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Conversion rate optimization (CRO) outlines the various steps taken to increase the amount of website visitors performing a desired action. CRO is vital to business success, driving new opportunities for sales to ensure a steady revenue stream and ever-growing online presence. 59% of businesses believe CRO is crucial to their overall digital marketing strategy. Discover everything you need to know about CRO, what it means for your business and how to get the best results. Access one of our chapters using the links below or read on for an overview of conversion rate optimization.

 

Chapters:

1. All about conversion

2. CRO challenges

3. Building a CRO strategy

4. Website personalization and CRO

5. CRO: Best practices

 

Conversion rate optimization is the process of optimizing your website in many different ways, to improve the likelihood that visitors will complete specific actions asked of them. No two websites are the same, and every business aims to encourage different responses; from driving product inquiries to gaining blog subscriptions, one website can desire several types of visitor action, and measure multiple conversion rates.

As the world of business websites is so diverse, there is no single answer to optimizing a website for increased conversion, but there are several key areas to focus on when aiming to boost CRO. Though the way your website is optimized depends upon your desired action, your audience and your offering, ensuring your team spend enough time building the perfect experience for conversion is essential. If your website is failing to convert visitors, then what return does it offer your business?

Why is CRO important to businesses?

It saves money

Conducting an effective CRO strategy helps your website get more from every visitor. If you’re able to increase the percentage of visitors taking the desired action, your results will improve across the board. Done well, a CRO strategy doesn’t require an influx of additional traffic, it makes more out of the audience you already attract.

Conducting campaigns to drive new website visitors can be expensive; CRO maximizes your current resources by updating something you already have- your website- offering a low-cost solution to increase online success. Once properly optimized to convert a high level of visitors, you can then focus on cost effective ways to increase traffic numbers, knowing you’ll achieve a heightened success rate.

Improve lead quality

Whilst gaining an increased amount of new business opportunities is a key aim for many looking to improve CRO, quantity doesn’t always mean quality. Many techniques for gaining additional leads are fruitless, as these new leads can be a bad fit for your product or services, and have no chance of successfully journeying through your sales pipeline.

However, optimizing your website to increase conversion gives your team the chance to better outline the value of your business offering, ensuring visitors have an intricate understanding of how their organization will benefit from a purchase. This, in turn, increases your lead quality, helping your sales team achieve improved success, driving revenue. As 94% of buyer journeys start online, it’s highly likely your website will gain plenty of visitors you don’t want to convert- as they don’t meet your necessary buyer criteria. Using a CRO strategy to gain conversions from ideal clients, and lose bad fits, can drastically improve the quality of your overall lead pipeline.

Positive ROI

Depending on which website aspects you wish to optimize, and what additions you plan to make, it’s easy to worry about the cost of CRO. Changing website features can get expensive, and as your website is constant, costs can build fast and need to be continually maintained. However, for many businesses, detailed analysis, careful planning and pro-active preparation is enough to increase CRO success, and the results gained leave no cause for ROI concern.
The improved lead quantity and quality offered by a website given the CRO treatment drives additional revenue, far outweighing the costs needed to get there. The average ROI gained from a CRO strategy is 223%, proving just how much potential a properly optimized website offers your business.

Audience understanding

Conducting a CRO strategy involves detailed research into your current website visitors and what they need from your online experience. This seriously improves your audience understanding, helping your team discover new markets and use cases you had struggled to previously understand.

You also gain valuable insights into user behavior and start to easily see your product from the buyer’s perspective, asking similar questions to your prospects and understanding what’s currently putting them off your product or service. This improves your marketing efforts, providing experiences better suited to your audience behavior whilst discovering new ways your product can be used and promoted.

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Chapter 1: All about conversion

Building an effective CRO strategy requires a detailed understanding of conversion, and how this process moves within your business pipeline. The term “conversion” is used by marketing and sales teams on a daily basis, but before embarking on a conversion rate optimization strategy, it’s key to delve into the meaning of this term in a CRO context. Understand conversion rate, how this value is calculated and how it aligns with the website visitor journey.

What is conversion and conversion rate?

