When we talk about conversion rate we refer to the strategies and processes employed to increase the number of sales or leads on a website. Anyone selling products online hopes for steady growth in clients over time. However, simply setting up a website and presenting a product to the public is often not enough: CRO helps you address the obstacles a user finds when they navigate your site and continuously improves the buyer’s journey through testing in order to convert visitors into customers.
As a conversion rate optimization agency, we are always seeking new and creative solutions to improve the performance of our clients’ websites. CRO is a broad subject and any marketer will approach a project differently, depending on the goals they intend to reach. But while approaches vary, there are some fundamental elements that should be the core of any CRO strategy. In this article, we’ll look at the conversion rate best practices starting from data tracking, to the optimization of the user interface (UI), all the way to A/B testing. We will explore the four steps to make your website as usable and efficient as possible, with some tips on the best tools to use to analyze and understand your customers’ behavior.
What is conversion rate optimization (CRO) exactly?
As mentioned, conversion rate optimization is the marketing tactic focused on increasing the revenue generated by a website through the improvement of its design, communication, and traffic streams. This, however, is a broad definition of conversion rate optimization and you will probably find that every CRO agency that you speak to will interpret it differently.
While it is possible to experiment in a great number of ways with the look and feel of your site, only data will tell you whether each change will translate into work. Creativity is a key aspect of CRO, but a data-driven approach is essential if you want to measure the impact of your work. When we talk about conversion rate optimization, therefore, we are thinking of a circular workflow involving tracking, testing, analyzing, and improving continuously.
An conversion rate marketing strategy can mean automatizing your email service, cleaning your web pages of distracting elements, improving your copy or upselling after the checkout, but without a solid analysis of the traffic and clear results from A/B testing you will never be sure of the results and on how to make further improvements. Let’s look at the CRO best practices.
How to increase conversion rate: the 4 key aspects of a CRO strategy
Many of our new clients come to us with the same issue: once their product is ready for launch they set up a site with a basic WordPress template and hope for the best. While we often see the potential in the products on sale, unfortunately it is impossible to know how well it could perform without an optimized website.
In this section, we will look into the ABC of conversion rate optimization, guiding you through the set up of a website designed for a growth strategy. Whether you are looking to increase the number of sales, the revenue per visitor or check for malfunctioning features, data will be the backbone of your process.
1. Data Tracking
First of all: tracking. Tracking is the only way to know what is happening on your website and without the correct implementation of a tracking system it is not possible to see how many people are viewing your pages, adding a product to their cart, and completing transactions.
Tracking your data is essential to quantify users’ behavior and understand why visitors are not becoming customers. Google Analytics is the most common tracking software and checking conversion rates, it’s free and offers a comprehensive set of information about your website’s traffic. To make sure Google Analytics is gathering the data you want, it has to be installed correctly, and this is often not the case in websites that have been designed in a hurry.
There are various ways to install Google Analytics: a developer might use a code snippet in the header, while a market might just add a plugin. Both are fine, as long as you use only one method at the time. If you are working on an existing site, it is a good idea to check where Google Analytics is installed and clean any redundant code.
How would you know if Google Analytics is showing you the wrong data? A good indicator of a bad installation is the bounce rate. If the bounce rate is extremely low or high, it’s likely that a mistake was made.
The solution we recommend to avoid making mistakes in the setup stage is using Google Tag Manager. Tag Manager is a free Google tool that allows you to install snippets of code (tags) within the HTML pages of a website. There are many advantages to relying on a tag management system like Google Tag Manager: this intuitive tool gives you full control over your tracking codes and allows you to edit and test codes even if you are not fluent in code.
After Google Analytics you want to install Facebook Pixel. You can easily connect the Pixel with Facebook’s WordPress plugin. This tool will track the behavior of users who are navigating on your while logged into Facebook, allowing you to better define your target audience and retarget different groups of visitors, from existing customers to those who left your site without buying.
Facebook Business Manager can be a bit overwhelming at first glance, but its interface has improved greatly in recent years. It’s a good idea to get familiar with it if you are planning to work with dynamic remarketing for your e-commerce CRO and promote your products also via social media.
