As a relative newcomer to the digital marketing world, I've decided to write a series of 'beginner's guides' to uncover what is meant by certain terms, trends and technological advances in digital; being both a travel guide and a personal investigation.
Here I’ll be answering the following questions: What is conversion? What is CRO? How can CRO be measured and improved? In a tone of voice that has been described as both 'helpful' and 'not too rambling'.
According to three out every five companies, CRO is crucial to their overall digital marketing strategy.
Let's say your site is doing brilliantly in many areas. Traffic is coming your way via whatever method of SEO, PPC or social media strategy you’ve chosen. Great! Your website is also retaining interest with some beautiful persuasive design. Also great!
Unfortunately the people visiting your site aren’t achieving the goal you actually intended them to achieve in the first place. They’re not converting.
‘Conversion’ may not necessarily be a purchase, although more often than not it can be. A conversion may also be an email sign-up, the creation of an account, the completion of a survey, an app download.
Whatever the ultimate point of your website is, a conversion is the successful completion of that action. The ‘conversion rate’ is the percentage of traffic to your website that is completing that specific action.
For this article I’ll be referring to Econsultancy’s own Conversion Rate Optimisation Report 2013 which is available to download by following the link.
According to our report, there are seven main areas that companies need to concentrate on for conversion rate optimisation. The main one we'll cover here is:
A/B or multivariate testing
Just under a fifth of companies that used A/B testing saw a large increase in conversion rates, while over half saw a small increase.
What is A/B testing? In very basic terms, you set up two different landing pages, each has a different element from the other. Perhaps one has a bright green call-to-action, the other has a slightly less garish colour. Your site presents one of these pages to half your traffic, and the less garish one to the other half.
Then you can then see whether or not a small change to a call-to-action can make a difference to conversion.
The call-to-action button isn’t the only element that can be tested of course. Headlines, product copy, image size, layout, amount of text, fonts… If it’s an element on the page then it can be tested. If testing that element means a chance of increasing conversion, then it should definitely be done.
Multivariate testing just means splitting up your traffic towards multiple versions of the same page. For this your site requires a large amount of traffic in order to test the larger number of combinations successfully.
Testing should never reach a stage of completion: even if you’re absolutely confident that CRO has been refined to the very limits, carry on… Who knows what minor tweak may squeeze out a few more conversions.
For three years in a row, A/B testing has remained the most used method for improving conversion rates, with over half of companies surveyed by us saying they use it. So what other types of CRO do companies use.
In December 2011, Veeam Software changed a single word on its product page and increased CTR by 161%. Conversion for this company meant traffic clicking through its product information page to its sales inquiry form.
By changing the wording of the call to action from ‘request a quote’ to ‘request pricing’ and testing both pages, Veeam Software achieved a 161.66% increase in click-through rate from 0.54% to 1.40% with 99.9% statistical confidence.
Expedia managed to earn an additional $12m in profit thanks to A/B testing. It simply removed the ‘company name’ field from a registration form. That’s it. So simple and yet the results are extraordinary.
There are six more successful examples here in David Moth’s article eight case studies that show the benefits of UX testing.
Other benefits of CRO
Constant testing doesn’t just mean a possible increase in conversion. It will also lead to a better user experience. Removing barriers, simplifying forms, clarifying navigation, all these things lead to an improved customer journey and therefore making your site a better place to browse.
The goal of CRO is not to manipulate visitors into converting. It’s to ease the journey of already interested or engaged visitors through your website until they’ve achieved the outcome they desired themselves.
If a user has searched for ‘blue Nikes’ and they’ve landed on your product page, chances are they want to purchase the product, it’s not trickery to make it as simple or even enjoyable as possible. That customer will come back for future purchases and recommend you to other users.
Please read the following article if you’re looking for software recommendations for A/B testing.
For more beginners guides in a similar vein, check out what is paid search (PPC) and why do you need it? and what is native advertising and why do you need it?