The term “conversion” is used to signify a state of progressive change, usually moving a prospect further down their buyer journey. A conversion can come in many shapes and sizes, all differing between businesses. Conversions also vary between marketing channels and sales pipeline stages, though they all focus on propelling new business opportunities closer to the ultimate conversion- the sale. To help understand conversions, we can split them into macro and micro.

Macro-conversions are the large and important changes that heavily effect the buyer pipeline, often moving prospects onto the next stage of their journey with your business. Example of macro-examples include:

  • Requesting a quote/inquiring (prospect to lead)
  • Sitting a product demo or completing a trial period (lead to qualified lead)
  • Making a purchase (qualified lead to a sale)

Micro-conversions are smaller successes that benefit in nurturing prospects and building product value, increasing the likelihood of sale but don’t definitively move prospects further down the buyer pipeline. These include:

  • Subscribing to regular content distribution
  • Signing up to receive email communications
  • Adding a product to an online cart
  • Creating an online account

In the world of conversion rate optimization, it’s usual to focus on macro-conversions, improving website features to generate new business interest and move opportunities closer to the sale. However, if so desired, a website can be additionally optimized to increase micro-conversions too; it’s important to strike a balance, offering an experience that boosts both macro and micro-conversions.

Your conversion rate is a measure of how often the desired action is achieved and appears as a percentage. Providing insight into your website’s success and ability to properly benefit your target audience, continually measuring and improving your conversion rate brings a myriad of business benefits.

Calculating conversion rate

Website conversion rate can be easily calculated, by taking the number of successful conversions and dividing it by the amount of overall website visitors, then multiplying the result by 100 to gain a percentage. For example, if your homepage has successfully converted 521 visitors to inquire out of a total 10,000 visitors viewing your homepage, your conversion would be 5.21%.

This process can be used to calculate the conversion rate for any online call to action, if you only count the total number of visitors to that specific page- don’t count visitors who haven’t come into contact with that CTA. For example, to understand your email sign up conversion rate, only count visitors who viewed pages featuring your email sign up CTA. Let’s say the CTA in question is featured on two webpages, one seeing 600 visitors, and another seeing 1050 visitors- your total visitor number would be 1650. If you achieved 55 email sign up conversions, you achieve a 3.33% conversion rate- (55/1650)x100.

Some website analytics software can help your team calculate conversion rate, but all tools of this nature will offer enough visitor insight to understand website visitor and conversion volumes, enabling your team to easily calculate desired conversion rates.

Your conversion funnel

A conversion funnel outlines the steps your website visitors work through to successfully covert. This could be a very short journey, from homepage to form fill, but based on the KPI you’re aiming to optimize, this may be longer. For a blog subscription, the journey might look like homepage> blog library page> blog post> form fill. If you offer an e-commerce service, this journey may include various product pages and several checkout pages incorporating delivery and payment.

Before looking to conversion rate optimization, understand your conversion funnel, and which elements affect this journey. This helps to ensure you only focus on optimizing the pages and features that matter to a final result, and also offers insight into instant changes to shorten this journey. A shorter conversion funnel means fewer distractions to slow your prospects down or remove them from the funnel; if you notice any unnecessary stages within your conversion journey, you know where to start your CRO strategy!

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Chapter 2: CRO challenges

With a keen understanding of conversion rate optimization, you’ll be ready to build a winning strategy to boost business success. But, before diving into the best tactics and techniques to use, it’s important to understand what challenges this approach offers so you can take appropriate measures to combat them before embarking on your CRO journey.

Calls to action

Calls to action (CTAs) are paramount to CRO- they are the encouragement, moving website visitors ever closer to taking the action you desire. Creating calls to action that perfectly speak to your target audience, and continually drive website conversion can be difficult. As your website is viewed so often, by so many, finding a CTA that converts every audience member is a true challenge.

This difficulty escalates when adding additional actions for the visitor to take. When managing a mixture of smaller micro-conversions (blog subscriptions and email sign ups) and a large macro-conversion (new product inquiry/purchase), it’s easy to distract visitors and steer them away from converting at all. Striking the perfect CTA balance, and ensuring the right placement, copy and imagery is used, proves a consistent struggle for CRO strategies.

