When strategically optimizing their conversion rate, some marketers tend to look for quick wins. They run random experiments and hope those pan out, or look for quick UX fixes. They think of landing pages in terms of parts instead of a whole. But basing your CRO game plan on low-hanging fruit won’t help you succeed.
It’s crucial to realize understanding user behavior is at the center of CRO. A solid understanding of your visitor enables you to craft hyper-relevant experiences, therefore increasing the likelihood they will engage with your page. And, the more they engage, the more likely they are to convert.
If you’re tired of the frustration and ready to start building out an effective CRO strategy, follow our 5-step plan. This is not an easy process. You need to put in the work to see the results. But taking on these efforts will pay off.
What is CRO?
Before you get into the steps, you need a precise understanding of what conversion rate optimization is. CRO is improving your website or landing page to increase the percentage of visitors taking your desired actions.
For example, imagine you get 10,000 visitors per month to your landing page. The goal is to get visitors to sign up for a webinar. Currently, an average of 5% of your traffic does that. That means you have a 5% conversion rate.
Let’s say your goal is getting 10% of your traffic to convert. To do this, you’ll need to ask yourself what changes you can make to increase the likelihood that more visitors sign up for the webinar.
Many CRO articles suggest improving your conversions by making superficial adjustments to things like CTA text and button colors. However, if you don’t understand user behavior, tips like these are merely cheap card tricks that may or may not work.
On the other hand, if you achieve a more profound level of understanding user behavior, you’ll consider meaningful changes that benefit your visitors and increase your conversion rate. Adjusting things like CTA text won’t be a coin-flip, but an informed and strategic decision.
Now, let’s get into the steps for creating your CRO strategy.
Step 1: Define the user
Since the secret to conversion rate optimization lies in understanding user behavior, the first step in developing your CRO strategy is defining your user. You need to understand who they are. Think about your users as friends or even relatives. Remember, behind every website and landing page is a real live human.
What are their problems? What solutions are they considering? Asking these questions creates a foundation for a more effective conversion rate optimization strategy. This process will vary from business to business, however, a great question to start with is: Who is buying your product or service, and why?
You can take advantage of different tools to learn about your customers. Use Google Analytics to uncover insights. Examine what browsers they’re using, and see whether they’re on mobile or desktop. Social media platforms offer a rich source of demographic information, such as age, gender, and location. Surveys, too, will provide valuable insights into your customers.
Don’t feel discouraged if you feel new information keeps shifting your definition. The process of understanding the user is a moving target and will continue to change. If anything, it’s a positive sign that you’re staying updated about your customer.
It’s crucial to take advantage of CRO tools that help you keep your finger on the pulse of problems your visitors are experiencing. These tools include heat maps, click stream data, bounce rate insights, focus groups, and user interviews. If you have a feedback button or a customer support call center, take advantage of these resources to see what people are complaining (and cheering!) about.
Without this foundational step, you cannot create an effective CRO strategy. It is not enough to know how visitors are assimilating the material on your site—you need to understand their intentions and motivations.
Step 2: Construct a hypothesis
The next step in CRO strategy is to construct a hypothesis. A CRO hypothesis outlines the user problem, the proposed solution, and the anticipated results. Taking time to develop and write these down continue the process of thinking intensely about your customer. Try to view your landing page with fresh eyes. Question where the experience is working well, and where it breaks down. Don’t start with individual elements like button colors. Take a more holistic approach and make sure you’re looking at the flow and order of content.
Ask probing questions to better understand your customer:
- Why are they having trouble on this landing page?
- Is there something about the form that makes it difficult to fill out?
- Are relevant details too far down the page?
- What changes can you make to alter the user experience and make things clearer and easier for customers?
Asking these questions is a way of uncovering root problems with their landing page experience. Once you’ve found a problem, come up with an idea for a solution. Then, create predictions for how you think the visitor will react to changes.
For example, let’s say your landing page currently features an “about us” section directly underneath the fold—but you think having the “how it works” section there would be better. This change could help increase conversions, since visitors might find the “how” information more relevant at that point in the customer journey.
Use a basic formula for the hypothesis so you can track the results. In this case, the formal hypothesis would be:
Putting the ‘how it works’ section under the fold will help interested users better understand the offer presented in the main section directly above. Fewer users will bounce because we’re offering relevant information when and where they need it most. We expect that this will increase our conversion rate by 5%.
Finally, decide how you will measure success, which includes determining how you will gather the data needed to validate your hypothesis. In this example, you could set up an A/B test with traffic going to the original page and the revised page. If the revised experience drives more conversions than the original, the experiment is a success.