Here are the best Chrome extensions for checking if your tracking systems are set up correctly and view what type of data is being transmitted to which software:
- Google Tag Assistant: a Chrome extension to check the installation of your Google Tags
- Facebook Pixel Helper: a Chrome extension to troubleshoot your Pixel installation
- Ghostery: a similar browser extension to check the status of the tracking systems
And these are the best plugins to track users’ behavior on a WordPress website:
2. Tech Optimization
Once the tracking is set up correctly, you can move on to optimize the website for better conversions. But what does optimization mean in the context of conversion rate? A webpage that performs well is easy to navigate and fast to load. Optimization doesn’t only affect how visitors perceive your brand, it also helps with SEO and often results in a higher likelihood of completing orders.
After checking your website’s performance with tools such as GTmetrix or Pingdom, you can have an idea of which areas need to be improved. Speed is a particularly common issue in non-optimized e-commerce sites, as pages with many pictures can be slow to load. The resolution of your images should be as low as possible when you publish them online, as heavy files can cause your website to stall and visitors to leave before they can even get to the checkout page.
An even bigger problem is the hero section with self-hosted videos. Videos in the top section of the website are already distracting on their own, if you add that they make the website much slower to load than it should be, they become the opposite of functionality. Ideally you will want a static image at the very top with a clear call to action, but if you must use a video, make sure it’s hosted elsewhere, like on YouTube or Vimeo.
Check for unused or overlapping plugins and broken links as well. Cleaning up and updating your plugin will make your site faster and less likely to have bugs. Another important aspect when it comes to loading fast is how the cache is delivered. The cache is a collection of files stored on your browser that has been downloaded from websites you have visited in the past. Caching allows sites to load faster, reducing the bandwidth usage and the lag. To improve the speed at which cache files are loaded you can install plugins such as WP Rocket or Cloudflare.
Here are some tools to optimize your website for e-commerce conversion rate optimization:
- Elementor and Elementor Pro: probably the best website builder out there, it allows you to create powerful pages quickly with little or no coding knowledge.
- Anywhere Elementor: a plugin that allows you to insert elementor blocks anywhere.
- Extended Widget Option: conditional logistics and dynamic text plugin.
- WP Rocket: advanced caching plugin.
- Short Pixel: image optimization plugin.
3. User Interface (UI)
When we talk about the relationship between user interface and conversion rate optimization we tend to give this line of advice: be uniquely common. Of course, it’s good to be original, but you also have to keep in mind a visitor’s expectations and their online shopping habits. In the attempt of crafting a memorable experience for their clients, businesses often create obstacles that stop people from responding to a call to action. With CRO it is important to focus on our objective, whether it is a sale, a lead, or the extension of the customer’s lifetime value.
When developing your business site think of the buyer’s journey and the “path of less resistance.” Use primary and secondary calls to action (CTAs) to create an intuitive navigation experience. This means using the same color for all the buttons, reducing steps to get from one page to the other, smaller forms to fill, and fewer distractions. Think of the design of your website as a guide for the visitor: every element should direct their attention where it’s most important. Secondary CTAs are less evident when scrolling through the site, but can link to useful information within the copy to anticipate a user’s questions.
An excellent solution to check whether you have made the right choices is through heatmaps. Hotjar allows you to see how users navigate your pages, where they spend more time with the cursor and what elements are completely ignored. The higher the traffic of your site the more accurate the heatmaps will be.
With heatmaps you’ll get an immediate overview of design issues, such as distractions, wrong button colors or weak composition. You will be able to build a page that guides the visitor to the CTA and revise issues they may encounter on the way.
Do not ask for too much: if your goal is collecting lead you’ll want to publish a newsletter subscription form, while if your goal is the sale you want to allow people to order in a straightforward manner. By adding different forms and CTAs you risk confusing visitors, which can be counterproductive.
4. Listen to the feedback
Sure, numbers can help you achieve great results but you shouldn’t underestimate what your clients have to say. Messaging your audience can help you uncover flaws you don’t see and implement sections of your website you didn’t know were necessary. You can easily set up surveys or quizzes on your site to find out what your customers think of the experience. Analyze this information carefully and include it in your dataset for reference.
