Have you ever built a site hoping that it would convert?
How many business owners or marketers design a site in hopes that it converts their customers and then let it sit there “gathering digital dust”?
I bet that number is really high.
Marketing is shifting very rapidly from an emotional, biased approach to design, which is based on the opinions of the higher-ups, to a data-driven approach. The advantage with a data-driven approach is that you make changes based on your user data. There is no guesswork anymore. You design A/B tests based on your data and get results that improve your conversion rates.
This practice is called Conversion Rate Optimization or CRO, and it is one of the most effective ways to manage and grow your online business.
The challenge is that not many small or medium businesses know how to do it right. For those companies that have not hired a conversion rate optimization agency or haven’t built an in-house team, a CRO campaign becomes a difficult endeavour to start.
We wrote this post for all of your marketers or business owners out there that CRO still poses a challenge. In this post, we are going to breakdown and demystify conversion rate optimization once and for all, and break down a CRO campaign into easy steps.
Let’s dive in.
Step 1 – Gather the Data
Data is the meat and potatoes of all CRO initiatives because it shows us what our users are doing on our site. Any business’s greatest asset, after their employees, are their dedicated customers. And the best way to get more customers is to convert your existing site visitors better. This is what conversion rate optimization is all about.
So in order to know what your site visitor is doing on your site, it’s important to gather the right data. If you have an e-commerce business, you need to have e-commerce tracking in place. For general site analytics, we recommend using Google Analytics. It’s free and easy to set up.
Once you have Google Analytics set up, you need to connect and properly label all of your channels. So, for example, if you have specific social media platforms that you use for ads, you need to properly label their UTM tags and set them as a category on your GA dashboard.
Next, you need to know the specifics – what are users clicking on and reading on your site. For that, you need some heat maps. A heat map tool records your users’ actions on your site and presents it to you like a map. It’s a super useful tool to set up to identify elements on your site that are being ignored, or skipped, and to optimize them.
If you are using a specific platform like Shopify or WooCommerce, then you already have some pretty robust e-commerce analytics built-in. You would be able to build customized reports on your sales, conversions, traffic numbers, and cart abandonment rates. These are fantastic platforms with really great analytics capabilities so use them.
Step 2 – Set a Goal
Once you’ve seen your data, it’s time to set a goal for your campaign. Look at some of the most important metrics that you can choose from to design a CRO campaign around:
Clickthrough rate – this is one of the most basic metrics that you could choose from. This is where you would compare two versions of your page based on the number of clicks that each received. The version with the most clicks wins.
Engagement rate – engagement rate is similar to the clickthrough rate, but it has to do more with interactive elements. If for example, you have a UGC widget on your site that displays user images on social media with your product in them. Then it would be important for you to see how many people interacted with the widget. This would be called the engagement rate of this widget and the version with the most interactions wins.
Visit duration – a lot of experiments centre around the duration of your user’s visit on your site. This would be your ideal metric if your goal is to make your site more user-friendly and you have a blog or some content that you are trying to make easier to read. The version with the longest visit duration wins.
Bounce rate – this is a misleading metric that some marketers base their CRO campaigns on. Any conversion rate optimization agency will tell you that if your landing page has a high bounce rate (where users leave your page without interacting with it) then your particular promotion, whether that’s on social media, a search result, or an ad, didn’t fit consistently with the content on the landing page. The promotion and the landing page have to relate to each other. So a bounce rate isn’t really a conversion rate optimization initiative as much as an overall goal for the site.
Step 3 – Design an Experiment
Now that you have set a goal, it’s time to design an experiment. The easiest experience to design is an A/B test which compares two variations of a page or an element on your site. If you have a lot of data and you want to test several versions of a particular page, you could set up a multivariate test where you would be testing several things at the same time.
The best platform to use for A/B testing your site is Google Optimize which is free and really easy to set up. It also integrates with Google Analytics and displays the results of your A/B test in a nicely designed Google Analytics report.
There are a variety of paid tools that you could use like Optimizely, which costs about $1,000 per month and has some more advanced capabilities. Once you design your experiment and get all of your graphics and code in order, it is time to execute!
Step 4 – Execute
This step is not a size fits all. Execution is heavily dependant on how much data you have, which really is talking about how many unique visitors you have coming to your site or going through your sales/marketing funnel.
If your site is smaller, you might not get enough statistically significant data in just a few weeks so you might want to run your A/B test for 1-2 months. On the other hand, if you have a monster site that gets millions of uniques per month, then you might gather enough data in just 1-2 weeks.
Step 5 – Measure the Results
Measurement is crucial for any CRO campaign, and if you ask any conversion rate optimization agency, they will tell you that this is what they specialize in. After you’ve completed your CRO A/B test, it’s time to review the results.
Here are some really important questions to ask:
How successful were you in reaching your goal?
How would the improved version of your site improve your business?
How would it impact sales?
And what is something new that you’ve learned about your customers or site visitors?
It’s also important to display your results in a visually appealing way so that your stakeholders or upper management will be able to understand your efforts and will be more motivated to invest in more CRO initiatives in the future.
Step 6 – Plan the Next Iteration
In any CRO campaign or initiative, you can never reach a point where you’ve optimized your site to the fullest. There are always more things to test and experiment with. So it’s important to keep the momentum going. If you have made one change to your site or marketing funnel and have seen a positive result, then it’s time to try something else and make your site even more effective in converting your users.
On the other hand, if your test failed, then you can still use that data to design a better test in the future. Data is data, and you can glean a ton of important insights from a failed A/B test.
If you don’t have the resources to hire a conversion rate optimization agency or build an in-house CRO team, then here are the 6 steps you need to follow to make a successful CRO campaign:
- Gather the data
- Set a goal
- Design an experiment
- Measure the results
- Plan the next test
We hope you enjoyed our guide and that it was useful to you. Please share some of your CRO wins down in the comment section!