SEO and SMM experts tend to neglect conversion rate optimization or CRO. These professionals usually focus on getting as much traffic as possible without considering its impact on the company’s bottom line.
This is a bad practice that can lead to your downfall. While traffic is important during the initial stages of development, you still need to incorporate the best CRO practices in your content marketing strategy. When people start flocking to your brand, there needs to be something that will convert them from casual readers to paying customers.
In this article, we’ll take a look at CRO and why it’s so crucial for businesses. After that, we’ll share a few best practices that will help you increase conversion rates.
What is CRO?
Conversion rate optimization, CRO, refers to all processes that stimulate visitors into taking specific actions. Although most people use the term to refer to website conversion, you can also use it for social media engagement. In other words, CRO can be used for all conversion optimization processes on any marketing channel.
For this article, we will focus on websites instead of social media platforms.
Another common misconception is that we can only use CRO to increase sales. While this is the main focus, there are so many things you can do with this strategy. For example, you can use conversion rate optimization to entice visitors to fill out website forms. You can also use it to increase your emailing list and stimulate other interactions.
CRO is usually done by specialized CRO agencies and large digital marketing teams. However, don’t be surprised if you see SEO agencies offering this service.
How does CRO affect websites and businesses?
Some guys think CRO is just about using small tricks, such as adding CTA, to increase conversions. But the concept stands for much more than that.
Basically, it’s a process of making your site more useful for visitors. Yes, you should definitely implement call-to-action and pop-ups, but CRO won’t work if the website is slow or mobile-unfriendly.
Here are some of the direct and indirect benefits of good CRO:
- First and foremost, it improves visitors’ impression of a brand.
- It makes it easier to execute specific actions.
- Provides more functional browsing through efficient sitemaps and interlinking.
- Shows people how to interact with the site and make purchases.
- Improves profitability and long-term sustainability.
When you perform extensive CRO, you’re not only trying to improve individual landing pages on the site. You’re trying to enhance its overall functionality. The CRO expert’s task is to check all internal links, forms, and other clickable elements. They should add widgets and other solutions that would help people interact with the site and connect with the brand.
How to assess conversion rates?
Conversion rate optimization is an ongoing process similar to other marketing methods. In other words, you can never invest enough in it. There is always some way to improve users’ experience and, thus, the site’s conversion rate.
Expecting to have a 20% or 30% conversion is simply ludicrous. Instead, you should be happy if your numbers are above 5%. Keep in mind that these percentages can vary significantly based on the product you’re selling or a particular industry. The rates can also differ based on what we’re referring to (sales conversions vs. newsletter conversions).
In most cases, you know when your conversion rates are low. Some companies simply can’t close any deals or make people respond to their emails. If this is the case with your brand, you should seriously consider hiring a CRO expert.
Hiring a professional might also be necessary if you’re performing below set goals. For example, if you expect to have a conversion rate of 6% and you have 3%, it’s a good time to contact someone who can help you. Whatever the case may be, the best way to assess these numbers is by comparing them to those of similar websites.
What are the best sections to optimize?
Basically, you can implement a CRO strategy on every page of the site. There are no limits as to how much you can use best practices, so as long you don’t become too intrusive. Nevertheless, if we were to specify, here are a few areas that you should focus on:
The majority of people who land on your site will eventually visit the homepage. It’s the main selling point of every platform and, in a way, the company’s business card. Because of that, you need to use the best CRO practices to quickly build authority.
Homepages are crucial for leaving a good first impression on your visitors. You can also use it to redirect leads to specific products and services. The best practices include adding virtual chat, extra product information, or CTA buttons.
2. Articles on your blog
New companies usually have to create enticing blog posts to attract visitors to their sites. Articles can drive enormous traffic and help build awareness with customers. Unfortunately for most brands, they rarely get any other benefits.
The reason being is that they rarely optimize blog posts for conversion. What’s worse, users who land on them aren’t necessarily your target audience. Instead, they might be just some random guys looking for answers to specific questions.
You should implement several CRO tricks to make the most out of this organic traffic. CTA is the common solution, leading people to your sales pages. You can also offer them some freebies, such as eBooks.
Whatever the case, it’s your job to increase the time spent on the page and the website. You can use interlinking to guide the visitors from one area of the website to another, which would give you enough time to leave an impression. Even if you don’t sell, you can at least boost your SEO by improving UX metrics.
