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Written by Jane Serra on Dec 30 , 2019

How to make conversion rate optimization (CRO) work hand in hand with your digital marketing efforts for strategies that lead to success

Here, you’ll find:

  • How to calculate conversion rate
  • The benefits of CRO for digital marketing
  • Ways to create better user experiences
  • The importance of landing page and PPC ad optimization

When it comes to opportunities from digital marketing, your business can’t afford to fall behind. Doing so could mean your loss is a more digitally-savvy competitor’s gain.

Whether you think your sales numbers can be better, your customer engagement scores can be higher, or something in between, conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a tool to activate the digital marketing results you want.

HawkSEM: The Benefits of CRO for Digital Marketing: A Primer

Conversion rate optimization is a tool to activate the digital marketing results you want. (Image via Unsplash)

By setting a conversion goal and optimizing towards that goal through CRO tactics, you could see results like:

  • An increase in purchases on your website
  • A jump in the number of people using the calculator or survey on your site
  • An increase in app downloads
  • A boost in free trial signups
  • An increase in the number of newsletter signups over the past quarter

Ready to master your digital marketing program’s CRO efforts? Let’s dig in.

What exactly can you optimize?

If you’re looking for where to begin, landing pages with poor conversion rates, paid search ads, and engagement on your mobile website are just a few things you can optimize.

Generally, conversion rate optimization efforts focus on converting visitors arriving to your site into qualified leads or paying customers. Conversion rate experts can plan actions aimed at optimizing specific digital marketing and sales results.

How to calculate conversion rate

The math is pretty straightforward. Simply divide the number of conversions over a defined time period by the total number of visitors over the same period, and multiply by 100.

For example, let’s say your website had 1,000 visitors and 200 conversions last week.

Conversion rate = (200/1000) x 100 = 20%

If 500 people signed up for a free trial of your software and, after using it for a month and in conjunction with your email drip campaign, 100 of them upgraded to a paid plan, your free trial to paying customer conversion rate will be 20%.

These are simple calculations. Analytics platforms such as Google Analytics can do the calculation for you and show your goal conversion rate as well.

Goal conversion rate = (Total goal completions / # of sessions) x 100

E-commerce conversion rate = (Total transactions / # of sessions) x 100

Benefits of digital marketing CRO

Let’s recap. So far, we’ve discussed the impact of CRO from a sales perspective. Optimization tactics can also be valuable for your digital marketing.

You can gain audience insights

The customer journey map illustrates all the touchpoints your customers engage with online or offline. A website is an online touchpoint — perhaps the most critical one along the customer journey.

CRO tools offer insight into how customers interact with your website.

  • How do they navigate your site?
  • Which pages interest them most?
  • How do they engage with the various elements on your website, such as your form, call-to-action (CTA) buttons, or virtual assistant?

Understanding visitor behavior

An understanding of visitor behavior on your website allows you to improve on-page and website design elements. These improvements can have a positive impact on conversions. They also expand your knowledge of user behaviors.

A CRO expert may use heat maps to find out which links are most often used. Say most visitors click on the link that takes them to your pricing page, resources, or case studies section of your site. This insight can help you better understand the needs and wants of your audience.

You can validate or learn that your B2C or B2B customers are most interested in the one, two, or three things about your company that can help them make a decision to purchase or move forward to closing a deal. In response, you could create more compelling whitepapers or e-books around these specific topics, or make the more popular links/ pages more prominent.

Perhaps your price list loads slowly or it isn’t formatted clearly, causing prospects to drop off after showing initial interest in your product. CRO tools can uncover these types of issues so they can be corrected, thus improving conversions.

You can also use dynamic heat maps that visualize users’ mouse and finger movements as they navigate your website. This way, you’ll know if visitors are scrolling down your homepage or using the drop down menus to visit key pages of your website.

Your landing page or homepage sets the initial impression of quality for visitors. If they like what they see, they’re likely to feel encouraged to stay on your website longer.

