These days, it’s not enough simply to have an online presence for your business. Every business has an online presence. Whether your organisation is a physical entity representing itself online or a fully online enterprise, you need to make sure that your website is working effectively for you. That’s where conversion rate optimisation (CRO) comes in.
CRO is the science of maximising the rate at which visitors to your website follow through with the actions that you want. If you’re an online retailer, this almost certainly means making a purchase – and even if you’re only partly online, this will be increasingly important as around 70% of Brits now say that they prefer to buy online or on mobile. But you could also be looking for customers to sign up for an email or fill out a form. Whatever your goal, CRO is how you push to reach it more frequently.
Here’s what you need to know about the practice – and why it’s not something that you can afford to ignore.
What does CRO involve?
CRO is a scientific process of reviewing how people use your website and refining it so that the gap between that and how you actually want them to use it is smaller.
It involves the use of website analytics tools like Google Analytics to see what people do once they land on different pages of your site. What percentage of visitors to your homepage click into your product pages, for example, or how many actually hit ‘purchase’ once they are looking at a particular product? It then asks simple questions about the results: which parts of that user journey are showing lower rates of progress than others, and why? What could you change to improve them?
Armed with the information gleaned from analytics, CRO then involves experimenting with changes to your website. Depending on what you’ve learned, this could mean anything from editing colours and font sizes to drastically rearranging elements on a page. You can use A/B testing to compare the performance of two different versions of a page over a certain amount of time to see which best encouraged the behaviour from users that you want to see. Analyse the data that you get from those experiments, make adjustments accordingly, and repeat.
Good CRO considers a wide variety of factors, from the layout of your site to its technical performance, from the visual design of a page to the quality of the written copy that conveys your message.
What benefits does it offer?
Put simply, CRO makes your money go further. Global spending on digital advertising is already high and set to skyrocket in the coming years – and the goal of such advertising is often simply to get a customer as far as your website. Once they’re there, though, the money that you’ve spent on advertising risks going to waste if the customer journey isn’t clear and effective.
If your website is specifically how you bring in income, then you need to understand how people use it and respond accordingly. CRO lets you see things from a user perspective – and serves as an important reminder that, if a customer doesn’t know how to get what they want from you, they’ll often find it easier just to get it from someone else instead.