Ultimate Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) | Best Practices, Tools, Strategy and Tips
What do you mean by conversion rate optimization
If you’re engaged with e-commerce business, then you must have heard about conversion rate optimization. Conversion rate optimization or CRO is one of the hottest trends at this moment because, obviously e-commerce is all about converting your leads into sales. However, not everyone knows about the exact definition of the term and there are many who do not have any idea about the importance that this type of optimization holds for their business.
So, to begin with, let us start by getting to know what exactly CRO is and why does it hold importance for online businesses.
Understanding Conversion Rate Optimization:
In the most basic terms, Conversion Rate Optimization(CRO) is a defined methodology of enhancing the performance of your e-commerce site. The method is carefully crafted and is based upon various feedbacks, insights and analytics obtained from various sources. The objective of using Conversion Rate Optimization best practices is to ensure that the traffic that is coming to your website actually interacts with the site and performs the action that you want them to do.
The action can differ from site to site and some of the most common things that a site would want from the visitors are:
1. To purchase an item
2. To share their news
3. To sign up for their newsletters
4. To download their app
5. To sign up on their website
Conversion Rate Optimization consultant aims to enhance the website experience and ensure that the people who come to your site and attracted towards the services you’re offering and are converted as a successful sales/sign up lead. CRO consultant also ensure that the social media effects and affiliate and digital marketing campaigns are more successful as the people who come via these routes are more likely to engage with you if they find your site more conducive. Also, a better site experience makes you look more professional and gives you a brand value in the market.
However, many Conversion Rate Optimization consultant mistake CRO as a method for getting the most traffic engaged irrespective of their quality. This is not true as CRO is deemed successful only if the targeted audience interacts with your site and gives you some profitable results.
Why is Conversion rate optimization so important?
The competition in the digital world is fierce. In these times, all the e-commerce portals are trying to hang on to their customers while actively trying to gather more and more new users. With such a tough path to tread, CRO becomes very important. Some obvious reasons why conversion rate optimization holds a lot of importance for your site are:
1. Rising digital marketing costs:
The biggest issue that firms are facing is the rising cost of digital marketing. PPC advertising has reached new heights as more and more firms fight for the same targeted keywords. If you want to stay at the top, then you’ve to revise the PPC amount for your desired keywords every once in a while to make sure that your position is maintained.
2. CRO Improves your online store:
If you optimize your website and keep it updated every once in a while, the overall website experience improves. Customers feel better at your site and consequently, the revenues you generate increase.
3. CRO Increases profitability:
CRO can increase profits by two ways, be either reducing the marketing costs as you have a better chance of scoring with the organic traffic or by increasing the number of customers. Increase in profits is one of the main objectives of a business and CRO can help you with that.
4. CRO Reduces customer acquisition cost:
With Conversion rate optimization, you can optimize your site to reduce bounce rates. Also, the organic traffic coming to your site via social media and other sources is also more likely to purchase from you. In both these ways, the cost of marketing reduces and as more and more people engage, the cost of acquiring a single customer goes down.
5. Improves your ranking:
If more and more people buy from you or engage with you, you’ll be receiving more feedback. Feedbacks and reviews on social media and other public platforms will help you gain valuable backlinks for your store. Also, as more people start engaging with your site, the overall site rankings will improve. Thus, by using conversion rate optimization methods, you can actually make sure that the search engine rankings of your site improve, which in turn will lead to more traffic and ultimately, more customers.
Thus, the importance of CRO can be easily understood. All these points are very pivotal to your e-commerce store and as per the current trends, the importance of CRO is likely to increase in the coming future. In the next section, we shall see the various factors that affect CRO and how can we analyze them using a mathematical formula that is very important in the world of CRO.
The power of C = 4m + 3v + 2(i-f) -2a ©
In the world of CRO, C = 4m + 3v + 2(i-f) -2a © holds a very important space. This formula was derived by one of the most well-known market research firms, Marketing Experiments, who do lot of experiments in order to make sure that they can come up with quantitative and logical methods for the marketers in order to help them in increasing their optimization and conversion rates.
The breakup of the formula detailing all the variables is:
C = conversion rate
m = motivation of the prospect
v = the value proposition’s clarity and power
i = incentive to convert
f = friction in the conversion process
a = anxiety
© = copyright
According to the Conversion Rate Optimization experts, the interpretation of the formula is done in the following manner:
A larger multiplier denotes that the variable modified by the multiplier is smaller. In that sense, if you look carefully at the formula, motivation has a multiplier of 4, which means that it is the smallest variable.
