We’re also going to keep this very straightforward as we define exactly what CRO actually is.
We’re going to take some of the mystery out of the term.
By the end of this post, nearly everyone should be able to find a few genuinely actionable – and easy to implement – CRO steps that will increase the conversion rate on their specific website!
How can I make CRO make a difference – fast?
The way we use websites in the modern day – and therefore the way we market – is to set our sites up to attract traffic. That’s an obvious statement, but it’s also the obvious strategy when it comes to marketing in the age of the internet.
Your website is your front-of-house – it’s the open door to your showroom. Getting traffic is the logical first step in making sales.
CRO is the logical next step to converting that traffic into sales.
The truth is that conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a highly effective use of your time – if you can work out which parts of your website will benefit from changes.
That’s the trick – working out what will work for you, with the minimum of fuss, time, and effort.
How can I get started on CRO?
So, which tactics and strategies fall into the category of CRO? Well, if you consider that active CRO is just the process of changing the percentage of visitors that you turn into customers – and that all you’re doing is optimizing web page features – you’re most of the way to demystifying CRO.
Measures can be obvious, self-explanatory, and produce amazing results, once you know where to look:
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A/B testing – can throw light on those annoying and hard-to-find reasons that you get so much bounce. Often, this is down to tiny details, but it can be like looking for a needle in a haystack without A/B testing.
Short landing pages – can work wonders for keeping people’s attention. Why do so many people walk when they’ve come so close to buying, and you’ve delivered a good pitch? Remember that humans are impatient, and maybe shortening your sales chatter will keep them on page.
Heatmaps – are a great way to pinpoint exactly which parts of your site visitors use – but what’s genius is that you can find out exactly where and when they lose interest – and start to think about hitting the dreaded back button.
Removing social sharing buttons – Some people hate over-complicated sites. They don’t want to have to burn calories in their heads, figuring out which buttons do what. Decluttering is a good way to streamline the route to a sale.
Loading speeds – Oh, how people hate to wait. It’s why fast food exists. People view time waiting as time wasted. It can be the quickest single way you’ll ever alienate a potential customer.
Short forms – are another excellent method to cut down on visitors who leave because they’re impatient. Nearly everyone takes the path of least resistance on the web. Make your forms simple, easy to fill out, and intuitive.
However, test them!
It entirely depends on your users and your product whether short or long forms work.
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Analytics – is a data-based form of what heatmaps will do for you, and you’ll get great insight from this. If you’re losing visitors, but you don’t know precisely where or when, it’s all in the data – and you can pinpoint what to tweak.
Surveys – give the people exactly what the people want, and it’s a soapbox where people can voice their complaints. People are nearly always quicker to share what they don’t like than what they love – and it’s priceless information for you.
Mobile friendly – has become a must-have in 2019. Mobile users aren’t going away. Too much buying happens on mobile devices – this is going to be a relatively small tweak with potentially massive returns.
More ways to pay – is another measure that appeals to the laziness and impatience of buyers on the web. If you don’t offer their preferred payment method, then a competitor who does is just a click of the mouse away – and your potential customer knows that!
Picture/video quality – is where your site potentially falls down as a virtual showroom. It may be the internet, but people want to see what they’re being asked to buy.
Before we look in more detail at our list of 11 CRO measures, take a minute to realize that not all will suit you and your website. Some steps may jump out and offer themselves as potentially obvious solutions – but you’ll need to weigh up what works best for you and stay disciplined. Discard things that are not so relevant to your own marketing efforts.
1. A/B Testing – Intelligent Tweaking
A/B testing is as simple as it gets and it’s a fantastic way to find out how the small details – and exactly which small details – are making a big difference to your sales.
To conduct A/B testing, pick a page on your website to tweak – landing pages are the most obvious choice, but don’t limit your efforts.
An important thing to remember when you’re using A/B testing is only to change one thing at a time, and then collect enough data on it to learn something.
For instance, you might want to change the size of a button, or a header, or even tweak the wording of a CTA.
Once you’ve made one change – and use educated guessing and any data you have to get there – this is when you ‘split’ the page.
Splitting the page just means directing half of your visitors to the original version and redirecting half to the changed page.
Analyze which version performs best, and you’re making educated, intelligent tweaks that will improve your sales – because as you make changes, you can always revert to the original page when something doesn’t work.
A/B testing is a good way for people who are short on time – and low on technical know-how – to make very productive adjustments to the way their website generates sales.
2. Snappy Landing Pages Catch More Shoppers!
If your potential customer wanted to read War and Peace, they’d visit the library. What your potential customer wants to do is to buy what they’re looking for, with the minimum amount of fuss. And then they get back to doing something that requires an equally short attention span.
You don’t need to provide reams and reams of information when you’re selling a product or service. What you do want to do is make your sales pitch as catchy, engaging, and short as possible – without losing any of the important details.
Internet shopping is mainly about convenience and speed. You can provide an immersive buying environment without writing an essay – and this relates to one or two of the points we’re going to look at further down this list too.
