Introduction to Conversion Rate Optimisation
Website optimisation has become one of the most important facets of a website and its importance will only continue to grow. In an age when the Internet is inundated with websites, standing out is a pretty tricky task. Optimising your website in order to improve conversion rates, increase mobile friendliness, improve your SEO, and drive more prospective customers is crucial to the users journey and ultimately improving your sites profitability. Your website needs to be focused on your company’s end goal and clearly defining your sites call-to-action (CTA) is critical to improving its conversion rate and ultimately your company’s ROI.
What is CRO?
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a systematic and balanced approach to boosting the performance of your website across all possible metrics to increase your sites conversion rate (visitors into leads). CRO relies on scientific data generated by analytics, heat mapping, and CRM applications which helps to clearly define your website’s key performance indicators (KPIs), and objectives for the short and long term. This allows you to build a structured CRO strategy that will maximize the potential of your websites current user base and improve performance among other targeted groups. In essence, CRO seeks to increase the number of specific actions that occur when a user visits a website, which is known as your site’s CTA. It could be making a purchase, subscribing for updates, signing up for a trial, or any other CTA relevant to the website in question.
How can you go about the CRO process?
The collation and processing of relevant data is the basic foundation of any successful CRO strategy. Website owners need to possess clarity about the type of data that is relevant to their conversion paths. Often, hundreds of variables are involved before a site owner can determine what areas possess the greatest level of conversion. The website must collect data from as many avenues as possible, including technical testing, analytical data, user polling, user testing and heat mapping.
Once you have all this data on hand, you can identify and activate the quick fixes which you know will improve conversions immediately. Once those are out of the way you can then dig further into the data and develop logical hypotheses on what problem areas to work on that will generate higher conversion rates. Any hypothesis made must be clearly measurable as this will help you to define key optimisation and business goals. Having this data and research on hand will allow you to make educated decisions in real-time and update them accordingly. As the number of data increases and changes, you will be able to improve your optimisation strategy continuously, ensuring optimum conversion rates. ConversionXL has a great article about these methods and the CRO process as a whole, and I highly recommend it for a deeper dive.
Web Design and CCD
The nature of a website’s design is one of the most important factors that affect its conversion rate optimisation. Conversion-centered design (CCD) is the process of designing a particular application or website in a way that seeks to achieve the businesses end goals. Its main aim is to subtly nudge the user toward completing the website’s CTA and typically involves the use of persuasive and psychological triggers to positively boost the user’s association with the website to increase conversions. CCD uses a combination of colour and contrast, directional cues, urgency, relevant social proof, and other factors to lead to the development of a positive association
The landing page is critical
The landing page is designed to direct users toward the one fundamental goal of the website. The simple purpose of the page is to subtly nudge the visitor into performing an action deemed desirable by the website. There are numerous different types of landing page formats, each used to achieve a specific action. Some of the most popular types of landing pages include click through, lead capture, infomercial, viral, and product detail landing pages among many others.
A click through page is a page that is designed to provide information about an offer or a purchase and explain the terms and benefits of the purchase involved. A lead capture page is designed to capture the personal details of the visitor, normally the email address. Such a page normally has no exit path and a bright colored button for the visitor to submit relevant details. This type of page is also known as a lead generation page.
A viral page normally features some funny or innovative content or video that is capable of creating a viral buzz. The company behind the page is typically mentioned in the background, but normally never heavily promoted. In order to succeed, these type of pages require great content and the right sharing mechanisms. This is where the selection of social media buttons can become crucial.
Law of Pithiness
The law of pithiness is an old German principle that essentially states that human beings have a basic tendency to order their experience in a simple, symmetrical fashion. Human beings are more receptive to order and clarity in design, and they actively avoid complicated ideas, designs, and layouts. This is because humans instinctively realize that simple things are less likely to lead to unpleasant surprises. All the highest converting websites follow the law of pithiness whether it is by design or accident. The design of a website must be simple, clear, and orderly in order to maximize its potential.
By leveraging the principles of the law of pithiness, you can boost your conversion rates. The elements of simplicity and elegance are critical to good, responsive web design. Users want to see something simple and easy to use without making them run around all over the website. The greater the complexity of your website, the lower your rate of conversion.
Colour plays an important role in almost every aspect of our lives affecting our emotions and the way we perceive certain things. Companies have been tapping into this colour psychology for years.
Take a look at the majority of fast food companies around you. They use predominantly warm colours in their brand such as red, orange and yellow, which are known to make you feel hungry, while the cold colours such as blue, purple and black suppress your appetite.
Blue is a calming colour that denotes trust and loyalty, which is why most internet companies like Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn use it. So there is definitely power in colour, but what colour do you use to increase your conversion rate?
Case Study #1
Hubspot ran a test between green and red buttons to see if colour made a difference and if so which one converted better. They created two identical pages, where the only difference was the colour of the buttons, one green, the other red.
When the results came back after a few days of traffic, it showed that the red button had received 21% more clicks than the green button!