In that way, a given level of anxiety is going to be twice as powerful as the same level of motivation. Also, as both anxiety and (i-f) have the same multiplier value, it simply means that anxiety and incentive to convert subtracted by the friction faced during conversion hold equal strength.
How is conversion rate formula so useful?
As the formula entails all the factors that are important for conversion rate optimization, you can get a measure of how to plan the things while you work on the landing page. The development process must be done using these parameters as your references and you must make sure that you stay as close to the formula as you can.
All the inhibitors and enhancers of CRO are to be taken seriously and must be included in all the decisions that you make. A simple example will make things more understandable to you:
Most of the people are hesitant to give out their personal information on their initial visit to your site. Thus, if your sign up process requires them to divulge their address, their phone number or anything else that is considered personal, they might get discouraged and not sign up with you. So, it is to be made sure that your process is user friendly and that you plan out everything in a step by step manner. Make sure that the information you need is taken from the consumer by the way of an ongoing program as they’ll be more confident in giving out their information once they start trusting you.
Another example of the effect of these variables is to ensure that the value proposition offered by you is clear. If the consumer is not able to understand you properly, they’re more likely to leave your site. Make sure you come out clear and that the consumer knows what he/she is getting into. In this way, your chances of getting more conversions will increase.
So, keep your design practices clean and make them more accessible and navigable for the users for best results. Also, use this formula to map your approach and test the results of your optimization in order to find out what works and what not. Even though this formula is not a hard and fast rule, but it will certainly help you with the entire conversion rate optimization process.
How to go about building a Conversion Rate Optimization Plan?
Now that you’ve understood the importance of CRO for an e-commerce website, you’re probably ready to give it a try. You’re also aware of the fact that the changes need to be made in steps and that you need to check the effect of the changes by running A/B tests on your website.
Thinking that you can simply copy the optimization plan of some popular website because they’re working for a similar audience like yours is a mistake. Moreover, guesswork does not have a place in conversion rate optimization and whatever changes you make to the website are to be made by using robust data. It is very likely that the tricks that worked for some sites will not work for yours and thus, you need to create a unique conversion rate optimization plan for your website in order to ensure success.
So, if you’re ready to make your own CRO framework, then here are 3 simple guidelines that will assist you in the process:
• Identify your priority:
This is perhaps the most important thing to do. You must know the priority of your landing page before making changes. Think of the things that will create a difference in the outlook of your visitors. Understand your conversion goals as they can either be sales, sign ups or maybe downloads. Once you’ve identified the exact things that need to be changed, you can turn your website into the best platform for your visitors to perform that action that you needed them to do.
• Gather data:
In order to perform successful analysis, you need data. Without the actual data, CRO planning is not possible. The data that you gather can help you in identifying the important pages, the not – so – important pages and the pages that are acting as the leaks.
List of Conversion Rate Optimization tools that allow you to gather data about your website performance are:
All these CRO tools help in gathering information like the bounce rate, the source of traffic, average time spent on the site, average time spent on a page and on which page the exit rate is high.
Once you get the required data, you can identify the funnel pages. Funnel pages are the pages that come in the pathway of a successful conversion. These pages are necessary and need to be properly optimized in order to reduce the number of bounce rates happening during conversion.
Other methods of gathering data include online surveys which can be easily done by using survey partners like SurveyGizmo. If you’re interested in on-site surveys, there are many tools that can let you do that and analyze the response that you receive.
• Creating a hypothesis that can be tested:
Now that you know the exit points of your site and the way people behave on your website, you need to brainstorm some great ideas. Here is how you can go about creating a hypothesis for a particular problem:
Suppose that the checkout page of your site is the place where people are exiting the most. Let’s say that you have 1000 visitors in a day and only 10 of those visitors make a purchase.
This turns out to be a conversion rate of only 1%. Now, you see that the checkout page of your site is dull and has no compelling information about your products that can drive sales. Now, your hypothesis should be that you have to make it more engaging and make people trust your site and your brand more in order to make a purchase.
For that, you make small tweaks like add customer testimonials to the bottom of the page, offer a 15 day replacement/money back guarantee on all products or maybe offer them a gift voucher for the subsequent shopping done on your site.
Once you’ve made any of the changes, you need to sit back and monitor the change it has on the traffic.
Thus, in this way, you can tweak all the funnel pages of your website and check the progress continuously in order to ensure that the conversion rate of your website increases. However, make sure that you make only a few changes at a time so that monitoring the effects become easier. Let us now look at some of the top conversion strategies that you can use to effectively increase the conversion rate of your landing page.
