Here are 5 reasons why you need Conversion Rate Optimisation:
- It allows you to test changes on your website before presenting to your whole audience. This is to make sure they do what you hope they will.
- It can help to lower the cost of acquiring new customers.
- It allows you to make changes to your website quickly to improve efficiency.
- It gives you an excellent understanding of how your audience engages with your website.
- It involves lots of analytics. Analytics is fun!
Ok, so what is Conversion Rate Optimisation?
Conversion Rate Optimisation is the practice of testing changes to your website on a subset of your users to assess their long-term impact. It’s also a great way to settle a debate.
Let’s say you want to make changes to a page on your website to increase the number of leads you’re receiving. You’ve been inspired by another landing page you saw on a different site, so you now know what you want to do. However, your boss ( *If you’re the boss, there’s a bit coming up about how it’s great at increasing sales) has seen a completely different website and had some alternative suggestions. Oh, and then there’s the new guy who has some ideas based on what worked at his old place.
So, what next? Rock, paper, scissors? Trial by Combat? Or maybe you’ll succumb to the HIPPO – the Highest Paid Persons Opinion. ( *if you’re the HIPPO, there’s a bit coming up about how it’s great for increasing sales). If only there were a logical solution…
[Enter Stage Left:]
Conversion Rate Optimisation.
By setting up a CRO test, you’ll be able to put all of these ideas to the test and have some statistics to prove which one is going to work best. Of course, you just might end up with a combination of all of the suggestions which gives you the best result.
With CRO you can make changes to your website pages and test on a small number of users, e.g. just 10%, to see how they impact performance metrics. The changes themselves can be as small or large as you like; changing the colour of a call-to-action, replacing landing page copy in a new tone of voice, changing an image or even wholly re-designing a page. By testing these changes, you can analyse the metrics and understand if a change makes you look like a genius or pushes your sales off a cliff.
Also, the ‘best result’ itself doesn’t necessarily have to be conversion focussed. You might want to improve the bounce rate of a page or encourage users to spend more time on your website overall. Testing these types of changes using CRO gives you a great opportunity to understand the behaviour of your audience and how they interact with your website.
How long does CRO take?
Like with most things, the more time you’re willing to put in, the better results you’re going to see. That being said, the time it takes to see results from a test depend on two key things:
- How much traffic you get to your website.
- How many elements you want to test.
Starting with website traffic, the amount of time it takes to see results will depend on the number of people going through your test. Ideally, you’d be looking for a few thousand people going through each version of the test to ensure you have confidence in basing a decision on the results. This means that if you have 1,000 visitors a month to the page you’re testing, you’ll need to run it for around two months for actionable results.
Next, it’s going to depend on how many different elements you want to test. CRO comes with two main options; A/B Testing and Multi-Variate Testing (MVT). A/B is a simple question of ‘Which works better, A or B?’ MVT, however, asks a fair few more questions than that, based on the number of individual elements in the test.
Let’s go back to the scenario with your landing page and the opinions of yourself, your boss and the new guy. Let’s say your change was based on the layout of the page – you think that the image should move below the fold so the text is more prominent. Interesting. On the other hand, your boss thinks the text itself needs re-writing to be more conversion focussed. Interesting. Nice thinking. And then there’s the new guy who thinks the call-to-action should be green rather than your brand colour of blue. Sure, let’s give it a go.
With an A/B test, you might think “All of those suggestions relate to different elements so I’ll put them all into the ‘B’ version and we’ll see if that performs better than the current version”. Or, you might think “I need to test all of these separately, so I’ll do an A/B/C/D test”. Both very valid options, and you’ll get some results you can make some decisions based on. However, with the first thought, you don’t know how the individual elements contribute to the change in metrics. With the second thought, you’ll potentially be looking at a long test duration, and you won’t know the impact of combining some of the changes.
This is where MVT comes in. From the scenario above, you’d end up with tests for;
Layout only, layout + new tone of voice, layout + new tone of voice + CTA colour, layout + CTA colour, new tone of voice only, new tone of voice + CTA colour, CTA colour only
By testing all of the possible combinations, you’ll have the best idea of what improves the metrics you’re looking to improve. Sure, testing these things might take some time, but you can feel safe in the knowledge that the changes you’re making aren’t going to have a detrimental effect on your bottom line.
And the bit about increasing sales?
Here’s the bit that could make you look like a genius. CRO is most commonly used to improve the conversation rate for sales or leads coming through to your business. If you’ve already identified that the conversion rate you’re achieving on your landing page or checkout process just isn’t quite cutting it, you can put those pages into a testing process and improve those conversion rates in a relatively short space of time.
Once you’ve identified a change which has a positive impact on conversion rates you can forecast what the total increase in sales or leads would contribute over the next 3/6/12 months. So, let’s say your current conversion rate from website visitor to a lead is 1% and you’re getting around 10,000 visitors a month.
10,000 visitors * 1% conversion rate = 100 leads.
Next, let’s say you convert leads at a rate of 20% which gives you 20 sales per month. And let’s say the average value of those sales is £250.
20 Sales @ £250 = £5,000 per month.
£5,000 * 12 = £60,000 in sales per year.
Sounds alright so far, right? But what if you could just nudge that conversion rate up to 1.5%? A few best practice tweaks should see to that surely? Well, then you’d be looking at something like this:
10,000 visitors * 1.5% conversion rate = 150 leads.
150 leads * 20% conversion rate = 30 sales
30 Sales @ £250 = £7,500 per month.
£7,500 * 12 = £90,000 in sales per year.
That’s a 50% increase in your yearly sales from increasing your conversion rate by 0.5%.
Told you analytics was fun.
The best part is, depending on the CRO tool you’re using, once you’ve identified a change which has a positive impact you can serve that to everyone coming to your website via CRO while you make the permanent change to your website.
How do I get started?
If you’re asking me, I’d say grab a pot of coffee, get comfortable and bring snacks ‘cause you’re going to need to go pretty deep into your analytics’.
At Fifteen, we start everything off with a detailed Research and Planning phase. So that we fully understand the types of people that are coming to the website; what devices they’re using, which channels they come to the site via, how they navigate through the website, when they tend to browse, what their user-intent might be. We’ll also get into the data and identify the pages where conversion rate/bounce rate/dwell time just isn’t where it needs to be.
Once we’ve got a list of the most common offenders our we’ll check the traffic levels coming through to those pages to get an idea on how long we might need to run the test(s) for. After that, our UX experts will look through the aesthetics of the page closer than a bouncer with a ‘no t-shirts, no trainers’ policy and come up with a list of suggested changes. These will then be considered concerning where they fit into the testing plan – are we going for a simple A/B test or are there enough changes to go full MVT?
As soon as we have all of the data and understanding on why and what we’re testing, we’ll formulate a testing matrix and methodology. This matrix will include the rationale behind each test, run dates and any iterations to ensure we’re maximising the potential of an improved conversion rate. We’ll then move into the testing phase, keeping a close eye on metrics to make sure the changes aren’t having an adverse effect on performance and tweaking where necessary. Once we’ve seen enough traffic through the page and gone through all of the iterations we had planned (and some which may not have been intended) we’ll draw the test to a conclusion.
The reason we need a decent level of traffic coming through each test is so we have confidence in any changes we then make to the website. A confidence level of 95% and up is usually pretty safe, so if we’re here, then we’ll present the winning version to all visitors using the CRO and get the work scheduled in with our developers to go live full-time.
After that, we’ll just keep testing. Because testing is also fun.