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What Is Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)?

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    Conversion is one of the main indicators that reflect website’s effectiveness. Neither traffic nor website search ranking can directly show number of people that bought products or ordered specific services. When you neglect this characteristic and don’t optimize it, this will harm growth. In the long run, profit and competitiveness may significantly suffer.

    Today we won’t confine ourselves to a brief overview of conversion optimization methods. Instead, let’s discuss this question in detail to clarify what impacts conversion rates, how to analyze web resources, and what agency you should hire for conversion rate optimization (CRO).

    What Is Conversion And Website Conversion Rate?

    A conversion rate is the proportion of people who completed the target action. For example, buying products, subscribing to newsletters, ordering services, and more. It’s measured in percentages.

    The conversion itself is any action that nudges potential buyers into completing target action.

    If out of 500 website visitors, only 25 placed an order, the conversion rate is 25/500 = 0.05 or 5%. Calculate conversion for each stage of sales funnel.

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    Traffic and search ranking also matter, but, to some extent, these are vanity metrics. They fuel the ego of marketers and SEO specialists because a website is popular and has an excellent rating. Nevertheless, this only means that content is optimized for search algorithms and attracts users. You won’t necessarily manage to convert high traffic into new customers.

    This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t grow traffic or promote web resources to TOP 10. Still, as business owner, you must focus on conversion rates. For this purpose, you will need to use supplementary services (to analyze statistics), develop a CRO strategy, or order if from an agency.

    How Does Conversion Optimization Benefit Website Promotion

    CRO (conversion rate optimization) increases number of people who complete target action during website visits. If optimization approach is correct, it benefits other essential aspects, including search ranking, usability, and traffic volume.

    Conversion rate optimization allows you to:

    • Understand the preferences of the target audience. You don’t need traffic. You need people who can potentially become customers. Imagine that clot of spectators stands near store every day. They window-shop all-time but never buy. As a result, you get nothing. Conversion is somewhat similar to this case. You need to single out potential buyers and do everything to find what they are looking for on a website.
    • Increase sales and return on investment. It’s better to hire a CRO agency than splurge fortune on advertising. Ads may bring you traffic, but it won’t necessarily convent into new buyers.
    • Improve usability and search ranking. Decent usability and high-quality content are crucial to engaging potential customers. If website has poor navigation and provides insufficient information about products or services, visitors will just close it and go to competitors. Moreover, search bots take into account usability and content as ranking factors. Therefore, CRO will improve search positions, generating additional sales.
    • Improve scalability.
    • Increase brand recognition. Seamless user experience encourages buyers to tell others about product.
    • Get loyal buyers. Some buyers will return to you in future. The better CRO, the more likely they are to come back.
    • Build trust. It’s another advantage for business. Many users choose to pay with credit cards or EFT wallets and worry about online security. Optimizing website makes it more reliable. People will readily return to familiar resources instead of going to a new store and risking data privacy.

    Conversion optimization has a cumulative effect. All CRO measures you take will continue to boost conversion.

    Improved Usability As An Essential Part Of Conversion Optimization

    Speaking of usability, we mean:

    • User experience (UX) reflects whether website is convenient to use. This characteristic comprises easy navigation, menus and submenus, horizontal and vertical scrolling, and other relevant factors.
    • User interface (UI) is more related to visual components of website. For example, the UI designer chooses color, form, and animation used for clicked buttons.

    Both UX and UI affect how users feel when they interact with websites. If navigation is smooth, menu structure is clear, buttons are highlighted, and color palette is properly chosen, customers will quickly find what they need and won’t go to competitors.

    CRO and usability are closely connected. To optimize conversion rate, CRO agencies need to perfect website usability, which can be evaluated using following criteria:

    • Structure (whether objects are properly categorized). The picture below shows how to group huge number of products
    • Navigation convenience

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    • Users don’t have to remember too much information. For example, if you run an online store, allow visitors to track products or add items to favorites. The better and more convenient service is, higher chance you have to turn an occasional visitor into loyal customer.
    • Well-chosen color palette and location of buttons (they must be noticeable and look clickable).

    Besides, you may use time users spend to solve problems and number of faulty actions to evaluate usability. The shorter customer path, better usability.

    At this CRO stage, you need to remove all obstacles potential customers may face on the way to goal.

    Examples Of Common Usability Mistakes

    There are numerous usability mistakes, but we’ll focus on most popular ones:

    • Non-clickable buttons. Buttons are an essential element that allows buyers to place an order, visit page of special offers, and more. If visitors click button and nothing happens, they feel puzzled, irritated and become very likely to leave. The proper design of buttons is an excellent tool to optimize conversion and must-have of CRO.

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    • Because of broken layout, social media icons may start overlapping with text and headlines – with breadcrumbs. As a result, text won’t be displayed correctly in responsive version. This undermines credibility of a web resource. Moreover, sometimes layout issues may prevent visitors from using the website.

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    • Broken search. Note that search is analog of product categorization. Many users would rather type SSD 240 Gb and click Search, go to Laptops and computers — Accessories — SSD and then set range of filters. The search must be smart to consider various misspellings.

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    • Excessive animations. Many recommendations on website design state that animations are useful (and they are). But you need to have a sense of proportion. Animations complement content but don’t have to steal show. They must be informative and relevant. Don’t add animated elements just to show off. Despite making content more difficult to perceive, this will increase load time, harming conversion rate. Below is an example of poor animations. The yellow butterflies flickering on blue background have no sense. Such design only repels users and makes CRO impossible.

