Don’t redesign your website: Increase Your Conversions Instead.
Conversion optimization removes risk from your next website project. Instead of an expensive website redesign, make small iterative improvements. Repeat the process every month as the website is fine-tuned and conversions improve.
How does conversion rate optimization remove risk from your next web project?
Are you thinking about building a brand spanking new website?
If so, don’t.
A massive overhaul of your website will be expensive.
Launching a traditional new website is a lot of work. You have to hire an agency and define your messaging, needs, and vision. Then you wade through revision after revision over 3-9 months until the new website finally launches.
Even worse, website design projects are usually subjective.
- Someone’s golf buddy prefers blue or didn’t understand the home page.
- The CEO had a late night idea and wants to update the site
Whatever the reason, most will feel like it’s time for something new but won’t provide data to support the decision for a new site. It’s a huge bet to place the future of your company on anecdotal evidence and opinions. While you are building the new site, things happen – the market can change or product messaging can evolve faster than your web team can keep up.
The allure of the shiny new website is strong but you must push back temptation. Your best chance of improving lead generation is by doing LESS.
What is website conversion rate optimization?
A good website evolves over time. It adapts and improves based on insights you measure. New evidence then fuels iterative performance improvements. This cycle repeats every month as the website is fine tuned and conversion improves.
This iterative approach is called website Conversion Rate Optimization or website CRO for short.
Conversion Rate Optimization is the art and science of getting a higher percentage of web visitors to take action and become a lead or a customer. CRO is an art and a science because a data analyst alone can’t create the visuals or the messages that engage.
CRO tests elements on your website to prove – or disprove – a hypothesis.
For example, you might believe that…
- A call to action button that says “submit” will get clicked more often if it is changed to “get started.”
- A color change on the app sign-up screen will perform better than the current color.
- Reducing the number of navigation choices will drive more action within the site.
By A/B or split testing small improvements, you can foster incremental gains in your KPIs – increases in registrations, purchases, newsletter sign-ups, or white paper downloads.
An iterative redesign is cheaper and faster than a site redesign and launch. If you are already collecting KPI data, you can use the insights gleaned from your current site to inform your conversion tracking experiments on Day 1.
When you embrace and commit to split or multi-variate testing site elements, copy, CTAs, designs, and flows, you will come to realize many additional benefits as well.
What are the benefits of website conversion rate optimization?
First, CRO forces action. The great thing about CRO and landing page optimization is that it requires a roadmap – an organized list of hypotheses, tests, and results, set to a time-based schedule. When designing your CRO experiments, remember to be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. Running CRO experiments that are defined and measurable keeps all parties accountable. After you run your tests, you come away with a result: the test either worked or it didn’t work. Armed with data, you can back up your conclusions and recommended site improvements.
You stop guessing and get smarter faster. If you make website optimization designs based on gut feeling, iterative development and conversion rate optimization will feel like you’ve turned on a light! As you begin to use data to inform your decisions, suddenly the light flicks on and important tests, tweaks, and changes start to reveal themselves. Split or multivariate testing gives you immediate insight into how users respond to changes. For example, most assume that bold Calls to Action (color) perform better than subtle in-text links. This assumption may be based on truth but testing it will confirm quickly which does better. In some cases, and on some websites, you may find that more subtle CTAs outperform bold CTAs. When you leave your assumptions at the door and test, you will be amazed at what you can learn.
It’s easier to budget and manage. With a regular monthly test schedule, you can allocate your website conversion budget accordingly over the entire year because you are seeing an immediate ROI. With regular website updates and tests, you also stay current – no more getting behind in technology or letting your competition one-up you each year. Cadence increases. Instead of spending time and money on a massive website redesign, you focus on conversion and conversion tracking. CRO and landing page optimization does a good job at postponing or eliminating the need for site-wide overhauls.
Your team gets smarter. That’s the amazing thing about CRO. When the entire team is exposed to its results, you start to see better work from your team as everyone learns from each experiment:
- Designers start understanding why they using certain colors
- Writers learn how to create copy that resonates best with each audience
- Developers gain wider knowledge on why they are making CSS modifications.
In short, everyone becomes a better marketer and team member because they have site-specific, tailored data. CRO is the best way to grow both your website and your marketing team.
How do you get started with website conversion rate optimization?
With a website redesign, there are usually two main problems that you are trying to solve:
- Not enough traffic.
- Not enough leads.
