The Importance of CRO | Intro
The vast majority of digital marketing fails to deliver the results it could. Most commonly we see the advertising channel blamed. “Facebook Ads don’t work”. “Google Ads are too expensive”. The list of excuses goes on forever. The truth, however, is that these campaigns could have been successful if the foundations had been laid correctly with Conversion rate optimization (CRO). Taking the time to plan how to influence consumer behavior, moving them from typical skepticism about a product/service, towards eager desire to try it. Yes, this is a skill that takes a lifetime to learn, but we are going to get you started with a deep understanding of the dos and don’ts of CRO!
To employ conversion rate optimization (CRO) marketing effectively, you have to understand what is conversion rate optimization, how to approach it, how to implement it, analyze it, and where it fits into your marketing strategy. This creates a foundation of knowledge that will help you to build highly effective conversion rate optimization strategies that will benefit your business in the long run. This article is part of an extensive course that aims to give you the conversion rate optimization training you need to build that foundation for your business.
What is CRO really about?
Contrary to what the name might suggest, the purpose of conversion rate optimization is not actually about optimizing conversion rates, it’s about better marketing, better understanding customers, and ultimately about increasing profits.
CRO takes the guess-work out of marketing by using the correct data that helps you get to know your customers better — their needs, wants, desires, and how they interact online. It’s about creating an environment that encourages conversions, one that makes people want to take action because they feel that their needs are being met.
Where does it fit in with marketing?
There are no CRO campaigns because, in an ever-changing, ever-evolving business and technology landscape, CRO never ends. CRO is not a marketing strategy, it’s a business strategy that helps to make marketing even more effective.
Here’s a look at the fundamentals of conversion rate optimization:
The Optimizer Attitude
It’s a well-known adage that attitude is everything. This rings especially true when building a CRO strategy. It is critical to keep reminding yourself that nothing is certain. What worked for one site, will most likely not work for another. In fact, what worked for a particular site a couple of years ago, might not work for the same site today, because people’s online behavior is constantly changing. If you want to create an effective CRO strategy, you need to embrace uncertainty.
Having an optimizer attitude is also about letting go of your ego. You might think that your ideas are magnificent, but reality may prove otherwise. Remove your ego from the equation and go with what actually works — if it happens to be your idea, don’t get too confident, because as mentioned above, it might not work again. Ideas should be starting points from where to explore different methods to see what works. When it comes to CRO there is no easy guide, no rules-of-thumb, no quick-fixes.
And finally, focus. An optimizer attitude is about staying focussed on finding the best ways to optimize a site in order to maximize revenue. Do tests, ask questions, find out what works (and what doesn’t), what do customers want and how do they want to interact with your site.
In short; forget about what worked yesterday, it’s nog going to work today; leave your ego at home, it’s not constructive in finding what works; and importantly, stay focused on finding solutions to problems you may not have noticed yet.
The Build-Measure-Learn loop
At the core of CRO is what is called the build-measure-learn loop — a perpetual cycle of actions that build on one another in order to achieve better results. In the simplest form, the premise of the Build-Measure-Learn loop is that you build something, measure how people interact with it, then learn from it in order to build something better.
To make it even more effective, you can add a couple of extra steps: Ideas — BUILD —> product — MEASURE —> data — LEARN —> Ideas
Ideas: Come up with ideas of how you can build a website or how to improve on existing sites.
BUILD: Build the site or improvements to be implemented
Product: The finished site or installed improvements
MEASURE: We determine what needs to be measured, what is important to us in order to improve, and figure out ways to measure it, be it through analytics or beta testing or the like.
Data: Collect the data, see which data is relevant and analyze it.
LEARN: Draw conclusions from the analyzed data and use this information to come up with new ideas on how to build better sites or improve existing ones, which brings you back to the start of the loop.
