As a business, your website exists to make you money, but have you built a website that effectively turns interested users into paying customers? Conversion rate optimisation is key to ensuring your website isn’t driving business away by creating a clear and persuasive avenue to that coveted check-out screen.
Below, our CRO experts have curated and explained some of the most effective ways you can improve the conversion rate for your website. But first, let’s start with the basics!
What is Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)?
Conversion rate optimisation refers to how effectively you convert your website visitors into paying customers, leads, or other metrics by the actions they take on your site. These actions can vary widely between industries. An eCommerce site, for example, will likely measure product purchases as conversions, while a landscaping services site might measure leads. A software as a service website, on the other hand, might measure sign-ups for a free trial.
Importantly, CRO is only one metric among many that can—and do—determine the success of your website, and a high conversion rate does not necessarily equal business success. After all, a website that has had only one visitor would have a conversion rate of 100% if that visitor converted, but a single conversion will not keep the doors open. Additionally, higher cost conversions will usually have lower conversion rates than lower cost conversions, but the higher cost conversions will obviously generate more overall revenue.
What influences your conversion rate?
Relevancy – Is the product or service you’re offering relevant to the people who visit your site?
Relationship – Do your visitors know and trust your brand?
Business vertical – How frequently will people need to purchase what you offer?
Cost of your product – Lower cost products tend to have higher conversion rates than higher cost products, as mentioned above.
Cost-to-value ratio – What is the perceived value of your offering compared to its cost?
Copywriting – How clear and effective is the language on your site encouraging the conversion?
User experience – Do the design, usability, and user experience of your website make converting easy?
Setting CRO goals
How you measure your conversion rate is as important as how you gauge its level of success. Simply dividing your total traffic by your total sales will get you an average rate, but it won’t offer the insights needed to improve your business’s digital presence. You will want to rely on your analytics tools to provide performance measurements across segments, traffic sources, devices, countries, and more. This will help you take a more granular approach to honing your CRO efforts.
Hierarchy of conversions
First thing’s first; you need a website that works. The basic functionality of your website makes up the foundational layer of what we call the hierarchy of conversions. Best explained using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, this means that only when the most basic needs are met can more specific aims be achieved. The hierarchy of conversions forms a path from the basic functionality of your site to the most specific CRO tweaks and adjustments, pictured below.
Functional – Does your site work? Is it secure and free of technical errors?
Accessible – Can people find and access the site on all devices and browsers? At all skill levels? Are there any barriers preventing access to the site?
Usable – Is the site user-friendly? Is it fast and navigable enough for users to reach the final conversion pages of the site without struggle?
Intuitive – Does the site’s conversion process proceed as your users would expect it to? Does it anticipate user struggles and provide answers to the most likely questions?
Persuasive – Does your site make an effective argument in favour of conversion? Does it generate interest, provide social proof, and remove doubts?
When optimising your site for conversions, it’s important to start at the bottom of this pyramid and ensure that all bases are covered at that level before advancing. This will ensure you get the most out of your work.
Now that we’ve got the basics covered, below are our tips for smashing your website’s CRO!
1. Communicate an emotional response and value proposition
Value propositions are the promise of the value you will deliver. They should clearly communicate the benefit, or value, that the product or service in question will provide. You want to make your website visitors feel like they want what you offer.
Value propositions can take many forms, and you should try to include several. Use the authority principle—list recognisable brand names that have featured or worked with your business. Ensure that a clear CTA is visible as soon as people arrive on the page.
Users are more likely to convert if they relate to your brand on a human level. Most people make their buying decisions based on emotions, and your site should appeal to those emotions to entice them. Human value propositions such as nostalgia, family, comfort, or security create feelings your users can associate with your product or service.
In terms of web design, you can do things like making sure that important text appears over a lighter background; this will help it pop. Make potential savings clear by listing reduced prices explicitly (instalment pricing is also a great way to put a lower price in front of users).
Pay attention to what is visible above the fold (visible immediately upon loading the page). An effective page will make room for two or more of the value propositions listed above.
2. Adopt a mobile-first strategy
The window within which people are willing to pull the trigger on a purchase is often quite narrow. To ensure your site is optimised to accommodate these people the moment they’re ready to buy, you need a mobile-first strategy.
We say it in SEO all the time—a poor site speed translates directly to a poor bounce rate. Users want to your site to feel quick and responsive, and with so much information so readily at our fingertips, we’re less inclined than ever to wait for a cumbersome page to load. Remove unnecessary formatting and properly size and format your page images to ensure your page is ready when your customers want it.
Page speed is a prominent part of the core web vitals that Google intends to add to their existing search signals (which include HTTPS-security, intrusive interstitial guidelines, mobile-friendliness, and safe-browsing). In other words, Google will prioritise pages that offer a great user experience and will consider page speed a key metric in determining that experience.