Conversion Rate Optimization strategies for the beginners
Since you’ve already got an idea about how to create a conversion optimization plan, let us now explore the various strategies that can be used to get things right. Conversion rate optimization is a long process and all the strategies that are given below may or may not work with your site. You can refer to these methods and tweak them according to your specific needs and test them on your website using the A/B testing rules.
1. Placing a button rather than a text link:
It has been seen that buttons tend to have a higher click through rate (CTR) than text links. This simple information can prove very useful and give you a sustained increase in the CTR. Placing a button in place of a text link catches more attention from the user and makes them click on it.
2. Button Location:
The place on the webpage where the call to action button is located plays a vital role. It is seen that the buttons placed above the fold have better chances of getting clicked than the ones below the fold. Always make sure that you make the task easier for the visitor in order to encourage them to click on the button.
3. Page Speed:
The speed at which the page loads is also vital. According to studies, websites lose a lot of conversions because their landing page take a lot of time to load. Make sure this does not happen to your site. Always ensure that the critical call to action pages are loaded as fast as possible in order to maintain a healthy conversion rate.
4. Structuring the content:
Make sure that the landing page is well structured. Do not clutter the words and add too much written info on the page. An impactful heading, followed by some strong bullet points citing the importance of the product/service, followed by a neat and clean, well placed call to action button. If you can structure your data well, you will surely earn more conversions.
5. Picking the right color:
Choosing the color of the font, the background, the buttons and other graphics on the page is another important task. The color should go with the service you’re offering and must appeal to the mood of the people. A website selling medicines can never have cheerful colors as patients come to the site to buy medicines. Similarly, a website selling children toys cannot be white and grey as they need to have some colors to attract the visitors and set a light mood.
6. Use images:
Images can be a great way of engaging with your audience. However, make sure that you do not have any clickable images in your landing page as they distract the users and take them away from the page. Also, if has been seen that placing the right visuals can actually generate more sign ups, installs and sales as the human mind is programmed to capture visual data easily rather than the written matter.
7. Show customer testimonials:
Showing what your previous customers think of your service is a great way to earn the trust of the newer ones. Show the positive customer testimonials on the landing page in order to affect the total conversion rate. However, make sure not to overdo it.
8. Simplify sign up forms:
A great way to drive more signups for your site is to make sure that you do not piss off your customers by giving them a lengthy form to fill. Make sure that the form is kept very simple and only the basic information is asked.
Further modifications can be done once the user is registered but during sign up, it is very important to make the user feel comfortable. Also, give more importance to social sign ups like Facebook connect and Twitter authorization that make the sign up process very simple for the users as they can just get registered at one click.
So, by using some or all of the tools mentioned above, you can create a website page that is optimized according to the behavior of your consumer. However, please bear in mind that these tips are not fool proof and what works for others may never work for you.
So, using these as guidelines, use your own creative mind to come up with something niche for your target audience and watch as the conversion rates shoot up. In the next section we shall see the effect of user experience on conversions and understand various methods of improving user experience to drive more conversions.
How to improve upon user experience(UX)?
User experience is perhaps the most important part of Conversion Rate Optimization process. However, it is rarely understood and most of the beginners make mistakes when it comes to enhancing the user experience. In this section, we shall address the basics of user experience and see how one can improve upon the user experience in order to draw more conversions.
Differentiating UX and UI:
The basic mistake that the people make is they misunderstand UX and UI. Most of us think that both are same but the real fact is that they’re not. You can understand it better from the following example:
A well designed game with all the latest 3D graphics, high end options and fantastic controls is the user interface. However, a compelling storyline and how exactly the game is played by the user is the user experience. So, great graphics and fantastic controls can enhance user experience but they themselves are not user experience.
In the same way, a website interface is the means by which you’re interacting with your visitors. The design, the usability and the ease of navigation is your UI, but how easily one can get the job done on your website is the actual user experience. If you want your visitors to perform a certain action, get in their shoes and see how you’d like to get it done. In this way, you can understand the point of view of your customers and give them a great user experience which brings them back again and again.
Factors to consider while designing a user experience:
There are some vital factors that need to be addressed before you can start the actual designing process. If these factors are missing, then the very existence of your business is in question and the user experience will not be able to help beyond a limit. Some of the factors that need to be addressed are:
• Usefulness of your product/service:
The stuff that you’re offering must be useful to the user. Without use, the product is a waste and why would anyone buy something that does no good to them. So, ensure that your product gives some value.
The website navigation has to be very simple. People must find what they are looking for easily or they’ll get confused and leave. Make sure that the website is well structured and you have everything that is important within the reach of the visitor.
