Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a fundamental element of Inbound Marketing and one of its biggest advantages over traditional forms of advertising.
If you're unfamiliar with conversion rate optimization, it essentially means tweaking certain aspects of your website or landing page to increase the percentage of people who convert (i.e. opt-in, make a purchase, etc.)
Just think about how slow and costly it would be to optimize conversions on a television commercial:
First you have to bid on a time slot for your commercial. Prices vary, but ideal time slots are in the tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands.
Then you have to hire a production crew to shoot the commercial. Again, prices will vary by quality and commercials aren't filmed overnight.
After that, you have to wait for the commercial to air for the length of time you purchased and wait to get the data showing how many people watched it and basic demographic information.
Unless you listed a specific coupon code (or something else that can be tracked), you'll have no idea how many of your new customers found you through that commercial.
Finally, after spending all that money and waiting all of that time, you can decide to make a change to the commercial based on the feedback you've received. (Which, of course, means paying the production crew again and repeating the entire process.)
With Inbound Marketing, you attract visitors to your website, where you can gather all kinds of valuable metrics and data points about these visitors in real-time, for free.
That information not only allows you to increase your conversion rates, but it also provides valuable insights to help you improve your business overall.
You can also make changes to optimize conversions as often as you want because it takes hardly any time on your part to make small changes to your landing page.
Conversion rate optimization allows your business to make more money from the same amount of visitors that you currently receive, in a short amount of time and for very little money.
What's not to love about that?
The Conversion Rate Optimization Process
The actual process of CRO is simple.
It's so simple that you'll feel like you must be missing something.
Repeat until you've reached your desired conversion rate.
This is a process that the most successful companies online are doing over and over in a never-ending cycle.
Increasing conversion rates will get more challenging over time, mainly because you start to run out of ideas for new changes. However, when your business gets millions of visitors a day, such as Amazon, just imagine how valuable a 0.01% increase in conversions is. With 1 million visitors, that's 100 new customers.
Now that you understand the process, let's dive into the specific details for implementing this in your business.
Before You Try Optimizing Your Conversion Rates
You're probably tempted to start testing different changes right away, but you'll save yourself a lot of time by going in prepared.
Sure, you can start making tweaks at random and eventually you'll get lucky and make the right guesses. But if you approach this process with a plan, you'll start seeing results sooner.
Every split testing campaign needs to have a specific goal and only one goal at a time. We're working with little details here and one landing page can only accomplish so much.
What's your goal?
Get more signups to your email list?
Generate more leads?
Get more sales of your product or service?
Pick one. You can always create more landing pages (or opt-in boxes) for your other goals as well.
How can you tweak a headline to better resonate with your ideal customer if you don't know who they are?
Your buyer persona is the person you will have in mind when you test every variable. It doesn't matter what you think is a catchy headline or strong CTA -- it matters what they think.
How to Start Optimizing Your Conversion Rates
Now we're getting to the good stuff!
You know how to do it and you know why you should do it, but what do you actually do?
Since there is no one-size-fits-all solution, I'm going to offer you some tips that work for most businesses, most of the time.
The entire point of A/B testing is finding what works for your business and if you find something that goes against all conventional wisdom that's working for you -- by all means, stick with what works.
However, the following are some general guidelines that will help you get started and point you in the right direction.
According to Copyblogger, "On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest."
This is the first thing that visitors see when they land on your page and it's the one thing that most people will base their decision to convert on.
I know, it's hard to believe, but the data has proven this time and time again.
That's good news and bad news -- good news if you've got a great headline.
Since most people will only read the headline, that puts a lot of pressure on you to get it right. This is why it's so important that you understand your buyer persona.
When your persona sees your headline, do they know exactly what they're getting?
Do they have a reason to feel compelled emotionally to sign up or make a purchase?
Does your headline give your persona a reason to convert now, rather than later?
Make sure the fields are big enough for the required text
Your form should go well with the rest of the page and have a similar design, but you don't want it to blend in too much.
Calls to Action (CTA)
The CTA is what tells your persona what to do, whether it be to "sign up" or "buy now."
Optimizing your CTA is one of the easiest ways to boost conversions and there are a ton of small tweaks you can test.
A good call to action:
Is clear about the next action
Is appropriate to the surrounding content
Makes it easy for your persona to take prompt action
Is inviting and visible
The first thing you can do is test different types of copy. Instead of the normal "Submit", try something like "Sign Me Up" or "I'm Ready for My FREE Trial."
Also, you can test using ALL CAPS, all lowercase, Headline Capitalization, or just capitalizing the first letter of the first word.
Another easy test is the color of the button. Check out these case studies to see how the color of your CTA button can make a huge difference in conversion rates.
You should also test the location of your CTA. The rule of thumb is that your CTA should be above the fold, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't test a CTA below the fold as well. There are exceptions to every rule.