Picture yourself as the owner of a shop on the high street. As you watch customers come in, you notice that some are turning on their heel and walking straight back out; others browse, picking up some products, but then replacing them and heading out the door; still more are actually placing items in their shopping basket, but then dumping the basket as they near the till and leaving without making a purchase.
What would you do?
You would probably try to work out how significant each of these situations was and then find ways to encourage customers to complete their purchases, perhaps doing further analysis to understand why people were not doing so.
All this makes perfect retailing sense. So, the next question is; do you do this analysis in your online shop?
The online version of this process is called Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO). CRO is basically improving the experience of visitors to your site to increase conversions. It involves the same process as described above, whereby you quantify where and when visitors are leaving your site, then try to work out why. Once you have gained this understanding, improvements can be made to improve conversions and avoid any common barriers to customers following through. With the extent of analytics now available, this process can be extremely enlightening and profitable. For the customer, this process is also beneficial, improving their sales experience and enabling them to find what they need in a better way.
CRO looks at each component of the sales funnel and defines which parts need improvement. This could be a problem with the landing page where the customer arrives on the site, or it may be a long-winded purchase process, or a technical fault that causes problems completing the purchase, to name but a few possibilities. The point is that you don’t know until you measure what is actually going on and define the problem. This means that you can then concentrate your efforts and budget in the places that will make a difference.
There is always room for improvement, so even if you currently do some analytics on your site, there is probably a lot more that you could be doing. Increasing your conversion rate by only a few percent can mean a lot more income, so it is certainly worth investigating. It’s also worth remembering that you don’t have to be perfect, just slightly better than your competitors to win the sale.
Why is it that many businesses undervalue this important component of their Digital Marketing Strategy? A mere 39% of marketers list CRO as a priority. This seems even more bizarre if we consider the amount of money spent on customer acquisition, like social media campaigns and content marketing, since all this investment is wasted if ultimately the customer doesn’t convert. Why would you spend precious marketing budget on building interest and motivation for customers to visit your site, only to ignore if this effort was not turning into actual sales and if not, why not?
- What are the steps to optimising your conversion rate? Initially, you should carry out some checks on your site. These include; Is your CTA clear and obvious?
- Are your graphics relevant, well placed, clean and unique, inspiring the customer to proceed with the purchase?
- Do you have a lot of unnecessary text that will delay the customer and isn’t adding much value?
- Test the usability of your site. Is it easy to navigate?
- How easy is the checkout process?
- Is the site mobile responsive?
- Does it display properly on all search engines?
- Do you appear trustworthy? Are your security features obvious?
- Do you have customer testimonials to help instil confidence and trust in the customer?
- Is the overall message from your site consistent and clear?
- What is Google Analytics telling you?
- How long are people spending on your site?
- How much is the average spend per transaction and per customer?
- From which pages are they exiting and why?
- Which pages are the most popular and why?
For a good customer experience, your website needs to be as focused as possible, while being inspiring and instilling trust in the consumer. As with most things in life, there is a balance to be struck with getting these messages across, but the point is that CRO will measure the extent of the problem where this balance is not being struck.
CRO is carried out via A/B testing, also known as Split testing. It involves using controlled settings to determine which of two options (site A or site B) attracts more conversions, by trialling each with real customers. Customers are sent to one or other of the site options via a filter that you set up. Once your results reach a level that gives you statistical significance i.e. is significant to not just be chance, then the results are easily viewable using analytics. This allows the site owner to tell which feature being tested performed better. It is a simple process, but much more effective than market research, as it measures what customers actually do rather than what they think or say they will do. That is the beauty of CRO.
The danger with CRO is that it is not carried out properly e.g. that the analysis is set up poorly and isn’t measuring what is intended; that the experiment is not carried out extensively enough and there is not enough statistical significance to validate any one decision; that data is not collected consistently or in a suitably defined manner and gives a poor quality result. So, if expensive changes are to be made because of CRO, then it is imperative that it is done professionally and to a high standard. Each site is different – that is the point – and so what could be highly profitable for one site could be detrimental to another and a structured, consistent approach is vital for success.
If you would like to discuss CRO, or any other aspect of your digital marketing strategy, please get in touch.