Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the systematic process of increasing the percentage of website visitors who take a desired action — be that filling out a form, becoming paying customers, or otherwise. The CRO process involves understanding how users move through your site, what actions they take, and what’s stopping them from taking the actions you desire them to take.
A conversion is the general term for a visitor completing a goal you’ve set for your website. Goals come in many shapes and sizes. If you use your website to sell products, the primary goal (known as the macro-conversion) is for the user to make a purchase. There are smaller conversions that can happen before a user completes a macro-conversion, such as signing up to receive emails. These are called micro-conversions.
Examples of micro-conversions:
Your site’s conversion rate is the number of times a user completes a goal divided by your site traffic. If a user can convert in each visit (such as by buying a product), divide the number of conversions by the number of sessions (the number of unique times a user came to your site). If you sell a subscription, divide the number of conversions by the number of users.
Conversion rate optimization happens after the visitor makes it to your site. This is different from conversion optimization for SEO or paid ads which focuses on who clicks through to your site from the organic search results, how many clicks you get, and which keywords are driving traffic.
Imagine you own an ecommerce site — Wampum Wobotics. A user could make a new purchase each session. We want to optimize so they make as many purchases as possible. If a user visited the site three times, that would be three sessions — and three opportunities to convert.
Let’s take a closer look at your user’s three sessions and how they behaved:
To figure out your conversion rate, we would take the number of unique purchase orders and divide it by the total number of sessions.
For your imaginary user, they converted two out of three times they came to the site:
To find out the conversion rate for your site, you’ll look at all unique orders divided the total number of sessions.
Now imagine you owned a second site — Wampum’s Monthly Gear Box. Your site sells a subscription for a monthly delivery of wobot parts. A user could come back multiple times, but once they purchase a subscription, they won’t convert again.
Let’s look at an example user’s behavior:
Your user here can’t convert each time they visit the site. So instead of looking at the number of sessions, we need to measure conversion success by the number of visitors:
To figure out your website’s conversion rate, we would take the number of unique orders and divide it by the number of unique users.
While not necessarily directly related to attracting organic website traffic or ranking on a search engine results page (SERP), conversion rate optimization has distinct benefits for SEO. Those include:
To optimize for conversion rates, you have to know where, what to optimize, and who to optimize for. This information is the cornerstone to successful CRO strategies.
If you don’t gather data, then you’re left making changes based on gut feelings alone. Guts are awesome! But making decisions on just gut feelings instead of rooting assumptions in data can be a waste of time and money.
This method, also known as quantitative data analysis, gives you hard numbers behind how people behave on your site. Start with a solid web analytics platform, such as Google Analytics. Next, add tracking for your conversions.
Using analytics based CRO can answer important questions about how users engage with your site. Quantitative analysis provides information like:
This information will let you know where to focus your efforts. By putting your effort into the pages most engaged with and valuable to your users, you’ll see the largest impact.
Doing your quantitative analysis first is especially valuable if you have a large site with diverse content as it lets you know, from a numbers perspective, where to focus your efforts. But now that you know how users interact with your site, you can investigate the “why” behind their behavior.
This people-focused method, known as qualitative data analysis, is more subjective. You’ll need the quantitative data discussed above to identify who you should be asking. You can’t optimize for all users, so optimize for your ideal user — that is, the user it’s most important to have as a customer.
Ways to get this data:
Qualitative analysis helps optimize for conversions by providing information about users such as:
There are certain things that raw data alone can’t tell you about what brought a user to your site or how to make their experience better. But when you combine this information with your analytics data, you can gain a much better understanding of the pages on your site that present the best opportunities to optimize and engage the audience you’d like to target.
This comes in many forms. Some not-so-effective CRO methods include:
All these examples have something in common: they’re not data-based and might as well be random shots in the dark. It’s better to spend the time gathering and analyzing the data so you can create meaningful tests based on clear insights. Nobody loves running tests that fail.
Would you like Sapient eCommerce to help in your CRO efforts? Our CRO services have been carefully developed over the years, helping our clients convert more of their target audience than ever before through features like:
We do everything to optimize your website so that you can convert at a higher rate than ever before.
It’s time to bring in the experts at Sapient eCommerce.
