With any business model or creative venture, there’s always room for improvement. Call it the human condition, but there’s always some process that could be streamlined, made more efficient, or optimized. Well, the same goes for your website. Your website can appear higher on search engine results (this is known as SEO, or search engine optimization); it can be more responsive on mobile devices; and it can be optimized for conversion rate. To do all of these (and more), however, you need the right website tracking tools.
In the case of conversion rates — which indicates the percentage of people who visited your website and either subscribed or made a sale — optimization needs website analytics and a well-thought-out strategy. So, here’s a guided breakdown that answers the following:
- What is CRO (conversion rate optimization)?
- How to optimize conversion rates with analytics
- Methods of CRO
- Why focusing on CRO is a good long-term strategy
What is CRO (conversion rate optimization)?
CRO, conversion rate optimization, takes into account the number of people who access your website and then determines the “rate” at which those people are “converting” (performing an intended action). From there, the “optimization” part is the methodology behind improving this conversion rate or upping your conversions.
How to optimize conversion rates with analytics
For the optimization process to be effective, you need to:
- Calculate your website’s baseline conversion rate (BCR)
- Change one part of your website
- Calculate your website’s new conversion rate (NCR)
- Compare your NCR with your BCR
If your NCR is higher than your BCR, this means you’ve optimized for the better. If your NCR is lower than your BCR, you’ve gone backwards. Rinse and repeat with the various strategies detailed below and you will have an optimized conversion rate in no time.
Calculate your website’s BCR
Here’s where the analytics comes in. If you’re using Constant Contact’s platform and website builder, these analytics tools come built-in and your BCR will be readily available.
If you aren’t using Constant Contact, here’s how you can calculate it. Collect the following information:
- The number of website visitors – Per day, per week, or per month is okay. The longer the time frame, the more accurate the “average” will be. (Keep this same time frame for the number of conversions as well.)
- The number of conversions – This is dependant upon your website’s goal::
- Are you selling a product? The number of conversions is the number of sales. It’s not how many items were sold. If one sale accounted for three items sold, this is one conversion.
- Are you building a subscriber list? The number of conversions is the number of emails you collect.
- Are you trying to gain more music downloads or schedule more haircuts? Whatever your mission, identify your type of conversion and then count them up.
Divide the number of conversions by the number of website visitors. Then multiply that number by 100, and add a percentage sign (%) at the end. Ta-da! You’ve just calculated your daily, weekly, or monthly BCR.
Example: A shoe brand has about 14,000 website visitors each week. In one week, they sold 200 pairs of shoes. That’s 200 divided by 14,000… which is: 0.014. Multiply this by 100 and add a percentage sign… the shoe brand’s BCR is 1.4%. That’s pretty good.
That means at their current rate, for every one hundred new website visitors they can attract, they will sell 1–2 pairs of shoes.
Change one part of your website
Now that you have your BCR, the next step is changing something about your website. Each change should be intentional, with the goal being to push users toward the intended action (sale, subscribe, etc.).
Here are a few areas to focus your efforts:
- Optimize your website loading speed
- Optimize your website for mobile-responsiveness
- Optimize your ecommerce platform (if you have one)
- Optimize your “buyer’s journey” (or “subscriber’s journey”)
These four methods will be detailed below in the various methods of CRO.
Once you’ve tried one of these and changed your website, you need to know if this helped or hurt your performance metrics. For this, you’ll need to calculate your new conversion rate.
Quick tip: This process of testing one aspect at a time is sometimes called A/B testing.
How to calculate your NCR
Calculating your new conversion rate will follow the same process as your BCR.
Example: The shoe brand optimized the ecommerce platform by placing the most popular items at the very top of the page. After waiting a week, the brand calculated its NCR. The result was 1.7%. While this might seem like a small change, it’s actually a significant bump up.
Compare your NCR with your BCR
Let’s continue with the shoe brand example.
Instead of selling 200 pairs of shoes per week at 1.4%, they’re now selling 240 pairs of shoes per week at 1.7%. If each pair of shoes were $25. That’s an annual revenue increase of $52,000.
That small change in CRO resulted in a massive change in profits.
If the shoe brand had seen a dip in conversion rate, say the NCR was 1.2%, then this would have resulted in a loss of $39,000 annually.
This is why you always want to keep an eye on your conversion rate and continually optimize it by changing different sections of your website and conducting CRO tests.
Methods of CRO
There are four main methods of CRO. Below, you’ll learn how to increase conversion rates by focusing on and optimizing:
- Website loading speed
- ecommerce platform
- Buyer’s journey (or subscriber’s journey)
Website loading speed
There are two words to keep in mind for website loading speeds: impatience and frustration. The former comes built-in with the user experience; the latter is what you hope to avoid.
When a user clicks on a website, they are likely to give up after a few seconds. If they give up, your conversion rate is going to sink. Every fraction of a second counts and any holdups in the loading process need to be eliminated.