It’s best to start by tackling the first problem. Before you start generating more traffic, work with the traffic you have and begin optimizing your existing conversion funnel. If you have 1000 site visits per month and you currently get only one lead per month, improving your conversion funnel should be the first goal. There is no point adding more traffic if your website doesn’t convert and your conversion funnel is broken.
Convincing people to fill out a form, make a phone call, provide a credit card number, or add extra items at checkout will impact revenue quickly. Once the site converts consistently, adding more traffic boosts your web revenue to another level.
Have you gained agreement before starting CRO and landing page optimization?
Do your homework. With so many pages to start iterating and testing, it is critical for your team to agree and prioritize their areas of focus. Ask these questions to reach a consensus:
- Why are we doing a redesign?
- What are our most popular pages? Which pages get the most traffic?
- Which pages represent the best opportunity to increase conversion?
- What should be the most important pages on the site? The most important pages are usually checkout pages and product detail pages.
- Which pages cause difficulties or friction for visitors?
There should be an underlying understanding of objectives. This understanding should include your KPIs (and an agreement by everyone on your KPIs) so each team member has a clear idea of how your CRO is doing.
With answers in hand, you’ll be in a much better place to plan your iterative redesign.
Even though the data is your friend, too many metrics can dilute your focus. Identify your primary metrics and revisit them often. Key metrics could include:
- Monthly/weekly sales inquiries
- Newsletter subscription rate
- Bounce rate/dwell time
- Average order value
Be selective with your metrics, but also recognize that different tests require different metrics.
Be careful. More than likely, you’ll have many more experiments to run than you’ll have time to run them. Be choosy. Prioritize. Score your test ideas by ease of implementation AND the potential revenue impact. For every test idea, ask yourself this question: “will this test improve conversion by 1% or more?” If you can’t answer ‘yes’, move to the next test idea.
Finally, document your results. A simple spreadsheet will work. Documenting your results will prevent institutional memory loss when the team changes or when you present history to the senior management team (this is how we got here).
Include AT LEAST the following fields in your documentation:
- Start and end dates
- Results and the winning variant
- Next steps
CRO marketing requires the perfect combination of PPC, SEO, social media, and content development. When all these things work together, you engage your target audience and provide the answers they are seeking at every stage of the buyer journey. When you are useful, people will convert.
Your website is the framework for everything. It holds your content, your landing pages, your brand, your personality, everything. A visitor’s first, second and last impressions are formed by your website. Studies have shown that you have less than 1 second to make a positive impression.
If your website is difficult to navigate or if it loads slowly, the quality of your content won’t matter. A one second delay in page load time means visitors will look elsewhere for answers.
What are the website conversion rate optimization rules of thumb?
Here are a few rules of thumb to consider when you launch your first CRO marketing efforts.
- Before you do anything, make sure your website works. Your goal is a website that is bug free and loads quickly.
- Implement one test at a time. Too many variables can confuse things.
Keep it simple. The one job of a webpage is to get a user to perform an action. Anything that interferes with that job can be removed. Instead of looking at colors, text, button language, and more, start by eliminating clutter to see what happens.
- Focus. Prioritize the tests that have the potential to generate the most conversions. If you focus on what is not working, you should also focus (and protect) what is already working.
- Give it time. If your website doesn’t get a lot of traffic, make sure you are patient enough to get a statistically valid result.
- Be patient. Getting a website that converts is a marathon, not a sprint. Maximize the success but analysis and measurement and iterative tweaks. Pace yourself.
- Revisit failed experiments. Sometimes failed experiments will succeed once other variables have changed.
- Ignore the little things. Make sure your offer has substance. If your tweaks improve pass-thru from page to page, that’s nice. Changing button colors or headline font styles is important, but if you are simply tweaking a crappy site, there won’t be any sustainable change. Ultimately, when no one converts, you’ve simply rearranged the deck chairs on the Titanic. In this case, focus on the user experience, branding, messaging, and more.
- Isolate your testing. Consider fencing off all experiments with a percentage of your total traffic (20%+). This reduces risk – if you have enough traffic to make the experiment worthwhile.
- Test your prototype. Often. Repeat. Test your prototype. Often. Repeat…
Additionally, you should:
- Think critically about your images. Images are a major factor in conversion. Too many images can decrease conversion. Improving images and image placement can increase conversions. This might include dumping stock images. People like working with real people. Use images of real people on your website.
- Reduce Form Fields: Eliminate unnecessary form fields. Don’t try to make your work easy by adding extra fields to be filled in by your customers.
- Replace sliders with static offers. Sliders reduce conversion.
- Put the CTA above the fold. Duh.