HawkSEM: The Benefits of CRO for Digital Marketing: A Primer

A/B testing is a popular CRO tool to determine the right layout, colors and copy that can motivate visitors to make a purchase, fill out your form, or call you directly. (Image via Unsplash)

You can create better user experiences based on data

It may seem obvious that a strong website is essential to running a successful digital marketing campaign. But when it comes to CRO benefits for digital marketing, improving your website design can help create the right perceptions about your brand in visitors’ minds.

Apply the insights gained from CRO tools to iterate and enhance the specific website elements that need fixing. In a nutshell, you can make data-driven decisions on improving the user experience.

A/B testing is a popular CRO tool to determine the right layout, colors and copy that can motivate visitors to make a purchase, fill out your form, or call you directly.

For instance, if you’ve created multiple landing pages for your latest marketing campaign, a split test can be performed to further drive conversions on high-traffic pages. This supports your marketing campaign and keeps you striding towards targeted business results.

Landing page and PPC ad optimization

PPC ads can also benefit from CRO. Clickable, punchy PPC ads that are highly relevant to your audience’s search query can drive more quality leads to your website.

You also have the opportunity to target high-intent, long-tail keywords, helping you be found by people in the later stages of the buying cycle.

Prioritizing CRO can ensure relevance between your digital marketing ads and landing pages, taking prospects on a seamless, consistent journey that does justice to your marketing efforts while hitting your sales targets.

Pro tip: If your landing pages don’t fulfill the promise of your ad, your PPC investment will struggle to deliver the expected results.

The takeaway

Even incremental lifts matter. A 5% increase in the conversion rate can translate to significant additional revenue over a period of time. This is why it’s a good idea to align CRO strategies with your ongoing or most important digital marketing goals.

As you take data-backed actions, all of your CRO efforts will have meaning, purpose, and if successfully executed, deliver the value amplification you seek.

Jane Serra

Jane Serra

Jane Serra is the VP of Marketing at HawkSEM. She's an accomplished marketing executive with more than 12 years of experience leading digital marketing teams across demand generation, branding, events, content, and communications. When she's not strategizing, networking, and honing her craft, she enjoys traveling and scrolling Yelp for new restaurants to try.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Dec 11 , 2019

Sure, you’ve got an impressive, well-designed website — but is it set up to convert?

Here, you’ll find:

  • How site design plays into conversion rate optimization (CRO)
  • Ideas for reducing e-commerce cart abandonment
  • Ways to make pop-up ads work for you
  • How to leverage heat-mapping and click-mapping data

You know an attractive website is integral for drawing users in, and you’ve taken the time to build one that dazzles. The design is clean, the images are eye-catching, and you think it’s ready to go. But there could be one component missing.

Your website might not be designed to convert.

HawkSEM: How to Increase Conversions Through Website Design

For the vast majority of businesses today, their website is what brings in customers and makes sales. (Image via Unsplash)

If your page has a high bounce rate — meaning that people are visiting your page and leaving almost immediately — despite a great look, you may want to consider redesigning for CRO.

If you haven’t started designing yet, you can build your site the right way from the ground up and save time later.

Let’s go over what exactly a conversion rate is, why you should care about optimizing it, and some ways you can design your site for CRO.

Why you should care about CRO-focused website design

As we said above, CRO stands for conversion rate optimization. While “conversion” means different things depending on your company, industry, and goals, the idea is that a user who takes the action you want once they reach your site is converted.

Say you want them to browse through your e-commerce line and purchase the product that’s right for them, or you’re in the service industry and want visitors to request more info via a form.

In each case, the number of users who do so are conversions, and the number of conversions relative to the total number of people that visit your site is your conversion rate.

That rate is expressed as a percentage. Naturally, you want this to be as high as possible — that’s where conversion rate optimization comes in. For the vast majority of businesses today, their website is what brings in customers and makes sales.

If you haven’t implemented CRO-focused website design, you’re going to end up losing money. Smaller businesses are particularly at risk of dissolving into the ether if people can’t find them online.

The good news? It doesn’t have to be that way.

How do I improve my conversion rate?

