17 Jan Why Your Website Needs Conversion Optimization
Many small businesses have realized with a lot of regret that an increase in the traffic their website commands does not necessarily translate into meaningful interactions such as closing a sale or improved subscription numbers. Research studies and real life experience has shown that the major reason why this unfavorable imbalance exists is usually because the business owners fail to recognize or fully appreciate the importance of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). Unfortunately, they tend to end their efforts at the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) stage which is only geared towards making their site visible and easy to find for the search engines.
For the uninitiated, Conversion Optimization is the fine-tuning of landing pages, product pages or websites with the main goal of converting site visitors into customers. CRO does not require the website owner to spend more money to attract new visitors but is rather more concerned with increasing website leads and sales by reducing the bounce rate of clients. It is also worth mentioning at this point that a conversion rate is usually defined as the percentage of visitors to a site or page who complete a specific goal as defined by the business or site owner. The conversion may be the purchase of a product, subscription to a newsletter, enrollment to a cause, sign up to an emailing list etc.
Why is CRO important to your Business?
Each and every business has its goals. Unless it is a Not- for-Profit organization, most businesses are geared towards maximizing profits and minimizing costs. In the current business arena, all this should be done without compromising on quality while still enhancing the user experience. CRO is without doubt one of the cheapest and most effective ways of improving online sales, client enrollment or customer engagement.
If your online sales are currently coming from only one percent (1%) of your online visitors and all factors are held constant; an increase of this number to two percent (2%) is bound to have a significant and positive effect on your bottom line, in certain instances, it may even double your sales figures!
Another reason why CRO is important to your business or website is because research has shown that a very huge majority of people don’t make any purchase during their first visit to a website. Trying to sell to them during their first visit may therefore not be successful. Here is where CRO comes in handy; it allows the business owner to sell a visitor on the idea of coming back. At this point, the conversion can take a different direction and can take various forms such as subscribing to the site’s RSS feed, joining an email list, following the business on Twitter, Liking the Facebook Business page etc.
CRO is also important to small businesses because it allows them to evenly compete with big multinationals online. Because CRO is not rocket science, the methodologies and techniques which a big competitor is using can also be customized by any small business that’s serious enough and appreciates the power of inbound marketing in general and CRO in particular.
The ease with which CRO can be deployed and the fact that the effects of such a campaign are measurable and easy to understand is also a big advantage. This makes CRO quite friendly to small businesses which are usually short of cash and therefore tend to have shoe-string marketing budgets if any at all. There is also a wide range of portable, reliable, easy to use and affordable tools available for small businesses to deploy so as to ensure that the data received during such a campaign is interpreted correctly and is also accurate.
What does CRO entail?
There are two main schools of thought in the CRO arena. The first school is more focused on testing as an approach to get to know the best way of increasing the conversion rates of a particular campaign, website or landing page. On the other hand, the second school of thought does spend a lot of time and resources trying to understand the audience or target market first. They then come up with a message that’s targeted to that particular market segment. They would then deploy testing mechanisms to improve conversion rates once the target message has been prepared and ready for delivery.
In both circumstances then, CRO does entail the creation of multiple versions of a web page such as landing page, a home page or a product page. It may even involve the creation of a web page with different sized headline wordings; different sizes of call to action buttons, different email capture box locations etc. Once this has been done, the business owner will carry out tests so as to see which version converts the most or gets people to do what the business owner wants them to do. The version with the highest conversion is then adopted.
Irrespective of the school of thought, the cornerstone of any CRO is the testing. This is because it is at this point that you know whether the conversion numbers are coming through or not. There are several reasons why testing is necessary, the first reason is because customers are all different and tend to think differently. It is therefore very difficult if not virtually impossible to know for a fact what they will like. The second reason is that because you are not the end-user, you can only know what the user wants or thinks when he or she interacts with your site, this is best achieved through testing.
The most appropriate testing method for small businesses which still don’t command a lot of traffic is the split or A/B testing methodology. In this method, you create two versions of a product page, landing page etc (page A and page B). Using special software, the traffic coming to the website is divided equally (50%) and driven to either page A or page B. The results or rate of conversions are then compared, the page with the highest conversions is then adopted. Google does recommend that one waits for at least one hundred (100) conversions per page before spotting a winner. This though is a matter of debate and a business owner may make his or her own decision depending on other factors.
How to ensure success
To ensure that your CRO campaign is successful, you must make sure that measure everything. Make sure that your business goals are crystal clear, dig deep into your web analytics data, conduct intensive customer survey, benchmark and compare your ideas with your competitors and make a point of thoroughly analyzing search behavior in your site.
Once you have identified your goals, do a serious analysis and find out what is working, what is not and why. Analyze your content thoroughly for clarity and relevance and make sure it does match user needs. By prioritizing value and costs, go for the best testing mechanism and then optimize your website by adopting the most successful design and undertaking the required content changes.