Conversion Rate Optimisation - is your website working for you?

What is Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)?

Any business with a website needs that website to generate income for the business, whether directly through an e-commerce website (online shop) or indirectly through a brochure-style website with a means to contact you.

You may look at your website visitor stats and see increasing numbers, but not an increase in business. As you attract visitors to the site, you need to think about why that visitor remains just a passing visitor and doesn't become a customer.

There are many actions you can take to encourage more visitors to become customers. These can be in the form of changes to the design of your website, changes to the layout and even changing your marketing messages or 'call-to-action' (a good example of a call-to-action would be a 'Buy Now' button or 'Call us today on 0800 123 456' message).

All these steps amount to optimising your site to convert a higher percentage of visitors into customers, therefore, this is what we call Conversion Rate Optimisation.

Conversion Rate Optimisation
Conversion Rate Optimisation

How can I improve my conversion rate?

This really depends on your current situation - the design of your website, your copy (the words you use to encourage a sale or sign up). Here's just a few areas you might want to look at:

  • Change the colour of your call-to-action buttons - these may be your 'Buy now', 'Sign up', 'Request a Quote' or 'Call us' buttons. Changing the colour can draw users' attention to them and invoke different emotions linked with different colours.
  • Move your phone number 'above the fold' - although this is a term used in print advertising to describe the top half of a newspaper page when it's folded in half, it is also use to describe the area of a webpage that's visible without the need for vertical scrolling. Research suggests that many people don't scroll down or spend little time 'below the fold', so make sure every visitor sees your phone number.
  • Increase 'white space' - many websites I come across are jam-packed with information all on the same page and it can be difficult to see what I actually want to see and find the right information.  This is where your 'call-to-action' can get lost and blend into the chaos. I simple thing that can increase the visibility of your call-to-action is to increase the space around it. Create a clutter free area of your web page to highlight your 'buy now', 'sign up' buttons, or telephone number.

Where do I start optimising my website for conversions?

I have to give credit here to Marcello on Twitter who made a very valid point:

@SkittishDigital Nice article, but step 1 should be: use analytics to find where you're losing customers. Once you get your answer, start testing

— Marcello (@markaldan) October 15, 2014

Google Analytics should always be your first port-of-call to determine where your website is failing before you begin any optimisation experiments. Find your reports under the 'Behavior' section within Analytics and really take note of what's happening in terms of bounce rate, exits and behavior flow.

Once we've established the page(s) causing the issues, then we can move on to doing something about it!

It's important to run real-life experiments on different versions of your web pages to determine what affect each change makes on conversion rates. There are several tools out there to do this, including a free one provided within Google Analytics.

Make a list of all the elements you'd like to change and try them one at a time. Otherwise, it's impossible to work out which change had the positive (or negative) affect.

I hope that's given you some ideas and motivation to look again at your website visitor stats and make 2013 a year to make your website work harder for you!