What is Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO), and why is it important?
How do you improve your Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)?
Picture this: you spot a shop advertising scented candles in its window. You head inside to find the lovely purple one that caught your eye, then quickly realise the candles are all the way at the back, the aisles are cramped and full of customers, it’s a bit dark and gloomy – and there are no prices to be seen. Chances are, you’ll throw in the towel and try somewhere else.
This is essentially what happens when your website isn’t user-friendly: Your customers land on your site – either via a Google search or a paid ad – and they don’t like what they see, so they leave before completing a commercial action – aka converting.
http://logica-digital.co.uk/is-paid-social-media-worth-the-investment/This could be for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the ad doesn’t match the page they’ve landed on, or your site looks a bit hokey and doesn’t perform well, or they just can’t accomplish what they had in mind. Or perhaps your site’s OK, but your competitors are better, meaning you’re passed over for someone else. After all, why choose a reliable Ford when you could have an Aston Martin? For that candle shop, it’s a missed sale. And for you, it’s a lost customer.
As someone who runs a site, it’s your job to make it as easy for your customer as possible. And Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) plays a big part of that. Let’s take a closer look at what it is.
What is conversion rate optimisation?
Your conversion rate is a figure that represents the percentage of visitors who came to your site and performed a desired action (aka ‘converted) – e.g. subscribing to your newsletter, booking a demo, or purchasing a product.
It’s something you can work out yourself using simple maths: divide your conversions by the number of visitors to your site, then times by 100 to get your percentage. While every business is different, generally speaking, a good conversion rate is anything above 10%.
Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is the process of improving your conversion rate by fine-tuning your website so it’s as appealing to your visitors as possible. This boosts conversions – and therefore your customers, leads, revenue – and your business.
A higher conversion rate also means your cost per customer acquisition drops, meaning you get more value from your current customers and leads.
How important is conversion rate optimisation?
Put simply, CRO means you get more bang for your buck when it comes to customer acquisition. And any opportunity to lower your Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) figures should be grabbed with both hands.
As well as helping you save on customer acquisition, investing in optimisation will help you race ahead of your competition: a company that’s cruising on autopilot will always fall behind.
Where does conversion happen?
Conversions happen all over your site, and as a business, you want to make sure each place is geared up to turn those website visitors into paying customers. Here are the pages that typically see the biggest benefit from being optimised:
1. Your homepage
This is the first page most people land on when they find your site via the SERP. It’s not just a first impression but the beating heart of your site, leading visitors to other pages.
2. Your blog
Your blog is a big conversion opportunity, acting as a voice to your brand, educating customers about your products and services, and providing industry information and stories about your business. Things like adding CTAs to the bottom of posts, or inviting readers to download ebooks are all tried-and-tested CRO methods here.
3. Your pricing page
This is often a crucial crossroads point in your customer’s journey. They either like what they see, or they don’t and leave. Using pricing intervals (e.g. per month or per year), as well as reiterating the benefits of the product and providing a phone number or chatbot service can help keep customers interested.
4. Your landing page
Landing pages tend to be directly linked to your paid digital marketing – so they need to work hard to inspire action. Offering deals, adding product videos, or using customer reviews can all help draw your visitors in.
PPC vs CRO: what’s the difference?
If you’ve not dealt with the latter before, you probably have a few questions floating around. For example:
- How do I get started with CRO?
- Is it safer to put all my chips on PPC, or should I start paying attention to optimisation and A/B testing?
- When is it time to take the CRO plunge?
First, think about why you might want to invest more in PPC. The answer is probably – because I want more traffic. And more traffic = more sales, right? Well… not necessarily.
Say you make a return of £4 for every £2 invested, you can see straight away that you’re getting a good return on investment. You might be tempted to think that doubling your investment will then double your profits.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like this: once you’ve targeted your most likely customers, you’re left with increasingly harder sells – at more cost per acquisition. So you’ll be spending more, but not necessarily seeing the same ROI.
If you’re only looking at your ads cost per acquisition without looking at your landing page – which is where you’re sending all that traffic – then your growth will always be limited.
Sure, you’ll be sending more people to your site – but lots of them will leave because they don’t like your landing page, or you’ve bid on the wrong keywords, or they clicked on the ad by accident.
The bottom line: It’s far better to focus your energy into optimising your site so you get more out of your PPC investments before splashing out on bigger crowds of people.
The case against investing in CRO
Simply put, if you have visitors, then you should consider CRO. On the other side of the coin, if you have very few visitors and a good site, further optimisation won’t be more cost-effective than investing in paid search ads. It’s all about finding a sweet spot. So how do you do that?