3. Product and service pages
Even if you did everything else right, you still need to convert leads into paying customers. For many people, product and service pages are the breaking point.
There are many things that can go awry during the last step of the conversion process. For example, a person might not like the looks of a landing page. Small errors can make them distrustful of the brand, which is why they won’t purchase from you.
A more common reason is the pricing. People don’t mind checking out several platforms until they find the one with the best offer. Luckily, there are several ways to entice them without lowering your prices.
For example, you can use widgets that will make it seems as if the price is lower than it actually is (monthly payments vs. annual payments). If you’re still afraid of how they’ll react to high prices, you can simply leave a phone number so that the visitors call you for a quote.
4. Other converting pages
Compared to product and service pages, which force visitors to fork out money, the other types of converting pages are usually much more successful. For example, persuading a person to register for an event is much easier than buying an expensive watch.
The best way to optimize these other web pages is by providing free sneak peeks. For example, if you’re offering a free eBook, you can show a funny text excerpt. If you’re trying to make them sign to newsletters, you can talk about the potential benefits of doing so.
Unlike product pages, other pages give you much more leeway for creativity. Try different things until you find an approach that converts well.
10 Best CRO practices
While there might be some differences as to how companies perform their conversation rate optimization, the general rules almost always apply. Here are 10 best practices you can use to boost your engagement and sales.
1. Set company goals
Like with any other marketing process, it’s crucial to set your goals before starting optimization. Although you can optimize any page on your site, it’s much better to prioritize. That way, you’ll gain more and faster benefits. Here are a few things that companies usually focus on when planning their CRO strategy:
- Increasing ecommerce conversion rate in your online store
- Increasing emailing list
- Increase various types of on-site conversions
- Increasing the number of downloads, etc.
In most cases, these goals overlap. You might use the same widgets across the site, which can make things a bit quicker and easier.
2. Find your target audience
When driving organic traffic to your site, you’re always trying to focus on people who are potential customers. CRO takes it a step further, separating all these individuals into casual visitors and potential leads.
Everything you do on-site is meant to stimulate engagement. The message should be tailored for the ideal customer persona, that is, the fraction of the visitors who are most likely to make a purchase. When analyzing data within SEO tools, such as Google Analytics, you should focus on things such as:
- Age and sex
- General interests
In general, most companies already know who their ideal customer is. Still, the focus of the conversion rate optimization is to further narrow down this data, so you have even better insights. Nevertheless, be ready to tweak your message a bit if things don’t work the first time.
Among others, you should also place emphasis on user behavior.
3. Use tracking tools
CRO is heavily focused on data. You need to continuously measure and tweak your strategy to get the most out of the approach. So, when starting the process, make sure to subscribe to the tools that can help you out.
When we talk about website conversion, every single piece of data can become valuable information. You can learn a lot about your performance by checking things such as form submissions, links clicked, time spent on the site, etc.
You should analyze all these figures separately and in conjunction with other metrics. For example, if many people add products to the cart, but none of them executes the purchase, there might be an error on your site. Getting many unique visitors but low conversion indicates that you’re targeting the wrong demographics, etc.
Whatever the case might be, you should have a good understanding of digital marketing to get the most out of this data. Your primary focus as a CRO expert is to disregard vanity metrics and only focus on things that make you money. In the end, getting many visitors doesn’t benefit you if you can’t make any sales.
When using quantitative data, you should also consider their statistical significance.
4. Persuade people to convert
Now that you’ve set up everything, you need to create an enticing proposal. Telling people to simply “Leave their emails” usually won’t work. This is especially true if you’re a new site within the industry that doesn’t have any reputation.
So, how to make a valuable proposal? Here are a few tricks:
- After they read a nicely written blog post, offer them to download an eBook that provides more information in digital form.
- Entice visitors to purchase from your site with limited-time offers and other goodies.
- After spending enough time on a service page, enable the chat function that would allow them to contact you directly.
In most cases, your best bet is to have a functional website with a beautiful design. This is often good enough evidence that you’re a serious business. Of course, don’t be surprised if some people need more persuading. Try different methods according to your target demographics, and don’t be afraid to fail.
5. Use A/B testing
Even if you’re well-acquainted with customers’ tendencies within a particular industry, you should still perform A/B testing.