Case Study #2
Visual Website Optimizer ran a similar test, for one of their clients who sold cellphones online. They tested 3 types of button colours, a white button with green text, a green button with white text and an orange button with white text. The orange button came out the winner with a 5% increase in conversions. So it looks like warms colours such as red and orange are the best choice for your buttons? Well, not exactly.
Colour makes little difference on its own
Although it’s important to understand the affect your colour choice might have on your audience, colour makes no difference on its own. What’s more important in driving conversions is how much that colour stands out from the rest of your page. This is where colour contrast comes into play and it will make or break your conversion paths.
If your website’s main colour is red, adding a red button as your call to action will have little effect, as it will just form part of the website and blend into the background. The best choice is to choose a contrasting colour that stands out from the red but conveys the right emotion and perception through colour psychology.Blue would be a great choice against a red palette. It contrasts against the dominating red colours and it draws users into click it and convert. Users want to be guided on what to do and having a call to action that stands out and grabs your users attention will do exactly that.
Possessing the right call to action (CTA) is necessary in order to improve the conversions of your website. Designing the perfect CTA can make a world of difference to the success of your website. A call to action (usually abbreviated as CTA), according to GoBeyongSEO.com is “an image or line of text that prompts your visitors, leads, and customers to take action. It is, quite literally, a “call” to take an “action.” The action you want people to take could be anything: download an ebook, sign up for a webinar, get a coupon, attend an event, etc. A CTA can be placed anywhere in your marketing – on your website, in an ebook, in an email, or even at the end of a blog post.”
CTA is probably the most important metric in determining conversion rates as this is what creates a conversion. CTAs need to be visible, in your face, and there should only be a few in order to work effectively. You cannot overload your website with CTAs as it would simply lead to choice paralysis and reduce the number of conversions you see. Before developing a CTA, it is advisable to conduct extensive research about your audience demographics to figure out the best possible way to appeal to them.
What are the best practices you can follow for CTA?
Clearly describe your offer.
The CTA should clearly define and describe the pertinent details of your offer, and you should ensure that it is clear of any unnecessary information. Extraneous information is likely to decrease conversions.
Be proactive with the wording.
Instead of leading with passive or reactive words, you should lead with words such as ‘download’ or ‘subscribe’ or ‘register’ and highlight them clearly. This way the user knows exactly what you are trying to get them to do.
CTA should be instantly visible.
When the user lands on the page, the CTA should be immediately clear to the naked eye without needing to scroll down. According to Hubspot, this minute difference can increase your click through rates.
CTA should stand out.
The CTA should not blend in with the rest of the page and this is why colour contrast is so important. Use the right mix of colours to contrast the rest of the page with the CTA to increase conversions.
Maintain consistency with the headline.
No user likes to be minimally deceived and most savvy users will notice if your CTA is different from the headline of the landing page. Consistency is far more likely to increase your conversion figures.
Have multiple CTAs if required.
If you have multiple segments and different offers on your page, it is ideal to have a different CTA for each action without overloading the page with CTAs.
Place the CTA exactly where it belongs.
Relevance is as important as consistency, and you need to take great care to place CTAs. If users are likely to see irrelevant CTAs on your webpages, it is liable to decrease conversions for your entire website.
Test, test, and test.
You need to continually test your CTA in terms of text size, colour, and placement in order locate the most optimised version of the CTA. Based on your specific needs and industry trends, you should also know how often you may need to change your CTAs in order increase conversions.
Principle of Cost/Benefit Analysis
The principle of cost/benefit analysis is actually quite useful when attempting to determine the conversion rate optimisation of your website. The principle explores the relationship between perceived benefits and perceived costs of an item. In the context of a website, it would be the value between subscribing to a news website’s daily updates and the time taken to subscribe together with the value of handing out personal information, or the value of seeing your email inbox being spammed. For example, suppose you had to enter your email address in a particular box to receive regular updates from ‘The Guardian’. The benefits out weight the cost as the time taken to get the information you want is quite low. However, would you do the same if it required you to create an account and add your payment details?
Reducing the amount of time required to receive some particular reward drastically improves the conversion rate. Consider the example of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics Official Store. Most studies estimate that nearly two-thirds of all online shopping carts are abandoned. This number is likely to be higher for sites that require you to access multiple pages in order to make your purchase.
The Vancouver Olympics store was facing a similar problem as it required prospective buyers to sign-in and create an account, enter shipping information, enter billing information, and finally confirm their order across four different pages. The original checkout process gave customers a lot of time to second guess their choices and pull out during any one of these steps.
The store looked at their checkout process and decided to simplify it down into two pages. This change saw a surge in the amount of purchases instantly. The new checkout process featured one page to purchase, with a second page after purchase encouraging account creation. So now you didn’t even have to sign in to buy something. Both the processes required you to enter the same information, but the second process served to reduce the psychological friction in the mind of the buyer. Buyers had less time to second guess their purchases, and removing the barriers to conversion played a real role in increasing sales.