Putting up customer testimonials, approval certificates from competent authorities and legal documents certifying your business is a great way to ensure consumer confidence in your brand. Moreover, there are design trends that help you in becoming more credible to the users and you must exploit these options.
The product or service that you’re offering must be desirable. When your visitors go through your site, they must find the products desirable and have faith in your brand.
By keeping all these factors in your mind, you can design a unique user experience and these will also give you some special tips on how to improve the design and how to address the needs of the visitors.
How to create a good User Experience UX and improve conversion rate?
When it comes down to creating a good user experience, your design philosophy needs to follow these pretty simple but easily overlooked facts. These facts are general tips that provide the robust guidelines of creating a UX and before you experiment with your designs, make sure that you adhere to these guidelines.
1. Identify target audience and their behavior:
Each business have their own niche sectors and the consumers in their sectors behave in a different manner. It is very important to understand your niche market before anything else because if you’re designing a UX for the wrong crowd, then even the best of the designs will fail. User behavior like what they generally find interesting, what drives their interest in your products, what type of background they have and what is their pattern of viewing websites can be analyzed by using data from various analytics tools or you can even refer to some professional market reports that can give you an idea regarding that.
2. Track your competition:
Track the websites in your competition that are doing well. See what tricks they’ve applied to their own website to boost sales. Even though what works for them may not work for you, but there is a chance that picking a couple of ideas from your rivals can actually give you some direction in which you should move to become successful.
3. Customer’s point of view:
While designing anything, think about what your visitors’ reaction will be. Get into the shoes of your customers and think from their perspective in order to be more empathetic to their needs and design accordingly.
So, by following these simple steps, you can easily make sure that the user experience that you’re creating by the virtue of your website design is going to help with your CRO. Make sure to run A/B tests after each tweak to understand how the change is working and pretty soon you’ll get the things right. In the next section, we will talk about funnel pages and see how funnel optimization can actually help you gather better results.
How to optimize your funnel?
Another great method of employing CRO techniques on your website is by identifying and tweaking the funnel pages.
However, you must be thinking that why you need this whole funnel optimization procedure for your site? Why can’t the usual methods be enough for optimization? Well, here are some facts that will show you the importance of funnel optimized websites for business.
The need for funnel optimized site:
In today’s digital market, there is a lot of choice for the consumer. There are loads of websites selling the same stuff and the consumers are the one to choose. In such a scenario, having a well optimized website whose conversion funnel is well defined, monitored and functioning smoothly is very important. Here are some of the important points that back up the fact that funnel optimization is indeed important:
• Funnel optimization gives you a lot more data on the consumer behavior and helps with the entire Conversion Rate Optimization procedure. Each page is separately monitored and whatever changes you make are clearly visible in the analytics.
• You get more conversion rate if your website is funnel optimized.
• A funnel optimized site can even help your rankings and create more organic leads for you, thus creating more business opportunities in the long run.
So, now that you know about the benefits of funnel optimization, let us look at some ways in which you can bring about an effective funnel optimization plan.
Identify your funnel: Funnel pages are those pages that lead to your conversion goal. For instance, if your goal is a successful sale, then the funnel pages involved can be:
2. Product description page
3. Shopping cart
4. Checkout page
5. Payments page
6. Confirmation page
In order to reach the goal, all these pages are to be browsed through. They form the funnel of conversion and the first thing that you need to do is to identify them.
Once you’ve identified, you need to analyze the activity of all your funnel pages. Google Analytics offers a great funnel support wherein you can make create a funnel analytics page and track the behavior of your visitors across the funnel pages and also see where they exit.
Thus, funnel identification is the first step in your strategy.
Analyze the landing page:
The next important step is to make some changes to your landing page and follow the analytical data for a while. Testing will give you the results of the tweaking and you’ll be able to make informed and intelligent steps. Some basic elements that you need to test include the headline of the page, the text size and font style, the color of the background and buttons and the loading time of the page. By making changes to these parameters, you can actually create a positive impact and watch your conversion rates increase.
Analyze the weak links:
The next step is to identify the leaks. These are the pages in your funnel where the highest number of exits is happening. Once you get that, check the page to see what can be the trouble. Once you’ve identified the possible issues, start tweaking them one by one and continuously run the A/B test to ensure that the change in conversion rates is monitored. Another takeaway tip is that you should refrain from putting any non-relevant data on the conversion pages as they distract the consumer and you might lose conversions. This will help you in reaching the optimized state where the conversion rates will be sustained at a high rate.
Add trust elements:
Trust elements are the most important elements as they give substance to your business. A VeriSign on your checkout page or a Better Business Bureau logo ought to do the trick. Also, you should offer perks like 15 day money back guarantee and product exchange programs so that the people who are buying from your site feel at ease. Making people feel at ease is one of the toughest tasks, but if you play the cards right, then you can easily get their trust and make more conversions.