What is a good conversion rate?
The conversion rate is calculated by comparing the number of buyers or leads to the number of unique visitors. So, how to calculate conversion rate? For example, if you are selling a product through Facebook Advertising and receive 100 visitors on your website through the ad, the number of buyers will represent your conversion rate. If 5 people buy your product or service, the ad will have a 5% conversion rate.
But what is a good conversion rate? There are no set rules when it comes to CRO and percentages vary in different sectors. For B2B websites a value of 1% to 2% is generally considered good, while B2C online store selling low cost products can be slightly higher. Conversion rate by industry can differ a lot, so consider these numbers just an indication.
And what about A/B testing?
In the introduction of this article, we mentioned A/B testing as a key aspect of conversion rate optimization. There are two different approaches with A/B testing, one more commonly used in e-commerce and the other in business sites. Let’s have a quick look at what they involve.
A/B testing in e-commerce site usually involves the publishing of two identical web pages with a small variation, done in order to see which of the two performs better. A/B testing was introduced by large corporations that drive hundreds of thousands of users every day and the possibilities are endless. From the color of a button to the text of the micro-copy, every detail can be tested and can have an impact.
It is important to note, however, that A/B testing should not be a priority for small websites with limited traffic. Usually when two versions of a website are compared, the winner only has an advantage of a small percentage. A/B testing will have an impact only if you already have a decent amount of orders coming in and even a small variation can result in higher revenue.
A/B testing for business websites, especially if used for lead generation rather than immediate sales, is usually applied more broadly, for example to compare two different styles of communication to see which is more attractive to future customers. This means driving an equal amount of traffic to two landing pages with different copy, images or color palette to see which performs better. An A/B test of this kind can have a great impact on both branding and sales even when you don’t have hundreds of thousands of visitors reaching your website every month.
E-mail marketing conversion rate optimization
From what you’ve read so far, you might think that conversion optimization only involves making changes to your website. This is not true and, in fact, there many businesses out there that invest more in their e-mail marketing conversion strategies than the design of their site.
The core of an effective email marketing campaign is timing and content. Being able to convert readers into customers through a newsletter means sending targeted messages at the right time and to the right people. It’s not just about attracting new customers, but extending the life-time value of the existing ones and increasing their order value.
For example, a customer who has just placed their first order could be sent a welcome discount which will invite them to continue shopping. Similarly, an attractive deal can work as a post-checkout upsell and a reminder of a user’s abandoned cart can give them the motivation to conclude an order.
E-mail marketing is a powerful tool for marketers, but it requires a good strategy, especially if you are just starting out with an empty list. Building a solid list of contacts and setting up a series of automations that will invite the customer to buy at the best possible time have become a standard practice in growth strategies.
Conversion rate marketing: the art of retargeting
You’ve optimized your website, you’ve sent out your emails, A/B tested every detail and still many visitors leave without completing a transaction. Perhaps they just need to be reminded that your business exists. Retargeting is exactly that: reaching out to people who have already visited your website but didn’t convert, in order to convince them to respond to your CTAs.
Data shows that retargeting is one of the most effective tools to increase conversion rate, ad engagement, and brand awareness. The average click through rate of a retargeted ad is ten times higher than that of an ordinary ad. Retargeting can increase a company’s revenue by 33% if done correctly, and lift ad engagement rates to 400%, according to statistics.
Retargeting is usually done via an ad on Google or social media and can be set up to reach people who have performed a specific action on your website. For example you could send a targeted message to those users who have added a product to their cart but have not completed an order, or those who visited a certain page but left without getting in contact. Retargeting is possible thanks to the Facebook Pixel, and while more common in e-commerce websites, it can also be used by business sites to collect qualified leads or sell their services to people who have shown an interest in the content of the website.
E-commerce marketing strategies: let’s talk about conversion rate
We hope that these guidelines have been useful in helping you set up your optimized e-commerce store. The world of CRO is vast, we’ll keep publishing articles in the coming weeks about other aspects of this fascinating marketing strategy, so make sure you come back. Of course, if you have any questions or are looking for a CRO audit of your e-commerce website, feel free to get in touch.