Tag Archives: conversion rate optimization

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Written by Caroline Cox on Jul 15 , 2022

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 online cart abandonment
  • How to leverage popular CRO tools
  • CRO website design elements to bring you the best results

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 something missing.

Your website might not be designed to convert.

If you’re seeing a high bounce rate — meaning people are visiting your page and leaving almost immediately — despite a high-quality, easy-to-navigate site, you may want to consider adding in some CRO website design principles.

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 to improve CRO.

For the vast majority of businesses today, their website is what brings in customers and makes sales.

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

Why you should care about CRO website design

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.

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 (UX) and how intuitive your page is to visitors. You can ensure your site has good UX by:

  • Not overwhelming the user with too many choices
  • Optimizing your checkout or form submission process
  • Not bombarding users with multiple popups
  • Taking advantage of heatmapping and click-mapping data

Don’t overwhelm the user with too many choices

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 and landing pages, for example, consider highlighting just one area (like women’s jeans) 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 to their taste.

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

This also goes for the design of your site: Keep your ideal customers in mind. Don’t confront them with too many call-to-action CTA) buttons and sidebars. Keep it simple by letting them know what’s available and where they can get it. A CRO website design with proper UX principles will guide them through to their purchase

The same idea applies to CTA buttons as well. It’s usually wise to include just one 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 and have strong, concise verbiage. 

Pro tip: The CTA is one of the best places to A/B test your pages. Try out different copy, colors, and placement on the page (test one element at a time, of course), then monitor to see what resonates most.

Optimize your checkout or form submission process

You may think you’ve got the customer hooked when they get to the checkout phase, but experienced e-commerce marketers know that’s simply not the case. 

Cart abandonment — when people add items to their cart and leave the site or app without completing the sale — is a real issue. In fact, the global rate of cart abandonment is nearly 70%. (It’s even worse for users on mobile devices. They abandon their carts over 85% of the time!)

You want to be sure a customer’s curiosity converts to sales. One way to do that is to refine your checkout or submission process, making it streamlined and easy for the user to complete the desired action. 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

Shopify increased its conversions by 1.72 times their normal rate by implementing Shop Pay, a customer information-saving tool and digital shopping assistant that made checkout four times faster.

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

Pro tip: Especially for e-commerce brands, your checkout process shouldn’t be the only thing you optimize. M-commerce (aka mobile commerce) is booming, so make sure your site is responsive across all devices and page speeds are as fast as possible as well.   

person planning out CRO website design on whiteboard

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

Don’t bombard users with pop-ups

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.

Some companies are ditching the entry pop-up altogether. According to the Online Marketing Institute, it takes 8 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.

For a happy medium, you can explore 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 convert up to 4% more visitors and have, in some instances, increased conversions by over 900%.

Take advantage of heatmapping data

Heatmapping 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. Heatmapping can show 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 website design, you can start making the changes you need to get visitors to convert into customers.

These tips can help you build a foundation. From there, you can branch out and research what’s right for you. Just a few optimizations could make a world of difference.

This article has been updated and was originally published in December 2019.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Sam Yadegar on May 18 , 2021

How conversion rate optimization (CRO) works 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 could be better or your customer engagement scores could be higher, CRO is a tool to activate the digital marketing results you want.

shaking hands

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 can you optimize?

Not sure 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, CRO efforts focus on converting your site visitors 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, then 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

We’ve discussed the impact of CRO from a sales perspective. But optimization tactics can also be valuable for your digital marketing — here’s how.

Improved SEO efforts

Conversion rate optimization can improve your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. By focusing your tactics on converting a visitor, you’re keeping them on the website longer. As users get more engaged with the content, they start interacting with your website, thus:

  • Reducing the bounce rate 
  • Increasing the dwell time (which helps your website climb higher on the search engine results page, or SERP)

Additionally, testing the content improves its quality for your target audience, giving more authority to your website.

In 2021, both CRO and SEO experts are paying special attention to Core Web Vitals, which are turning into Google’s ranking factors. These metrics are aimed at improving user experience on your website, thus keeping the visitors happier and more likely to convert.

With a CRO plan focused on improving user experience, your SEO can benefit from solid Core Web Vitals and higher rankings.

Higher marketing ROI

Digital marketing campaigns often focus on improving the company’s profitability. CRO testing can generate an impressive amount of revenue over time, thus increasing the digital marketing ROI.

Those in charge of a company’s CRO can identify different areas of opportunity, which in turn lead to conversions and higher revenue. For example, split testing paid ads can increase CTR, generate high-quality traffic to your website, and support lead generation efforts. Even if all you get is a couple of new leads per month, the benefits add up over time.

Plus, CRO tactics can cut marketing costs, which frees up the budget for other parts of your digital marketing campaign.

Better content quality

Since CRO focuses on improving user experience to drive conversions, it can help you create higher quality content and power up your content marketing efforts. A CRO expert can provide guidelines for content creation related to format and context to improve user experience on your website.

This valuable insight can help tweak your content marketing strategy and create higher quality content for your target audience. 

More 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?

Understand visitor behavior

An understanding of visitor behavior on your website allows you to improve on-page and website design elements. It should be no surprise that 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 clicked. Say most visitors click 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 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 or 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.

digital marketing CRO dashboard

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)

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.

3 things to consider when tweaking your CRO strategy in 2021

Besides implementing Core Web Vitals into your CRO strategy this year, here are a few other factors to consider.

1. First-party cookies

With the third-party cookie phase out on the way, marketers are rethinking their retargeting practices. Meanwhile, first-party cookies are gaining momentum. The digital marketing team should give CRO specialists an opportunity to make the most out of first-party cookies without disturbing the user’s privacy (which is a hot topic with EU’s GDPR and California’s CCPA).

First-party cookies don’t just provide a big volume of data for basic analytics and marketing strategies. They also generate data for predictive analytics and A/B testing opportunities, thus empowering your CRO tactics.

2. Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4 creates tremendous opportunities for audience insights, cross-platform analytics, and data control. Tracking user behavior across different platforms can help CRO teams make decisions about conversion tactics as well as predict future user actions.

The earlier you start taking advantage of GA4 for both CRO and other digital tactics, the easier it will be to stay ahead of the competition in the future.

3. AI and ML

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are transforming consumer experience with chatbots, paid ad optimization algorithms, pricing adjustments, and predictive analytics. By implementing these technologies to streamline CRO practices, it’s possible to improve marketing ROI and the company’s profitability. Just make sure you don’t lean too heavily on automation — having a hands-on expert can’t be replicated.

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.

This article has been updated and was originally published in December 2019.

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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