Visual information is a quicker and more convenient way for shoppers to absorb details about your product or service. If we are talking about a service, you can still use visuals in the form of infographics. Anything that can get the visitor down to the buy button more quickly is a good move.
You do still want to make sure that they’re a confident buyer once they reach the button – but you can shorten texts, make the buying a faster process, and still keep them well-informed and confident.
3. Heatmaps & User Tracking – Get Inside Buyers’ Heads!
Shopping in the real world provides retailers with a much readier environment for observing what does and does not interest shoppers who enter their store.
It’s easy to see what people are looking at, dwelling upon, and walking straight past on their way back out.
Supermarkets spend fortunes on analysing the footfall of shoppers, working out the best places to put certain items so they sell better.
They bake bread, because it makes people hungry, and they colour packaging to entice people to put them in their shopping trolley.
However, even though you may not yet be aware of it, there are tools available for websites which enable you to do much the same thing.
You can observe exactly how visitors are using your website, and it’s a whole lot easier to do than you might think.
If you really want to get an accurate idea about what your customers and visitors like about your site, try using an aid like Hotjar.
If you want to find out precisely what visitors to your website absolutely hate – also use a tool like Hotjar.
If you’re the type of business owner who would love to stand behind your website users as they surf your site – this is for you.
Tools like Hotjar essentially let you look over the shoulders of your users as they navigate.
By using heat maps and recording user visits, these tools enable you to see precisely what your customers like and where they lose patience and leave.
If you use the data supplied wisely, and limit your tweaks, experimenting gradually with new things – this measure can be a business winner.
4. Decluttering Social Sharing Buttons
With so many forms of social media around these days, social media can be a blessing and a curse. It’s a brilliant way to direct traffic to your website on the one hand, but the sheer volume of social media platforms can dilute and significantly weaken your message if you’re not careful.
Having a ridiculously large number of social media sharing buttons can really clutter up a landing page, or any web page for that matter. Not only that, spreading your marketing efforts too wide across all of the many forms of social media can harm your efforts too.
A good strategy for using social media to market your products or services can be to limit your efforts to one or even two channels. Declutter not only means that you can cut right back on the number of buttons distracting users on your site – it also means that the volume of original and engaging social media content you need to produce is limited.
Decluttering gives you advantages on two fronts. Firstly, you can concentrate on producing less material, but excellent quality external content to drive visitors to your website or landing page. Secondly, once impressed social media users to arrive, they’ll be faced with a cleaner page, where the route to buying is less confusing and more direct.
5. Speed Up Your Web Pages to Speed Up Sales
Often, websites are slow to load or perform for reasons that require minimal effort or cost to sort out properly. One thing that every single internet shopper hates is a slow loading webpage.
Call people spoiled, or just refer to them as impatient – whichever the reason, the fact is that while your landing page is taking an age to load, your potential customer has already moved on to the next site.
And you’ve just lost another sale.
Whether your slow loading is a back end or front end problem, the fact is that lack of technical know-how isn’t an excuse for losing valuable customers in this way. Regular website maintenance can be key when it comes to keeping your website performing.
It’s reasonable to expect that over the life of your website, you’ll need to perform maintenance. Things in the world of tech change too fast for sites to go too long in between an update or a tune-up.
If slow loading isn’t something you can do yourself, the chances are that it won’t cost a packet to outsource. Regular attention can make maintenance quick and easy, and a professional can also use the opportunity to post fresh content on your blogs and changeup web page content to keep things looking current.
Keep an eye on your loading speeds.
6. Shorter Registration Forms – Make Buying a Breeze
This measure is another one that is designed to get the impatient among your readership on side – and let’s face facts here – most internet users are incredibly impatient. Once again, this lack of willingness to hang around for too long is not the only thing that will kill your sales.
It being coupled with the fact that the internet is almost boundless when it comes to alternatives when shopping makes impatience a real concern.
Try not to be too greedy when it comes to harvesting information from visitors to your web pages. Especially on landing pages, it can be very tempting to view a visit not only as a chance to make a sale but also as a chance to get some valuable information. Weigh up whether your sales are more relevant to you than keeping a customer from buying because they’re filling out an endless form.
Streamlining your buying process is only ever going to make the experience a more positive one for your customers – especially if the delay is in them providing information to you.
Feeling the need to inform all of your customers thoroughly is a forgivable reason for failing at a sale but losing a customer because you’re making them answer too many questions is harder to justify.
Keep the questionnaire short!
7. Use Google Analytics to Know Your Market
Any data is useful data because it enables you to learn more about where you’re working well – and more about where you’re failing. Taking the time to familiarize yourself with the finer points and features of Google Analytics can be well worth the effort and time.
Once you’ve grasped the basics of this tool and figured out how to easily navigate the user interface, it can be an invaluable aid to improving your website conversion rate.
Much like with visual tools like Hotjar and User Testing, Google Analytics offers a real insight into what’s attracting and retaining visitors. More importantly, however, these tools can give you a profound understanding of what’s driving potential customers to the back button – and that can only be a good reason to take some time to try to understand how the tool works.
However, it’s less of a visual means, and therefore requires a little extra effort.
