Welcome to Bowler Hat’s guide to conversion rate optimisation (CRO). Here, you will learn how to improve conversion rates on your website to generate more leads, sales, and business.
In this guide I will explain:
- What CRO actually is
- Why CRO is the most important marketing tactic of all
- How to implement various data-gathering methods
- How to use the data obtained to improve your website
- Why you should keep using CRO afterwards
The first chapter explains what CRO is, and some examples of how you can improve your website to increase sales/enquiries.
1 – What is Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)?
What is conversion rate optimisation (CRO) and, more importantly, why should you care?
The name kind of gives it away: conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is the process of improving your website’s conversion rate. Typically, this entails many small, incremental changes that are tested and then measured against the key interactions on your site.
The interactions are typically form fills, sales, phone number clicks, email clicks, downloads, or any action that is desirable for your visitors.
You should care about CRO because your website exists to generate leads or sales for your business and, in analytics, parlance, these are known as conversions.
Most websites have pretty shocking conversion rates – 1% is not unusual. That means that 99 of every 100 visitors just leave your site without getting in touch.
We spend so much time, effort, and money getting folks to our site and we then just let most of them just slip through our fingers.
Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) addresses this problem and helps you boost conversion rates.
The benefits here can be huge – more sales and reduced costs are the obvious ones, but if you can bring your cost per lead down then you can outgun the competition and gain a strategic advantage.
Understanding What to Improve
There are many tools that help you understand how potential customers use your site.
Tools like Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics let you track email clicks, phone number clicks, form fills, and e-commerce transactions. Other tools provide heatmaps and scroll maps to see where people are clicking or scrolling on your pages. We recommend setting up all of these methods so that you can gain a better understanding of the visitors using your website.
CRO, then, is the process of defining what may help improve your conversion rates and then running tests that measure your changes against your conversions. This is typically known as A/B testing, which means comparing version A and version B to see which drives the most conversions. This then helps you use data to validate your approach and constantly strive to improve your conversion rates.
This can sound tricky, but the reality is that small changes really can make a big difference to your conversion rates which, in turn, gets you more leads and more sales at a better cost.
CRO – The Devil is in the Details
The trick to CRO is to make small changes to a number of areas on your site as these small changes all stack up.
Finding just 5 areas of a page that could be improved, then if each of those improves your conversion rate by as low as 0.2%, then you will start to move your conversion rate forward. You boost your conversion rate to 1.2%, 1.4%, 1.6%, 1.8% and finally 2% – sales doubled with a few small changes.
In the next chapter, I will explain why CRO will benefit everyone including small businesses, and this isn’t just limited to businesses that have a dedicated marketing team.
2 – Why Your Business Needs CRO
CRO is often the last tactic to be applied by marketers once other traffic-driving tactics like Google Ads and SEO are already in place – this is a mistake.
Whilst you need traffic to run CRO campaigns, leaving this crucial tactic till last can mean that you are paying more for leads. Worse still, in some cases, you may write off a powerful tool like Google Ads due in large part to weaknesses on your website.
For small businesses with tight marketing budgets, CRO is an essential tactic to ensure you are getting the best possible return on investment (ROI) from your marketing budget.
Example – Doubling Your Leads
For a small business generating 5 leads per week with a 1% conversion rate, simply moving that conversion rate to 2% can double your leads without any cost implications.
For a business with a marketing spend of £1,000 per month on Google Ads that is generating 5 leads per week with a 2.5% conversion rate, if you can take that conversion rate to 5% then you can halve your Google Ads budget.
In some cases, we have seen both of these advantages of CRO in one account, and where conversion rate moves from 1% to 5% you can often half marketing spend and double up your leads.
CRO is crucial to ensure you focus on where you are losing out and to focus your marketing spend on what you see to be working.
The best bit of all is that typically, you don’t need to generate more costs to implement CRO on your website. There are plenty of premium tools available to give you high-level data and there are also tools that are freely available.
In the next section, we will look at the tools available for you to boost your conversion rates.
3 – CRO Tools & Techniques
Whilst CRO may sound like a highly complex (and expensive) tactic, the reality is that the majority of the tools out there are free to use. In this section, we will look at the tools and the techniques you can use to track and improve conversions.
1. Click Tracking
One of the most common methods is to monitor clicks on your website. This can be when people click buttons, links, and any other activity involving clicks. This can help you understand which buttons/links are getting the most traction and which are being mostly ignored.
You can track clicks by assigning a class to the button/link, and connecting it via Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics. This will then give you data on which buttons/links are being clicked the most often.
This is also valuable as it can tell you how pages are being visited and whether a particular type of button/link needs to be more prominent if the page it goes to isn’t getting many views.
To implement this, we recommend using Google Tag Manager to set up the click tracking, and then Google Analytics to receive the data.
Once you have that tracking in place you can then implement CRO to run experiments and track what changes generate improved interaction with that button and boost your conversion rates.
2. Heat Maps, Click Maps, and Recordings
Heat maps, click maps, and recordings provide insights into how real people use your site. You can see how areas of the page are being clicked, how far people are scrolling down a particular page, and how people are using pages on different devices.
One tool we recommend is HotJar, which provides a wide range of tracking tools to gather information on how people use your website, including feedback questionnaires and surveys.
This data can be useful as it can highlight areas that can be improved, such as if visitors are clicking a particular part of the page expecting it to go to a new page, or whether they’re only viewing the top part of the page without scrolling down the rest of the page.
You can then optimise the page by making those areas link to a relevant page and by making the content more engaging e.g. “See more below”.