- Include short, engaging videos that show the product or the team in action. Keep it brief and don’t bore people. No one has time for that.
- Revisit your headline. Is it clear? Is it action oriented? Is there clarity?
- Create a sense of urgency for people to “act now.” Limited time incentives give people a reason to take action now.
- If you want calls, display the phone number.
- “Free” is a magical word. Use it.
- Show that you are trusted. If you have reviews, display them proudly.
Any website can be improved through iterative design, and rapid multivariate or split testing. Resist the urge to start from scratch.
By aligning your business goals with these small improvements, you improve likelihood of sustained success without spending on a new website.
What are the website conversion rate optimization services for growing companies?
At Macon Raine, our conversion rate optimization services help business owners find new revenue. After all, new revenue solves most business problems. We love trying new CRO experiments, learning which strategies work best for your unique website visitors, and driving new revenue to your business.
Increasing conversion boils down to improving relevance and clarity, eliminating distractions, and reducing risk/distractions. When you take care of the basics, new leads fall into your conversion funnel quickly.
As a Google Partner, we use powerful analytical tools to measure,monitor, and implement working strategies that optimize your website and lead generation funnels into conversion machines. Get in touch to learn what Macon Raine can do for your website.
With traditional web design projects, a new website can take six months or more to launch. Macon Raine’s Conversion Rate Optimization services eliminate this costly linear model in favor of an approach that:
- Minimizes risk
- Streamlines development,
- Focuses on continuous improvement
- Accelerates project tempo
In short, Macon Raine allows you to launch your website faster and track results immediately while making small, strategic changes that continuously improve your site and visibly increase ROI.
What if you just built a new website?
Start small. If you are building a new website anyway, the key is to build a simple and flexible website that is easy to change. The website should use basic tools such as:
- WYSIWYG responsive design editor
- Content Management System (CMS) with an integrated blog
- Plug and play widgets for analytics, social, e-mail, and forms
- The ability to rapidly create landing pages.
Once the basics are in place, additional features such as e-commerce, member portals, document libraries, event calendars, and other features can then be added.
These features should be added as they become a priority and not before.
The website, and every experiment should be organized and approached with the same framework:
- Organize test tasks by priority, responsibility, and time frame
- Track everything in a project management system
We use Asana because you can create define templates for tasks and easily set up and organize multiple projects at once.
Tools we love.
ZEST: Zest bills itself as a high fidelity marketing content stream that is cultivated and curated by a tribe of informed marketers. Zest makes sure you’re only receiving high-quality marketing content and kills the information overload that’s wasting your time.
GROWTHHACKERS: GrowthHackers started as a discussion forum for conversion optimization and evolved into a community and software for managing conversion rate optimization projects.
UBERSUGGEST (Neil Patel): Ubersuggest is an amazing tool from Neil Patel. Use Ubersuggest to find more keyword ideas – from head terms to long-tail phrases you’ll get hundreds of suggestions from our free keyword tool. You’ll also see the volume, competition, and seasonal trends for each keyword.
SEMRUSH: SEMrush is used by marketers as a search engine optimization tool. It helps with keyword research, competitor analysis, SEO audits, identification of back-link opportunities, social media monitoring, and so much more.
CRAZYEGG: Use Crazy Egg’s visual reports and session recordings to understand your website visitors. Learn where they’re coming from, where they navigate to, and where they’re getting stuck. Inform yourself with visual data so you can make design changes with confidence.
INSPECTLET: Google Analytics can tell you what your visitors want, Inspectlet can tell you why. Watch visitors use your site as if you’re looking over their shoulder. Inspectlet records videos of your visitors allowing you to see everything they do. See every mouse movement, scroll, click, and keypress on your site.
UNBOUNCE: Unbounce is a simple way to build and test custom mobile responsive landing pages, website popups and sticky bars. You can improve your post-click conversion rates easily without the need for web developers.
OPTIMIZELY: Optimizely allows you to optimize your digital experiences across all devices for every customer at every touchpoint. You can replace digital guesswork and opinions with evidence-based optimization that helps you drive conversions.
- Check that the site actually works as designed and
- Protect critical metrics (such as sales conversion).
GOOGLE ANALYTICS: Google Analytics gives you the analytics tools you need to analyze data from all touchpoints in one place, for a deep understanding of your customer’s experience.
BRIGHTEDGE: BrightEdge‘s SEO platform is powered by a sophisticated AI and machine learning engine. It crawls the web and collects first-party data. It is the only company capable of web-wide, real-time measurement of digital content engagement across all digital channels, including search, social, and mobile.
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