A typical CRO process
When it comes to process, the ‘Optimizer Attitude’ applies, since there is no set template of what the CRO process should look like. However, most businesses follow a similar 12-point CRO process — here’s a quick look — follow this link [coming soon] for more:
1. ESTABLISH BUSINESS OBJECTIVES
2. ASK QUESTIONS
3. COLLECT DATA
4. GET INSIGHTS
5. IDENTIFY PROBLEMS
6. DEVELOP HYPOTHESES
7. DESIGN WIREFRAMES
8. TECHNICAL INTEGRATION
9. PROPER TESTING
10. ANALYZE TEST RESULTS
11. LEARN FROM THE RESULTS
12. ARCHIVE RESULTS
Conversions don’t just happen — your site needs to make people want to buy from you. A broken or difficult to navigate website is like a run-down supermarket with confusing aisle layouts — you just want to get out of there…if you go in at all…
A good way to check whether your site is accessible and ultimately conversion-friendly is by using the conversion pyramid. Developed by brothers Bryan & Jeffrey Eisenberg, this pyramid works very similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in that base needs need to be met before higher needs will be considered — a simple “if-then” argument.
Here’s a quick look at the pyramid’s hierarchy — follow this link [coming soon] for more in-depth analysis:
1. Is it functional?
2. Is it easily accessible?
3. How user-friendly is the site?
4. How intuitive (smart) is the site — how easy is it to make a purchase/take the desired action?
5. Is the site persuasive enough to make visitors want to take action and/or purchase?
The (un)importance of Conversion Rate
Conversion rate is the number of visitors who take action on your site, divided by the total number of visitors. It’s a simple metric often used to express conversion success. But conversion rate can be very misleading, because ‘conversion’ can mean different things to different people — sign up for a newsletter, take a quiz, make a purchase, sign up for a free trial, spend loyalty points, etc. In fact, several factors influence a site’s conversion rate, including:
– How relevant is the offer? Selling swimsuits in winter won’t have a good conversion rate, however, selling them in summer will send the conversion rate up.
– Do you know the visitor? Content marketing is built on the idea that the more familiar a person is with another, the easier it is to sell to them since there’s a certain level of trust.
– What industry are you in? Different industries have different average conversion rates that you should use as a benchmark. One size does not fit all!
– Compare apples to apples. The conversion rate of a site selling expensive sports cars is going to be substantially lower than a site selling toothpaste.
– Cost to value: How much value your offer is perceived to have compared to how much it actually costs.
– Copywriting: How well an offer is written can also affect your conversion rate.
With so many things influencing conversion rate, why use it?
Conversion rate may be a bad metric to use for comparing the success of different sites, but it’s a great way to benchmark your own businesses’ performance compared to previous weeks/months/years. Working out conversion rate is so simple you would be tempted to do it by hand, however, using analytics tools to measure conversion rate will allow you to measure performance across multiple sources and segments, thereby helping you to make informed decisions.
See other great CRO measurement tools here.
Fundamentals of Analytics
Analytics is used to track business metrics and it has become critical in not only measuring but also determining business success. Understanding the fundamentals of analytics (within the context of CRO) will help you create better, more effective CRO strategies. Here’s a quick overview of analytics fundamentals you need to know to create successful CRO strategies — follow this link [coming soon] for a more in-depth look:
Measure Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):
What are the goals and objectives of your business/site?
Typically KPIs will include, among others:
– Conversion rate
– Revenue per visit
– Average order size
– Average items per cart completed
– Checkout abandonment rate
– Revenue per user
– Cost per lead
– Cost per conversion
– Percentage new & returning visitors
Other popular metrics, or numbers, include:
– Bounce rate
– Time to purchase
– Assisted conversions
– Exit rate
When analyzing metrics, or deciding which to measure, you should always ask yourself, “So what?” — if you don’t have an answer, then analyzing that particular metric is a waste of time.
Conversion rate optimization is a way of making informed marketing decisions using high-quality data. During this course, we will explore the intricacies of CRO, and equip you with an in-depth understanding of this highly effective approach to digital marketing.
In the next part of the course, we will look at Conversion Rate Optimization Best Practices.
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