As costs of advertising increases and customer expectations continue to grow, it’s becoming increasingly important to manage and optimise your owned assets to ensure your marketing investment is driving the best experience for your customers and your bottom line.
Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is one of the best ways to help you ensure you’re constantly testing and discovering new ways to improve your customers’ experience with your brand.
What is CRO?
CRO is the process of running experiments across a website or app to improve the User Experience (UX) and conversion rate. In short, CRO is the practice of running A/B or multivariate tests against a control to improve your digital asset’s performance.
Some examples of CRO tests include;
- Shortening a lead form
- Changing Call-to-Action (CTA) text to drive more engagement
- Utilising contrasting colours in a CTA button so that it’s more prominent on site
- Tailoring specific landing pages for new vs returning visitors.
These are just a handful of CRO test examples, and there’s almost no limit to what can be tested to improve your digital marketing conversion rates.
Why CRO is Important For Your Business
CRO allows you to identify friction points across your site and improve your users’ / customers’ experience with your brand. By investing in CRO, you can incrementally improve your site’s performance, saving those precious marketing dollars by earning more revenue per visitor instead of having to increase media spend. Now that’s a Win-Win!
When you run CRO experiments, results will vary. Some tests may exceed your expectations while others may leave you pondering why it didn’t perform as well. But that’s the whole purpose of testing - without it, you will always be left wondering “but what if?” or being forced to make assumptions on what users will do without knowing if it will work or not. When a CRO experiment is successful, and is deployed onto your site, your Return on Investment (ROI) from the initial experiment will continue to increase indefinitely as you get more benefit from every subsequent visitor.
CRO can also be used to improve the UX of your website, as you can run multiple variations in one test to better understand how your customers navigate your site, and why they accessed your site to begin with. This is a great tactic to deploy when trying to decide on a very specific change to your website which are best when they are informed by data instead of gut feel.
Practical Guide to CRO
To assist you with your CRO journey, we have developed a practical guide to set you up for success.
Is Your Data Clean?
Before you can audit the user flow and develop a testing plan, you need to ensure the data being recorded in your analytics is accurate. If you can confidently confirm that all your events and goals are set up correctly and measuring accurately, you can move to the next step. If not, you will need to correct your data recording and allow for new / clean data to be recorded.
Define Your Strategy & What Success Looks Like
Before you get too excited and move straight into implementation mode off gut feel and hunches, you need a strategy in place so you are accountable to your testing plan.
A successful CRO strategy should include;
- A clear objective
- The definition of success
- Defined technology to use
- How often you are going to run a test
- Set statistical confidence levels
- Risk management measures in place in case something goes wrong
- Specific talent to help with technical implementation and analysis.
Once you have confirmed that your data is clean and developed a strategy, the fun begins! This is the time where you get to review the user journey analysis reports in your analytics platforms to understand the drop-off points. You can also use other heat mapping and eye tracking technology to gain additional insights for your analysis.
Develop Your Hypothesis
CRO follows a scientific approach, so all tests need a solid hypothesis which articulately defines:
- What you are trying to test
- Why you have developed this test, and;
- What success looks like
An example of a hypothesis is “By updating the CTA on the landing page from ‘Get A Quote’ to ‘Sign Up’, this will lead to more sign ups on the website”.
Start Your Test
Once you have developed the experiments, it’s time to launch your test. There are a number of CRO technologies in the market, but a great entry-level platform is Google Optimise. You need to ensure the Google Optimise code has been installed onto the website correctly and has been tested thoroughly. Before you launch your experiment, you’ll need to test the experiment across different devices and browsers to make sure it’s working correctly and not causing any errors on the site.
It is also worth mentioning that it is possible to set specific ‘% of traffic share’ splits for your tests to help manage any risks and ensure there is minimal impact to BAU visitor activities. These can also be relaxed if the test is performing well above expectations.
Learn & Measure the Success of the Experiment
As part of the strategy you would have defined what success looks like. To help you measure the success of the experiments you can measure the performance directly through Google Optimise. You can also set up specific CRO dashboards in Google Data studio to really ‘wow’ your stakeholders with real-time experiment performance data alongside detailed insights.
It is recommended to let the tests run for a minimum of 2 weeks or until statistical significance has been met based on the agreed confidence levels.
Deploy or Re-test
Once the initial experiment has finished, you need to conduct analysis to confirm the success rate of the experiment. If the CRO test exceeded expectations, then it is advised to deploy onto the website. If expectations were just met, we recommend testing again to ensure there is enough data to validate the change onto the site. If the test didn’t meet expectations, this is still a win as you tested a theory and let the data make the decision for you.
You should also do some analysis to ensure that there were no unintended consequences from the changes that impacted behaviours/interactions in other areas of the website.
Once you have completed your first round of testing, it’s time to create your new hypothesis and define what you would like to test and learn next. Testing is a cyclical process and should be part of your always-on optimisation process when it comes to improving your website and UX.
Share What You Learnt
The democratisation of data and website insights across a business is one of the best ways to drive staff engagement across business divisions. This is because it gives your staff the opportunity to learn more about what your customers like and don’t like that is supported by data, while developing their digital literacy and learning about the magic of CRO.
By following these practical steps and advice on how to approach a CRO strategy and implementation plan, you will be equipped to make confident and informed decisions on how to improve your website and, in turn, become one step closer to being a data-led organisation.