Run Mom tests:
A mom test does not have to have your mom (pun intended), but these tests are done with people who have only the basic knowledge about the internet. Use such a person and ask him/her to complete the conversion process on your website. Carefully monitor the progress and see where the person is faced with problems. You need to ensure that these problems are solved as the basic internet user will not return to your site if he/she is not able to complete the process at one go.
So, by using these simple yet effective tips, you can actually optimize the funnel of your e-commerce website and make sure that the conversion rates get better over time. Now that you’ve seen the funnel, it is time to move over the landing page and see what changes to the landing page can alleviate the chances of successful conversion.
Optimizing your landing page
Your landing page is one of the most vital elements in the whole conversion cycle. It has been established by studies that increasing the number of dedicated landing pages can actually increase the number of sales you generate. Landing pages are important because you can’t just bring your potential customer to the homepage of your website and leave them to sort out the process themselves. In order to generate more leads, you have to properly optimize your landing page.
Why optimize the landing page?
As mentioned above, landing page is the most vital component of your conversion cycle. Therefore, in order to boost the conversion rates, you need to optimize your landing page so that it becomes conducive to the visitors and helps you get more sales/sign ups/downloads.
Best Conversion Rate Optimization practices to follow?
Optimizing the landing page can be tricky. Knowing what your customers want is the first step to creating a good design. As it has mentioned earlier in the guide too, identify your consumer base and see what they like before your start designing.
Even though design patterns change from industry to industry, here are some common guidelines which you must adhere to in order to create a successfully designed landing page.
• Don’t confuse the visitor with visuals:
Even though adding a few visuals to treat the eyes of the visitor is a good thought, do not clutter the page with visuals just for the sake of it. More visual content can actually distract your customer and result in a loss of lead. So, by all means, avoid cluttering and keep it nice and classy.
• Have a logo:
Always have the logo of your company on the landing pages. Do not let your visitors think that they have landed on a page not owned by your company. Such a thought can actually lead them to exit the site and you will lose your hard earned sales lead.
• Use contrasting colors:
Using contrasting colors can actually help. The call to action button must be different from everything in the page so that it is easily visible to the visitors. Color schemes can be very important and you must choose the scheme according to the nature of your business.
• Add to the point and relevant content:
Do not beat about the bush. Always add concise and crisp information about the service/product you’re offering. Do not deceive the visitor. Tell them what you’re expecting of them so that they know what they’re getting into. Being honest and to the point will help you in scoring only the genuine leads that have the potential of being your long term customers.
• Add social proof:
Always add customer reviews and comments received on the social media to your landing pages. If your visitors see that you’ve thousands of followers on Facebook and Twitter, then they will have more trust on your brand and are more likely to interact with you. Adding a live Twitter or Facebook feed is a good idea and will help you in creating trust amongst the visitors and consequently generate more conversions.
So, follow these simple guidelines to ensure that the landing page you’ve designed works great for you. However, never shy away from experimenting and keep running those A/B tests to make sure that the changes that you’re making are monitored. Some other takeaway points that can help you with creating a good design for your landing page are:
1. Ensure that the CTA button is above the fold.
2. Try to keep the primary headline of the landing page same as the advertisement that your visitor saw on the internet.
3. Keep the message focused and concise. Do not beat about the bush.
4. Structure the content to make it readable. Use bullet points to make things easy to comprehend. Avoid long paragraphs.
5. Provide money back guarantee/free trials to gain the trust of your visitors.
6. Make use of videos to show the actual use of your product. Videos can enhance the lead conversions by up to 80% as per market research studies.
So, start designing the ultimate landing page for your product and watch as your conversion rates shoot up. In the next section we will understand the basics of bounce rates and how one can reduce the bounce rate on their website using some simple tips.
How to reduce bounce rates?
In this section, we are going to look at another factor that is important with CRO and how to modify it for your website’s betterment. Bounce rate is a term that is often heard in the digital world. If you’ve paid attention, then you must have heard of these words before. Bounce rates generally mean the percentage of visitors who bounce off the first page they visit on your site. It means that they do not click around or visit any other page on your site. As such, bounce rates are bad for conversions as the visitors are not interested enough to linger around your site and take the action that you want them to take.
Analyzing bounce rates:
Analyzing bounce rates is quite easy now, thanks to the increasing innovation in the digital arena. With tools like Google Analytics, you can easily map the bounce rates of your conversion pages. It is very important to map your landing pages as higher bounce rates from these pages actually mean trouble. So, start by mapping the bounce rates of your conversion pages and see which of the pages need your attention.
