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You’ll get expert advice on topics to help grow your business today.
In the cult salesman movie classic, Glengarry Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin’s character is tasked with motivating underachieving real estate salesmen in an infamous speech that reaches a crescendo as his character hammers the main point home: ‘Always Be Closing!’
How is this related to Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)? If you alter the last word to ‘testing’ you get a similarly universal truth in digital marketing: Always Be Testing. We’ll get back to this foundational principle in digital advertising, but let’s start at the beginning.
Simply put, conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the process of increasing the percentage of conversions from a website or a mobile app. Conversions are a purchase, a newsletter signup, a download, or a phone call.
Basically, if you’re a business and you’re trying to get someone to do something on your website that leads to revenue for you, you want to track that action and make sure you’re increasing the rate of this action happening when users get to your site. And if you’re thinking about hiring a conversion optimization agency, read on.
There are micro and macro conversions. Micro conversions are activities that users engage in before purchasing. In B2B, this can be a download of a whitepaper or a viewing of demo video. Micro conversions are lead magnets; they warm up the user and lead users down the sales funnel.
Other micro conversions include, but are not limited to: e-books, podcasts, webinars, consultations, blog subscriptions, presentations, etc. Ecommerce websites also have sales funnels filled with micro conversions that can be optimized.
Then there are the macro conversions. These are the big targets, the purchases, the conversions that lead directly to revenue earned. They’re the moneymakers.
Wherever they exist within the framework of conversions, there’s an approach to maximizing users to convert once you’ve got them to your website. Nearly every business with a website is chasing this goal in perpetuity. Here is a relevant African proverb that will get you excited for conversion rate optimization:
Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.
It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.
Every morning a lion wakes up.
It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle.
When the sun comes up, you better start running.
How are you not excited to chase after conversion rate optimization after that?
Conversion rate optimization leads to lowered CPAs when ad spend is involved in getting a user to your site. They say that a penny saved is a penny earned, and if that is true, then it is more than worthwhile endeavor on this chase.
The first step in conversion rate optimization is to change your mindset. Many blog articles advocate competitive analysis and improving metrics, like bounce rate or time on site.
While these metrics can be useful, the heart of conversion rate optimization is solving the problems that users have with your current site that prevent them from converting. Adam Avramescu from Optimizely says, ““It’s about changing your culture to one that answers validated user problems and moves key business metrics (not vanity metrics) by finding key insights and exploring radical ways to use those insights.”
So, while it is easy to get caught up in maximizing a metric, always think big picture about how it is that you’re helping the user navigate your sales funnel to the end. In research, you continually run experiments to validate your hypotheses that strengthen or weaken your theory. Experiments that challenge how you used to view your theory can be the most valuable, because it forces you to figure out why.
Similarly, with conversion rate optimization, experimentation can disprove many of the best practices as described by digital marketing experts. Do not be frustrated and just move on to other methods to improve a metric. Thinking deeply about why experiments panned out a certain way in relation to the big picture can help you think of new approaches unique to your business.
With that said, we’re going to kick off this blog article with some CRO and landing page best practices. Just like in research, there are some tried and true philosophies that have stood the test of time. I’ll also talk about:
But what does that look like in digital marketing?
No outbound navigation links is what keeping your eye on the prize looks like in landing page best practices. As you can see from this image from one of Optimizely’s case studies, you simply don’t want the user to escape the conversion. The user converts or they don’t; if you set up your landing pages like this, the data will be clear.
You may get pushback from your superiors who don’t like the diminished options for the users, but you simply can not track all of the other ways a user can interact with a page with other links like navigation, and tracking is key to validating any experiment. Removing navigation cleans up your data by eliminating other variables, and makes tracking easier, because you’re focusing on tracking the only important thing: Did your user convert?
As you can see above in a beautiful example from a Marketing Land article on conversion rate optimization, a smart headline can captivate the user. They didn’t follow rule #1, but that is a helluva headline, CTA, and button combination. I don’t even care what my visitors want or what Google Analytics is tellin’ me, but I want to know why!!
