What is Conversion Optimization?

By now you’ve probably heard about Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). The concept is popular right now, but CRO’s really a no-brainer, because it’s about paying attention to your customers.

CRO ensures your website effectively connects customers with your business.

A higher conversion rate means online success.

1. Collect and Analyze Data

When it comes to improving your conversion rate, knowledge is power. Collect and analyze data to gain knowledge about your customers and what motivates them.

Proof: Expedia noticed their customers were abandoning transactions, so they collected and analyzed data. The data revealed that abandoned transactions correlated with users having filled out an optional data field labeled “Company.” Customers were confused about whether to enter a company address or a personal address, so credit card transactions were failing. Expedia fixed the problem and increased conversions by following the data. They made $12mm in the process.

2. A/B Test

A/B Testing shows what’s working for your customers on your site. A/B Testing presents two variants to your users and monitors results, allowing you to determine how changing one variable affects your conversion rate. Any technique used to improve conversion should be tested for effectiveness.

Proof: A/B Testing helped President Obama win the Democratic nomination and presidency in 2008. The Obama campaign used A/B testing to collect more email addresses. The campaign tested phrasing, photos of the Obama family, and videos. The campaign learned that many of their instincts were dead-wrong, and testing meant 70% more conversions (email sign-ups) for the Obama campaign.

3. Decrease Page-load Times

When your customers have to wait for your landing page to load, they often bounce. Decrease landing page load time to improve your conversion rate.

Proof: Mozilla Firefox’s landing page loaded at a snail’s pace. It took 7 seconds for the download button to appear. Mozilla predicted that decreasing load time by 1 second would increase conversion by almost 3%. They streamlined the page, decreasing load time by 2.2 seconds. Mozilla put A/B testing to work to determine the effect of decreased load time. Shaving 2.2 seconds off the average page load time increased conversions (downloads) 15.4%.

4. Optimize Page Length

Customers have short attention spans, and a long landing page often makes customers miss important information. A short landing page makes sure customers notice the information that drives your business. Different lengths may work for you, so the important thing is to test page length.

Proof: Design boost was convinced that a shorter landing page would increase conversions. The company shortened their web page from over 6400 px to 1200px. The shorter page collected 13% more emails and increased clickthroughs 25%.

5. Go Above the Fold

Above the fold formerly referred to the top half of a newspaper, but in the digital age it refers to the visible content before the user scrolls down a web-page. Effective web-pages present the most important information above the fold.

Proof: Eye tracking research reveals that web users spend 80% of their time above the fold. Web surfers browse internet content in an F-shaped pattern, giving information at the top of the page increased attention, but skimming the left side of the page as they scroll.

6. Improve Page Layout

Placement of buttons, text and other items matter. Effective management of page layout makes it easy for your customers to use your website, and encourages them to do what you want.

Proof: AMD wanted to increase social sharing, so they tested the placement and appearance of social sharing icons. The tests indicated that AMD should place social sharing icons on the left of their landing page. The right page layout helped AMD increase social sharing 3600%.

7. Craft Your Call to Action

Your Call to Action (CTA) is how you tell your customers what you want from them. Make your CTA clear and visible, including it on your home-page and internal pages.

Proof: Consolidated Label, a health products company, predicted that adding a CTA button would increase conversions. They wanted to get the most out of their site revision, so the company A/B tested a few different options. Consolidated Label was surprised to learn that the right CTA increased conversions 62%.

8. Provide Value

Taking the time to find out what your customers value and giving it to them is how you improve your value proposition. The only way you find out what your customers value is by testing.

Proof: EA, the gaming company behind The Sims 3, wanted more Sims 3 in-game purchases. EA knew how to get registered users to make in-game purchases, but EA couldn’t seem to get enough users to register. EA tested a few options for The Sims 3 game launcher, to get more people to register. EA discovered their users wanted value. By emphasizing free content in the game launcher, The Sims 3 increased product registration 128%.

9. Manage Product and Service Options

If you have too many options, you will paralyze your customers. With too few options, your customers can’t compare, and comparison is important to decision-making.

Proof: The Economist, a British news publication, increased print subscription by putting this logic to work. The Economist offered readers three options: online content for $59, print only for $125 and both a print and online content for $125. The middle option doesn’t make sense, right? Actually, by adding the middle option, The Economist nearly tripled print subscription conversion. In comparison to the print only subscription for the same price, the subscription including both print and online content seemed like a steal.

10. Ask the Right Questions

Asking your customers about unnecessary information is not only annoying, it invades their privacy. Information is important, but your customers will thank you for limitting the questions you ask.

Proof: Flying Scot Parking, a company in Great Britain, wanted to increase online booking revenue. They reduced the fields customers had to fill out and tested the results. Turns out, asking only for essential information increased online booking by 35%.