It can be very tempting to keep delaying efforts to understand tools like Google Analytics because it does involve a certain amount of dedication to learn the interface. Website owners that know which content works, and which content doesn’t are better website owners, though – and usually richer.
8. User Surveys – Letting Visitors Dish the Dirt!
If there’s one thing that is great for the soul – it’s venting. Complaining has to be one of the most ingrained human instincts. Allowing your customer to get something off their chest is not only a great way to show that you’re listening – it can make for increased loyalty and keep visitors on your side.
Attentive retailers and service providers are viewed as reliable, easily reachable retailers. Creating a good impression on the way to a sale is something we’re all trying to accomplish, seven days and nights a week – listening to your customer base is a sure-fire way to present yourself as a responsible seller.
Telling your visitors that you’re receptive to their feedback – no matter how critical that may be – is a very positive signal to send out.
Apart from being great for public relations, consider that surveys also do what they’re intended to do: generate basic personal information about your visitor. They can also tell you a lot about what your customers do and don’t like about you, and your range of products or services.
If there’s a killer product they want to see you produce, and it would sell like hotcakes – find out what it is and provide it!
9. Mobile Friendly Websites – Sell to Anyone, Anywhere
This CRO tip kind of speaks for itself. Look around you, and all you’ll see is people on mobile devices. Customers are customers on trains, buses, in the back of cars, and avoiding the fact that the internet is mobile in 2019 is a reasonably futile pastime.
Optimizing your site for mobile users and making it easy for people to use mobile devices to shop there, is an essential effort to make for CRO.
Even a few years ago, losses due to the lack of mobile-friendly websites wouldn’t have impacted massively on a company’s sales. We’ve reached a point in 2019 though, where ignoring mobile users is tantamount to not caring about your business.
Too much commerce goes on while people are using their phones, and the opportunities for people to buy on the mobile web will be hastily and eagerly offered up by other purveyors within your marketplace if you don’t make an effort to catch up and catch on.
If you don’t have the skills yourself, and you don’t have someone in-house who can make the necessary changes, it’s another task to outsource. Tackling this problem, if it’s an issue for you, should be prioritized high up your list of things to do.
Please do yourself a favor and take a minute to sit and think about how many people bought something on their phone today, or even in the last minute. It’s easy to see where not providing a great experience for mobile users is going to cost you a lot more than technical adjustments to your site.
10. Increased Payment Methods = More Ways to Buy
When you’ve made all of the efforts to develop a great product or service – after you’ve spent weeks, months, or even years bringing your website traffic up to a level you’re happy with.
When you’ve finally spent enough time producing engaging social media content so that the channels toward your landing pages are healthy and flowing with eager shoppers – why lose a sale at the very last second because you don’t offer the payment option that a buyer prefers to use?
People are habitual in the extreme. Nowhere is that more evident sometimes than on the internet. Finding a reliable and easy way to pay is one of the first hurdles a website user comes across when they initially take the plunge and become an internet shopper – and they’ll often stick to that tried, tested, and safe means of transacting for as long as they possibly can.
It’s understandable and being a good merchant or service supplier can mean offering as many ways to pay as possible.
Offering more options for payment is lessening resistance on the way to that valuable sale. It can also see you being viewed as more reputable. Give visitors as many opportunities to buy as possible.
11. Have Better Product Pictures – Show Them What You’ve Got!
Selling on the internet does give you one disadvantage over more traditional, physical forms of retail. Your customer is essentially deprived of a couple of their senses. They can’t feel or try a garment on, for instance. They can’t smell that perfume.
You can make up for this sensory deprivation by making your visuals as defined and attractive as possible, however.
Ignoring a customer’s need to see, hear, and to be sensually seduced by a product is heading toward naïve – and most of us would never overlook this knowingly. In the reality of internet retail, a visitor is going to look around for the best representations of products they can find – and they’re very likely to buy when they reach the site that provides that information.
It’s imperative to try to sell your product with vivid and high-quality visuals.
If you’re a service provider, you’re not immune from an obligation to make sure your site is full of good visuals and attractive picture and video content. Communication will always be improved when you appeal to a visitor’s visual sense. That can only be good for sales.
Time To Make Some Tweaks to Your Website!
So, we’ve learned that CRO is something you knew all along. And the goals of CRO is to do exactly what all of us want to do – turn visitors into buyers.
Remember not to expect every measure to work for you – but find the ones that do, and then act on them!
In short, CRO is not rocket science. It’s easy, and you can do it – no matter how busy you are. Some of the processes will be trial and error, using testing in your designs and trying out different changes and tweaks.
Changes as simple and straightforward as making small adjustments to the layout or moving things around can have surprising effects on conversion rates.
Analyzing your website and working out what’s going to work best for you is an excellent use of some of your time – even if you’re a busy startup founder – or you’re wearing many hats while you’re trying to get a business off of the ground single-handed.
A site that isn’t conversion rate optimized is a site that’s losing potential customers 24/7. The sooner you take the necessary steps to stop it bleeding potential ROI – the sooner you can start enjoying increased sales!