There is a new buzzword on every marketing and website owners’ lips this year.
The problem is. . . it’s not new. It’s been around an age ( an age in digital terms anyway). However now people are finally waking up to the benefits of it, both financially and strategically.
The buzzword: Conversion Rate Optimisation…. But is that actually the right word and why is it so popular?
Let’s look at why this is not so much a buzzword as a must-have for many of you reading this.
When you’re researching services, statistically the most common place to start is a search engine. The percentage of overall retail sales completed digitally has grown from 13.7% in 2019 to 15.5% in 2020. So with more lead-gen and sales completed online than ever before, competition for those eyes and that business has never been so great.
This plethora of choice has created a number of challenges for the modern online business.
1. Customers have shorter attention spans and declining memory.
According to a 2019 study by King’s College Oxford, Harvard & Western Sydney University, using the internet with all its prompts, notifications and choices, can make cognitive concentration harder. It also gave evidence that supports the theory that people rely more on smartphones to recall information than memory, compared to decades past.
This makes it harder for online brands to grab and keep a user’s attention. Additionally, it is harder for information to stick in the memory of a customer in both the short and longer-term.
2. New competition can go to market more easily and more quickly than ever before.
Now, more than ever, it is easy for new competition to enter a market space. The evolution of website creation, marketing software and logistics solutions have made many market spaces even more competitive. Competitors can make it difficult for users to decide who to buy from as another competitors offering could outmatch yours or they could target specific audiences in your customer base in a way you might not currently be doing. Ultimately this just makes it more difficult than ever to get people to your website and get them to convert.
3. Limited opportunity to shine.
Daily we are bombarded with information, offers and prompts. We see display ads, videos, billboards, social posts and search results all vying for our eyeballs. The most powerful commodity online.
However targeting someone at the point of searching with intent has become more competitive than ever, with real estate space on SERPS being fought over through paid and organic advertising.
So how do you maintain and improve performance in this world of unlimited choice? Everyone jumps to that buzzword, Conversion Rate Optimisation.
Is CRO the answer?… No?
What many people need isn’t conversion rate optimisation, but Conversion Optimisation.
You may be thinking ‘well it’s the same thing’ but it’s not… let me show you.
So, what is Conversion Optimisation?
A conversion is a digital marketing term which refers to a user completing a specified goal on your website; for example – this could be making a purchase on an eCommerce site, downloading a whitepaper, filling in contact details or anything in between.
Conversion optimisation looks at possible barriers to completing a goal and eliminates friction points to influence people towards completion. It takes quantitative and qualitative data, as well as a level of behavioural science to improve the experience, engagement and profitability of your business online. This is done by creating informed hypotheses, testing and implementing evidence led changes.
Conversion optimisation activity can include analysis of detailed demographics and customer attributes, Net Promoter Scores, heat mapping, user testing and much, much more. This process helps businesses achieve higher conversion figures, improve marketing profitability and scalability, increase customer retention and even shape internal culture and best practice.
How is this different from Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)?
Conversion rate refers to the percentage of those who interact with your site who then go on to complete the desired ‘conversion’ goal. If a potential customer can convert more than once (often relating to purchasing products) then this will be calculated by unique conversions/sessions. However, if potential customers can only convert once (often relating to lead generation) this is calculated by unique conversions/unique users.
Moz defines conversion rate optimisation as “the systematic process of increasing the percentage of website visitors who take the desired action”.
The key difference with conversion optimisation is that CRO focuses on the rate which your business converts, but not the quality of the conversions. For example, a company who sells three types of software package could offer a Lite package, a Business package and an Enterprise package.
Let’s look at the impact of optimising for conversion rate and why it may not make a business more profitable. If the rate of conversions was to increase 50% for Lite packages, but decrease 25% for Enterprise packages, overall it would still show an increase in the rate of conversions, but the value of conversions are now much lower.
