To effectively increase your conversion rate, you have to be ready for more than just one definitive answer.
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a loaded concept and it deals with data, science, knowledge and patience in order to see the results you want. And there’s more to conversion rate optimization than simply identifying the different reasons why your site traffic is not converting into revenues and fixing what needs fixing immediately.
Let these 9 truths shed more wisdom as you optimize your ecommerce site not only for a better conversion rate, but for better revenues and more loyal customers, which at the end of the day, are all that matters when it comes to CRO.
Your CMS should allow you to implement your CRO tactics
What content management system (CMS) are you using for your ecommerce site?
To increase conversion rate, you need a web platform that will allow you to easily implement changes, conduct tests and perform variations on your code. Otherwise, it is going to be a frustrating process to implement your conversion rate optimization tactics.
The foundation of your ecommerce site, after all, is in your CMS.
At the very least, it should allow you to easily change the structure of your homepage, adjust text styles, colors and sizes, change CTA button copies and colors, adjust prices or change the entire structure of your shopping cart. These are just some of the many areas of your site where you can conduct tests for better conversions and results. When you need to do a lot modifications on your site, you need a CMS that won’t get in the way of your plans.
How should you select the right content management system for you?
- Check the features. Does it have a strong separation of content and presentation? Does it have sufficient SEO support? Does it offer full template support for unlimited changes? Check the requirements you have in mind and find out if the features of a particular content management system answers it.
- Scrutinize for these four factors – the type of support available, the vision of the vendor, the pool of existing users, and the stability and focus the vendor has over its product. Regardless of the needs and resources you have, these four factors should also be at the heart of your selection process.
- Short list candidates you know will support your requirements. Once you are done with your list, filter your choices based on the relevant technologies it offers and your budget.
Pick the right content management system that you can rely on for many years. If it is easy to use and will support the things you require for your conversion optimization efforts, then it’s a wise investment.
Think SEO before CRO
Conversion rates can only be calculated when you have sufficient site traffic and you can only get enough traffic to convert through search engine optimization (SEO).
SEO and CRO form a symbiotic relationship.
While both are focused on website visitors, SEO is all about finding prospects based on what they are searching for and giving them a reason to visit your site. CRO is all about creating the best possible site experience for users so they can convert their ordinary visit into a buying one.
To bring sufficient and qualified traffic to your site, integrate SEO and CRO right.
Use keywords strategically. Know the keywords your visitors who are likely to convert will use. Take advantage of keyword tools and use them on your landing pages. When landing pages are peppered with relevant keywords, your users will know they are in the right place and it will make it easy for them to see why and how they can make a purchase.
Focus on just one product. Singularity is a strategy that can help with better organic rankings and conversion rates. Your products do not need to compete with one another. Keep your landing pages simple as search engines and your users would want to know exactly what is on the page they landed on.
Have a compelling headline. Make an impression even on search result pages. Match your meta title with your landing page headline. Don’t forget to include the keyword and your product’s primary benefit.
Dive into your analytics data to know what your current traffic breakdown is. Knowing how much traffic your site receives will definitely impact the A/B tests you will implement. Low traffic may yield inconclusive results. Get to know the demographics your website attracts and their browser usage.
A look at your data can also help you answer some of the basic questions surrounding SEO and CRO.
- Is my problem a lack of traffic or conversions? If it’s the lack of traffic, then you need to do SEO. If your problem is conversions, it is possible you do not have enough traffic to convert yet.
- What are my traffic sources – is it paid or organic? If your data reveals it is mostly paid, then you need to more SEO.
- Are my visitors browsing or bouncing? If they are browsing, do CRO. If they are bouncing, do SEO.
To succeed in SEO and CRO, you need to understand user intent. This not only brings visitors to your site, but it singles out those that are qualified and are intent on making a purchase. It can also help you generate your base of loyal customers.
Gather all your data before testing
Prior to testing, it is essential to gather your qualitative and quantitative data first.
Why gather both kinds of data?
Because numbers cannot give you the whole picture.
Your quantitative data may even be misleading if not supplemented with qualitative data. For this reason, do not be afraid to conduct surveys and ask questions from your current and even your potential customers for feedback.