Optimize your webpages to drive potential customers to the content and features that matter and start getting the results your business needs.
Connect with us to find out how we can help your pages attract an avalanche of new leads and increase your sales.
Let’s Grow Your Business!
Pack-Timco was a struggling legacy HVAC company when Sapient eCommerce was hired by Amy Jimenez to redesign their ineffectual website. We developed a transparent and highly communicative relationship that would see them through their rebrand and aggressive growth strategy.
Sapient eCommerce and Pack-Timco found common ground in a commitment to quality and performance. We doubled down on communication to ensure everyone on the Pack-Timco team understood our time-proven methodology, custom website design/development best practices, and which metrics measured progress toward their goals.
Today, Pack-Timco is the state’s leading HVAC Engineering company with 60 total employees across all of its locations and generates $10.13 million in sales (USD).
Our optimization strategies ensure your website generates conversions and real results you can measure.
Join these and hundreds of other companies. Count on us to help grow your business.
By: Soren C. Adams | VP of Business Development | Sapient eCommerce
In today’s saturated online environment, it is not only imperative to have a website presence but also to have that website signify your company’s level of Expertise (Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness are three website factors that Google values highly). Once a potential customer or client clicks on your website, you have mere seconds to impress upon them your worthiness. This is assuming that you have optimized the site to enable the site being found. All other features and functionalities are inconsequential if users are abandoning your site because it’s amateurish, outdated, and flat.
What do you hope to accomplish with your website? Many small businesses throw money at their websites without having thought it through. They approach it as if it were a fashion fade. Everyone has one so…. But a company website should be viewed as a marketing tool for attracting potential customers and converting them to paying customers. Professional-level websites inspire trust in users, convey expertise, and deliver valuable content to people searching for information, services, and products. Identifying your goals and planning a strategy to support achieving those goals is the first step along the journey to developing your website into an effective business tool.
It’s outside the scope of this article, but to home in on your target audience you should begin with building User Personas. For our purposes in this article, ask yourself a few questions: Do you know your audience? When they search online for your products or services, what keywords or phrases do they use? What device do they use? What would make them choose to visit your website instead of a competitor’s site? That is, what value does your website deliver that distinguishes you from the crowd? What problem does the content on your website solve for the user?
Fortunately, there are numerous tools available to help you determine searcher intent. These tools coupled with your brick-and-mortar customer service experience will enable you to create content that potential customers and Google consider valuable.
Armed with this knowledge you will be able to create content that searchers, and in turn Google, consider valuable. It is important to note that if you create value for searchers, Google takes note of it.
Beyond relevant keywords and content creation, technical optimization or technical SEO looks at how well a website is seen and understood by search engines.
When someone enters a search query on Google (or any other search engine), Google’s spiders begin to “crawl” the Internet looking for content that is relevant to the query. If you have prepared your site (Technical SEO) to be easily crawlable, Google will be able to index pages. That is, Google will be able to organize and store your site’s content in a database. When someone searches for information Google can then quickly located and deliver that relevant content in the search results.
With the avalanche of online scams, hackers, and bogus companies, trust signals are must-have-elements on your website if you hope to be ranked on Google. Both search engines and users scrutinize every element of a website before deeming it trustworthy, safe, and secure. Google now penalizes websites that are not secured.
It will be hard to build trust in potential customers/clients when this type of warning their introduction to your company. We are constantly having to inform business owners that their sites are unsecure and for this reason their website is not attracting traffic.
Don’t blame Google. Google’s bread-and-butter is derived from delivering trustworthy and relevant search results. If your site presents dubious content or does not exhibit secured signals, search engines will either penalize you or refuse to rank your content. Your competitors will take full advantage of your misstep and misfortune. You must develop trustworthiness through both Technical SEO and relevant content aligned with searcher intent.
Take the time to verify that your site is secure for both you and your customers. Preventing hacking is much easier than repairing a hacked site. Update your SSL certificate, create strong passwords (longer than 12 characters with upper case and lower-case letters as well as symbols) and use tools such as Cloudflare to protect your site from DDoS attacks.
