How Converstion rate optimisation can help you to increase online sales

What is Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)?

"In internet marketing, conversion optimisation, or conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is a system for increasing the percentage of visitors to a website that converts into customers, or more generally, takes any desired action on a web page."
Interest in CRO climbs year on year

Why Is CRO important?

Let's consider an example. Imagine you have an online shop selling watches. Your website looks great, the copy is great, the products are great. Every month you get 1000 visitors and you sell 50 watches. However, you calculate that to make a profit your business needs to sell at least 100 watches every month.

There are two ways to tackle this. The first way is to attract more visitors. Let's say you kick off a marketing campaign using blogs, social media and Pay Per Click (PPC) adverts.

The campaign is up and running and working like a charm. We have doubled the number of visitors and sell our target of 100 watches this month. Great job.

Yet, at the end of the month, you check your analytics and PPC platforms and it's not great reading. You have more sales, however, the additional cost for running that advertising campaign now means you now need to sell at least 200 watches per month to earn a profit. You're back to square one so what´s the alternative?

What if you could keep your 1000 visitors a month but managed to get twice as many of these visitors to buy a watch? This is where the second way to increase your profit comes in - CRO. The aim of CRO is to convert more of your visitors into buyers. This is done through a "test and learn" approach of what makes 'your' customers convert.

How do you implement CRO?

To help you, here´s an example of how we go about this process at Think Optimised.

The process starts off with data analysis. Something like Google Analytics is ideal but any good analytics package will do. I like to see at least three months data, but 12 months is ideal, especially if there are seasonal effects.

Next, we install behaviour monitoring software (if you don't already have it). At Think Optimised we use HotJar for its great features and low cost. In fact, there is a free version that´s a great way to get started. HotJar allows us to see exactly how visitors are interacting with a site. This enables us to identify and eliminate any issues that may be preventing people from buying. We also capture videos of visitors using and interacting with your site, generate heatmaps to see what areas of the page are most popular and perform detailed analysis on any important site forms.

An example of a HotJar generated heatmap

Once we've collated this data we can identify any issues and prioritise tests we're going to carry out to address these. To carry out these tests we will install a service on the website. This lets us manipulate parts of the website and make changes quickly and easily. It´s important to measure the impact of these changes so initially, they are only made visible to a small proportion of visitors.

As an example, let´s say we have a product page for the watches we sell and they all have a nice big green "buy now" button. Reviewing the data that we have has shown that lots of people are visiting the page but aren´t making a purchase. From the video, it seems like visitors appear to be confused and we identify that the ‘Buy Now´ button may not be easy to see due to its colour. Will changing the button colour mean more people will click on it? We don't know yet, so let's find out.

We run a test so that 30% of the visitors coming to the product page will see a red button. 30% will see a blue button and the 40% will see the original green button (that's our control).

After a week we check the data and find that the blue button has 15% more conversions than the other two. This is a change we will now put in place permanently on the website, all the buttons will now be blue. It doesn't end there. Improving the site conversion is a continuous process and there are many other things that can be tested. You should be constantly testing and learning so you can keep increasing that conversion rate.

Now imagine if you ran a nationwide marketing campaign to attract more customers after you have increased your site conversion rate through CRO. The increased conversion rate means you will achieve a lot more sales and hence profit with your site is running at a 20% conversion rate instead of the previous 10%? This is why CRO is so important and should be a priority activity to grow your business.

Is CRO just for sites selling items?

As a minimum, every website should have at least one goal. Ideally, it should be every page. You can apply Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) to any website, and conversion rate should be one. With that in mind, CRO can be used to improve any website that has a goal. whether it's a signup form for an event, donations for a charity, how many shares a page gets or a simple link. It's what's important for your business to measure and improve upon that's the key.