Another reason for this is it is better to have more data than less. Prior to conducting your A/B tests, gather quantitative and qualitative data generated for at least a whole month. This will help make the results of your tests more conclusive and reasonable.
And lastly, it is never a good decision to conduct split tests based on your guts. It is one of the easy routes to fail in your tests.
Aside from your numbers from your Google Analytics account, use data from your ecommerce heatmap, surveys, questionnaires and even interviews during your testing. Customer analytics or the process of making marketing decisions based on segmentation and predictive analysis can also help as you conduct your testing.
Be comfortable doing plenty of A/B tests
If you’re set to do just one A/B test on your site, then that’s not CRO.
CRO is about making tons and tons of tests. But even with that mindset, you might be still pressed to ask – where do I begin testing?
To know which pages to test and prioritize, arrange them according to potential (how much improvement can be implemented), importance (how valuable is traffic coming from the page) and ease (how complicated will it be to conduct split tests).
You can also give your CRO plan some structure by listing down your hypotheses first, your wireframe test designs next and implementing the design last.
Hypothesis listing is outlining the basics of what you are interested in to test. Based on qualitative and quantitative data and the results of your customer analytics, what would you like to test? Who are you interested to test? Where will you be testing? More importantly, ask yourself what are the results you expect to see? These expectations should be the basis of your tests whether it has been a success or not.
Your hypotheses can also be solutions based on some user issues brought to your attention or a result you expect to see. In split testing, your hypotheses will manifest in the form of variations measured against your original or control group.
After developing your hypotheses, create your variations and implement them using split testing tools like Optimizely, Monetate and Visual Website Optimizer. Track the results and review – were your hypotheses correct? Were they cancelled? What can you learn from this?
For instance, Electronic Arts (EA) wanted to increase their pre-orders of SimCity 5. In the control version, they made a promotional offer for the pre-order as a banner across the top of its landing page.
The team, however, said that it wasn’t increasing the pre-orders.
To this, they created a variation where the promotional offer was removed from the landing page (hypothesis). This drove 43.4% more purchases. As it turns out, people were already looking forward to buy the game even without an incentive.
To see big results, make big changes
There is a saying Go Big or Go Home! and this most certainly applies in CRO.
When you make sweeping changes, expect drastic results as well. At the early stages of testing, you will notice how small changes to your site can make a big difference.
But over time, you will notice that regularly conducting small tweaks will stop impacting your conversion rate as you have probably taken care of all the low-hanging fruits.
To see major improvements in your revenue, make drastic changes like changing your signup process to forcing customers to create a free account so you can upsell to them. Or instead of following the conventional pattern for contact pages, be creative and turn in into an infographic. Be creative and don’t be afraid to test them out especially if you have good reasons for your users to respond positively to it.
To do CRO well, you need to comfortable doing big changes. Otherwise, you will always be stuck thinking about what could have been.
Optimize your back end too for conversions
The Majority of CRO that we see are focused on the front-end, but it is equally essential to optimize your back end too.
It is not enough to turn your visitors into paying customers. What about turning them into loyal customers who love purchasing from you? What about increasing the lifetime value of customers? These are all possible with CRO.
Consider optimizing your back end for conversions by implementing any of the following strategies:
- Utilize user-generated content
- Feature your customers in your content, such as on your blog or on your product pages
- Re-engage with newsletters and tokens of appreciation
- Give credit to customer feedback or advice given
- Reward loyal customers with an upgrade (e.g. boosting their account to premium with exclusive perks and promos)
- Be there whenever your customers need you
- Consider doing sponsorships especially if these are aligned with your brand’s core values
And while you’re focusing on nourishing your customer relationships, learn to calculate your key back end metrics too like your Value Per Visitor, Lifetime Value of Customers, and Cost Per Conversion.
Value Per Visitor is the worth each of your visitors have to your business. To know the value, simply divide your total number of visitors for the past week, month or year by the revenues you were able to make in the same period.
Why is this important?
Because you need to know how much a visitor is worth your business and how much exactly you can afford to spend on marketing to them. Value Per Visitor is also helpful when you are price testing or projecting future growth.