User experience

Offering a high user experience (UX) ensures website visitors can find what they need quickly and easily; without a strong UX, visitors are likely to disengage with your brand and exit your website early, as they’re unable to gain desired information. An improved user experience increases conversion, helping visitors stumble across your powerful CTAs and, where appropriate, guide them towards online purchases.

Creating a user experience that remains seamless and effective proves a challenge for many businesses, as like with calls to action, varying target audiences will respond to different things- what works for one won’t work for all. Though understanding your conversion pipeline and optimizing it to remove barriers is a start, this often isn’t enough to ensure a universally effective user experience for increased conversion.
Search engine optimization

There’s little point optimizing a website for conversion if no one can find it! Search engine optimization (SEO) ensures your website ranks highly on search pages, enabling more people to discover your brand. Understanding SEO and conducting the appropriate measures to maximize this process is an expert skill held by a select few, and many businesses struggle to recruit SEO experts for website optimization.

When making changes to a website in order to improve the likelihood of conversion success, it’s vital to additionally ensure appropriate keyword management, enabling high search page rankings. Though due to the difficulty in gaining SEO insight, optimizing a website for both CRO and SEO remain challenging, causing businesses to settle for success in just one area, or an average medium in both.

Website content relevance

As the world of business continues to evolve with new trends, technological advancements and changing regulations, offering an optimized website experience that remains relevant and current is tough. The best conversion is achieved by those who move with the times and always offer up-to-date website content in line with industry news for their target audience; but this process is time consuming and puts a strain on your internal resource.

By the time you’ve identified a recent trend, created content in response and properly optimized it for conversion, it may no longer have any sway over your audience! Gauging when a shift in your audience’s business world warrants a website addition or content evolution is tough, and taking the appropriate action to offer a continually current experience challenges CRO success.

Information and resources

Improving CRO requires a vast amount of data and the ability to continually test and experiment with different website content. To properly enable these processes, businesses need tools that offer advanced and insightful website analytics, gaining an understanding of website traffic for specific pages and CTAs, whilst measuring the success of each conversion opportunity. And this is just the information needed to get you started!
Alongside this, your team needs a software enabling easy website adjustment, changing website content and links to improve conversion, and the ability to intricately measure the results of each change. Without the correct information and resources, an effective CRO strategy isn’t possible, and businesses often find they begin a CRO strategy without ensuring they have all the resources needed for completion.

Commitment

Almost 50% of businesses don’t have a specific person accountable for CRO success and treat the process as a secondary focus. This will continually hinder website conversion, as an effective CRO strategy requires 100% commitment; consistent measurement, testing and analysis is essential to your CRO strategy, and many businesses struggle to commit at least one team member to take ownership of this process.

82% of marketers find operating the testing and experimentation required to master CRO a challenge, due to a lack of resource and commitment. Look to your current processes surrounding website management, and ask how you would ensure your CRO strategy is continually managed and executed- who will offer the commitment and take responsibility for establishing effective conversion rate optimization?

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Chapter 3: Building a CRO strategy

When properly executed, a conversion rate optimization strategy can turn your website into a hub of beneficial activity, bringing your business new opportunities to drive revenue and increase brand dominance and engagement. Here’s how to build that winning strategy and evolve your website experience for outstanding conversion results.

Measuring current conversions

When building a CRO strategy it’s vital to outline your current website visitor experience, understanding the activity your site sees daily, and how much of it provides a return through conversion. This strategy is about far more than gaining additional traffic, it’s about maximizing the opportunity offered by your current website visitors, converting as many as possible before bringing in a new crowd.

Start by gathering essential website data, understanding your traffic volumes and referrals, which pages are popular and what calls to action convert successfully. Gather as much detail as possible, using a variety of tools available including heat-maps and visitor recordings alongside traditional website analytics. Look to gain intricate insight into how your visitors interact with your website and carry through the actions you desire of them to convert.

Take this time to conduct additional research into your target audience and their buyer journey preferences, understanding what they want to gain from a website experience, what questions they often ask and how your current site measures up against their business expectations. With this vital information, you’re ready to build a revolutionary strategy.