First, work out what yours might be. Unbounce has helpfully put together a helpful table showing all the different potential CPA outcomes of investing in CRO. Take a look to get an idea of how much money you should be taking away from traffic and putting into conversion optimisation.
- If you don’t spend enough on CRO, no matter what you channel into ads, you’re leaving money on the table because of a high Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
- If you spend some of your budget on CRO, you’ll be able to convert more customers without spending more on PPC.
What happens if your Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) investment isn’t paying off?
So you’re already trying out your own CRO experiments. You’ve run A/B tests, changed colours and page layouts, experimented with menus and fonts…to no avail.
The reason for this is usually down to a lack of proper research. Understandable when you’re an overstretched marketing manager or sole trader trying to run a business at the same time. If this sounds like you – worry not, you’re not alone.
According to one study by Decibel & Econsultancy, only two-fifths of more than 300 companies who responded to the survey adopt a strategic approach based on a deep understanding of their customers’ paths to purchase. This means that rather than data, businesses are often relying on gut feeling, hearsay, and ‘best practice’ articles as a way to guide their efforts.
Respondents to the same survey also reported a lack of understanding in general about the importance of conversion optimisation – both among themselves, and those in charge.
Improving the customer experience has a positive effect on the customer journey and directly increases the likelihood of a successful conversion. But it’s not always easy to see the potential or the impact of the changes you’ve made.
CRO should go hand-in-hand with research and analytics tracking so the results can be seen through tangible metrics – which means marrying UX insights with commercial figures. It also needs support from senior management, so initiatives can be purposeful and quantifiable.
Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO): Three Golden Rules to Remember
The most important thing to remember about Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is this: it should not be like throwing things at a wall to see what sticks. Instead, follow these best practices and you’ll minimise your chances of either.
Get to know your customers
Take A/B testing: if you’re not sure what you’re testing or why, you’ve no real sense of purpose – a bit like trying to guess the 6-number pin to the safe: billions of possible variations, but only one right one. Think of A/B testing as being one tool in the conversion optimisation toolkit. It’s by no means the only one – and if you do use it, you need to know how it works.
Instead of leaping without looking, focus on data and research.
Combining qualitative and quantitative data to generate fact-based data will give you real-world insight into what your customers want and need, how they behave, and what they’re thinking. Or in other words, solid ground on which to build your strategy. Once you know this, you can set up an experiment to test your hypothesis.
1. Match your ad to your landing page
And match your landing page to your ad. If someone clicks on your ad and is taken to a page that has little relevance to the ad they’ve just clicked on, they’ll bounce faster than you can say ‘conversion’. A bit like heading into a shop advertising candles in the window, only to discover it’s actually stocked with lawn mowers.
Making sure things match might mean creating more than one landing page if you have ads promoting multiple products or services. For example, if your PPC ad shows a specific type of floor tile, ensure the user is taken to the sales page for that exact style – otherwise, you’re making them do extra work which they might not be prepared to do.
2. Do what works for your business
There are hundreds of CMO best practice articles out there, but ultimately, it’s about what works for you and your customers. Before you start your CRO project, prioritise your proposed approaches by ranking them from 1-10 according to Potential, Importance, and Ease (aka the PIE framework).
Once each approach has a score, add the numbers up and divide by three. The highest scores indicate the projects that will have the biggest impact. These are the ones you should prioritise first.
3. Do what works for your business
Making changes to your site without tying them to real-world commercial actions is a bit like training for the London Marathon and trying out loads of protein shakes without measuring the effect they’re having on your running times. It all just feels a bit pointless and you could miss out on something that really works. Link your site’s analytics to your conversions to get a true picture of your ROI.
The fact is, if your website is attracting visitors, then CRO is for you. No matter how new, small, or large your business is, you’ll always want to convert those visitors into leads and customers – and you’ll want to do that reliably, and for as little cost as possible.
With CRO, the aim of the game is to get more out of your current web traffic without you having to spend more on paid digital marketing.
There’s no perfect time to take the leap. Yes, spending more on PPC and getting more customers through the door is a smart move – but if your traffic isn’t buying, then it’s money down the drain. CRO and paid ads shouldn’t be an either/or type situation: rather, they work together as a team. Without investing in one, you’ll not enjoy the full advantages of the other – missing out on the opportunity to scale your sales in the process.
We at Logica Digital can help you understand your customers better. We can tell you what your research should look like – or we can do it for you. We can then test your investments and fine-tune your marketing efforts to help your business bloom. To find out more, get in touch today for a free campaign audit.