Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is a set of tools and tactics to increase the probability of your site visitors turning into actual paying customers.
I say “probability”, because CRO does not guarantee 100% conversions.
Indeed, the current conversion rates are around 1-7% depending on the industry.
Also, you should know that CRO has been criticized.
And indeed, growing your online profits covers more than simply increasing the number of transactions.
You need to give equal emphasis to metrics that track the quality of those transactions.
What is “conversion”?
A conversion could be anything.
For a blogger, a single blog subscription could be considered a conversion.
For eCommerce, a conversion might be a sale, a monthly service subscription, newsletter sign-up, product carting, or even an event click.
You can test and increase your conversion rates with the so-called A/B testing, where you would, for example
- Create two different versions of a headline both pointing to the same article
- Share both headlines in social media around the same time
- Analyze which one got more attention
- And then modifying the article headline itself based on the winner.
You can find more A/B test ideas here
Some are taking this to the extreme and are testing every aspect of the digital presence, down to how different hues of red affect the rate at which a “Subscribe” button is pressed. And there’s more to it.
And sure, colors, words counts, content lengths, publication timings, media types can all be tested infinitely.
But does it matter?
It may if you are a huge eCommerce site with lots of traffic.
There, a single change may produce a noticeable change in customer behavior, because statistically, it’s just probable.
It may also matter if you are just about to launch a new site. At that stage, some items must be A/B tested while others may be left for later.
With the rest of us, with our few pages and a few dozen of blog posts, what matters?
Conversion Rate Optimization starts from your value proposition
With your limited resources, there are a few things that you should concentrate on in conversion rate optimization in the first place. According to the sensible LIFT model by WiderFunnel, the factors are
- Value proposition
Out of these, your Value proposition is the element around which to build.
The other five factors either drive conversions or inhibit them.
Out of them, Relevance, Urgency, and Clarity improve conversion rates, while Anxiety and Distractions decrease them.
Let’s take a look at each.
Conversion Rate Optimization drivers
Your Value proposition is the vehicle that provides the means for optimization in the first place.
A good Value proposition is easy to read and understand and clearly tells what benefits your customer can get.
In your customer’s eyes, your Value proposition is a cost vs. benefits formula that the brain launches subconsciously and automatically when they encounter your marketing touchpoint, for example, a web page of yours.
If your Value proposition meets the above criteria, you make it easier for a potential buyer to figure out whether he should buy from you or from your competitors.
If it’s not clear, he will definitely go to your competitor.
Thus, before you can state your Value proposition clearly, it makes no sense to test red hues.
While the value proposition may be clear, it will not help if the wrong kind of people land on your site.
Thus, your page must, for example, use terms your visitor relate to and be consistent with the incoming link.
- the message must be right
- the target group must be right
- the timing of the message must be right.
Otherwise, your visitor will be disoriented and leave the page.
How to improve Relevance?
By making sure
- The right kind of visitors
- From the right kind of channels
- Arrive on the right landing pages.
To conclude, the marketing message, the landing page content and the visitor expectations must all match for the experience to be relevant.
The conscious attention span of a modern human being may be seven seconds anymore, but even before that, within a just a few seconds, the brain takes in all that you have on your page, processes the information and outputs the result to your conscious mind.
The result is either “This is for me!” or “I’m outta here”.
To increase the former, increase Clarity.
Clarity consists of Design and Content.
Designing for Clarity creates a pleasant “eye-flow” (for example, by supporting our natural F-shaped pattern reading style). Content clarity ensures the images and text combine to minimize comprehension time.
Indeed, if you can’t tell within a few seconds
- what you are selling
- how it benefits the visitor
- who is the product or service targeted at
you will lose a part of your customers. They will leave your site and might never come back.
Thus, an immediately digestible headline, tagline, and visual image are important.
The same applies to the page Call To Action (e.g. the button that prompts to take action).
When the page is clear, the visitor
- Knows what he must pay attention to
- And what he needs to click in order to proceed
Thus, if you want to sell more, simplify the language, shorten the sentences and avoid difficult words.
A sense of Urgency improves conversions.
Urgency, in turn, constitutes of two components: internal (or how the visitor is feeling at the time of arrival) and external (or what you can introduce during the visit to increase the sense of Urgency).
The latter includes
- the tone of the presentation
- offers valid until a specific day only
- deadlines (for example a planned price increase in the near future)
- limited availability of a product or service
With these, you can even out the demand for your products or services. The purpose of these is to make your visitor buy now because this might be his first and last visit to your site.
Conversion Rate Optimization inhibitors
Many arriving at your site may have desires to buy from you, but something prevents them.
That something is Anxiety or a fear of
- the deal failing or other unexpected disappointment
- the product underperforming or service underdelivering
- getting cheated, losing the money, getting fired or becoming the laughing stock.
Whether the Anxiety is rational or not, it affects your sales.
That’s why you need to reduce it any way you can.
Anxiety is a function of the Credibility you have built with the visitor and the Trust you are asking them to have.
To reduce Anxiety, you can
- present professional certificates
- https traffic
- lock icons
- money back guarantees
- 30 day free trials
Have you heard of landing pages?
They are a popular method to introduce a first time visitor to your site.
A landing page is a web page designed to drive the visitor to complete one task, and one task only.
That’s why it’s stripped off of anything that prevents the visitor from completing that task.
The task may be to
- subscribe to a newsletter
- download a guide
- type in the credit card number
- share a content
That’s why the design must be simple and distraction-free and the offer on the page targeted for a single purpose.
The number of distractions can be even calculated in the form of Attention Ratio.
That is the number of clicks leading to the desired results divided by all the interactive elements on that page.
A distraction-free ratio is 1:1 and it means that only one thing can be done on the page.
And, the smaller the AR is, the smaller the page conversion rate will become.
Conversion Rate Optimization – so now what?
Let’s recap the message of this article
- Formulate a good value proposition. No meaningful conversion rates can be generated without an effective value proposition
- Increase Relevance and Clarity, and inject a sense of Urgency
- Decrease Anxiety and the number of Distractions.
Once these are in order, you can concentrate on the button hues, right?
Not so fast: keep your eye on your strategy.
It probably encourages you to grow. Growth happens through an increase in sales.
Now, an A/B tests may indicate that changing a detail in a page design results in a higher conversion rate. But if the change eventually hurts your sales or impacts your revenue negatively, you need to choose the change that increases your long-term bottom line.
Don’t be tempted by the short-term conversion spikes.
There you go. Happy conversions!