Have you ever wondered why your website receives a lot of traffic, but the number of people buying your products or hiring your services is not that much? 

Did you recently invest in a paid ad to get potential customers to buy your product, but your conversion rate remains low? 

Solutions to the above problems can be found through doing a process called conversion rate optimization

Conversion rate optimization, or CRO, is the process of increasing the percentage of visitors who perform an action or complete a task on your website. 

In broader terms, you can think of CRO as a process of improving the customer journey in a way that makes your visitors take the desired action – such as buying a product, signing up for a newsletter, or booking an appointment – on your site.

In this article, we’ll dive deeply into conversion rate optimization. You will learn the following:

  • How Conversion Optimization Works
  • Why Is Conversion Optimization important 
  • What Causes Conversion Rates To Drop 
  • What Are The Steps of Conversion optimization

Let’s get started…

How Conversion Optimization Works 

Let’s take a moment to step away from the marketing jargon and think of conversion rate optimization as part of our day-to-day life.

Suppose you were a vendor in a trade fair with hundreds of other vendors selling the same product. For you, conversion optimization would be getting people at the trade fair to visit your stand to either buy your products or hire your services.

As a vendor, there are only three questions you need to answer to optimize your conversion rate;

  1. How can I attract people to my stand?
  2. How do I tell them about my product?
  3. How do I convince them to buy from me?

If you’ve been to a trade fair before, one of the things that can easily attract you to a vendor is the appearance of their stand, including elements like banners, posters, and aesthetic appeal. In marketing and conversion rate optimization, this appearance can be likened to the User Interface Design of your landing page. For visitors visiting your website for the first time, your landing page can be their first point of contact with your brand, and it plays a significant role in helping them determine if they should stay or leave.
Back to the trade fair, let’s say you can attract potential customers to your stand with your designs and banners; the next thing to do is get them to stay long enough to hear what you have to say, i.e., the services you offer or what your products are about. As an eCommerce owner, your value proposition and messaging should convince customers that they are on the right site.

Again, let’s assume you were able to scale this hurdle, and you get the potential buyer interested in your product and service; the next step is getting them to either buy or register their details with you. You will need to find the right words  (a clear call to action) to get your visitors to take the desired action on your site. 

Suppose you attract customers to your page, convince them to hear what you have to say, and eventually get them to take the desired action. In that case, you can pat yourself on the back because you have successfully optimized your stand to convert visitors to buyers.

Why Is Conversion Optimization Important

Returning to the vendor example above, conversion optimization is important because it helps businesses better understand their customers, leading to more sales. 

However,  on an eCommerce website, the importance of conversion optimization includes the following: 

  1. Better Understanding of Customers
    Investing in conversion optimization means investing in understanding your customers, their thought processes, attitudes, and motivations whenever they are interacting with your website or products.
  1. Generation of Revenue
    This is the most obvious importance of conversion optimization and the most important business goal. Suppose you sell products or offer services to people. In that case, a successful conversion optimization means that you get more people buying your products or hiring your services, which translates to more revenue for your business.
  1. Reduces cost of Customer Acquisition
    A comprehensive conversion optimization strategy is backed by data from in-depth research. This means you use fewer resources when acquiring new customers since you already have insights into customers’ behavior.
  1. Ads and Campaigns are more specific.
    Conversion optimization will equip you and your team with enough information to make informed decisions regarding ads and campaigns and ensure that they effectively meet their expected goals.
  1. It gets you ahead of the competition
    This is no surprise because more customers mean more sales, which can organically increase your brand awareness and boost your website’s ranking; this will put you ahead of other competitors in the same industry.
  1. Uncovers new revenue streams
    One of the benefits of research during conversion rate optimization is that it helps identify new opportunities you can maximize to generate more revenue for your business.
  1. Improves Customer Experience
    Conversion Optimization Rate improves customers’ impression when they interact with your products and services. This, in turn, increases the overall customer experience.

What Causes Conversion Rates to Drop? 

Hey! I have been doing A/B testing, and I have tested all the elements on my website – but my conversion rates remain the same. There’s no change whatsoever. 

Well, A/B testing doesn’t always guarantee that your conversion rate will improve. And another important point to mention is that conversion rates fluctuate from time to time. It’s not a steady metric. 

