It takes time, money and resources to drive quality traffic to your website. It is no easy feat and yet it is only half the battle. What your visitors do after landing on your website is what really matters.
Even if your product, offer and content are awesome, your site will still give a negative vibe if it’s poorly designed.
If your marketing and website are optimised and bringing in sales, there is still room to test and improve further.
Conversion refers to the specific actions you want your visitors to take like buying a product, subscribing to a newsletter, or downloading a PDF. Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is the process of raising your conversion rate by getting a higher percentage of website visitors to convert into customers or take any desired action on a web page.
Why You Need to Focus on Both UX and CRO
When your UX design solutions and CRO complement one another, you’ll have a better customer experience. UX design ensures that your site’s user flow matches your visitors’ expectations and that you’ve reduced potential areas of friction to ensure a smooth user experience. In contrast, CRO helps you study your visitors’ behaviors and iteratively make design modifications needed to increase in getting users to take a desired action.
CRO goes hand in hand with user experience (UX) as they both aim to help visitors get things done with the least effort possible. For example, if you are running an e-commerce website, you might have faced the problem of high cart abandonment rate. One mistake that many e-commerce websites make is that they ask the customer to create an account as soon as they press the checkout button, which leads to abandoned carts. Giving customers the option to checkout as a guest, or notifying them beforehand that they will need to create an account to shop on your e-commerce website are two UX-based CRO solutions to this issue.
Kieron Woodhouse, head of UX at MVF, says: “UX and CRO are intrinsically linked. As both disciplines grow in breadth, it is impossible to champion one over the other. Instead of making one a part of the other, the best approach is to have an open dialogue among teams and ensure that each department is learning from the other all the time and passing on learning and new developments.”
A Brief Overview of the CRO Process
CRO is a process that’s self-correcting and transparent. It prevents you from injecting your own biased perspectives about what’s working and what isn’t. Even experienced marketers can not accurately predict what exactly will increase conversions. Hence, CRO is an iterative process that relies heavily on data. Much like the scientific method, optimising your conversion rate includes gathering data, running tests, and coming to conclusions. The insights you collect add to your overall understanding of your customers and you can then adjust your marketing plan accordingly.
Here are the general steps in the CRO process.
1. Gather Data – Gather your customer and website data and identify what conversions you are trying to achieve. Then establish a baseline for your future changes.
2. Form Hypotheses – Using your gathered data, make an educated guess about what you expect to happen. Identify the audience and metrics you will be measuring (such as click-throughs, and downloads).
3. Run Tests – Prepare a list of your hypotheses and test your changes one test at a time. Make sure you’re accurately tracking your conversion data before and after the test.
4. Analyse Results – After sufficient time has passed, given the outcomes, can you say your hypothesis was correct? If not, what happened?
5. Repeat Tests – Gather your new insights and data to form a new hypothesis and test further.
The Wrong Approach To CRO
CRO is not simply a list of tactics or random tests that you perform. The amateur focuses on mere tactics (make the button bigger/rounder/orange, change your headline, give out coupons etc) while pros treat CRO as an iterative process whose methodology is based on research and hard data.
Every website is contextual. What works for Amazon will not work for the millions of e-commerce stores trying to increase their sales. While you can follow best practices (and break a few rules if you feel like it), simply aping your competitors is not going to help you grow.
In the next section, we will take a look at some common CRO techniques and how to use them.
How To Actually Do CRO
As we have established above, CRO is not about running a bunch of random tests similar to throwing darts on a board blindfolded. Your aim should always be to understand your customers better throughout the process. What are their needs, sources of hesitation, and the conversations going on inside their minds?
You need to understand your visitors’ expectations and create a seamless experience on your website. To achieve this goal, harmonise between optimising for conversions and enhancing the user experience through intuitive design.
“Rule of thumb for UX: More options, more problems.”
— Scott Belsky, Chief Product Officer
It’s often said that tactics change but principles and fundamentals don’t. This maxim couldn’t be truer when it comes to CRO. The fundamentals of business, human psychology, persuasion and behavioral science are timeless.
So when you’re running A/B tests, you don’t just test randomly, you need to ask business questions, have an understanding of your product and user needs, and then create hypotheses and run tests.
People buy based on emotions and then justify it with logic. So you could A/B test completely different landing pages – with different offers, emotional triggers, persuasion tactics, UX etc. This will take more time to set up but it will help you to position your brand, messaging and marketing.
If you have an e-commerce store, your site’s design helps to cement branding while CRO and UX optimisation works to improve sales. You have to create a balance of design and flow, and you’ll be reaping double the rewards.