The SEOgadget Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization
Posted by richardbaxterseo
You are missing out on extra sales! So, my awesome team at SEOgadget have crafted up a handy infographic for you on how get started in Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO, and that's "optimisation" over here in the UK) to get the best ROI from your hard earned traffic.
We've developed and applied this methodology to help struggling businesses out of financially difficult situations all the way to adding hundreds of thousands of pounds of revenue, per day, to become some of our largest clients.
We believe there are two paths to Conversion Rate Optimization. When we see companies fail in CRO, it’s because they’ve adopted random testing, guesswork, “best practice” changes and most fundamentally, they’ve chosen to avoid proper testing. We call this the bad path (queue Darth Vader’s Death March Theme…).
To get good at driving real change, you’ve got to define a CRO methodology. The real trick to improving your conversion is pretty simple: identify, and target the core barriers to conversion and then, scientifically test the changes. This is the good path (queue The Star Wars Force Theme) and the path that we advocate for all inbound marketers to follow…
Here's A Spiffy Step-by-Step Infographic
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So, What is Conversion Rate Optimization?
Just think of CRO as detective work. It’s a lot like using a fine comb to pick off the weak points in your site’s conversion funnel, while building on its strengths. At the heart of conversion rate optimization is the notion of removing barriers to conversion. These are the forces stopping your site from converting visitors into sales.
Barriers to conversion can include usability errors, weak persuasive techniques and often, page relevancy issues. By learning about your customer’s objections – “barriers to conversion” you’re addressing the real reasons why people don’t convert. The most important part: CRO is a scientific process of diagnosis, hypothesis and testing. Why bother guessing when there are tools to really help you learn about your customers?
Why doesn’t guesswork, work?
Let’s say you own a store on the high street. You’re keen to increase your sales, so you paint the front door a different colour. That’ll improve things, right? Of course not! You’re not addressing the real reasons why customers aren’t buying your stuff.
The same applies to websites, changing the colour of your buttons will have no effect if people find your website lacking in credibility. Targeting the root cause with security logos and social proof (for example, reviews, accreditations, and association) is a much better solution.
So, here’s how we do it at the GadgetPlex:
Step 1 – Set up Funnels
Setup your funnels and analyse the points where your users enter, until the point they exit. Try to identify the “missing links” or barriers to conversion. Find out where they abandon and create benchmarks for improvement. Tools such as Google Analytics, Omniture and Kissmetrics are great for creating conversion funnels. If you rely on phone conversions then tracking phone calls is pretty important. Tools such as Adinsight and Mongoose Metrics are pretty comprehensive at phone tracking.
Step 2 – Analytics
Find out what’s actually happening when people land on your site, analyse what they do, what keywords they discovered you for and where they land. Obviously, tools such as Google Analytics are great at telling you this, but think about digging deeper. What browsers are your visitors using? What screen resolutions are most popular?
Usability tools such as ClickTale are also great for funnels and their form analytics reveal where users drop off along your forms. CrazyEgg is another simple and effective tool that we use for click density analysis. Usability testing tools such as Usertesting and Whatusersdo are a great way to see videos of people using your site and where they hit conversion barriers. Ethnio is handy at recruiting your own site visitors to participate in usability tasks.
Step 3 - Barriers
To identify barriers to conversion, you’ve got to build up a profile of people’s objections and opinions.
Tools such as Kissinsights (Bought out by Catchfree, who are awesome), Pop-Survey, Kampyle are really good for page level surveys and pretty simple to setup. Live chat tools such Olark and LivePerson are useful for dealing with user problems instantly. Other survey tools such as 4Q survey, Survey Monkey and Survey Gizmo are really useful at discovering what your users are saying.
When it comes to using these tools we’ve found that all you really need is one question. Allow users to really express themselves by asking them an open-ended question. Acquire their email address (optional) for those that want their feedback to be responded to. Collecting an email address and promising a follow up really improves response rates, which allows you solve any objections early on.
Step 4 – Go Offline
If we know our target then the objective becomes easier. Study your website and understand your customers.
Speak to sales staff to learn the likely barriers they face when they sell and use the site. Your sales team deal with customers every day and uncover objections and seek to solve them in order to close the deal. The first time we did this we were surprised at just how useful this can be for exposing problems on your site.