Setting up these parameters is crucial. Otherwise, your CRO efforts will be aimless and messy. People often test without a formal hypothesis, which results in a ton of changes that don’t produce significant results because they didn’t have a measured process.
Constructing a hypothesis will provide reasoning behind the changes you’re making. Not only can you expect more meaningful results, but you’re also creating a more efficient process for optimizing your conversions that will pay off in the long run.
Step 3: Strengthen your value proposition
In conversion rate optimization, clarity trumps persuasion. There could be a hundred other businesses similar to yours. What value do you bring to your customers? What makes your business unique? Answer these questions clearly and succinctly. Visitors should know who you are and what you do within 5 to 10 seconds of landing on your page. Ideally, this information should be above the fold.
Make sure you use consumer-friendly language (especially for tech companies). Doing so reduces any possibility of confusion or uncertainty. Remember, everything about the experience should cater to the visitor’s convenience.
Beyond communicating what you do, you need to demonstrate why you do it better than anyone else. Illustrate how you solve a problem, and why you’re the best option. Doing so will eliminate the need for your visitor to shop around.
Consumers aren’t looking to spend their time searching and comparing. They’re busy. They want the best solution with the least amount of work. They want to believe that they’ve found the best product, make the commitment, and move on.
You need to craft a clear landing page experience that helps them achieve this goal. This experience should give them all the information they need to make a decision and convert.
Step 4: Build the right narrative
Next, build a proper narrative for your visitors. The narrative includes a logical flow of copy, layout, and images. It might help to think of this step as similar to planning a speech or conversation: What you want to say, how you’ll say it, and when.
To build this narrative, think about your value proposition, what makes your business unique, and how you can educate your audience in a webpage format. Think about what you would look for in a post-click page.
Most likely, you expect an eye-catching hero image and large text describing what the business does. You probably want to see some specifics underneath the headline. These might include information about features, where to buy the product, and cost.
Think about the questions you’d ask and the information you’d gather if you were talking directly to a salesperson. This step might feel obvious or intuitive at times, but without going through the motions, you could miss areas that are instrumental in delivering a coherent story.
As your CRO initiatives scale up, adopt conversion storytelling techniques. These involve crafting persuasive micro-stories for your visitors and help you delivering relevant experiences at a granular level. Highly personalized narratives establish an emotional connection between your brand and visitors. Not only do you lift conversions, but you will also improve brand impression.
Step 5: Match the experience to the ad
Finally, match your landing page experience to the ad. Also known as message or visual match, this strategy keeps the flow and continuity moving in your favor. You need to keep the narrative consistent from ad to landing page. Otherwise, you risk losing visitors at the finish line. If your visitor feels lost, they will bounce quickly. The more seamless the experience, the more likely your visitors are to convert.
Examine your ad. How are you selling your product? Capturing the ad’s visual look and feel is most effective. When the landing page experience matches the ad’s overall tone and mood, visitors feel like they are in the right place. While visual matching is paramount, any areas where you can increase the experience’s relevance will help you drive more conversions.
Present the most optimal experience that makes it easy for your visitor to convert. The best way to think about this is to ask yourself: “What would I logically expect to see next?”
Creating multiple landing pages will improve the relevance of your experiences. As you scale up your CRO efforts, you will get closer to having a crafted page for every ad or ad group. Achieving this level of relevance means every experience, from the ad click to the landing page, is congruent. Marketers who are most interested in scaling the success of their CRO initiatives should consider ways to ramp up landing page production to align with ad segmentation.
Understanding user behavior drives lasting results
The most effective CRO strategies stem from understanding user behavior. Once this puzzle piece falls into place, you can craft hyper-relevant experiences and maximize your conversions. Beyond this short-term goal, it brings you toward a higher level of best practice. It ensures you can continue to improve your CRO strategy and achieve the highest possible conversions.
The era of random changes and aimless testing is over. By diving into user behavior, you will equip yourself with the knowledge and confidence to make adjustments that are based on something substantial. Your process will be much more efficient and effective.
As you work through these steps, you may get frustrated at times. Developing your CRO strategy can be a challenging and arduous process, but it provides meaningful and lasting results.
If you want to get a head start on creating your strategy, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Postclick offers a complimentary conversion health analysis. This service includes an audit of your ad campaigns, as well as a live page review with one of our CRO strategists. They offer actionable recommendations and walk you through the areas of opportunity for increasing conversions that they’ve identified on your page. Request your analysis here.