Our results are far from unusual. VentureBeat’s “Conversion Optimization” report, which assessed 36 CRO tools, with almost 3,000 tool users, and 3.1 million US Web sites, found that using a CRO tool increased return on investment (ROI) by an average of 223 percent. For the top 5 percent of companies, that increase in ROI was greater than 1,000 percent.
Fortunately, it doesn’t take a complete Web-site overhaul to see significant conversion-rate increases. In fact, after simply adding a photo of a smiling customer next to its call to action, the lead-management company Highrise experienced a 102.5-percent increase in conversions.
Of course, you shouldn’t implement just any CRO strategy that you read about in a case study. A particular strategy might not be appropriate for your site. Although, if your research discovered that visitors aren’t converting because they feel your site is cheerless, maybe a photo of a smiling customer would work. In most cases, you’ll need to follow a scientific method based on research.
Integrating a CRO Strategy
If you’re building a new Web site or need to increase your current site’s conversions, follow these five steps to integrate a CRO strategy into your project.
1. Diagnose your design.
Things start to go astray when you make design decisions based on a hunch—even a hunch from a trustworthy source. Instead, use the data that you’ve collected when diagnosing your site and its visitors. This data can come from Web analytics, heat maps that measure clicks, session recordings, surveys, eyetracking studies, and many other diagnostic tools, including those for marketing research.
2. Pinpoint problem areas.
What is preventing visitors from converting? If you’re having trouble persuading visitors to make a particular purchase, perhaps that product doesn’t meet your visitors’ needs, but it’s also possible your offering fails to provoke a sense of urgency. In cases of particularly bad design, users might simply be having difficulty locating a product or service they’re interested in, or they might feel that your Web site isn’t sufficiently trustworthy to make a credit-card purchase or provide their contact information. Once you know your visitors’ objections, you can begin to correct the problems on your site.
3. Formulate a testing strategy.
Next, create hypotheses about how you could eliminate visitors’ objections. You should come up with a good list of potential fixes for an issue, then prioritize them. The most important strategies to test are those with the greatest potential for impact. Go big or go home. Then, test the ideas that are relatively easy or inexpensive to implement, because they can provide quick wins. Finally, don’t underestimate the value of ideas that have worked before, even if they don’t seem to be immediately applicable. Even small tweaks might result in improvements in surprising places.
4. Design, develop, test, repeat.
Start by running tests with low-fidelity wireframes or sketches. Once you receive feedback and improve the usability of your wireframed solution, the next step is to develop high-fidelity mockups and commence usability testing. Having obtained feedback from actual users, you can develop further mockups based on your results. Implement prototypes and start testing them on your site. Evaluate your success, then keep the optimization going by testing additional variations. CRO is a journey, not a destination.
5. Use the transitive property.
The experiments that increase your Web site’s conversion rates may be applicable elsewhere as well. Transfer those wins to other marketing channels whenever possible, including paid search, social-media marketing, display ads, and any other advertising channels that make sense. For example, if you made a change to your Web site’s copy that increased conversions on a product page, you might make a similar change in print marketing materials or social-media advertisements for that product.
While conversion-rate optimization can be an intensive process, it’s also a gift that keeps on giving. Increasing any conversion rate is a significant win. It also lets you invest more of your budget in generating additional Web traffic with the confidence that you’re already making the most of each Web-site visitor. Of course, boosting traffic is important—just make sure that CRO comes first.