Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is all about using both qualitative and quantitative data to improve your conversion funnel. Far too often, companies focus heavily on user acquisition — new advertising channels, maximizing traffic via existing channels by increasing budgets, etc. — without taking the time to analyze the opportunity for better results from existing users by optimizing for user experience.
The process of CRO can be grouped into three pillars:
- Data Analysis — Gathering data and translating into actionable insights for testing
- Usability Surveys — Getting information directly from users
- Testing — Using insights from the previous two pillars to perform tests aimed at enhancing user experience and conversion flow
Collecting and analyzing performance data in combination with gathering information from user surveys provides the foundation on which to establish a testing strategy. This will help determine the following:
- What to test –Identify pain points and conversion funnel bottlenecks, consider potential solutions
- How to determine what success looks like — Set new goals based on historical performance and identify specific areas in which to monitor improvement
The first step toward collecting data is using an analytics solution such as Google Analytics. This will allow you to collect data (lots of great insights right out of the box), and customize your reporting to provide a more personalized view. Two customizations are critical:
1.) Conversion Tracking — Needless to say, Conversion Rate Optimization cannot be done without actually establishing and tracking your conversions in the first place! The specific conversion to focus on in this case is your end conversion. This means the macro-conversion to which all micro-conversions lead. Once this is established, be sure you’re tracking it in Google Analytics (or your preferred analytics solution).
For example, set a Google Analytics (GA) Goal of reaching a purchase confirmation page if you sell online, or a contact form submission “thank you” page if you’re a Lead Generation company. Set a Goal Value for your conversions if you can. This will make it easier to quantify success. If you’re an e-commerce site, or any site with dynamic conversion values, consider using GA e-commerce tracking.
2.) Set Conversion Funnels — GA allows you to establish a sequential user flow that leads to conversion. A common conversion funnel is a series of checkout pages — add product to cart, checkout, enter credit card info, enter shipping info, confirm, thank out page.
These are all mandatory steps a user must take to make a purchase, and analyzing the behavior of your users as they navigate this process can provide a great deal of insight into the functionality of your website.
While not directly corresponding to conversion data, usability reports offer critical information about how visitors are interacting with your website.
1.) Site Speed Report — The speed at which your pages load has a huge effect on bounce rates, page exit rates, and ultimately, on conversion rates.
2.) Engagement Metrics — Use engagement (or “behavior”) metrics to assess usability at all levels of your site. The goal is to engage the user into the conversion funnel. This means providing a great user experience from your homepage all the way through to your purchase confirmation page.
Some examples of Engagement Metrics:
- Bounce Rate / Page Exit Rate — (show my cool GA report) Look at the pages with the highest bounce rates and page exit rates. Look for consistencies between those pages which might be leading to low user satisfaction and make a list of things to test.
- Page Depth — This report shows how deep (in terms of the number of pages viewed) your users are digging into your content. This is a great metrics for measuring engagement.
- Time on Site — This report simply measures the average amount of time users spend on your site, and is a good top-level indication of user experience.
These metrics all speak to the degree of engagement users take on your site. However, it’s important to remember the end goal — conversions. The usability reports should be used to inform your testing strategy, but remember that you’re ultimately optimizing to conversion rate, andnot merely an improvement in user engagement, so be sure to use this data in the context of the larger goal.
Beyond analytics data, use surveys to get data directly from the horse’s mouth. Simply asking your visitors and customers about their experience — what they found helpful, their pain points, how you can improve — not only provides you with actionable insights, it grows customer loyalty be giving the accurate impression that you’re committed to providing the best user experience possible.
Some areas to focus on when conducting user surveys:
1.) Product information
- Which other options did you consider before purchasing our product?
- Why did you choose our product over our competitor’s product?
- Have you purchased our products before?
- Would you recommend our products to a friend?
2.) Website Information
- Was it easy to complete a purchase on our site?
- Was there a particular element of the checkout process that made you consider not completing your purchase?
- Was it easy to find what you were looking for on our site?
- Did you find our site well organized and easy to navigate?
Keep in mind that the more general your questions, the more general the answers will be. There’s a balance to be struck here. More specific information is better for planning tests, but you don’t want to get so specific with your questions that you scare off your customers. Generally speaking, they’ll be more inclined to answer simple, straight forward questions and general answers are better than none at all.
Once you have these data sources set up and reporting, let everything run for at least a month before using the data to consider optimizations and tests. You want to be sure you’re basing your understanding of user performance on a statistically significant amount of information.
- CRO is all about performing tests based on analytics data and user surveys
- Before you consider your tests, you need to set up and customize your reports to get the right data
- Use both conversion data and engagement data for a fuller picture of user experience
- For conversion reporting, set up both conversion tracking and customized conversion funnels
- Use surveys to get information directly from users
- Confine questions on user surveys to only what will provide action insights
- Once everything’s set up, wait at least a month before considering tests and optimizations
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