Conversion optimisation: how to make the most out of your website visitors

  1. Customer optimisation
    iStock/mihailomilovanovic
    Danny Bluestone

    Danny Bluestone UKBF Contributor Free Member

    56 1
    2 |

    Every marketing activity is driven by a single goal – to grow your business. Typically there’s a balance to strike between driving long-term awareness and convincing customers to buy then and there.

    When it comes to your website, all too often the focus is on increasing traffic – merrily ‘raising awareness’ – without examining how to convert those visitors into revenue.

    With Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO), you can take control. Combining scientific investigation with creativity, you can analyse, test and change specific website elements to convert visitors into customers more effectively. Here’s how.

    Define your main goal

    Many people think there’s an unwritten rulebook to CRO (eg. “shorter forms increase registrations”), but blindly implementing these ideas is the antithesis of CRO.

    Each business is different. To start you need to cement what ‘conversion’ means to your business, whether it’s an online purchase, incoming enquiry or any other metric.

    Most businesses have multiple micro-conversions (eg. downloading a resource) that contribute to the main conversion goal. Here it’s critical to ensure there’s no clash between goals. For instance, increasing conversions for a free version of your product could decrease paid subscription conversions.

    Mine visitor data for insights

    It’s tempting to update your website based on your gut feeling or personal preferences, without conducting any research. But this ‘cost saving’ shortcut is an expensive illusion that often results in an ineffective website.

    As ever, you need to focus on your customer. Mine qualitative and quantitative data for insights into wants, needs and current web behaviour with a user-centred approach. Doing so is not nearly as time-consuming as you’d expect and can uncover potential conversion pitfalls to address. Here are three main sources:

    1. Google Analytics

    Set up goal tracking for each step of your conversion funnel in Google Analytics to measure how visitors are moving between key pages. This will highlight barriers and bottlenecks to conversion.

    Additionally, look at engagement and performance data for key pages to uncover pages that need to be optimised. By mining their data in this way, Amazon discovered they could lose $1.6bn in sales for each extra second of page loading time.

    2. Usability testing

    Organise sessions to assess your website with real users. Watching (and hearing from) participants as they complete critical tasks on your website is the best way to uncover frustrations and opportunities. Typically 80% of usability issues are found by just five participants, so it doesn’t have to break the bank.

    You can even manage your usability testing in-house (read some best-practice tips to get started). But if you do outsource it to an agency, you can combine it with eye tracking. By tracking where users are actually looking on the screen, you get a highly objective picture of how you can improve your website conversions.

    3. Behaviour data

    Implementing Crazy Egg is a cost-effective alternative to exploring user behaviour. Their heatmaps expose where users come from, click (even when they try clicking on static text) and how far they’ll scroll. Additionally, Clicktale can replay users’ desktop sessions for you, or indicate exactly where they drop off while completing forms.

    Test and validate improvements

    With all of the insights you’ve uncovered, you’ve no doubt hypothesised what improvements you could make to optimise your website conversions. Now it’s time to test those ideas.

    A/B testing via Optimizely or Visual Website Optimizer (VSO) is popular. After implementing, you can use their point-and-click editor (no need for constant development resources!) to create an alternative version of your landing page. Alter a single element (eg. the colour or copy of your call-to-action button) to isolate and see what works well for your users.

    Set up the test to direct half of your website traffic to the variation vs. original for a full sales cycle (at least a week). This ensures the comparison isn’t affected by changes in traffic quality or amount.

    Review whether the test has influenced conversion rates. But don’t call a winner until your A/B test dashboard indicates there’s at least a 95% chance any conversion rate improvements are statistically significant.

    Every website has a wealth of areas to test, analyse and improve. The results can be powerful, diverse and unexpected. For example, Highrise discovered that by implementing people-based product pages (with a smile!) they could drive 102.5% more signups.

    To conclude…

    Improving conversions clearly increases your revenue, but it can also increase the effectiveness of all your digital marketing activities, especially paid-for advertising. 

    Better still, the CRO steps of analysis – hypothesis, test and implement – are the building blocks of a better user experience.

    Website visitors arrive with a degree of interest in your business. By making their journey as smooth, simple (and even enjoyable) as possible, you’re helping them achieve what they came for. 

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  2. Andy Harris

    Andy Harris UKBF Regular Full Member

    104 21
    It's good to see the subject of conversion optimisation coming up more and more nowadays but a key challenge is in the mindset and time restrictions of those who have to focus on such things. We deal with thousands of businesses, most of whom want to know which companies went to their website and what they looked at page by page (which is what our product does), BUT the problem is that it's a blinkered approach. Noting the reference to Google Analytics, most people just can't get to grips with it and even with our product allowing them to see important patterns in a much easier way, they still have to find the time to then do the actual work on making their websites (and effectiveness of traffic generation) work better.

    It's such a shame because the vast majority of businesses could be gaining a lot more success from their websites if they can get over the hurdle of lack of time. We do speak to many though who do just that and guess what - they see improvements in results from their websites. Bigger businesses do it all the time. Smaller businesses can easily become bigger businesses by biting the bullet and spend just a small amount of time (to start with) on such analysis.

    I hope it's acceptable and useful to people to include a link to a series of guides that will help to focus attention on aspects of website visitors analysis that would be worth considering (whatever systems are used to help dig into that data) - http://www.a1webstats.com/guide/.
     
    Posted: May 28, 2016 By: Andy Harris Member since: Oct 3, 2009
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  3. Danny Bluestone

    Danny Bluestone UKBF Contributor Free Member

    56 1
    Thanks for your comment uchet, and I completely agree that the issue is with mindset, as the conversion optimisation tracking solutions available, be it Google Analytics or others, are daunting to those not familiar with them.

    In my opinion it’s not so much a time issue as setting up meaningful conversion reports takes the time equivalent to running one or two campaigns, and then conversion optimisation reports are a single click away. And if you think about how much time these reports save companies (by making all of their marketing efforts more effective) it’s a no-brainer.

    And fortunately, it’s easy to get over the ‘daunting’ factor – whether you use agencies like our own or Google Analytics consultants (of which there are many) to set up your reporting properly, the ROI can be almost immediate.
     
    Posted: Jun 1, 2016 By: Danny Bluestone Member since: Sep 2, 2006
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