All too often, CTAs and lead generation forms can be fairly low on a page. If you see that only 20% of users get to the form, then you have a simple hypothesis – move the lead gen form higher up the page. You then run this test and measure the results. Simple.
Heat maps, click maps, scroll maps, and session recordings will help you understand your users and give you endless insight on how to improve your website and boost conversions.
3. Live Chat and Surveys
Sometimes the easiest way to find out how you can improve your website is simply to ask visitors directly. This can lead to information that other methods might not cover, such as whether someone had any confusion trying to use your website, or whether they have any recommendations.
Live chat and user surveys are tools here that provide real feedback from your site visitors.
Asking users what problems they have had using your site or how you can help them achieve their goal can give you insights into what can be improved. You can then implement these changes and test using a CRO tool like Google Optimize.
There are many tools out there, with two popular options being Olark and Tawk – both will allow you to talk to your site users and gather that important feedback.
Surveys can be used to ask visitors specific questions regarding your website, such as how easy it was to navigate, was the content useful, and whether there could be any improvements.
A question that can be useful for converting users is what nearly prevented someone from doing business with you – this can help you understand the fears and concerns of your users so can you ensure these are carefully allayed for future customers.
For surveys we tend to recommend Mailchimp and SurveyMonkey as they both have simple tools with a free option to survey your visitors.
There are plenty of other tools available to use as well, however, I recommend starting with these three to get an understanding of how people are using your website and highlighting any potential conversion opportunities.
Other tools include Form Analytics, which will give you data on how people are using contact forms on your website, and by using data gathered from search engines, such as whether your website is being mentioned on any blogs or forums.
The primary goal of these tools is to gather ideas for what you can improve on your website. You then run CRO tests and measure the results to ensure your changes will push that conversion rate up and help make that marketing budget work harder.
In the next chapter, I will explain how you can use this data to conduct A/B conversion rate testing and how to use this data effectively.
4 – Running CRO Experiments
If you have implemented conversion tracking, heatmaps, scroll maps, click tracking, live chat, and surveys, you should be starting to acquire a list of potential improvements to your website.
You now need to test your theories by implementing A/B testing using a CRO tool like Google Optimize.
The theory with A/B testing is pretty straightforward:
- Your current page is the baseline
- You then compare this to your new optimised page
You then simply send 50% of the traffic to the original page (A) and 50% to page B and see which page performs the best – if it is your new page (B) then you implement those changes and look for more experiments.
Whilst this sounds complicated, the process is relatively simple – Google Optimize allows you to easily create small page variations in the editor. More complex page changes may need input from your web developer to create a variant page.
1. Setting Up A/B Testing
The easiest way to set up A/B testing is via Google Optimize, since it only requires a few snippets of code to be added to your website, and it’s free. The definition of A/B testing is to compare one version to another, so what we’re doing here is comparing the original version of a page and then creating an alternate version to see which one performs better.
You will want to test small changes to find statistically significant improvements. Test, test, test. Keep making improvements. Use the information gathered from your analysis to create a list of potential improvements and then incrementally test them and roll out the winner.
Google Optimize allows you to split traffic so you send 50% to each variant or have smaller tests only sending 10% of traffic. The choice is yours, but the more traffic the faster you can get a statistically significant change.
Also, you aren’t limited to just two different versions, you can create multiple versions to see which one performs better e.g. you can run an experiment with 5 different variations if you think this will be useful.
2. What to Test
While it’s good to set up A/B testing, you actually need to make sure your tests are worthwhile and that you gain some useful information from them. Using the data you gathered earlier, you should do tests accordingly e.g. if your data has shown that a page hasn’t been getting many visits, add more buttons going to that page.
I recommend making a plan of what issues the site currently has and potential improvements that could be made, and then reflecting this in the tests. Once your tests have finished, you can then see whether these improvements have actually had any effect on your website.
Some changes could be:
- Changing the content on your webpages
- Changing the imagery
- Adding new buttons and links
- Changing what pages the buttons/links go to
- Adding entirely new sections such as calls to action (CTAs)
- Removing sections you think are redundant
- Changing the header navigation of your website so that it’s easier for visitors to view specific pages
- Adding additional functionality such as a blog, contact forms, or live chat
- Making the website more responsive on mobile and tablet
- Optimizing the website for speed
Once you’ve run your tests, you may be surprised to see whether things have improved or not. While you may think a particular change will have a positive effect, you may instead find that your visitors don’t think in the same way you do.
This is why A/B testing is important, as while it’s important to continue to develop your website, it’s also important to make sure those developments aren’t harming it as well.
This approach makes web design more scientific – we take our ideas but then use the data to then guide us regarding what works and improves your conversion rates.
Chapter 5 – Continuous Improvement
Conversion rate optimisation is a continuous process so that you can try and squeeze as much value out of your website as possible. You are always testing, always improving, always making sure your website is working as hard as possible to turn clicks into customers.
We have many years of experience at Bowler Hat and we have never seen a website that could not be improved!
Once you’ve carried out your test, analyse the results to see which version performed better, and then carry out any changes if needed. You don’t stop there though, brainstorm new tests or diagnose more potential changes and roll them out – in just a few hours each month, over time, you can radically improve the performance of your website.
Set aside a few hours each month to review the data from your diagnostic tools and surveys and to brainstorm some experiments and then roll those experiments out and review the results.
Not every experiment will help but his continual testing ensures your website keeps improving and keeps getting better.
We hope this guide gives you an overview of just how valuable conversion rate optimisation is and how it can help you radically improve your results from all digital marketing tactics.
If you have any questions please drop a comment below or get in touch.
Free CRO Audit – Get a complimentary website review to see how exactly you could start optimising for conversions today.