Laying groundwork

With all this data in hand, you need to start outlining some key details to drive your strategy forward. Start by asking, “what does conversion mean for my website?” Identifying the macro and micro-conversions you wish to achieve, then prioritize them in order of importance to your pipeline and results. Identify your key website goal, and what conversions offer additional bonuses for improved pipeline success.

Then look to ask what your conversion targets are for each call to action; what are you currently achieving, and what is your dream goal? How many months will you need to achieve this goal? Do you see the current traffic volume required to drive the ideal target conversion? Is the traffic you gain relevant to your business and product?
40% of marketers currently see a conversion of less than 0.5% and aim to increase this number, so don’t be down heartened if your current conversion is low. Whilst most businesses aim to see website conversion rates between 1-3%, you can set your conversion targets far higher if desired- the best performing websites convert around 11% of visitors!

Planning page optimization

Identify key areas for optimization based on current page performance and ideal audience preference. Assess also how much will need to change on these pages, and how you will gradually introduce changes. Does your homepage need a totally new layout? Or do you simply need to edit the call to action copy? Plan a calendar of website optimization, which sections will be adjusted, in what order, allowing time to A/B test different elements to ensure the best content is always selected.

With your optimization calendar in place, you’re ready to start intricately planning the detail behind customizations and conducting relevant research in high-performing website elements. If you plan to change website copy, what will you change it to and why? If you want to move your call to action, where will it go, and why will that change benefit conversion? Never make a change without understanding how it will improve your CRO success.
For example, 64% of your website visitors will judge their inquiry based on customer testimonials, so there’s every reason to ensure they’re placed on your homepage, or in easy reach. Added to this, conversion rates for mobile and tablet users are higher on average than desktop visitors, so ensuring your website is properly displayed on these devices could dramatically increase CRO success. Use your understanding of ideal buyer behavior and preferences to discover what website changes will best meet their needs, shortening their conversion pipeline journey and increasing your chance of success.

Target testing

Testing and experimentation is essential for CRO success. The most successfully converting websites undergo 50% more tests than those less successful, making certain the best options for optimization are chosen. When conducting tests on webpages, you need to ensure a few vital things.
Firstly, outline the specific conversion result you wish to test- are you looking to see more blog sign ups or new product inquiries? Know the precise goal for each webpage and ask how you’ll measure this result during the test. Do you need additional software to know when conversions are successful? Look one step further and ask how you’ll test the quality of conversions gained. Gathering a great number of desired visitor actions is exciting, but if they come from the wrong audience and don’t benefit your business revenue stream, you’re not properly optimized for your ideal audience.

Second, make sure each test features a distinctive webpage change, be it in layout, copy, color or link. Show team members before and after webpage designs, ensuring they can see the change made without a vast amount of effort. If you’ve changed a few words of copy within a long paragraph, or an equally difficult change to distinguish without detailed page engagement, it’s unlikely you’ll see definitive results from a test.

But as always- balance is the key! Changing too much in one sitting is damaging to your conversion by as much as 20% and can distract regular website visitors. Look to only change a single page element to keep your test focused. If you want to change your call to action copy and where it sits on the page, test these two elements individually, don’t do them together.

These measures will ensure tests produce accurate results you can recreate on future pages and new landing pages, helping you decipher the perfect webpage formula for ideal conversion of high-quality target audience members.

Continual review

It’s important to continually review your website optimization, and ensure it consistently delivers the rates of conversion you wish to see, increasing success towards your dream conversion goal. Plan ahead and know how often you’ll analyze conversion success and audit previous changes to ensure they still offer the ultimate opportunity.
This continual review will help ensure your website meets the ever-changing needs and preferences of your target audience and doesn’t get left behind. Failure to update your website in this way can lead to audience disengagement and damaged conversion. Planning regular conversion rate audits in advance will help your team understand how much commitment a CRO strategy requires, and which metrics to measure to understand future strategic movements.

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Chapter 4: Website personalization and CRO

As conversion rate optimization is wholly based upon your website and its success in appealing to visitors and encouraging conversion, embracing website personalization offers your business some key strategic benefits. Give your CRO approach a serious boost by discovering website personalization, and what it means for your website conversion success.