Lifetime Value of Customers, a key metric in measuring customer retention, involves two important factors – the average time it takes for a customer to complete the buying cycle and how much they spent during that time period. An extensive discussion on how to calculate for this value is found here.
Why is lifetime value of customers important?
Because aside from customer retention, you will have a solid basis on how and to whom to optimize the allocation of your resources for maximum revenues. You will know what type of future marketing strategies to create for a specific audience, who to focus on and who to reward more. Your resources are finite so be careful who to spend it on.
Cost Per Conversion is also a crucial metric as it tells you which traffic channels are profitable for you after breaking it down by traffic source.
Why is this important?
If your value per visitor is $50 and you spend $100 to acquire that customer, you definitely need to change that. The same way when you notice that one traffic source’s cost per conversion is only $50 and the other is $65, then you know what traffic source to focus on.
There are plenty of things you can do on the back end to increase conversion rate. Have an equal footing on your front and back-end to maximize your ability to grow.
Implement creative customer retention tactics
There are plenty of things you can do towards your customer retention strategies.
But did you know that by increasing customer retention rates by only 5%, you can increase profits from 25% to 95%?
So, how can you increase customer retention?
Deliver important messages at the right time. Online shopping does not end when a customer successfully finishes the checkout process. Delivery of the goods seals it and this aspect of the shopping cycle is usually out of the retailer’s control as most delivery services are performed by third party providers.
To prevent the risk of missed deliveries and to keep customer satisfaction at an all-time high, manage delivery expectations via text similar to the case of IKEA below.
Consider adopting email too when retaining customers and managing their expectations.
Implement a strict QA too when it comes to delivered packages. Like deliveries, retailers also have no control as to how products get delivered to their customers. Nevertheless, maintain that wow factor in your packaging by adding some small gifts, product samples or adding that ribbon to make their delivered items look like a gift. Try to beat customer expectations by going the extra mile.
Make it easy to retrieve usernames and passwords. A returning customer is fantastic for conversions, but if they forgot their username and password to your site, make it easy for them to retrieve it by requesting for their email address so you can send them a password reset email. This is probably the easiest route for account retrieval.
Offer free and easy returns to keep your customers satisfied. This helps customers shop without worries since they know they can easily return an item if they change their minds or for any valid reason they need to return the item. Especially for first-time customers, this is a great solution to make them buy.
Manage your expectations
When it comes to CRO, you need to learn how to manage your expectations. Even when you have done all the legwork before testing and you are doing split testing as regularly as recommended, you cannot expect to see drastic results in a snap.
For some, results that drastically affected their revenues happened only a few times each year. Managing expectations is important in CRO because like SEO, it is a long-term investment. Any quick wins you make may not impact your revenues as much.
To help further manage expectations, do know that CRO can cost quite a sum of money.
After all, it’s not just about changing page colors and layouts on your pages. It is about shaping and constantly re-shaping your ecommerce identity, giving more structure to your conversion funnel and enhancing your site experience.
CRO is a holistic process where big moves require big money in exchange.
Work closely with your CRO consultants
Just as the entire CRO process is not a short-term investment, working with CRO consultants does not mean engaging with miracle workers.
While they can apply their expertise on your site, you need to give them direction too.
Work closely with them by having that client call every two weeks for updates. Require at least two split tests in a month even if you already have a decent amount of traffic to your site.
Request them to collect and study your quarterly data – both quantitative and quantitative – as the opinion of your customers changes through time. Give them your ideas for the split tests too as you know your business and your customers more than they do.
Also, work with a consultant who delivers well. If they are good at generating concepts, but are not as good in executing them, it will be hard to see any results.
Are you ready to optimize your conversions?
Whether you are starting out or you are in the middle of it, take these nine points to mind and we hope you can harness your process for better results and expectations.
Make sure you have a considerable traffic volume and conversions before doing any optimization work. Do SEO right if you do not have significant site traffic and if you have well-above average revenues, make conversion rate optimization a line item expense for you.
What about you – what are the nuggets of wisdom you’ve learned while optimizing your conversion rates?