Tips for reducing bounce rates:
The tips that are discussed below are not, by any means, definitive. These guidelines are only indicative and following them may or may not help you. However, given the success rates of these tips, it is highly unlikely that you will notice zero change in your conversions if you follow these points. So, consider these tips before you start optimizing the landing page for increased conversions:
1. Easy Navigation:
The first thing that you need to make sure is the fact that nobody (including you) likes to search around websites looking for the stuff they wanted as if they were engaged in a treasure hunt. Make your pages clean and concise and ensure that the site is easily navigable, especially the landing conversion page. If you offer your visitors a good experience, there is a high chance that they’ll convert and not bounce right off.
2. Loading time:
It goes without saying that loading time is a conversion killer. If your pages are heavy and take a lot of time to load on standard network, then you need some serious changes. Make sure that the page does not take more than 10 seconds to load. Also, ensure that the important content is loaded first, while the graphics can wait.
3. Structured content:
It is very important to enhance the readability of your site. Make sure that the content is highly structured. Use bullets, catchy headings and short and crisp sentences to gather the interest of the visitor. If your info is presented in an appropriate way, it will certainly add to the conversions. Also, make sure that audio and video are not added until compulsory as these content can distract the people from the main objective.
4. Color scheme and design:
Gone are the days when website design and color scheme had little to do with conversions. Since programming allows us to do so many awesome things, people expect the websites to show them something awesome. Thus, make sure that the design of the website is unique and clearly identifies to your business. Also, use a color scheme that goes with the attitude of your target audience so that they can connect with it and get converted fast.
5. Mobile compatibility:
As most of the traffic is moving to mobile, it is very likely that about 50% of all traffic you get is via mobile search. If your website is not built using RWD (Responsive Web Design), then the chances of you converting them to customers is nearly zero. You will also observe a very high bounce rate as desktop sites are a pain to navigate on the mobile devices. So, make sure that your content can be easily accessed using a mobile phone so that the bounce rates remain low and you’re able to convert more.
Thus, following these simple tips will allow you to score a better conversion rate and reduce the number of bounces from your site. Always make sure that you keep monitoring the pages after you make changes to understand the actual effect of the change. A comprehensive section on how to run these A/B tests is given towards the end of the guide. Next, we shall see how one can reduce the exit rate of a conversion page.
How to reduce the exit rates?
In the last section we talked about optimizing the website in order to reduce the bounce rates. In this section, we shall shift our focus to exit rates and see what methods are required to reduce the exit rates from your website.
What is exit rate?
As mentioned in the last section, exit rate is the rate at which your visitors are leaving your site from a particular page. Please note that once a person has entered your site, he will eventually leave it. So, the exit rate added from each page of your site amounts to 100%, always.
Now the difference between exit and bounce is the fact that bounce rate is when your visitor comes to a page on your site and leaves from that page only and exit is counted when a person visits, navigates through some of the pages of your site and then leaves.
When do you need to worry about exit rates?
In general, exit rates are not to be worried about if they’re happening at your checkout page or the final submission page of the sign up form. In these cases it means that the conversion was successful and the person left after either making a purchase or signing up to your website. So, a higher exit rate on these pages is nothing to be worried about.
However, if your exits are happening at the important pages like shopping cart, product catalog, etc., then you need to make sure that you understand the situation and make some changes in order to reduce the exit rates from these pages.
How to reduce the exit rates?
For successful CRO, exit rates need to be kept in a check. The first thing that you need to check before you start optimizing the pages is to check whether you’re getting the right kind of traffic or not.
You need to first check the keywords you’re targeting. Also, look at the advertising campaigns that are in place to see what type of crowd is coming to your site. If they’re being misled to your site because of wrong advertising campaign, then a high exit rate is expected. So, make sure that the keywords you’re targeting and the advertising campaign that you’re doing represents you and your business so that people have a reason to stay on your site.
After you’ve made sure of that, here are some tips that will help you in optimizing your pages for reducing exit rates:
1. Design and Color scheme:
This has been discussed time and again in the previous sections. Design and color play a vital role and if you can’t get these right, the visitors won’t stay on your site. So, make sure that the color scheme used and the design of the pages is as optimized as possible to make your audience stay for the conversion.
2. A clear call to action:
Do not clutter your page with too much information. A clear call to action button is very important if you want to drive your conversion rates. Make sure that the button is clearly visible on the page by using contrasting colors. Also, make sure that the adverts and other promotion tools you use promise the exactly same thing that is offered on your site in order to gain the trust of your users.