In addition to improving the sites purchase rate, the idea to move the account creation process to the end of the checkout process may have also indirectly led to the amount of account creations. This is because after you have entered all your billing and shipping information, you are already invested in the process and account creation takes a few seconds at best. These changes improved conversion rates by a staggering 21.8%.
The above example shows us how the website manipulated the principle of cost/benefit analysis to improve their conversion rates. Again, simplicity was the key. Making things simpler directly increased the likelihood of purchases because users instinctively stray away from complex items. Furthermore, the brain is more likely to second guess its choices during a complex process and increasing the likelihood of producing alternative outcomes.
Too much choice has been proven to severely affects decision making, as it increases the time consumers spend agonizing over choices. Quite a few people face this in restaurants every day as the sheer volume of options available makes it incredibly hard to make a decision.
The problem of plenty is real and is quite common with respect to conversion rate optimization and landing pages. The ‘less is more’ cliché is usually true in these cases as the example of Crazy Egg shows us. In the context of landing pages, ‘less’ should refer to one choice and one choice only if possible.
Choice paralysis in social media buttons
This is why every landing page needs to have one fundamental purpose, one fundamental conversion goal. Now suppose you have a blog page and you are looking to increase its popularity. The best way to do it via social media. You can add Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and a bunch of other buttons. Now, if you add all these buttons, you should maximize your reader base and witness more unique daily visitors?
Neil Patel thought so too for his website Quicksprout. He offered three options: Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. He wasn’t satisfied with his conversion rate so he decided to add Pinterest and LinkedIn buttons. However, to his surprise, his conversion rate actually dropped by 29%. Studies have shown us that these tiny social media buttons also serve as CTAs. If you offer too many options, you are far more likely to confuse your users. You may confuse them into not sharing anything at all. Now, you are not really confusing them a lot but subconsciously you’re overloading their brain. Once the brain perceives a higher number of CTAs, it is automatically less likely to react and share something.
Rather than overloading your page with social media buttons, you should choose the buttons that are more likely to correspond with your targeted user base. Based on that information, you should ideally not have more than 2-3 buttons. Delve into your referral traffic and audience demographics to understand the buttons you need. Select your buttons carefully. Ensure that you test and optimize the buttons multiple times before setting on a defined list of buttons.
Choice paralysis leads to cognitive overload
Humans are incredibly lazy when it comes to browsing the web. As it becomes progressively easier to browse the web, our brains begin to automatically choose the route that requires us to shoulder the least amount of cognitive load. It’s not that we don’t have the ability to do something, but we’d just rather not. This is the principle of cost/benefit analysis in action again.
Cognitive load can be either intrinsic or extraneous in nature. Intrinsic cognitive overload refers to the mental effort required to process new information while not losing track of your original goals. Extraneous cognitive load refers to the mental resource utilized to process the new data, but it does not contribute to a user’s understanding of site content. When a landing page is stuffed with information, your extraneous cognitive load is likely to be higher than normal. Now, not everything in the landing page will be essential to understanding the page, but your brain processes it anyway. Here it uses up valuable resources. This filler content automatically reduces the user’s appreciation of the page and decreases the likelihood of a conversion
Your website only needs the bare minimum to decrease choice paralysis
This is why every landing page should have the minimum information required to inform the visitor about the site and its purpose. By reducing cognitive load, you are increasing the likelihood of conversions. Look at Trulia’s landing page. Trulia is pretty complex real estate website with millions of listings across the globe. However, the landing page is as simple as they come with a minimal cognitive load. On the left-hand side of the landing page, you can simply search by neighbourhood, city, or address, and the search bar is in red, which as you can see contrasts out against the dominant green colours of the site.
Trulia’s page is focused on one goal, which is to get you to search for real estate listings. If the site flooded your brain with listings off the bat, you would be far less receptive to it. The only goal is to ensure that you type in your address and nothing more. The cognitive load of the page is incredibly low. Of course, the right side of the page is filled with listings, and this is for consumers who don’t mind overloading their brains off the bat. Trulia has the best of both worlds and basically leaves the choice at your doorstep. Trulia’s landing page does have distractions, but by splitting the page into half, the website ensures that it won’t really be a problem for users.
Developing a website today has become a perfect science. By subtly playing to the subconscious, you can drastically increase your conversion rates. Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is as important as search engine optimization (SEO) is in determining the success of your website and should always be top of mind when developing or improving your website.
Mastering these top techniques will improve conversion rates significantly, which ultimately improves your company’s bottom line, but your data is the overriding factor when it comes to deciding what areas to tackle first.
If you don’t have the time to develop a sound CRO strategy or have had no success with CRO, you should ideally be contacting the experts. You should also keep in mind that CRO is an ever changing process and it should be done in a way that appeals best to your core demographic. Continuous testing and optimization is critical, as what worked today will not always work tomorrow.
With over 12 years experience in online marketing and conversion optimisation, Digileads is your perfect digital partner in developing online strategies that will help you grow your business and show you great return on your investment. Contact us today to see improved results.