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Conversion Rate Optimization Tips for Noobs

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Organic SEO, Paid Media

Conversion optimization has been around for a long time. And I mean a long time. One of the earliest examples of this process dates back to Leonardo Da Vinci circa 1430, in his attempt to improve food production through automation. Da Vinci actually failed his original goal, but succeeded in incredibly improving the operation of a system to cook large volumes of food for kitchen feasts. He ended up creating conveyor belts and a sprinkler system, which are known as his first recorded uses of technology in his inventions.

All that aside, imagine you have a small eCommerce site that receives 100 visitors a month. Very realistic, right?

Now, out of those, let’s assume that 1 visitor each month ends up purchasing a $100 product.

Without acquiring more traffic, you make a couple of tweaks on your site, and you turn that to 2 transactions each month. Congratulations! You just doubled your monthly revenue.

So what exactly is conversion rate optimization, and how can it help your business in the 21st century?

What is Conversion Rate Optimization?

Conversion Rate Optimization for Brick & Mortar Stores - VDS

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) deals with utilizing data to improve the frequency in which a desired outcome happens. The desired outcome varies from business to business, but generally ranges from clicks, video views, and downloads all the way to email sign ups, form fills and product transactions.

An ingenious example of how brick & mortar stores utilize this process is with heatmaps to track traffic areas in their stores. By tracking user experience throughout the store, conversion specialists can create a better layout that gets eyes on the right products, and increases sales and revenue.

Why is Conversion Rate Optimization so Important? - VDS

Why is CRO so Important?

In our hypothetical eCommerce shop, we were able to double the sales and revenue without increasing traffic to our site. Without investing time or money on acquiring new customers, we’ve cut our cost per acquisition in half. If you were spending $50 for those 100 visitors, you just saved half your money, and can reinvest in other areas of your digital marketing campaign.

CRO is quintessential to any digital marketing campaign because you can increase conversions with the traffic you’ve already earned. Once they are on your website, you have 100% control over the experience of these users. If you’re spending $100 per lead, you can potentially halve it through CRO.

The process of optimizing your conversion rates ultimately comes down to improving user experience (UX). It is a methodical and scientific approach that uses qualitative and quantitative data to create hypotheses and generate tests to see what works and what doesn’t.

One of my personal favorite case studies of CRO in action is with Expedia. By removing a single field in their transaction page form, they were able to increase sales by $12 million a year. In their form, Expedia asked every single visitor to list the name of their company, which broke the flow of their entire user interface (UI). It didn’t make any sense!

  • Visitors were confused when they saw the “Company” field
  • Visitors thought they should put in their bank name
  • Users then put their’s bank’s address into the billing fields
  • This then led to failed transactions, user frustration, and form abandonment

At V Digital Services, we are fascinated by the customer journey and the steps online visitors take before finally converting to a customer.

Human behavior cannot be predicted. There, we said it.

Luckily for us, behavioral scientists and even marketers have researched human behavior since ancient times. There are established sets of behaviors and patterns that most people tend to follow. While these patterns vary between audiences and settings, we can take these principles and apply them to the online environment as hypotheses to be tested.

We believe it is imperative to understand two fundamental principles.

CRO: The Paradox of Choice - VDS

The Paradox of Choice

The paradox of choice is simple. Give your customer too many choices and they will tend to not make one at all.

It has been tested time and time again that excessive choices has been shown to result in increased consumer dissatisfaction, due to people’s limited capacity to process information. This in turn leads to lack of motivation to complete a task and post-choice regret.

Limited Attention Span

Limited attention span might sound self-explanatory. But you’re wrong. Here’s what I mean:

“This whole idea of an attention span is, I think, a misnomer. People have an infinite attention span if you are entertaining them.” – Jerry Seinfeld

You must be clear, enticing, and relevant, like Jerry Seinfeld. Utilizing generic copy, imagery, and formatting can numb your audience and you will lose them in a fraction of a second. But if you’re unique, genuine, and offer value to your readers, that’s gold.

Hopefully by now you truly understand the impact conversion rate optimization can have in your digital marketing efforts. You don’t just make arbitrary changes to your website and hope that one works, there’s a science to it.

So, how do you actually do it? Let’s get to the juicy tips.

Conversion Rate Optimization Tips - VDS

CRO Recommendations

Earning traffic online takes time, effort, and certainly doesn’t happen overnight. Make sure you internalize how SEO can help your brand. We’ve seen clients go from $0 to $800,000 in organic revenue! We were able to accomplish this by ensuring the traffic we were driving to the site had a pleasant stay and found what they were looking for.

At the end of the day, it’s infinitely easier to double conversion rates than to double your traffic. Here are several CRO tips to guide you through the most common and successful tactics used in conversion optimization:

Speed Optimization

According to Google, the average time it takes to fully load a mobile landing page is 22 seconds, yet 53% of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than three seconds to load.

3 seconds!

Imagine spending $5,000 on a PPC campaign with a landing page that loads in 6 seconds. You can literally improve your ROI considerably by simply reducing loading speeds by 3 seconds (usually with a couple tweaks).

Solve a Pain Point

No matter how great your conversion optimization is, you cannot force people into buying your product or service if your target audience does not need it. It simply will not work.