Does your website need to be beautiful? Absolutely! Take it from someone who has been in the business for over 21 years. Unless you’re IBM, Berkshire Hathaway, or Costco if your website looks like a page from an old Sears catalog, few will stay long enough to find out what products or services your company provides. The answer is always form and functionality. Your site should be well-designed, and the functionality should be intuitive and accessible. This combination creates an enjoyable user experience (UX). Put yourself in your website visitors’ shoes and you’ll know what elements are important to improve UX. Site loading speed, for example, is critical to an enjoyable UX. If I have to count to 5 Mississippi before a page loads on a website, I’ll abandon the site. If I must squint to read the content on a page because the font is too small or in some color that blends with the white background, I won’t bother. If a website isn’t responsive and I cannot visit it on my smartphone, I will tend not to visit it again even when I get home and am sitting at my desktop.
The take-home message: avoid frustrating your website visitors at all costs.
62% of all website traffic comes from mobile devices. By mobile website or mobile-friendly website we mean a website that is designed and optimized specifically for hand-held devices such as smartphones and tablets. Mobile responsive website design is the process of creating a site that is responsive or rather adapts to the screen size it is being viewed on.
Any website designer or agency worth its salt will recommend that your site have responsive functionality. If they don’t, look elsewhere. We haven’t made a non-responsive website since 2012.
We learned earlier how search engines crawl sites to index pages and store them in a database presenting them when relevant queries are made. This is what Google sees when it views a website:
This is too involved a topic to cover here but search engines need a little guidance when attempting to understand what a webpage is about. We’ll cover it in an upcoming article as well as a course we’ve developing. For now, it’s important for you to understand that Google’s a poor reader. If you want to be understood by Google, you’ll have to give them a little help and translate the content on your site. This is where Schema format, site structure/structured data, and a host of other Search Engine Optimization (SEO) factors come into play.
If you need a refresher on the basics, read on.
I. Clear & Visible Call-to-Action
What do you want your visitors to do when they’re on your website? The desired action you want should be clear to the visitor. In general, a Call-to- action (CTA) includes an action button: ‘BUY NOW”, “CLICK HERE”, “REQUEST A QUOTE”, “COMPLETE THE FORM BELOW”, or some variation of these. You’ve done a lot of work and/or spent good money to attract that website visitor. Don’t have them trying to guess what you want them to do next. The CTA is the mechanism with which you’ll convert visitors into paying customers.
Make sure you have your contact info in the top right and footer with quick links to al the valuable web content, Contact Us forms, Request a Quote button, etc. You should also have an XML Sitemap in place. It’s a good idea to use of a different color fonts for the CTAs to draw the visitors’ eye.
II. Intuitive Site Navigation and Architecture
Having clear site navigation helps your visitors quickly find sought after information. It also helps search engines easily index your website pages.
III. Countdown! 7-6-5-4-3-2-1. Craft a Perfect Homepage or They’re Gone
Over 90% of website visitors make a decision to stay or abandon the site within 7 seconds. That decision is 100% determined on your homepage. In 7 seconds, they will decide if you’re an expert or a hack, trustworthy, or as good as your competitors. Make a good first impression. Perfect your elevator pitch. Spend the time or money to have a quality logo designed. Write keyword-rich intelligent sincere content.
IV. What’s Your Story
Please don’t just throw up some lame half-witted vanilla About Us page. Tell a real inception story. Draw the visitor with a story that engages them and engenders trust. Add photos of your team or your place of business. Your potential customer is trying to get to know you and decide whether you’re worthy of her trust.
V. Tracking of conversions
Congratulations! 1000 people visited your website yesterday. What’s that? You didn’t notice. No one clicked on your CTA. No one called order that Didgeridoo. you’re selling. Why not? Well, let’s look at their on-site behavior.
You simply must track visitor behavior to develop your website into an effective business tool. What’s working and not working? What content attracts the most visitors and keeps them engaged the longest (dwell time)? What pages have the most abandonments and what can you do about it? Which pages convert? If your webmaster has not at the minimum implemented Google Analytics just fire her. No really. All you’re doing is shooting in the dark.
You need to track your visitors’ on-site behavior before you can develop a conversion strategy, evaluate your digital marketing efforts, and (as my old man was found of saying) connect the dollar-to-the-dot.