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Conversion Rate Optimization: Digital marketing’s secret sauce

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CRO / July 12, 2017

Conversion rate optimization is a digital marketing practice based on the premise that a website is never finished, that you can keep tweaking it to make it perform better and better over time. And it is the secret sauce to digital marketing and advertising. Either you know about it, and you actively do it; or you don’t, and you are losing revenue because people land on your site and leave without paying.

If you’re in one of those organizations that build a website and then walk away from it, declaring it finished forever, or if the people in your marketing department don’t have the power to make small changes on your website when needed, then the concept of conversion rate optimization may make you break into a cold sweat. Hopefully that’s a cold sweat of excitement, not fear.

Get the most from your advertising spend

SEO, advertising and marketing are only half the battle. Sure, maybe you can bring the right people to your website… but unless you can monitor and optimize what they actually do on each page, you are inevitably going to lose some of those customers… possibly to the competition.

Conversion Rate Optimization does just that — it attempts to make the most of every visitor’s time on your page by focusing on and optimizing your content around your business objectives.

The first step, naturally, is to be sure people are coming to your website for the right reasons. You may say: but this is the job of advertising and marketing? Yes… but if you begin by clearly defining and stating the objectives of your website, and building content around this, your advertising creative quickly becomes an extension of your core objectives. Here’s how.

The Conversion Rate Optimization process, from A to Z

 

Define your objectives

Sometimes defining the sole objectives of your website is straightforward — sell stuff. Other times, it gets more complex, with goals like generating leads or getting people to upgrade from free to premium. Even if your objectives are super obvious, write them down. This will help you later.

Take a good, hard look at your website

Where do people land when they click on your ads? What do they see? How does this content contribute to your number one objective? Which content detracts from this objective? Where might your visitors be confused, misinformed or distracted? Take notes.

Go deeper

Click on the link on your page that drives to your main conversion objective. Where does it go? How many steps are there between this link and the final click that closes the deal? Is the path direct? Write down the ways your visitors could be frustrated, distracted, or misled.

Check your metrics

Dive into your Google Analytics and take a look at flow Users Flow (in the Audience menu). Change the drop-down on the top left to Behaviour > Landing Page and watch how your visitors flow through your website from one page to the next. Where do they drop off? Now it’s your job to figure out why they’re leaving, and to fix it.

Build a testing plan

Even if you detect noticed holes in your conversion flow that are costing you revenue, it behooves you to test any potential updates before setting them live. There are a lot of great testing tools out there. Of course, you can also hire specialists, like the good folks here at Bloom, to run these tests for you.

If you’re doing it yourself, create a plan that isolates and compares specific page elements, so you know exactly which changes are generating the results you want. You can run an A/B test, which compares two variations — say two different coloured buttons. Or you can run a multivariate test, which will compare multiple elements on a page in various combinations — for example, running headline, form and button variations against one another until your tool can declare the winning combination of all three elements.

 

“We can’t change our website” is not an acceptable excuse

If you sell things or generate leads online, your marketing team must be empowered to make changes to your website. For example, maybe you realize that one of your display ads has a remarkable conversion rate. You want to be able to act quickly, to test similar images and messaging on your landing page. It’s this ability to move quickly and iterate on possible improvements that empowers your team to learn and make changes that ultimately benefit everyone by improving your bottom line.

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