3. Optimized checkout:
The checkout page of your site must have minimal distractions. Also, make sure that you keep your customers at ease by giving them many payment options and the ability to sign in using their social media accounts. Furthermore, never try to cross sell or up sell on these pages as it will reduce the trust that the people have on your brand.
4. Understand the abandoned carts:
An abandoned cart is the most notorious exit page. You need to understand why a person might have left your page just before the checkout process. Was it the shipping charge? Was it the lack of discounts? Or was it something else that you need to take care of? Make sure that you understand these issues and take steps accordingly to make the shopping experience worthwhile for the users and drive more conversions.
5. Exit marketing:
This is a new concept and a very good way of getting one last shot at conversion. This tool maps the mouse behavior of the user and just when the user is about to exit the site, it shows an exclusive offer or some other campaign in order to have a last chance of converting the leads. This can be implemented on your checkout page and other landing pages that are important for the conversion cycle.
Thus, by using the given suggestions, you can reduce the exit rates and increase the conversion rate of your site. In the next section, we shall come across various tools that can be used to perform the CRO techniques that have been discussed so far in the guide.
Tools for improving conversion rates
Conversion rate optimization is a complex task in itself. All the processes require time and concentration on your part and a few tools that can make the process easy won’t hurt. So, here are some of the ultimate tools that can aid you with the conversion rate.
The tools that can be used for the purpose are categorized in three different categories viz. Concept testing, attention testing and user testing.
So, here is a list of some top tools that will help you with CRO:
1. Mark Up:
This is a concept testing tool that enables you to draw on the webpages that are live. In this way you can share the ideas that you have about changing the site design in the live interface and save these and send these out for later use. The cost for using this tool is zero, which means that it is a great free tool for you.
2. Optimal Sort:
This is rather an interesting tool that will help you get user insight on the way your content should be organized on your web pages. You can create card sorting surveys using this tool and reach a worldwide audience. The tool is very helpful for those creating a new website and can be used for a fee of $109/month or $990/yearly.
Another concept testing tool is Mockingbird. This tool allows you to create, link, share and preview mockups of the website design that you have in mind. There is a free trail available for the users and then you can start with a plan for as low as $9.
This is an attention testing tool that helps you in predicting where the user attention is being drawn on your site. You can use live website or maybe upload an image and the tool will create a heatmap showing the areas where the visitor attention is being drawn to. The tool has a free version but you can also opt for a paid version that gives you a lot more options for as low as $27.
This is an innovative test that allows you to see which parts of the website draws the most attention. You get to create a questionnaire about your website and then the testers are given a 5 second view of your webpage and then asked the questions that you created. The cost for using this tool is $20/month.
Inspectlet is another attention mapping website that allows you do a host of things like create heatmaps, capture analytics and visitor screens and study all of this to identify the problems with your webpage. There are free plans to use the tool but the paid options are better if you want to use the full power of the site. The paid options start from $9.99 and go up to $199.99.
7. Concept Feedback:
Concept Feedback is a free tool where you can post the website landing pages, mockups and wireframes and get feedback on usability, design and marketing by the community. This tool is quite basic and does not offer targeted response but is a good try if you’re getting your hands set on user testing tools.
Morae is a wonderful software suite that offers you a complete user testing solution. They have recorder, observer and manager sections in the software that provide you host of different options like viewing on screen activity of the user and even recording the movement of mouse and keyboard. The complete suite costs $1495 and is an investment to make only if you’re ready for high level analytics.
Usabilla is an app that allows you to do remote testing of your web pages. It gives you visual insights and results of the user’s experience with your website design. They support multiple languages and can give you worthy analytics that can help you in mapping your user experience. The cost for using this app is $19 to $199 and they also offer a 30 day free trial.
Using this tool, you can create tasks for your users and upload the designs of your site. Then the testing links can be shared with anyone you want and you can get the results. The tool is a great way to analyze user experience and costs just $49-$149.
Another user testing tool is Peek, which was brought into the market earlier in the year. This tool gives you the opportunity to enter the site address and then make participants review the webpage. Usability issues are brought out by the testers and you can then work on the same. This tool can be used free of charge.
This is a simple pop up tool. It asks three very basic and simple questions about the website to the visitors. The questions are:
a. How was site experience?
b. Purpose of visit?
c. Was the purpose fulfilled?
The response of the users tells about the basic issues that the web page might be having and gives you the chance to clear those mistakes. The tool can be used for free.
13. Survey Monkey:
Another wonderful tool for surveying people is Survey Monkey. They allow you to ask a total of 10 questions at max and have 100 responses delivered to you for no charge. The tool is quite popular and helpful for gathering user feedback on your site.
