A straightforward process to test and optimize your digital assets across your sales funnel to encourage your users to take action
The truth about marketing and sales is that it doesn’t matter if your content is pretty and your headlines are catchy. Those attributes are a given. What matters is how effective your content drives conversions to hit a specific KPI. Maybe this is a no-brainer for the seasoned marketer, but for the rest of us, there’s a lot of great-looking content out there that just isn’t performing. And that’s wasteful.
For startup founders or sales and marketing professionals looking to improve sales, there’s a solution that pairs good content with great data to eke out better performance. It’s called Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).
What is Conversion Rate Optimization
CRO is a type of marketing that’s all about testing and optimizing your digital assets to improve sales performance. This can be done at a grand scale such as a complete audit of the user experience on your website, or it can be performed on a single piece of content. In both cases, the purpose is to discover what is not working and then improve it to increase the percentage of visitors taking a desired action.
More conversions, better ROI
For most businesses, the most critical KPI is the conversion rate. This is the percentage of customers who take a desired action divided by the number of customers who could take that desired action x 100. This most often relates to making a purchase, subscribing, calling, or otherwise opting in.
The formula: Number of people who take action ÷ number of people who could take action x 100 = Conversion Rate %
Ultimately, a better conversion rate tends to mean more sales, more opt-ins, or more prospects. This in turn can lead to higher revenue and better (ROI) return on investment.
Why CRO is critical to sales success
Conversion rate optimization is the most important system in your marketing arsenal because it allows you to lower acquisition costs and drive more value from your existing customers. It accomplishes this by providing four critical insights:
- Why your customers aren’t converting
- Where along your sales funnel they turn away
- Which digital asset(s) or experience(s) are causing poor performance
- Where to spend resources to optimize
Get started with conversion rate optimization
CRO employs a fairly well-defined process that can be applied to different types of digital assets including your website, email drip, sales funnel, content, landing page, and more. For the purpose of this article, the following phases will be oriented towards optimizing a website checkout page:
- Research – Identify potential areas for improvement
- Hypothesize – Develop a list of hypotheses based on your research findings
- A/B Test – Determine a solution through A/B testing
- Analyze – Determine the winning experiment
CRO Research phase
There are two approaches to gathering research – quantitative and qualitative. To get the most comprehensive data, do both.
Quantitative research: On the quantitative side, leverage google analytics to get a detailed snapshot of your users and their behaviors. By digging into the numbers, you will discover how they interact with your website, where they drop off, and what pages need improvement.
For example: The analytics show a steep drop-off on the checkout page.
Qualitative research: On the qualitative side, gather direct feedback from your existing users with a survey. Unlike the cold hard data of quantitative research, surveying can pinpoint specific reasons why your website isn’t optimized straight from the user.
For example: The feedback provided indicates that the checkout page is visually confusing.
CRO Hypothesize Phase
Look for common patterns between your qualitative and quantitative research to determine where to focus your attention. Develop one or more hypotheses structured in three parts:
- Proposed change
- Desired effect
- Reason behind the change
For example: We believe the checkout page should be visually simplified with copy reduced by 3/4 and the primary image scaled by 50% to boost completed purchases by 5%.
CRO A/B Test Phase
Once you have your chosen hypothesis, it’s time to A/B test it. This approach serves two versions of the same variable (web page, social post, etc.) to two segments of your users. The A is the control, and the B is the variation, and traffic should be evenly directed to both.
Once the test is complete, look at the data to determine which version met your business objectives. For our checkout page example, we would serve two versions of the page and then determine which one drove higher sales conversions.
CRO Analyze Phase
At this stage, the research and testing are complete, and it’s time to review the data. If your hypothesis was correct, determine the time and costs that will be associated with making the change. If the hypothesis was proven wrong, the learnings are still valuable and can help to inform another hypothesis. A subtle shift in your hypothesis may be all that is required. Then test it again.
Always be testing
Businesses of any size tend to have one KPI that rules most business decisions – improve the sales conversion rate. For some, this means driving more sales through a checkout page. For others, this means closing more deals. For others, this means developing customer engagement and loyalty over time.
Regardless of your business objectives, CRO empowers businesses of all shapes to improve their conversion rate to drive higher revenue. If you’re new to this process, start small by focusing on a small but important piece of your sales funnel such as your email opt-in page or organic social content.
The key to leveraging CRO to improve sales is to always be testing. Whether your sales are strong or lagging, there are infinite ways to make incremental improvements up and down your sales funnel.
No-brainer ways to improve your conversion rate
CRO is a data-informed, surefire way to improve your conversion rate, but depending on the results, the winning solution may be costly or time-intensive to implement. If time and cost are a factor, there are several small but meaningful tactics you can implement to optimize your digital touchpoints. Here are a few of our favorites:
Simplify your contact form: Make conversions as easy as possible by reducing text and form fields to lower the amount of effort for the user to contact you.
Simplify your website navigation: Too many options can often overwhelm the user. Reduce or combine pages and categories in your menu to make site navigation more straightforward.
Get personal – Tailor your content to the user by addressing them directly by name or title as opposed to industry. For example: “Startup Founder”, not “Startups”.
Smart CTA’s – Be specific with your call-to-action and avoid generic, non-specific language when you ask a user to take an action. For example: “Download your playbook now”, not “Learn More”.
Social proof – Users are short on trust in the digital age, so display real testimonials and reviews as social proof that paint your business with a positive brush.
Speedy page loading – Users expect a fast and frictionless online experience, and one way to speed up your page load speed is to optimize the images on your website. Images should be formatted for the web.
Get human – Humanize your communication to connect more deeply with your audience. Sometimes the difference between you and your competitor is your values, so don’t be afraid to tell your story authentically.
Want to talk about ways to improve your conversion rate?
At Scout Digital we know a thing or two about CRO to boost sales and growth online.