Simply put, conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is the systematic process of increasing the percentage of website visitors who take a desired action — be that filling out a form, becoming customers, or otherwise. However, before delving into CRO, we should start by asking the question: what is an effective website?
An effective website is a usable website. In digital marketing, usability is a learning discipline, which studies the best way to improve the interaction between the user and web pages or apps. In his book User Experience Honeycomb1, Peter Morville has exemplified what the features of an effective user experience are. In fact, he has outlined that the information must be useful, usable, desirable, findable, accessible, credible and valuable.
From another angle, UX professional Steve Krug argued that the design of a webpage should let users accomplish their intended tasks as easily and directly as possible, as suggested by the book’s title Don’t make me think2.
Deloitte Digital UX designer Justin Psaila has also written about the principle of user interface design and its importance to being able to take business decisions: "The interface should be designed in a way that directs the attention of the user to what is most important"3
What is data analytics?
Data analytics is the practice of using data to drive business strategy and performance. The objective is to measure what is relevant on your website, to assist in reaching your business goals. To do this you have set up your business goals and identify the KPIs which can help you to reach SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time bound. These elements work hand in hand and can make any business strategy more powerful, especially if all the steps implemented in the correct way.
What do we mean by ‘conversions’?
Google defines conversion as “An action that's counted when someone interacts with your advert (for example, clicks a text advert or views a video advert) and then takes an action that you’ve defined as valuable to your business, such as an online purchase or a call to your business from a mobile phone” 4.
In other words, a conversion is simply getting someone to interact with you through a call-to-action (CTA); for example, a button on a website that directs to another page with more relevant information where you may be asked for your details such as email, age, name, country or mobile number.
Depending on the business model, there will be different types of conversion. For example:
- Sales: making a purchase from your online e-commerce shop is a conversion.
- Lead generations: filling in a registration a form is a conversion.
- Engagement: navigating to more than five pages on your website is a conversion.
- Traffic: getting someone to click on the CTA in an email, that redirects to your website, is a conversion.
How to track the conversion rate?
Nowadays there are many data analytic tools that can help you track, measure and analyse user behaviour on a website. One can learn more about potential audience behaviours, analyse advertising campaigns from different sources such as social media, and investigate how to acquire users, learn how users are interacting with websites and track the conversions within. Google Analytics is a well-known example of such a tool that is freely available to website owners and enables them to understand how people use sites and apps.
What is CRO?
With the above information in hand, we can understand why conversion rate optimisation means optimising a website through testing, with the aim of increase ROI and decreasing the cost per acquisition. In other words, increasing the rate of converting visitors into customers.
Thanks to web analytic tools, we are able to identify what is already working and where things can be improved. However, one always needs an empirical approach, to ask the relevant questions before running experiments.
Aside from data analytics tools, there are other complimentary avenues one can employ to improve customer experience on a website, such as:
- Heat map tools can be used to create heat maps to understand how users interact with a website. By analysing heat maps (clicks and interactions to webpages) and recording sessions of customer journeys, one can take strategic decisions more effectively.
- A/B testing tools help to quickly understand which is a more successful strategy to employ, through the application of statistical hypothesis testing.
- Comments on social media, reviews and surveys can also help you to understand user experience - an incentive to help improve brand perception.
Are companies investing in analytics and optimisation?
Nowadays, many companies are looking into analytics, but some may be “working without purpose”5. Companies should consider a structured approach with a list of objectives and KPIs that are related to the objectives. In other words, they should understand which data is useful in order to be able to measure business objectives, and choose to implement the right analytics tool. One of my mentors and friends, once told me “Don’t guess, assumptions are the root of all mistakes”. We should base our strategy and business opportunities on data analysis and not personal hunches or opinions.
- “User Experience Design”, Peter Morville, http://semanticstudios.com/user_experience_design/
- “Don't Make Me Think”, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, Krug, Steve, 2014, New Riders, Peachpit, Pearson Education.
- “The principles of user interface design”, Justin Psaila, http://deloittedigital.com.mt/Blog/The-principles-of-user-interface-design
- “The Biggest Mistake Web Analysts Make… And How To Avoid It!”, Avinash Kaushik, https://www.kaushik.net/avinash/biggest-web-analysts-mistake-how-to-avoid/