    Website Analysis And Approaches To Conversion Rate Optimization 6

    • Poor text design. Plain text without images, lists, subtitles, bullet points, highlights shows that you ignore user needs. Only owners of unique content can allow themselves to publish such text. They don’t have competitors and, hence, don’t need to fight for users. Make sure to work on text structure starting from first publications and imagine how visitors feel reading content.

    In CRO strategy, every detail matters, so don’t neglect any factors listed above.

    How To Calculate And Track Conversion

    Here is calculation formula:

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    The only thing you should decide beforehand is what is considered target action. This depends on business domain. For online stores, target action is sale of goods, whereas blogs focus on subscriptions.

    To collect such statistics, following supplementary services are used:

    • Google Analytics and AdWords are used by almost all website owners and marketers. You get lot of data and will have to filter it manually.
    • Click heatmaps

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    • Recording and subsequent analysis of user behavior. This method shows which parts of page users find most interesting.
    • Customer surveys allow you to see weak points in business organization. For instance, in 2018, Taylor & Hart jewelry company doubled its income largely relying on customer feedback.

    Heatmaps allow you to evaluate:

    • Design flaws. For example, website elements are poorly located or clickable element doesn’t take users to necessary page after being clicked. The heatmap will clearly show low user activity in this area.

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    • Content quality. To find out whether users are interested in content, check scroll depth. If readers leave after reaching 15-20%, information doesn’t hook them.
    • Optimum places to add hyperlinks.
    • Effectiveness of pop-ups, call-to-action elements.

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    How To Pick An Agency For Conversion Rate Optimization

    • Traffic is growing, but conversion rate remains low and doesn’t increase. The average value depends on business domain.
    • Paid traffic doesn’t yield results. Promotion in social media brings new visitors, but they all are passersby that don’t complete target action.
    • ROI is lower than expected. Decision to enter online market was most probably well-thought-out and calculated, including return on investment.

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    To choose professional CRO agency, keep in mind following criteria:

    • They have portfolio with completed projects.
    • Their consultants shouldn’t implicitly agree with all offers. You are customer, but it doesn’t mean that you will guide process. In case you don’t get constructive criticism, this may be reason to question the agency’s professionalism.
    • Agency’s attitude to business is great indicator. If they just take money and promise that income will increase several times in month, this shows indifference.
    • Constant communication. You should be regularly informed on what they did and what they plan to do.
    • A CRO strategy must focus on consumers. Therefore, understanding consumer needs is key to success.
    • Realistic goals and deadlines. A qualified CRO agency will never promise you to double conversion in 7-10 days.

    No special qualification is needed to choose a CRO agency. You just need to know conversion rate optimization, understand that it’s time-consuming, and don’t trust sounding promises.

    What Matters For Conversion Optimization

    Page load speed

    Your website must be as fast as possible. If users have to wait until page loads for 10-15 seconds, they will get mad and probably go to competitors.

    Google conducted research to study impact of mobile page speed on probability that users will leave page.

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    If page load speed is poor, try to:

    • Remove rarely used heavy plugins.
    • Reduce size of videos and photos.
    • Compress CSS and JS files.
    • Configure CDN.
    • Use cache plugin.

    Remember to test page load speed using Google PageSpeed Insights.

    Sales Funnel Length

    Optimize sales funnel. Don’t make order placement too complex since this will harm the conversion rate. If one store allows purchasing in several clicks, whereas another requests to register and verify phone numbers and email, most buyers will prefer the first option.

    Registration may take just few minutes, but that’s already too much for visitors. They don’t want to make any extra effort, and you have to keep this in mind during conversion optimization.

    The order placement procedure shouldn’t be tiring. Don’t try to get all personal details right away.

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    The above example shows minimum set of data necessary to place an order. Visitors spend just 20-30 seconds filling out form. After that, manager promptly contacts them to confirm order. This doesn’t annoy or take too much time.

    The Use of Calls-To-Action

    Make sure to use CTA elements for conversion rate optimization. They must stand out and make an offer that is too good to pass up. For example, free shipping for orders that exceed certain amount, small bonus to main purchase, or time-limited free access to full functionality if you provide software solutions.

    CTAs allow to achieve several goals at once: collect information about customers and improve conversion rate. Check example below to see how it works. A pop-up reminds users to pay for selected products in installments and indicates clear time limit. Don’t hesitate to adopt such practices of successful online stores.

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    There are clear-cut rules on how to use CTA elements for conversion rate optimization:

    • They shouldn’t merge with background.
    • CTA must convey clear message like “Start free monthly subscription”, “Get 15% discount”, “Want free shipping.” Avoid abstract descriptions.

    At same time, CTA elements shouldn’t be obtrusive or annoying.

    Website Quality

    You need to:

    • Control quality of content. Refuse from boring rewriting, and stock photos or videos in favor of unique content.
    • Take care of informativeness. Write detailed descriptions for all categories. You can provide 2 types of product characteristics: detailed (with all information shared by manufacturer) and general (with most important details).

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    • Use chatbots and provide customer support in ordinary live chats. Superoffice.com research shows that users are more likely to trust resources that have support manager to contact. Besides, chats are cheaper than phone conversations.

    Highlight strengths of products and benefits of buying in store.

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    Conversion rate optimization isn’t only about increasing number of buyers. It’s final result. Before achieving it, specialists of CRO agencies will have to work on usability, design, content and improve every website element. All these efforts have cumulative effect and, as a result. The effect is long-lasting and doesn’t appear instantly.

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