The question is, what causes conversion rates to drop? Well, the decrease can be a result of many factors, including the following:

  • Poor Website or Landing Page Design
    Let’s track back to the analogy of the trade fair vendor mentioned earlier in this article. The appearance of the vendor’s stand is the first attraction factor that potential buyers will consider. The same goes for your website; if your landing page is poorly designed, it will negatively impact your conversion rate.
  • Wrong Messaging
    If the vendor at the trade fair could not talk about their products or services, they would have had problems convincing people to buy from them. If your website’s textual content is not clearly communicated to your potential customers, it can negatively impact conversion rates.
  • Unclear Call To Action
    When there’s no clear call to action indicating what you want customers or prospects to do on your website, you might have a problem getting users to perform the desired action. Another problem with CTA is having too many calls to action, thereby distracting users from the primary goal.
  • Mobile Responsiveness / Browser Compatibility
    Have you tested your website across multiple browsers and devices to ensure the user experience is the same? If your website is not compatible with some browsers and devices, it can also result in low conversion rates.
  • Slow Website Speed
    If your website is not optimized for speed and performance, or if it takes too long to load, it will discourage users from continuing to use your website.
  • Unclear Navigation
    Are you experiencing a decrease in conversion rate? This is an excellent time to review your site map and also the navigation on your website to see if navigation is intuitive enough for users to move from one page to another.
  • Seasonal Changes or Buying Trends
    Depending on the kind of products you sell or the services you offer, your business can experience a drop in conversion rates if there is a change in customer behavior due to trends or other factors like environmental changes or business location. 
  • Lack of Trust
    Potential customers always look everywhere for evidence that they can trust your business. They might be hesitant to patronize you if they cannot find any social proof or testimonials that puts your products and services in a good light.

What are the steps of Conversion Optimization?

Now that you understand what conversion optimization entails, it’s time to get into details about the steps involved.

Our friends at Invesp have explained the conversion rate optimization process using the SHIP process, which divides the processes into four distinct stages, 

S– Scrutinize: At this stage of the conversion optimization process,
H– Hypothesize
I– Implement
P– Propagate 

SHIP Process by Invesp

Let’s delve into this SHIP process and see what it entails: 

Stage 1: Scrutinize 

The first step to optimizing your website’s conversion is gathering information about your visitors and existing customers.  At this stage, your research will also cover your website. You want to get the metrics for each website page or for specific pages where you want to convert your visitors. 

  • JTBD
    The jobs-to-be-done framework explains the fundamental problems customers try to solve with your product in a given situation. JTBD enables you to answer questions about the social, functional, and emotional needs customers are trying to meet when they buy your products.
  • Expert Review
    Heuristic Evaluation: The focus here is on uncovering your website’s tactical, functional, and usability issues which may include bugs, broken links, mobile responsiveness, browser compatibility, etc.
    Conversion Related Evaluation: Discovers all sorts of conversion-related issues on your website. Such problems include unclear CTA, bad copies, etc.
  • User Research
    User Research is one of the main elements involved in conversion optimization. You really can’t optimize any website if you don’t know its visitors’ needs, challenges, motivations, and behavior.
     
    It is through user research that you can understand the problem you’re trying to solve; validate or invalidate your assumptions, and find user patterns and commonalities that you can use to uncover their frustrations, needs, and, ultimately, what they expect from you. Throughout your optimization, the research you did will aid you in many ways.
     
    So, what kind of tools can you use to perform user research when looking to optimize a website? 
    Well, there are tons of user research tools in the market. But the ones that are more common in conversion optimization focus on the following: 

  • Data Analysis
    Now you have the raw data from your research, you can see the session recordings and heat maps, but you don’t even know what it translates to. What now? 

    Data analysis at this stage of the conversion optimization process involves gathering, processing, transforming, and interpreting data from your research to obtain valuable and actionable information that can contribute to conversion on your website. 

    Additionally, analyzing data from your research is very important because it will help reveal patterns, relationships, trends and identify insights you can use to make decisions aimed at optimizing conversion rates on your website. 

    Tools like Google Analytics, Kissmetrics, and Adobe Analytics can help you analyze your site data.
  • Competitive Analysis 
    Competitive Analysis involves identifying your key competitors and researching their marketing strategies and what they are doing differently. Competitive analysis is integral to conversion optimization because it enables you to look beyond your products into what your competitors are doing. The goal of competitive analysis in CRO is to identify your product or website’s strengths and shortcomings compared to your competitors.
  • Usability testing 
    In CRO, Usability testing reveals many user and website-related conversion problems. Usability testing involves testing how easy your website or product is to use with a selected part of your target audience or existing users. A typical usability test involves giving test participants tasks on your website to see if they can complete them independently. There are two popular types of usability testing, each with its benefits.
  • Moderated Usability Testing: Here, you can have someone from your team coordinate and monitor users while they try to complete the tasks. 
  • Unmoderated Usability Testing: Here, you want your interview participants to complete the tasks in their natural environment and without any supervision.
    Usability testing reveals issues designers and developers might have missed, which could be affecting your conversion.

