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A Guide to Conversion Rate Optimisation

By Laura Taylor • Friday Jun 19th, 2020

Go back to basics with our guide to the fundamentals of conversion rate optimisation.

Marketing and eCommerce managers spend a lot of time and effort driving traffic to sites, and rightly so.

Getting your name out there attracts new visitors who you hope will be persuaded to make a purchase.

But what happens when they arrive on your site? What strategies do you have in place to effectively convert window shoppers into loyal, returning customers?

Endlessly driving new traffic to your site but failing to optimise the customer experience means your efforts will mostly be wasted. This is why you need to adopt a conversion rate optimisation strategy to drive long-term eCommerce growth.

Let’s take a step back and look at the basics of conversion rate optimisation: what it is, why you need to do it and how to get started.

What is a conversion?

Broadly speaking, a conversion takes place whenever a customer takes a desired action. This can be any number of things, such as signing up to your newsletter, following you on social media, filling in a form or getting in touch with you. 

In eCommerce, a conversion usually refers to a customer making a purchase, as that, after all, is the ultimate goal of your site.

However, it can also be useful to track micro-conversions occurring throughout the customer journey, such as when a visitor adds an item to their basket, interacts with an Overlay or creates an account. These micro-conversions can often provide an insight into which aspects of your site are performing well, and where you need to focus more attention.

What is conversion rate optimisation and why is it important?

In relation to eCommerce, conversion rate optimisation is the practice of increasing the percentage of visitors who make a purchase.

To work out your current conversion rate, simply divide the total number of orders you received in a particular period by the total number of users who visited your site in this time frame, and multiply this figure by 100. This will give you your conversion rate percentage, bear in mind the average eCommerce conversion rate is between 1 and 3%.

Conversion rate optimisation is all about increasing this percentage by securing more sales from your existing site traffic. The main focus of your conversion rate optimisation efforts should be on evaluating your existing site to see what works and what doesn’t, meaning you don’t need to increase ad spend or grow your marketing team, you’re simply improving what you already have to provide an elevated customer experience.

If your site isn’t optimised from homepage to checkout, you're wasting your PPC and ad spend. No matter how successful your paid marketing campaigns are in attracting new customers, delivering new traffic to an unoptimised, unengaging site will never result in the growth you’re looking for.

With the margins in eCommerce conversion rates so small, often simple changes across your site can accumulate into an impressive increase in conversion rate, working in the long-term to reduce cost per acquisition, increase revenue and drive growth.

Once your conversion rate is optimised and you are effectively converting visitors into customers, if you decide to increase ad spend in the future, then your conversion rate will likely increase even more.

Already familiar with the basics of CRO? Discover nine ways to increase your conversion rate.

Where to start with CRO

Evaluate the customer journey

Analytics are a crucial tool to consult when beginning your conversion rate optimisation journey. Tracking customer behaviour throughout your website, analytics expose patterns and trends which can inform your eCommerce strategy. 

By evaluating analytics data, you can discover where customers drop off the user journey. Perhaps your data shows that a large percentage of visitors don’t even make it further than your landing page. Or maybe your checkout page has a high bounce rate. A data-driven approach is a sure-fire way to identify the pain points in the customer journey and acts as a starting point for your optimisation efforts.

Away from analytics, tracking the customer journey can also be as simple as making your way through your website just as a customer might. Begin at your homepage and navigate your way through the site, searching for products, browsing product descriptions, adding items to your basket, creating an account and completing checkout forms. 

Experiencing this process from start to finish, rather than dropping in and out of individual stages in your day-to-day work, highlights pain points which could be affecting your conversion rate. 

Gather insights and data

Although you may know your website inside out, the people who can give you the greatest insight into your customer experience are your visitors. 

When dealing with conversion rate optimisation, success comes in the form of a customer-centric approach. You can only improve your customer experience when you know what your visitors like and dislike.

Gathering feedback from converted customers is just as crucial as surveying those who chose not to convert. Ask them to complete a post-purchase questionnaire on-site once they have completed their order, or email a survey to complete a few days after they make a purchase. Knowing what went right is just as important as learning what went wrong, as you can apply these learnings to the areas of your site which you may identify as weaker.

Email Retargeting can also target users whose custom you didn’t quite manage to capture. Schedule an email to deliver to customers who have been inactive for three months and ask why they didn’t complete their purchase and what would encourage them to return.

Gathering qualitative responses from your customers supports your quantitative site analytics to capture a complete picture of your site, including its successes and its areas for improvement. With this information you can then implement changes which will drive conversions.

Identify pain points and opportunities

Once you have gathered your data, you can begin to analyse trends and patterns to identify opportunities for improvement. 

Compare the comments in your customer surveys to the data from your analytics and look for similarities, often the pain points your customers identify in the surveys will be reflected by a drop off of traffic in your analytics at this point in the sales funnel.

Perhaps your research has unanimously identified a page that is not performing well and would benefit from an injection of social proof or personalisation. Or maybe customer feedback has identified that your customer support system is lacking, so you look to integrate a smart messenger system. 

If your results aren’t showing any obvious starting points, now that you are aware which pages receive the greatest amount of traffic from your analytics, you can focus your optimisation efforts on these pages first.

As conversion rate experts, we know how to get the most out of your website traffic. Our intelligently designed products replicate the experience of the in-store sales assistant to drive conversions to engage customers, prevent basket abandonment and maximise online revenue.

Contact us at [email protected] or call 0204 505 9040 to discuss how we can convert the traffic visiting your site. 

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