What is CRO (conversion rate optimisation) and why should you be thinking about it for your website?
Is your website working smart?
Private: Sam Smith
Digital Marketing Manager
Another day, another new acronym? Yawn! I hear you, in fact, my own response wasn’t dissimilar when I started diving into conversion rate optimisation. But you don’t have to dig too far to discover that website conversions are important. They're certainly something that should be high on the priority list of anyone with a website.
Go on then...what is CRO?
CRO - or Conversion Rate Optimisation, to give it a full title - is a complicated name for something quite simple. Essentially, it means fine-tuning your website design and content to turn as many website visitors as possible into customers. It’s the practice of reviewing and amending a webpage or a whole website in order to maximise conversions. These can be enquiry form submissions, online sales, telephone number clicks; whatever action you want a user to take on your website. A website that’s optimised for conversions makes it as easy as possible for a would-be customer to take that action.
Is it really that important? Or is it just another acronym people like to throw around?
Absolutely it’s important. While we marketers love an acronym, this is one you should definitely be thinking about, especially if you’re responsible for a website or online advertising. When customers come to your website, you’ve not got long to convince them to act. So, if your enquiry form is buried three clicks into your website, the chance of people taking that action decreases.
This is especially important if you’re paying for online adverts to direct people to a page on your website. If that page is poorly laid out, confusing or doesn’t marry up with the advert the user clicked, you’re unlikely to get a conversion. Think about it; if you clicked on an advert for a product you wanted to purchase but you were taken to a webpage that didn’t mention that product, you’d more than likely just close the tab and get back to browsing.
When customers come to your website, you've not got long to convince them to act.
Ok, I’m sold. How do I apply CRO to my website design?
The good news is that most websites don’t require a massive overhaul to improve their CRO ahead of a digital marketing campaign or a sales push. You just need to think about your page objectively and put yourself in your customer’s shoes.
Is the key information above the fold (before you need to scroll down)? Is there a clear and obvious link (or preferably a button) displaying your call to action prominently? If the user needs to leave the page, is their next step clear? A good rule of thumb is that a person should never be more than three clicks from their ultimate goal (or a conversion, for those of you still with me).
Here are some examples you may want to consider before analysing your CRO;
- Are your calls-to-action prominent? Buy Now, Contact Us, Book Now, Get in Touch Call Us…whatever you go for, is it easy to find? Think obvious, and then simplify it again. Make it as easy as possible for someone to go from a website visitor to a customer.
- Copy and imagery. Make sure you’ve got good quality images (especially important if you’re selling products) and compelling, succinct website copy.
- Continuity. This is especially important if people are going to be landing on your site for the first time from an advert. Use the same images, key messaging and branding. Make the transition from advert to your website as seamless as possible.
- Keep important info before the fold (the need to scroll). If the ideal page on your website is too long, consider creating a condensed version as a landing page for your adverts.
- Define your customer journey. Don’t be afraid to analyse the website of your competitors and peers too! Think about a website you’ve used to make a purchase or book something online. How did they make it as easy as possible for you to convert from a website visitor to a customer?
The good news is that most websites don’t require a massive design overhaul to improve their conversion rate optimisation.
Once you’ve analysed your website or key webpages, you will be left with a list of actions. The easiest way to proceed is to sort them by importance; fix the biggest issues you’ve identified as a priority and then the smaller, less important tweaks, can be made later on. Some changes may need to be made by your web developer or web design agency, but you may be able to make some changes yourself. Luckily there are some free tools that can help you out.
You may find yourself in a situation where you want to try two different pages. Perhaps you want to see if one call-to-action button outperforms another, or maybe you want to try two different tones of voice in your messaging? Google Optimize lets you create different versions of the same webpage so you can see which one got the best engagement rates.
You can also use heatmapping from free services like Hotjar to see where people’s cursors are hovering, where most people click and scroll, and how much of your content goes unseen. Heatmapping - as the name suggests - colour codes your webpages so you can see the bright-red click hotspots and cold-blue recesses of a page unseen.
Oh, and don’t forget to make sure you’re tracking your conversions using Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager or whatever software you prefer. You want to see your hard work paying off!
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