I think we can safely say this headline hits the mark, and in only four words. Not bad. Here’s what happens when you click on ‘Teachers, start here”
Again, the headline is salient and clear with a unique selling point catered to the audience. What teacher would not want to help students? And for free? Whoever helped develop this page definitely watched the Godfather, because as a teacher, how can you refuse to move forward here?
Here is another example from conversion guru, Neil Patel. There’s a lot going on here in terms of words, which can be a bad thing, but the CTA gets points for originality and saliency: Get 100,000 visitors a month.
This CTA is repeated three times including on the button. There’s even a counter to show how many visitors he has/had for November, presumably a recent month. This goes back to thinking about your user’s problem and not getting too bogged down by how things are normally done. 100,000 visitors is just another way of saying ‘increase web traffic’, but in a much more enticing way. Don’t be scared to think outside the box. Let’s take a look at a bad example before we get back to good ones.
To say nothing of the small button and generic button copy, what is the call to action here? The Stack Exchange community is different, and I should learn more? Now let’s get back to a good example.
Now we’re talking again. Capture the audience with a simple and non-confusing headline? Check. Is it easy/free? Check. Where’s my CTA? Oh, it is right there on the button! Start coding now. Sweet, that’s exactly why I came here.
Here’s an example of the bare bones company logo route, however, just listing out your clients is literally the bare minimum you can do.
That’s more like it. Although the pictures of the clients are small, at least they exist. Those at least look like real people that someone could verify work at the place they say they work. And there’s words of praise. You’ll want to use actual quotes and pictures if you use them at all (can you imagine the awkwardness of explaining a fake testimonial?)
Again, each test is different, and you’ll want to validate your own data for yourself, but something relatively easy to implement that most businesses are doing is a no brainer. Let’s look at a corollary to the boost of privacy statements: trust badges.
This is more applicable to Ecommerce websites where payment is immediate, but any kind of credible trust badges that you can attach to your website can clearly be worth the small amount of trouble it takes to put an image on your website.
With the option to see more testimonials if needed using scroll arrows, the user can focus on the one testimonial and what each quote has to say.
Form fills are valuable conversions that represent warmed leads. A conversion from a form indicates a willingness of the user to be contacted again by your company. That is huge.
They say half the battle is initiating the conversation, and in this case, the other side has done the initiating for you! How easy is that? It can be easier if you follow some simple guiding principles and commit yourself to consistently testing out optimal tactics to incrementally improve the user’s conversion rate.
I love the very relevant image on the right. They could have easily settled for a software analytics stock image with a smiling businessperson. The headline emphasizes ‘free price quote’ with a bright color that matches the button that also uses a unique CTA. And those testimonial logos! Here’s their second and last step.
First off, check out that privacy statement & testimonial combination on the left. I definitely haven’t seen that one before. Name, email, and number (with extension – they’re no fools, imagine the hassle navigating the phone system of a big company!) ‘Where do we send your pricing info?” Uh, right here, let me write it out for you now that you ask.
Reducing Friction in the Ecommerce Sales & Purchasing Funnel
Ecommerce conversion rate optimization is a lot of what we’ve seen previously, but with many more opportunities for optimization because of the numerous steps that must be taken to checkout in addition to the normal awareness, consideration, and shopping stages, albeit usually a shorter sales cycle. We could spend multiple blog articles on optimizing your ecommerce site and process, but here are a few guiding principles to get you going.
Now that you know many of the bottlenecks for conversion rate optimization, you need to continually and consistently A/B or split-test each and every aspect. OK, how about just doing what you can do with your time and resources? Regardless, you want to continue finding winning combinations that beat your current winning combination. That is PPC at its finest – the constant grind of incremental improvement.
Want another way to look at it? The data is just telling you what your users prefer. Just listen to them and make the appropriate changes, and you’ll get more money.
If you’re doing this on your own website and you happen to use WordPress, there are plugins to help you test landing pages. Are you worried about statistically significant results? Generally, you don’t have to be as exact as PHD candidates, but even there, the internet has your A/B testing back!
As you can see, your options are endless. But don’t get bogged down with each and every detail. In the end, you’re just trying to make it easy on your website visitors. Have fun with it and show Alec Baldwin that you’re ready to Always Be Testing!!