What is website personalization?

Website personalization outlines the process of dynamically changing website content to perfectly match the needs and requirements of the visitor. Without website personalization, every website visitor you gain will be given the same online experience, which may at times be successful, but certainly doesn’t optimize every conversion opportunity.

With website personalization, you give each valuable visitor a unique online journey. Showing content relevant to industry pain-points, presenting products and offers purchased by those in similar business sectors or sizes, and delivering use case specific messaging provides each visitor with a bespoke online experience and a memorable first impression.

With website personalization, your website can offer an experience that has the potential to convert consistently. Offering a website journey, so targeted and tailored to visitor interests, instantly captures the attention of visiting businesses and guides them seamlessly towards personalized CTAs, which are proven to increase conversion by at least 42%.

How can website personalization boost CRO?

Instant relevance

Offering a website experience tailored to visitor needs delivers an instantly relevant experience, engaging website visitors straight from your homepage. This enables you to build product value, proving how excellent your services are and what return you can offer through industry specific content and case studies. This relevance improves conversion success, as visitors don’t feel they need to continue researching alternative solutions- you already deliver precisely what they need!

Put yourself in the shoes of a busy decision maker searching for a key pain-point solution; if a website instantly offers you all the answers and information you need, along with an exciting offer, you’ll be quick to take them up on it. A highly targeted and customized website experience has been proven to improve CRO success by 300%, proving how valuable this approach can be.

Seamless online journey

Just as additional steps in your conversion funnel distract visitors and draw them further from conversion, time visitors spend navigating your website for desired information is time you could potentially lose them. Website personalization offers a seamless journey, guiding the visitor through highly targeted content, directly to an impactful call to action.

Customizing webpages to buyer needs heightens your control over visitor website journeys; whilst you can’t predict or dictate what visitors will and won’t do on your site, you can carefully guide visitors through a set journey to increase their exposure to relevant CTAs. Removing navigation from the visitor journey can increase conversion rates by 100%, meaning website personalization can easily double your lead success.

End to end consistency

Prospects don’t just visit your website once; they may engage with it several times before converting. The average lead has already consumed three-five pieces of your content before contacting your team. Personalizing your website to consistently meet the visitor’s industry or specific business ensures every time they view your site, they’re met with the same bespoke, high-end experience. This consistently personalized experience sets your brand apart from competitors and ensures your visitors are met with everything they need to gain product insight and seamlessly convert, reducing the average amount of brand touch-points before conversion.

Memorable impression

A first impression counts for a great deal, as 70% of businesses buy from the first vendor they engage with, it can make or break a sales opportunity. Website personalization can help make that exceptional first impression that sparks quick engagement and increases conversion success.

Imagine a website experience that greets you by name, instantly recommends relevant products and displays case-studies for your specific industry; you’d not only be impressed at the highly intricate attention to detail, you’d also remember that brand name and be keen to engage with them further. A strong CRO strategy highly benefits from a memorable and impactful first impression, an experience made possible with website personalization.

Customized calls to action

Personalizing your website enables you to also completely customize calls to action, ensuring they speak directly to every website visitor. This strategy has been proven many times to be effective and continues to deliver a CRO increase of at least 42%. When looking to cure a specific industry pain-point, a call to action directly mentioning a solution is bound to entice you, and when it’s literally got your name on it- it’s hard to say no!

The most advanced website personalization software, like webeo, enables your team to use “smart CTAs”; calls to action employing visitor specific messaging, corresponding to the lead’s status within your business pipeline and referencing location, industry or even business name. Recent studies show smart CTAs achieve a conversion increase of 202%, revolutionizing online lead results. Discover what webeo can do for your business with our free demonstration.

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Chapter 5: CRO: Best practices

With a thorough understanding of conversion rate optimization, why it’s so vital to business success, and how to build an effective strategy, it’s time to understand CRO best practices. Ensure your team are properly prepared for a detailed CRO strategy, making the most of every opportunity offered and overcoming the common challenges discussed in Chapter two.