Stage 2: Hypothesize

Hypothesizing is an integral part of the conversion optimization process because it helps you make informed guesses about solving issues observed from the research analysis. 

  • Prioritize 
    By now, you should have a comprehensive list of issues you have uncovered from your research. Do you just dive in, head first, and try to solve all the problems at a go, or do you decide which issues take precedence?

    This is where prioritization comes in the conversion optimization process.
    Now, you want to determine issues that need to be fixed immediately and those that require further investigation. The other problems that do not require further investigation can be grouped into a separate list.
    The goal of prioritizing is to ensure that you give priority to issues that need less effort while they have a high impact on your conversions: 
Prioritizing Test Ideas using Value and Effort

If you are having difficulty deciding on what hypothesis to implement first, Our CRO team at Invesp developed a Prioritization Framework that uses different criteria to evaluate each problem. Some of the important evaluation criteria in our framework include:

  • What is the potential impact of the problem?
    How much will this problem affect our overall conversion rate?
  • Is the problem above the fold? 
    Above the fold problems are the issues your website visitors will see on a page before scrolling down.
  •  How was the problem identified? 
    Was it through expert review, heatmap, session recordings, user testing, or qualitative data?

Another known method for prioritizing hypotheses is described using the PIE framework by Widerfunnel. This framework provides three main factors to consider while prioritizing your test ideas.

Potential for improvement: how likely testing the hypothesis will result in improvement
Importance: how important is solving problems?
Ease: how easy will it be to implement the hypothesis 

Now that you have prioritized test ideas, you can start implementing these ideas. The test aims to check if your proposed solutions can solve the current problems.

  • Hypothesize
    You can think of a hypothesis as a… 

“A research-based statement aims to explain an observed trend and create a solution to improve the result. This statement is an educated, testable prediction about what will happen.”

Your hypothesis should be clear and straightforward enough for you and your team members to understand and act on. 

Elements of a solid hypothesis

Another vital thing to remember during the hypothesize stage is that you have to develop hypotheses for the different conversion-related problems you discovered during the research analysis. For example, if there is a problem with a landing page, you can develop a hypothesis with multiple tests to see which works best. Always remember that hypothesizing is not a one shoe fits all formula.

Additionally, each hypothesis should have a specific conversion goal it’s trying to solve, i.e., a single hypothesis must target a particular conversion optimization goal.

  • Design
    We’re now in the last step of the hypothesize phase, where you design solutions to the hypotheses you prioritized from the previous step. It’s easy for the team to develop many design ideas at this stage; however, ensure that the selected designs are based on hypothesis.

Stage 3: Implement

  • Development
    It’s time to get your developers, who must have been part of the process from the initial stage, to implement the design ideas that the team came up with while hypothesizing.
  • Quality Assurance 
    You should not launch a product or service without making efforts to ensure that stakeholders have confidence in such a product or service while also ensuring that it meets customer expectations. 
    Another vital part of QA also involves making sure that your product meets the required policies of the government and other regulating bodies.
  • A/B Testing 
    Let’s assume that the problem you had was with your landing page or your checkout page, and you have been able to implement the hypothesis by creating a new design for the landing page. How do you know if your new designs are doing better than the original?
    This is when you need to use testing tools, and in this case, where you are testing different versions of your landing page, you want to conduct an A/B test. 
    Figpii has a Free A/B testing account that provides you with tools like Session Recordings, Heat Maps, On-site polls, and Surveys. 

Stage 4: Propagate

  • Post Test Analysis 
    Finally, you’ve run A/B tests for the different hypotheses you implemented; now, it’s time to analyze the results from the test to analyze the results. At this stage of the conversion optimization step, what you are after is how to use the results from your test to make better decisions that will optimize your conversion rate.
  • Share and Educate 
    Now that your team has completed all the conversion optimization steps and analyzed the results from the process, the next and final step is to share and review the results. Here, the team reflects on the analysis and asks questions like:

    What did we get right?
    What worked? 
    What didn’t? 
    Was there an increase or a decrease in the conversion rate? etc

Conclusion

The primary goal of every eCommerce owner is to get people to buy their products or hire their services, and one way to achieve that is by investing in conversion optimization. In this article, we have discussed the steps you can take if you want to see improvements in the conversion rate on your website. 

You can book an appointment with one of our CRO consultants at Figpii to help uncover the problems causing low conversion rates on your website.

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