You can’t just state that you’re an authority in your industry. You have to convince your audience that you are.

Research your audience’s psychographics. Find their aspirations, delve into their brains, and don’t settle for what, but find out why they need a certain solution. Find emotions, form connections, be empathetic.


Pick one:

Call To Action Optimization - CRO Tips - VDS

Well, the second one might sound like click-bait, but click-bait works for a reason. You just have to be clear and deliver on your offer! Personalized and relevant calls-to-action are proven to drive higher click-through-rates than generic messaging.

Additionally, make sure to set contrast with your color schemes. Make CTAs stand out!

Create a Conversion Funnel

A conversion funnel is essentially the path that a user takes on your site to complete a desired action. Visualize the steps it will take for a potential customer to complete that desired action, or conversion. For example:

  1. Homepage entrance
  2. Category page view
  3. Product page view
  4. Add to cart
  5. Check out
  6. Success page

Once you’ve set up your funnel, you can then see where most drop-offs happen. If most people drop out of your conversion funnel in the checkout step, then you know something is seriously wrong with your checkout page.

Make sure you don’t miss our eCommerce SEO tips to generate more organic traffic to your online shop and keep growing your conversion funnel.

Reduce Distractions

Remember the earliest websites to exist on the Internet? If you don’t, here is a gem from 1997.

For hardcore mode, pretend you’re looking for information on how to graph parametric equations! (There’s a page for that I swear).

Warning: Be advised of severe eye strain here: http://www.dpgraph.com/.

That might have been an extreme, but you see my point. Be sure to tell your visitors what to do, and make it easy for them to do it. Never stuff pages with everything you can fit on it, but also don’t leave dead-end pages. If you have an eCommerce site, you want people to buy. If you have a lead generation site, you want people to contact you. Make it clear and make it simple. Making your website too difficult to navigate is the fastest way to send users running.

Reduce Form Fields

Like we previously mentioned, Expedia removed a field on their transaction form and increased their revenue by $12 million a year. Be sure to ask only the necessary information required to pre-qualify your leads so that essentially you don’t annoy them.

If you’re in the healthcare business, then yes by all means ask about their insurance provider, if it’s relevant. But do you really need a zip code? Or the best time for a call back?

By the love of all that is holy please do not ask how your visitors found you. It has been proven time and time again that people do not remember, and if they do, it will be inaccurate. Instead, use analytics and attribution modeling to learn which marketing efforts yield the best ROI.

Social Proof

I don’t want you to think I’m saying people are sheep, but people are sheep.

Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people conform to the actions of others,  assuming that their actions reflect correct behavior. Social proof refers to your overall shares, likes, reviews, and aggregate presence on your site, social networks, and the rest of the web. Social media presence has a direct impact on conversion rates (and SEO!) as it helps validate your legitimacy as a professional brand. In fact, 70% of online shoppers look at reviews before completing a transaction.

Trust Signals

Trust is hard to earn.

Would you enter your social security number on a site that was not secure?

Probably not. Trust signals help visitors feel more safe, comfortable, and reduces anxiety. This is especially useful when dealing with sensitive data and personal identifiable information. Trust signals are simply elements, like badges, on your pages that let your users know you are trustworthy. The best trust signals around vary from industry to industry and audience to audience, but some examples are:

  • Site on a secure protocol (HTTPS)
  • “Money Back Guaranteed” notice
  • BBB Accredited Business
  • “Verified By Visa”
  • “Google Trusted Store”

Some are more effective than others, and strategic placement on your site is also important. Placing lots of association badges in the footer of your ecommerce store might not be as effective as placing security badges in your checkout page. But both certainly help!

A/B Testing

Test, test test.

If there is one thing you should take away from this article, is to test. Test headlines in your blog posts. Test subject lines in your emails. Test button CTAs. Test anything, but test something!

Even if you create a test and it fails, you still learned something valuable about your audience and how they think and process information. Then try something new. Keep trying new things to see what works for your audience and when you discover a tactic that’s successful, stick to it.

Churn Rate Optimization Tips - VDS

Churn Rate Optimization

I swear I’m not trying to make this confusing, but CRO also refers to Churn Rate Optimization.

Even after conversion, you should still nurture your customers, increase engagement, and grow their lifetime value. After all, how many resources have you spent acquiring one single customer?

Here’s a hard fact. Acquiring a new customer costs 6-7 times more than retaining and selling to an existing one.

Negative experiences, unfulfilled promises, false advertisement, and underwhelming products are top reasons that lead to high attrition. Your task here is to anticipate the most difficult challenges a customer might face, and solve them proactively.

CRO + CRO = Win

Tackling conversion rate optimization and churn rate optimization offers invaluable benefits that can exponentially increase your sales and online revenue. Keep in mind that offering a better user experience benefits visitors from all digital channels and all digital campaigns. Increasing your 2% conversion rate by 10% can be the difference between $10,000 and $20,000 in revenue every month.

Once you’re providing an optimal user experience, you can allocate resources to growing the visibility of your business in search engines. Contact us today to learn how we can help you craft a strategic digital campaign to expand your online presence.

On a final note, if you were able to find the page for graphing parametric equations on the 20 year old website (without cheating). Let us know in the comments below and we’ll send you a prize!