Sometimes, businesses aren’t able to get tangible results because of minor inconsistencies or design flaws. For example, changing a CTA button’s color might increase conversion because the button is now easier to spot against the background. Activating automatic pop-ups after 5 seconds instead of 10 might also be a better solution for a younger audience, etc.
Whatever the case may be, don’t pull the plug on specific tests prematurely. Changing things on the fly won’t help you if you don’t have enough data to perform comparisons. Your previous approach could’ve been the winning one, but you were simply too impatient to give it enough time.
6. Find the right friction
Many CRO experts propose minimizing the friction on the site to increase conversions. In theory, you should have as little text and images as possible so that potential customers aren’t distracted by all these nuisances.
Then again, if a person is willing to go through all these hoops to reach your service pages, this can be a strong indication of a qualified lead. In the end, visitors won’t spend more time than necessary on sites if they have already achieved their goal.
Through all this friction, you can schmooze customers into taking action. For example, adding more testimonials can increase your authority. Talking about the product’s additional features makes it less likely they will abandon the cart at the last second.
Friction is usually a balancing act. You don’t want to oversell, but you still need to talk about your brand to entice a person who lacks information.
7. Use larger pop-ups
Some people think that it’s an excellent strategy to reduce your pop-ups. They believe that smaller sizes will make them less intrusive.
The truth is if you have already decided to use pop-ups, they will always be a nuisance. Most people hate them and will be irritated by their presence. But your focus shouldn’t be on what random visitors think. Instead, you should focus on the audience that is likely to make a purchase from your site.
If you think that your pop-up timings are good and that they’re well-placed, there’s no reason to make them smaller. In fact, you might even consider enlarging them so that a user can easily read everything. Larger pop-ups also give you more room for tinkering with the design, which can also increase conversion rates.
8. Think about CTA’s placement
There are two main approaches to CTA’s positioning. Some professionals are big proponents of having their buttons above the fold. In theory, this would make it easier for visitors to find service and product pages. Putting CTA above the fold is especially important for leads who are ready to make a purchase before even reaching the site.
In all other cases, it’s much better to place your CTA below the text. By doing so, you have enough room to explain your offer. After reading your fantastic proposal, a customer will reach the CTA button that will lead them to a conversion page.
The placement of a CTA should vary depending on a web page. For example, when you use it for blog articles, CTAs are much more effective at the bottom. Most website visitors have stumbled upon your website for the first time, and they’re not ready for conversion. However, they might be willing to engage after reading an article that shows your expertise.
Placing a CTA at the top is a much better solution for homepage. Visitors usually reach homepages by typing your brand name into the search engine or via other site pages. They already had contact with your brand, so there’s no need to sell them the same story once again.
9. Modify your CTAs to accommodate customer’s journey
Different pages require different approaches to conversion. You’re probably doing something wrong if you’re using the same method for optimizing a service page as you use for a blog article. We’ve already discussed that in the previous section, but let’s analyze it a bit further.
If a person came to your site to check out freebies, we don’t know if they’re actually interested in your offer. They might be curious, but they’re probably in the first stages of their customer journey and are still considering the options.
On the other hand, when a person asks for a demo, this shows they’re actually willing to invest time in testing your product. They are willing to perform extra steps to see if the product is the right thing for their company. In such cases, you can be much more aggressive with your pop-ups.
For example, you can use a newsletter pop-up for guests who visit an eBook download page. If they’re interested in a demo, you can add a link that would send them to a sales page. Obviously, these two types of visitors have entirely different goals, and you should address their needs accordingly.
Among others, by understanding the customer journey, you can create a better conversion funnel.
10. Use testimonials
There’s a reason why word-of-mouth marketing remains the best marketing method. We rely on other people to find reliable providers who will give us the optimal customer experience.
Testimonials are a modern version of WoM marketing. Companies rely on other people for reference to quickly build a positive reputation among the leads. Ideally, you should get testimonials from experts within your field or someone that customers can easily recognize.
Nowadays, most companies use this strategy even if they’re a brand new business. In some cases, they go with the “fake it ’till you make it” approach, where they try to create bogus stories to entice visitors. Despite potentially providing CRO benefits, this is an approach we would suggest again.
If you ever need CRO and SEO services, make sure to contact MiroMind!