14. Cross Browser Testing:
This is a tool that will let you access your webpages in real time mode using various browsers and OS. This can let you know if your site is malfunctioning on any browser platform or operating system and correct the mistakes. You get a free 60 min trial to check out the tool before purchase.
15. Visual Website Optimizer:
This tool allows you to do split testing. The free trial will give you testing for 30 days and a thousand visitors. You can add images, designs, forms and even edit and modify elements directly from the page. Once you test for two different sets of changes, you get the results and can directly apply the winning changes to your site.
A great tool that gives you the chance to build fantastic landing pages. The pages can be created without the need for coding and you can test them out on your campaigns. There is a free trial available but the real power is unleashed with the paid version.
A pop up tool with the sole purpose of endorsing the call toaction button on your landing page. This is a great tool to create a good quality pop up and increase the rate of conversion. They offer a 14 day trial for free in order for you to check out the tool.
This free tool shows a bar at the top of web page with a simple message in it that is meant to endorse the action you wish the users to take. It draws the viewer’s attention and gets your message through to them and can be included on either one page, a collection of pages and even to the entire site.
Thus, all the above mentioned tools can be used to effectively use the CRO mechanisms to drive more sales. However, there are many other tools available across the web and you might even find some of those better than these. So, always keep your eyes open for such tools and use them in your CRO plan to make it more efficient. In the next section we are going to see how one can run an A/B test using the data that is collected via all the analytics tools mentioned throughout the guide.
How to run A/B Tests?
When you’ve made some changes to your designs, content or the structure of your website in order to drive conversions, the best way to see if they’re working or not is to use A/B testing. We have been talking about A/B testing throughout the document and now we will see what exactly an A/B test is and how to effectively run an A/B Test.
Understanding A/B Testing:
Well, going by the simple definition, A/B testing is comparing between A and B. What it means is that before you made any changes your website was A and after the changes were made it became B. Now, to run an A/B test, you first need to collect the analytical data when you website was still A, and then calculate the conversion rate using those results. Once done, you have to make the changes to your website and let the changes be there for a while and then collect data again and analyze.
Using these tests one can easily see what change in conversion rate is brought about by bringing the given change. So, A/B testing is an important step and must be done in a very careful manner to make sure that the outcomes of the test give you robust data about your campaigning.
Factors to consider before starting an A/B Test:
A/B testing must be done using fixed parameters. There are changes that might give you significant results at the start but in the long run prove negative. Similarly, there are changes that might have little impact at the start and then go on to become quite substantial later on. So, in order to give your changes the fair chance, there are a few guidelines that you need to follow.
Listed below are the certain guidelines and tips that you need to follow while running an A/B test:
• For analytics, always give a considerable amount of time to see the effects of a change. Do not change the website frequently as the real effect of the change will never be visible.
• Never make many changes at once. Always select a section of the webpage and run an A/B test for that particular section. Making multiple changes will confuse you and you will not be able to tell which change is contributing how much to the conversion change.
• Always select a sample size before running A/B tests and never peek on the observations. The problem with peeking is that we tend to stop the tests when we see that there is a significant change showing up. But, that change might or might not be significant and it solely depends on the sample size you’ve allowed to be analyzed before making the move. So, always ensure that the sample size is defined so that you can get better and true results.
• Follow Bayesian experiment formation or sequential experiment designing to make sure that the experiments you’re testing are up to the mark and give you correct results.
• Use analytics from different sources and try to use the conversion tools mentioned in the above section to map the actual number of people you can convert. Having 100,000 unique visitors does not mean that you have the chance to convert them all. Using logical and statistical approach, you can find out the exact opportunity that you have and derive your real conversion rate using that. However, for the sake of experiments, the conversion rates can be calculated using the traditional means.
So, design a test based on the requirements of your business, the behavior of your targeted crowd, their needs and the products you’re offering. There are ‘n’ number of factors that might affect your conversions and in order to build a robust CRO, you have to try and capture at least all the major factors.
The entire document talks about the various ways in which CRO can be used to enhance the conversion rates of your business. Conversion rates are important metrics in online businesses and if you’re a marketer or a startup owner, then the importance of CRO must be clear to you by now. Not only the small firms, even the bigger firms go for CRO and they keep testing their new products and changes to their website in order to see what the customer review is about that.
Also, the tools mentioned in the document can be helpful in assisting you and providing you with data that will help in determining the changes that are required on the website. So, keeping all these points in mind, start your own CRO plans and see as you do better business with your clients and increase the market share of your business or the firm that you work for.