You can optimize your website for maximum conversions by approaching design with a few simple rules in mind. Most of these guidelines revolve around user experience, and how intuitive your page is to visitors:

  • Don’t overwhelm the user with too many choices
  • Optimize your checkout process
  • Don’t bombard users with popups
  • Take advantage of heat-mapping and click-mapping data

Don’t overwhelm the user with too many options

This comes down to the paradox of choice: when confronted with an overwhelming number of things to choose from, people tend to burn out and not choose anything. This may seem counterintuitive — wouldn’t more choices mean happier users? Don’t people want more variety? Not necessarily.

Instead of including images of every clothing item you sell on your homepage, consider highlighting just one area (women’s jeans, for example) every week or so, and letting that item shine. If you’re worried you may turn people off who aren’t looking for that item, just make sure your top navigation bar makes it clear that there are other items on the site that might be more their taste.

Targeting a specific demographic not only helps you refine your message but lets you speak to the customers most likely to need or want your product.

This also goes for the design of your site. Design with your ideal customers in mind. Don’t confront them with too many buttons and sidebars — simple is almost always the way to go. Let them know exactly what’s available and where they need to go to get it. Guide them through each page with a good user experience (UX) design.

This also applies to calls-to-action (CTAs). It’s usually wise to include only one CTA button instead of several. Too many might make it unclear what the user is supposed to do first, and they’ll bounce from your site. Make sure buttons are clearly visible, appealing, and easily identified.

Pro tip: This may seem obvious, but design your site navigation menu to be easily navigable. Even the colors you use for certain elements on your page can have a significant effect.

Optimize your checkout process

You may think you’ve got the customer hooked when they get to the checkout phase, but beware. Cart abandonment — where users add items to their cart and leave them in limbo without paying — is a real issue. In fact, the global rate of cart abandonment as of 2019 is over 75%, according to Design Advisor.

As the owner of your site, it’s your job to prevent that from happening as best you can. You want to be sure a customer’s curiosity converts to sales. One way to do that is to refine your checkout process, making it streamlined and simple for the user to get right through to the end. There are several ways to accomplish that, including:

  • Minimal data entry fields
  • Not having customers enter the same data multiple times
  • Prominently displaying shipping charges, taxes, and any other fees associated with the purchase (don’t surprise them at the end)
  • Having a preview of the customer’s item in the cart so they can review their purchase
  • Including multiple shipping options

No one likes a tedious checkout process. With CRO-focused website design, you can make your customers’ buying experience an easy one so they don’t give in to second thoughts and click away.

Don’t bombard users with pop-ups

This should go without saying, but being met with multiple pop-up ads, especially right away, may annoy potential customers.

This isn’t to say that they’re not effective or shouldn’t be used — it’s all about how, how often, and when. For instance, maybe you have one pop-up message when a user lands on your page with a special offer or incentive, like 15% off their purchase if they sign up for your email newsletter.

Even that may be too much, and some companies are ditching the entry pop-up all together. According to the Online Marketing Institute, it takes up to 13 interactions with your brand on average before a customer decides to buy, so a pop-up ad probably won’t be the thing to convince them, especially if it’s their first time visiting.

A better alternative? Exit-intent pop-ups. These activate when a user is about to leave the site after they’ve had a chance to look around. They’ve engaged with your product, know whether or not they like it, and are more likely to commit. In fact, exit-intent pop-ups can increase conversation rates by up to 27%.

HawkSEM: How to Increase Conversions Through Website Design

Click mapping can show you if those CTA buttons are actually working, or if almost no one is motivated to click them. (Image via Unsplash)

Take advantage of click-mapping and heat-mapping data

Heat-mapping software converts your page into a color-coded scale, with the “hotter” colors showing where users spend the most time, and cooler colors like blue showing where they spend less or no time at all. Click-mapping works on the same principle by showing you where on your pages users click the most.

Heat mapping can show, for example, how far a reader makes it through a post on your blog. Click mapping can show you if those CTA buttons are actually working, or if almost no one is motivated to click them. You can use this data to deduce what part of each page is getting the most traffic, and change your site design if that traffic doesn’t line up with your expectations.

The takeaway

Now that you’ve got a better idea of CRO-focused website design, you can start making the changes you need to get visitors converting into customers.

Use our tips to build a foundation, then branch out and research what’s right for you. The right tweaks could make a world of difference.

Need more assistance in the website department? We can help.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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