Blog optimization

Your blogs offer a secret CRO weapon! They are easy to optimize for high SEO ranking, ensuring interested prospects can easily discover your website, and they offer a bounty of ways to convert visitors.
Text based CTAs are easy to incorporate into a blog. Mentioning your product demonstration, or the name of an additional content asset as a piece of anchor text or part of the blog flow seems like a simple addition, but is proven to bring exciting results. Recent studies show 93% of successful blog conversions are from text based CTAs with embedded hyperlinks, instead of banners.

Added to this, a blog is a great place to balance multiple conversion aims, linking readers to additional content pieces, encouraging subscription sign up and new product queries. Offering plenty of space to distribute these CTAs, ensuring the reader doesn’t feel under pressure to convert, look to your current blog layout and ask how you can optimize these pages for conversion success.

Contact form focus

It’s been repeatedly proven that decreasing the number of fields in your form can increase conversion success by 120%, as the process seems quick and easy for the prospect to fulfill, and doesn’t impede on their busy timetable. Focus your forms to only ask for essential information- you can always gain additional data further down the line. Asking for too much upfront causes friction, and puts visitors off form completion. Studies show the optimum number of fields on a B2B contact form is three, gaining the highest amount of completions for conversion.

Use this opportunity to also ask a single qualifying question, to help improve lead quality for easy prioritization. Aim for this to be a multiple choice question, to instantly eliminate or qualify new leads at minimal effort to your visitors. For example, if you sell a product specific to B2B businesses, ask “Is your organization B2B, B2C or both?” allowing them to select the relevant option. This helps your team focus on new high-quality leads and instantly discard those of no use.

Avoid stock imagery and template graphics

They may come in high-resolution, but stock images don’t do your website any favors. They look forced, cheesy, and don’t add any additional value or impact to your page. Should a business come across your website and instantly recognize a stock image, you lose all credibility and authority. Conversion rate is best optimized when your website offers a completely unique experience free of stock images and template graphic layouts.

A recent study removed all stock imagery from a website, replacing the images with those of company founders, employees, clients and products. These websites saw a lift in conversion by 35%. People want to interact with other people, so add a real face to your website, and increase conversion rates by building a sense of trust and leadership.

Experiment with color

Sometimes the conversion rate can be optimized by a simple color change, lifting the appearance of your call to action and ensuring visitors are drawn to interact with the desired form. In a recent experiment, a B2B website gained a conversion increase of 32.5% by simply changing their CTA button from red to green. Though this exact change won’t work for everyone (green may clash horribly with your brand colors!), finding which colors stand out from your website enough to get noticed and have the desired effect can seriously boost CRO.

Look to your brand color palette, and select shades that have not yet appeared on the webpage you’re optimizing, but still complement the page appearance. Be sure to A/B test your color options and carefully select the most successful contender. It may be that some colors create a higher sense of urgency in visitors, and continue to build conversion success.

Optimize landing pages

It’s important to optimize your website for conversion, but don’t forget to give your landing pages the same treatment. When thoroughly optimized, a B2B landing page can convert almost 14% of visitors. Discovering the ideal template for ultimate landing page conversion is a key to success, as using a higher number of landing pages increases conversion. Those using 40+ landing pages see 12 times the number of successful conversions than those using 1-5. Look to build a base landing page perfectly optimized for conversion, enabling your team to quickly create an optimized landing page whenever needed.

Experiment with landing page length, discovering how to best deliver your brand message and product value to visitors, piquing enough interest to encourage inquiry. Keeping form fills above the fold and including customer testimonials continues to drive landing page success. Selecting relevant product images to boost your landing page message and value proposition also increases conversion success by 40.18%. Landing pages continue to offer exciting conversion opportunities, be sure not to neglect their optimization.

Incorporate video

The use of video to boost conversion success is a relatively modern approach, but continues to produce promising results. A majority of millennial decision makers will stop all other tasks to engage with a video, and as over 70% of B2B purchases involve these younger decision makers, maximizing on video can evolve your CRO success.
Landing pages featuring videos have already increased conversions by over 80%. With video, you can embed conversion forms into the content, personalize sections and thumbnails to specific visitors and instill a high sense of trust and authority. They offer your business a chance to deliver an exciting website experience, and gain a heightened amount of new business opportunities.

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