Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) has been really popular in the digital marketing world for the past few years. Many marketers even regarded CRO as the best performing marketing tactic with the highest ROI.
The main reason for this is that CRO is significantly more affordable than other channels. In fact, it can be totally free when done properly.
Yet, how can we properly implement CRO? In this guide, we will discuss the 5 important steps in implementing CRO, and without further ado, let us begin with the first one.
Step 1: Defining CRO Goals
Different sites and businesses can have many different definitions for “conversion”. For an e-commerce business, conversion might mean a purchase. For a SaaS companies, it can be a free-trial registration, and so on. Therefore, the first step of a successful CRO plan is to clearly define the important conversions for your businesses.
Let’s use an example to illustrate: let’s say you are an e-commerce company where sales is your most important conversion. This is a fairly basic example, and I’m sure the most of us can relate to the example.
So, the next step is to determine what drives this conversion. It can be an effective ad placement on blogs relevant to your products, it can be a gallery of positive user reviews and it can be discount offers among others.
Based on this example, here is an initial CRO plan we can set up for this e-commerce website:
- The main conversion goal here is to optimize purchases, where prospects actually purchase the products.
- Based on the aforementioned analysis, you conclude that effective ad placements and retargeting are the most effective tactics.
- You use A/B testing to compare results before and after the ad placements
- You measure the increase of sales after implementing this strategy
Step 2: Setting Up Baseline
Without a proper benchmark, or baseline, we wouldn’t be able to assess whether our optimizations are already effective. Here are the key factors to consider when determining the proper baseline:
- Reassess the goals we have discussed on the first step. Look at the key metrics related to the specific goal(s), and measure your current conversion rate(s)
- Analyze the best traffic sources for these conversions
- Use user testing to measure how your site is currently meeting the goals
- Use interviews, user surveys, and various other methods to gather objective user feedback
There are various tools to assist you in this step:
- Analytic Tools: there are the free tools like Google Analytics and more advanced, paid tools like KissMetrics. Use analytic tools with user segmentation and conversion tracking features.
- User Testing: there are many available user testing tools like Optimizely, Reflector, and Crazy Egg among others. These tools can mainly show how your visitors are interacting with your site.
- Interviews/surveys: still an effective way to gain valuable user feedbacks.
Define proper baselines for your CRO. Whenever you attempt new optimization efforts, measure the before and after numbers. Comparing before and after results is a key aspect of CRO, where we can figure out whether our efforts are effective and can adjust our strategy when its necessary.
Step 3: Identifying Key Problems
Based on the baseline numbers we have from the previous step, we can now identify the key issues preventing conversions. Your main objective in this step is to identify key problem areas, gaps, issues, and then design potential tactics to tackle them.
Again, let’s use an example to properly illustrate this step.
Let’s say you are, again, an e-commerce site, and through your analytic tools, you have learned that a high exit rate occurs on your price listing page. While there can be many different factors causing this, the bottom line is that the specific page is still under-optimized.
There are several various tactics you can do here, and you may decide to implement a user survey on that specific page. You may ask the specific things they are looking for on that page, and their expectations among other things. You can also run various user testing to see how your audience are interacting with the specific page like where they are clicking, how far they are scrolling to the page, etc.
Based on the information you’ve gathered, you can identify the key problems plan your solutions.
Step 4: Designing Key Tactics
In this step,we are going to use the gathered data to design your tactics. List your key priorities: the site’s biggest problems you’ve found through analytics, user tests, surveys, interviews, and so on. Identify which important issues you would need to address first.
Again, remember to keep records of every changes you’ve made, and thoroughly double check every efforts.
Here are some important considerations for this step:
- Don’t change too many things at one time. Or else, you wouldn’t be able to identify the efforts that are actually producing results. A/B test every effort.
- Attempt changes that are easy enough to implement first, and make sure they are measurable. However, make sure to attempt tactics that have the potential to improve conversion rate.
- Simulate various efforts to see the impacts they might produce. For example, if you are able to reduce bounce rate by 30%, what is the direct impact on conversion?
- You might want to combine various tactics with offering incentives and benefits to gain user trust sooner.
Step 5: Implementing CRO Tactics
In this step, we implement the tactics we have planned in the previous step, and measure the results based on the baseline we have set up in step 2.
The comparison results from your benchmarking will then determine your next steps. If you got great results, you can either continue optimizing this aspect or move on to the next one on your list. If not, you might need to go back into step 1 or at least step 4 to re-design a new tactic.
Here, you see CRO is more like a circular phase rather than a step-by-step approach, and there is always room for more improvement. So, keep a mindset that this step is not an end goal, but rather a continual process.
Also, remember the fact that the customers’ needs and behaviors are always changing over time, so we will never really achieve the so-called perfect optimization. Keep analyzing and optimizing, and as we have mentioned, keep record of every efforts.
Conversions are always one of, if not the most important success indicators for any businesses. If you can increase the chance of conversions, you can achieve exponential growth both in revenue and profit.
Again, remember that CRO is a continuous cycle rather than a ladder, and there can be many different variation of tactics and methods you can try. As with many other marketing channels, the key of CRO success is truly understanding your customers: their behaviors, their needs, and what they are actually looking for.