Become a secret shopper and create scenarios i.e. rude customer vs. extremely polite vs. technically challenging - test how your staff deal with each scenario.
Finally, try actually phoning your own customer service number and see what happens. Test your customer services aggressively, as they can be the difference between retention and people going to your competitors. A 5% increase in retention can have an uplift of around 25 – 85% in profitability (Treytl 2002).
Step 5 – Prospect for Missing Links
It’s all about wheeling and dealing, discovering those hidden gems within your company and using them to grow sales.
When you apply for a job and have to send a CV or fill out an application, the employer knows nothing about you other than what is on that piece of paper or application (unless they’ve checked you out on Facebook). If you don’t sell yourself and mention all of your achievements, they won’t easily learn about you. The same rule applies for websites.
If you have loads of testimonials and expert reviews but don’t shout about it, then how will your potential customers know? Treat your website users like they’re the employer and impress them, tell them why they should buy, making the value proposition crystal clear.
Study your website carefully and consider what you’re missing. For example, showing expert reviews, customer reviews, testimonials, or even taking the time to build a community (just look at SEOmoz for inspiration).
Prospecting is really about selling your site to your users and using clever mechanisms to grow conversion rate and sales.
Step 6 – Strengthen Average Order Value (AOV)
There are so many ways to strengthen your AOV, which Fabian covered beautifully in this blog post.
As an AOV strategy, bundles work amazingly and it doesn’t even matter if you’re not strictly a retailer. Look at Unbounce for inspiration. They offer conversion bundles on their products joined with offerings from other companies which is a clever technique to offer a cost saving and acquire additional sales.
(Unbounce use “conversion bundles” as way to boost AOV and get more leads)
SEOmoz have a Pro Perks store (check it out).
Not all competition is competition, strategic partnerships can be a great way to grow and gain maximum exposure especially for start-ups.
Step 7 – Wireframe the Solutions
As soon as you’ve got a plan, list and prioritise the main conversion killers and derive solutions on how to fix it and increase conversion.
We use tools such as Balsamiq and Cacoo to wireframe the solutions and then prepare hypotheses for testing. Test scientifically, the most important thing to take away from testing is to learn what works and what doesn’t and to keep building structurally to increase conversion rate. No guesswork!
Step 8 - Testing
“One accurate measurement is worth more than a thousand expert opinions” - Admiral Grace Hopper (Wikipedia)
We love this quote because it really captures what testing is all about, forget about guesswork, opinion and egos (think: HIPPO) and instead, test your variations accurately.
We primarily use Google Website Optimiser (which is now becoming content experiments) and Visual Website Optimiser. There’s loads of split testing and multivariate software. But remember: it’s not the testing tool that increases your conversion it’s the ideas you put into it.
What we’ve learnt is don’t test too many things, instead create a clear structured hypothesis. Attach CrazyEgg or ClickTale to your variations to monitor the difference in click density and interaction between your pages. If you’re optimising forms then applying ClickTale to your variation pages is really useful.
Try running page level surveys on the variations and original page, ask the same question, and monitor the difference. Always test your variations in multiple browsers. Browsershots are pretty good for this. For mobile testing we use Mobile Moxie’s excellent phone emulator, which is really handy at testing across different phone operating systems and platforms.
Step 9 - Review
Review your test, analyse the analytics, click density and form analytics (ClickTale) and compare it to the original page, check the difference.
Tracking AOV and revenue is so important when testing. Structure your follow up tests and build on your success, or failure. Failure doesn’t always mean the test was wrong, it means the original is doing something really well, so learn and iterate. Apply your winning test candidates to other pages on the site (we always like to test these usually via a multi-page multivariate test), and then consider applying your learnings to other media channels such as magazines, adverts and brochure ware.
Step 10 – Rinse & Repeat
Repeat the process and keep building successful tests. Each time you test and find winning variations, you build up a portfolio of increases. Conversion rate optimization is an iterative process, which builds on the success of the previous test.
Follow this methodology and it will be extremely hard not to increase your site conversion. That’s how to get more happy customers and more happy customers equals more bang for your buck.
I hope you enjoyed our epic guide! Do check out the full HTML version of our infographic - and, in the meantime I'd love to hear how you're working CRO into the inbound marketing process! I'd like to say a special thanks to Fabian for his hard work on making sure this post happened, follow him on Twitter here!
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