Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is a term for a series of techniques which all have the same purpose: to increase the proportion of visitors to your website that convert.
Many online customer journeys are imperfect, and contain areas where shoppers can have problems which might deter them from making a purchase.
If too much effort is required to complete book a flight or hotel, or to complete checkout, then significant numbers will abandon your website without buying.
CRO is about addressing the issues which can deter users from buying, making it more likely that they’ll complete the transaction.
In an increasingly competitive ecommerce market, user experience, backed up with an effective CRO strategy can be the key to sales growth.
There are plenty of ways to improve conversion rates, and websites will often use a combination of these CRO methods to deliver the best results.
For example, feedback surveys and user tests can uncover areas where shoppers are experiencing problems, while A/B testing can help retailers to identify the best solution for these issues.
Here are some of the most common methods used to improve conversion:
In A/B testing, you set up two different versions of a landing page, (or email, product page etc).
Tests may involve two completely different pages, or the same page where just one or two elements have been changed.
You can then see whether or not a small change to an element on the page such as a call-to-action (CTA) button or the copy used makes a difference to conversion rates.
A/B tests are relatively easy to set up, they can deliver clear results, and small changes can sometimes make a big difference to conversion rates.
However, it’s important to be aware of some of the challenges. Reliable A/B tests require plenty of traffic to be truly significant. Also, while tests can deliver clear results, others can be inconclusive.
A/B testing measures two variations against each other, multivariate testing (as the name suggests) tests changes made to a range of elements on a page.
For example, different images and headlines on a landing page could be changed, which will then lead to six or more variations of the page being served to different visitors.
As with A/B testing, a structured approach is the answer. For one, you need to know the sample sizes you’ll need for a reliable test, and then it’s about interpreting the results and acting on what you have learned.
User testing helps retailers to find out how people (potential customers) react when using a website.
This works by observing people using your site (either in person or remotely) so you can see, for example, the problems they may have finding key information or completing a checkout form.
Testing helps overcome many issues with CRO, as it provides direct evidence which can override the opinions or preferences of senior stakeholders (the ‘HIPPO’ effect).
User testing can cut through this opinion and tell you exactly how people use your site, and point directly at areas for improvement.
Feedback surveys help you to understand why shoppers abandon purchases, providing direct insight into any problems they encountered when using your website.
CRO and UX
One plus point from CRO strategy should be an improvement in the overall user experience on your website.
CRO and UX are based around many of the same techniques, including those outlined above and, while CRO is generally more keenly focused on improving business results, a good user experience should help any business improve its results.
To find out more about how CRO can help you, download our Experts Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization.
Graham Charlton is editor-in-chief at SaleCycle