Improving conversion rate can be relatively easy, but may not improve the performance of your business. Here are just a few ways you can optimise for conversion rate, that may not be an improvement to the business:
1. Lower the price of a product.
Taking a product from £9.99 to £0.99 will send conversion rate through the roof. But will it increase profitability?
2. Incentives & freebies.
Free trials, free periods, free gifts all can help conversion rate. But often they can improve conversion rate without improving overall performance.
3. Buy now, pay later, or pay in installments.
People love this option. Even the mighty Amazon tested splitting payment for their products over longer periods. It improved the conversion rate, but if you’re a business who has limited free cash reserves, this might not be the best solution for your cash flow.
So you see, improving conversion RATE can be relatively easy. Optimising the conversion? Well, that’s the winner, winner chicken dinner.
The Conversion Optimisation Process
If you’re a business who wants help starting out with conversion optimisation, here’s a little freebie, in terms of a basic framework for creating a conversion optimisation audit and testing process.
- Determine your business objectives. Be clear what you want to achieve and what success looks like.
- Ask key business questions:
- Who are our customers, what do they look like and what motivates them and what causes them to object or could cause friction and purchase anxiety?
- What does the customer journey currently look like?
- What are our products/services and how do they differ from the competition?
- What are our USPs?
- What are our company commercials?
- Gather the right data about your customers and how they interact with your site currently. You need to gather enough data to analyse it properly in the next phase. Make sure you have the right tracking in place to measure and analyse the important information. Whether that’s call volumes, customer satisfaction, form abandonment, soft goals or hard goals like average basket value and net profit.
- Analyse this data, taking information from all these multiple sources to find patterns and create hypotheses, this is the ‘insight phase.’ – We’ve kept this brief as the process of gathering and understanding this information will be covered in future articles and cannot be easily explained in one place.
- With the insights gathered, you can hone in on key areas and identify friction points which prevent customers from converting. This may relate to how easy the website is to use, how intuitive the purchase process is, how effective the onpage content is & many other factors but again that’s a topic for a different post.
- Armed with your hypothesis you want to create a test, be it A/B, multivariate, redirect etc… – There are free tools such as Google Optimize to help you do this or more detailed paid for solutions like VWO and Inspectlet.
This process is looped around so the insights gained from tests influence future change. Small data-driven optimisations can lead to significant improvements.
For example, one lead generation client we work with saw an 8.9% increase in conversions on mobile and a 17.4% increase in conversions on desktop from one simple improvement. Following a review of the customer journey and form abandonment, we made the small change of adding a postcode lookup to the form. Although this change seems small, the impact on the user experience is huge, helping potential leads reduce the amount of input they have to complete the action, therefore reducing friction. We then used the data collected from this test to influence the next form field test and so the loop continues.
Here is the conversion optimisation process loop.
Where do I start with my CRO (wrong) …Conversion Optimisation?
It starts where it should always begin and end. With your customer. In order to investigate how to improve the number of conversions a website is getting, you first need to understand why customers convert in the first place. Get inside the head of your customer, understand their motivations, their pain, their hopes and dreams… Well, maybe not as far as that last part, but it could certainly help!
Conversion optimisation is all about understanding what a website visitor is looking for and making that solution accessible, easy, trustworthy and persuasive.
That may not always be in the way you think and so the only way to find out is through customer research and data gathering… The results may just surprise you.
If you’re looking to optimise for conversions and get a better understanding of your website users, your data and the way forward, we can help. Here at Converted, we can help with the entire optimisation process, from data gathering to test implementation and on-going research and optimisation. We offer services which allow you to understand your users, develop a user-related design and optimise your website for conversions. Get in touch with us today to get started.
P.S. If it’s all about Conversion Optimisation then why do you still advertise as a CRO Agency on your site?
Great question. Easy answer. It’s because some people out in the big wide world are not quite as far along the process of understanding conversion optimisation as you are. Plus it has been known as CRO for so long it’s ingrained.
So using a bit of SEO know-how and common sense, we optimise our pages to help people find us through all the noise. We go where the people are. Then we explain the difference.