4. Streamline your page design
Distractions can stop your customers’ journey to the check-out page dead in its tracks, so don’t bombard your page visitors with too much at once! An efficient, streamlined page design not only looks more professional but also makes your customers feel like they’re in control of their site navigation. Too many action options and inputs can make your site feel like a maze and raises the risk that potential customers will inadvertently wander into a dead-end on your site, grow frustrated, and leave.
When it comes to page design, you need to pay attention to your visual hierarchy. This is the psychological effect of ranking things by importance, simply by how they look. When your visitors look at your page, is it immediately clear what the most important elements are?
People tend to process things visually and judge them quickly. For websites, that judgement can happen in as little as 50 milliseconds! What’s more, most of your users’ first impressions about your brand and your website will be design related. Glaring design issues can irreparably damage their trust in you.
In search of the perfect page design, you may need to choose between a radical redesign—scrapping your old site and starting over—or an evolutionary design—optimising your existing site. If your brand is not changing, an evolutionary design is probably preferable. Radical redesigns are much riskier because the results are harder to predict, but you may choose to go that route if you find you could likely achieve more with a new site than you can get out of your existing site.
We call this the “local maxima”, or the point at which tweaks and adjustments can no longer produce measurable improvements to your site’s existing foundation and structure. You should be reluctant to admit you’ve reached your site’s local maxima, and ensure you’ve continued to implement design changes until they no longer have an effect.
People are increasingly numb to standard-issue, run-of-the-mill CTAs. “Start Now” and “Learn More” don’t carry the persuasive weight they once did. If you want to stand out and boost your conversion rate, you need stronger calls to action.
Consider more service/product-specific CTAs or phrasing consistent with your brand identity. Affirmative CTAs, such as those that begin with “Yes”, are a great way to catch and hold your customers’ attention.
6. A/B test your messaging
The words you use on your site can have a huge impact on your conversion rate. The language you use must speak to your ideal customers and demonstrate an authoritative understanding, not just of your brand and product or service, but of their needs as customers.
Follow these six steps to effective conversion copywriting:
Research – Take the time to read up on your brand, your competitors, and your market. Interview customers to learn about their preferences and circumstances.
Outline and guideposts – Outline your conversion copy and start with the guideposts that will guide your content. What is your CTA? Your value proposition? Key benefits and features? What pages does your website need and what messaging will go on each page?
Draft copy – With an outline complete, you can begin fleshing out your copy with greater specificity but be sure to avoid jargon and “blandvertising” in favour of persuasive, relatable content that efficiently communicates your core message.
Conversion boost – With your copy written, give a conversion boost by optimising for clarity to keep things obvious and simple, optimising for information to ensure that no question goes unanswered, and optimise for persuasion by applying techniques that suit your context.
Revise and rearrange – Take some time away from your copy so that you can return to it with fresh eyes. This should help you spot inconsistencies, missing information, and disruptions in the flow of the copy. Now is also a good time to get feedback from a few other people as well, preferably past or potential customers.
Test – Implement your copy and gauge its performance against your past copy to see what worked well and what didn’t.
Are you taking full advantage of the data made available by your eCommerce platform? Analytics data remains one of the biggest advantages that online advertising and messaging have over its traditional counterparts. With A/B testing, you can compare past and present messages and use your analytics data to see which one has performed better. Over time, this can help you tweak your online messaging to near perfection.
7. Offer social proof
In Robert Cialdini’s 7 Principles of Persuasion, he argued that social proof is merely people doing what they see other people doing. It’s why we’re more likely to try a new restaurant if we see that many others are eating there. This theory applies to your website as well, but visitors won’t know that others are visiting your site unless you show them!
Why must your page visitors take your word for it when you have so many satisfied customers sharing their positive experiences with you online! Social proof, which refers to the influence that popularity has on people’s buying decisions, and you can wield that influence directly on your site! Make testimonials and positive user reviews readily available and visible on your site to let potential customers know they’re not in uncharted waters.
Don’t undermine a great business with a bad website
The quality of your product or service is not the only determining factor in whether you make online sales. You also need a website optimised to achieve its goal. Any sound digital marketing strategy will understand the importance of a website that yields conversions, which is why Pure SEO works with you to streamline and improve your website while building the online footprint necessary to make you visible to interested customers.
Explore the Pure SEO blog for more SEO news and insights and contact us today to boost your site’s conversion rate!
Rollan Schott is a copywriter with Pure SEO. Rollan was born and raised in the United States, having moved to New Zealand after 4 years teaching and writing in Asia. When he's not churning out quality content at breakneck speed, Rollan is probably busy writing the next great American novel. He may also be idly watching true crime documentaries in his Auckland Central apartment with his wife, Lauren. The latter is more likely than the former.
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