Here are some reasons why your website is loading slowly:
- Videos are clogging the virtual pipes. Videos are some of the hardest content to reproduce on the page quickly. If you need to have videos, shorten the clip size and link out to the full video, or turn off automatic play.
- Too much on one page. If the amount of content on one page is causing it to slow down, maybe you’re doing too much at once. Separate the content into multiple pages to improve your load speed.
- Hosting and bandwidth issues. If you use Constant Contact as your web hosting platform, you won’t need to worry about this. If you self-host your website, you’ll want to ensure that you have enough bandwidth to support all of your users.
The world of online browsing has converted from desktop to mobile.
According to StatCounter, the ratio of mobile to desktop browsing is 56% to 44%. This means it’s now more important for your website to be optimized for the phone than the desktop. If you use a platform like Constant Contact you don’t have to choose one or the other. All layouts and themes come pre-built for mobile-responsiveness.
If you want to increase your conversion rate, ensure that your site is mobile-responsive, not mobile-friendly. What’s the difference between the two?
- Mobile-friendly design – Mobile-friendly means that the desktop version of the website is shrunken down to fit the new screen. This creates buttons, text, and pictures that are too small to see clearly. Which causes a poor user experience and a poor user experience results in a lower conversion rate.
- Mobile-responsive design – Mobile-responsive means that the experience of the desktop version has been reformatted to mobile screens. Buttons are enlarged, images are slightly more zoomed in, text is readable, and user experience is kept at the forefront.
By focusing on your website user’s experience, instead of just the information on the page, you keep users on the site longer, increasing the chances of a conversion.
If you are selling a product or service, the ecommerce platform is the final step before conversion. So, it’s pretty important that you optimize the ecommerce platform design. Some techniques to try include:
- Putting your best-selling items at the top of the page
- Improving the navigation on your ecommerce page
- Offering deals and discounts on certain items
- Making sure the button to buy is prominent and easily clickable
- Trying different pictures of your product or service
While it may take time, you always want to test each of these one at a time. That way you’re not conflating the data and getting mixed results.
For more surefire ways of upping your ecommerce platform, here are some design elements to consider for your product pages.
Buyer’s journey (or subscriber’s journey)
Here is where you’ll need to take the sage advice of, “Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.”
Your potential buyer (or potential subscriber) will be entering your website with different mindsets, understandings, expectations, and personas. Thus, it’s helpful to adjust and tweak different pieces of your website, catering to different personalities.
Here are some stages of the buyer’s journey to consider:
- Exploring stage – This buyer doesn’t know much about your product or service except for what they can infer from the home page. Thus, they are going to be poking around, exploring different avenues. For these buyers, make sure your navigation is intuitive to drive them toward your value propositions (whatever those maybe).
- Judgment stage – This buyer will know what you sell or offer, but they’re not sure that you’re the one for them. You need to convince them. Thus, it’s important to have reviews, testimonials, case studies, social proof, or something that explains your value propositions through example.
- Hungry stage – This buyer knows what you sell and wants it. They are going to drive your conversion rate up, as long as you give them what they want. Make sure you have your “buy now” button or “subscribe here” link visible.
With some trial and error, you can craft your website (and each of its pages) to fit each of these stages, optimizing sales, subscribers, and your conversion rate.
Why focusing on CRO is a good long-term strategy
As seen in Part 2, even a small improvement in conversion rates can have incredible benefits for your blog or business. Thus, focusing on CRO and becoming an expert at all the methods detailed in Part 3, will help you grow your website and reach your website’s conversion goals whether that be increasing revenue, building your email list, or widening your platform.
Here are some important reasons you should continue to implement a CRO strategy for your website:
- CRO and user experience – Converting is all about making a user feel welcome, comfortable, and ready to take action. Thus, by focusing on CRO, you’re also mindful of your user’s experience.
- CRO and increasing traffic – By honing in on CRO, every user that comes onto your website immediately becomes more valuable. This means that as you improve and optimize, you’ll be understanding more about your target audience.
- CRO and your future – Whether your goal is to become a voice within your community or a successful entrepreneur within your industry, keeping CRO as your North Star will ensure a bright and prosperous future.
Take advantage of web analytics tools from Constant Contact
Most website builders will come with some form of web analytics to take advantage of. But with Constant Contact, you know you have the quantitative data that matters. No need to wonder how to check website traffic or how you’re pacing towards revenue or your email subscriber goals. Our suite of data analytic tools help you gain insight into some of the following:
- Conversion rate
- Website visitors
- Top performing products
- Inventory Stock
- Bounce rate (the % of visitors that leave your website after one page)
- Time on page (the average time visitors spent during a session)
- Sale metrics
- And more!
It’s easy to get started, even if you don’t yet have a website built. From zero to optimized, here’s what to do:
- Start with Constant Contact’s website builder
- Choose the right theme and layout for your blog or business
- Create pages and fill them out with relevant content
- Optimize, optimize, optimize
Soon enough, your website will be working for you — building email lists, selling products, and serving your audience, all without any effort. And when you’re ready to optimize for higher conversion rates, the tools you need are already built-in and ready to go.