Conversion Rate Optimisation: A Beginner’s Guide 

Greg Miles | 15 September 2016

Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is a fundamental element of digital marketing. It doesn’t matter how many visitors your website is attracting if none of them are taking the actions you want them to. A higher conversion rate means more customers, better ROI, and a happier business owner.

In a nutshell, conversion rate optimisation is the process of testing and improving certain aspects of your website to increase the percentage of visitors who convert (i.e. make a purchase).

Even a small increase to your conversion rate can have a huge impact on your bottom line. Take a look at the example below.

Conversion rate optimisation

As you can see, a 2% increase in your conversion rate could increase sales dramatically. To achieve a similar result by focussing solely on increasing traffic, using the example above you would have to direct an extra 800 people to your website every month. CRO allows your business to make more money from the same amount of visitors, and the actual process couldn’t be much simpler.

The Conversion Rate Optimisation Process

The CRO process uses data, analytics and A/B testing to continuously improve your website. Essentially, it’s about fine-tuning different aspects of your website by performing split-tests.

Here’s how it works:

1. Decide what you want to tweak (E.g. headlines, images, call-to-actions, colours, etc.)
2. Run an A/B test
3. Measure the results
4. Keep the winner and discard the loser
5. Repeat until you reach a desired conversion rate

A/B testing involves comparing two variations of a web page to see which one performs better. It’s important that you only test one element at a time, so that you can pinpoint exactly what is responsible for the change in results. Once you have the results, you can continue to use the winner and discard the loser, before moving onto your next test.

Conversion Rate optimisation

When measuring your results it’s important to leave your assumptions at home. Even if something goes totally against conventional wisdom, you should go with it. The numbers don’t lie.

What Should I Be Testing?

Instead of diving straight in and testing different aspects of your website at random, you should formulate a plan. Every split-test needs to have a specific goal, and only one goal at a time.

What is your goal?

  • Increase newsletter sign-ups?
  • Increase blog subscribers?
  • Generate more downloads?
  • Generate more leads?
  • Get more product sales?

Once you’ve set your goal, it’s time to begin optimising your conversion rate. A/B testing is about finding out what works for your business, so there is no secret formula. However, these guidelines will point you in the right direction.

Design 

The easier it is for customers to convert, the more likely it is that they will. You should remove any barriers that might be stopping people from taking the desired action. Forms should be easy to fill out with a minimum amount of effort, text should be engaging and easy to consume, and it needs to be clear what the visitor should do next to get what they want.

Other design elements such as colours, layout, sidebars, navigation bars, etc. may have an effect on your conversion rate. Experiment and measure your results.

Calls-to-action

CTA’s are instructions that aim to provoke an immediate response from your audience. On our home page, there is a big orange button that says “See How We Can Help You.” That’s a call-to-action. You can experiment with colours, sizes and the actual text.

It’s best practice to include a verb, and studies have shown that non-standard text usually has a higher conversion rate. That means you should come up with something more original than “Subscribe” or “Join Now” to get more clicks.

Content

The copy of your web page will also have an effect on your conversion rate. This should go without saying, but the more persuasive it is, the better. Your headline is one of the most important elements as this is the first thing your audience is going to see.

You should also think about reassurance copy and click triggers. This is any text that will make visitors feel more comfortable about their decision, such as reviews and ratings. If your goal is to sell more products, adding extra information such as “Top Seller” or “Most Popular” to certain items will often boost conversions.

The options go on – but always remember that you should only test one element at a time. That way you can pinpoint exactly what is affecting your conversion rate.