Conversion Rate Optimisation Guide

Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) has started to gain momentum in the marketing and website design industry, but it is a term that has been around for quite some time. This article will act as an in-depth guide to provide you with the knowledge required to be able to get your visitors to engage more with your website.

The fundamentals of CRO will be covered in this article, including why you need to know CRO in the first place, how you can start using it for your business and how to devise an optimisation plan. After setting up the foundations, information about implementing the optimisation plan and getting the most out of your website will also be covered. Creating effective landing pages, improving your customer experience as well as introducing you to tools that will help you be successful will also be covered.

A big part of business is about coming up against obstacles and overcoming these obstacles. CRO is a way to overcome the obstacles produced by your initial website design. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about what CRO is and how your website can be improved. This article will try to dispel these misconceptions and get you back on the right track.

A Brief Definition of CRO

While website design is often considered a creative, artistic skill set, CRO brings science and the scientific method into design. It is about making improvements to your website based on analytics, visitor feedback and visitor testing. This article can help you set key performance indicators (KPIs) that matter. KPIs can be anything from new customer acquisition to contact form submissions. It is important not only to set KPIs that are measurable, but that are relevant to your business. Visitor traffic on the site may be an important metric to keep an eye on, but it may not be a ‘key’ metric. A more effective KPI would be how these visitors engage with your website.

Essentially, CRO is about helping your visitors engage more with your website. This may be adding elements to your web page and making these elements more visible. It may even be about removing certain parts of your web page that are less effective that can inhibit conversion from happening.

CRO is Fundamental to Online Business

The internet is an amazing resource, but it has led to an overabundance of information. This makes it difficult for visitors to find the products, services and information they require. It also makes it difficult to find the right information to improve your bottom line. There are so many ‘experts’ that provide limited or false information that provides minimal results and leads to distrust of the process.

True CRO isn’t about making uninformed decisions, measuring for the sake of measuring or trying to sell to everyone. It is about making providing your visitors with what they are looking for as quickly as possible. It is about getting the most out of your website.

Learning more about your customer segment and what they are looking for helps you optimise your website more effectively and stops you from wasting your time and resources on visitors that are never going to buy in the first place.

Conversion Rate Optimisation Redefined

A conversion can best be described as when a visitor takes an action on your website that you want them to take. The obvious type of conversion is when a visitor makes a purchasing decision, but a conversion can be anything you choose. It could be your visitor signing up to your mailing list, having them download a file or even signing up for an ebook like the one you are reading now. A conversion is whatever you want your visitor to do on your website. It is the action that they take, and in this article you will learn how to measure it.

The introduction provided a brief definition of what CRO is, a method of improving the performance of your website through analytics, visitor feedback and visitor testing. This can be redefined to make it easier to understand; CRO is about finding why your visitors aren’t converting and fixing it.

Conversion Rate Optimisation is:

– A structured and systematic approach to improving the performance of your website.

– Informed by insights – specifically, analytics and user feedback.

– Defined by your website’s unique objectives and KPIs.

– Taking the traffic you already have and making the most of it.

Conversion Rate Optimisation is not:

– Based on guesses, hunches or what everyone else is doing.

– Driven by the highest-paid person’s opinion.

– About getting as many users as possible, regardless of the quality of their engagement.

Key Terms

The following are terms that are commonly used by CRO professionals. Familiarise yourself with them as they will be used throughout this article.

Call to Action

A Call to Action (CTA) is a call for your visitors to take a certain action on your website. This is usually a button or contact form, but it can be any element that asks a visitor to take action. Common examples of CTAs are buttons, forms, subscriptions, and file downloads.

Conversion Funnel

A conversion funnel is a pathway that a visitor takes to complete a conversion. It is an outline of the customer’s journey from visitor to customer. Most of you may have seen this picture floating around the internet.

This is a common pathway from potential prospect to evangelist. It starts with a person becoming aware of your business, then moves down into an interest in your products or services, to making a buying decision and eventually becoming an advocate by promoting your business to their friends, family and colleagues.

A/B Split Testing

A/B testing is about creating two landing pages or interface elements and testing them against each other. For example, looking at two landing pages that will direct traffic from LinkedIn, landing page A provides visitors with an offer to download an ebook while landing page B gets them to sign up for your Blog. Measuring how effective each is will help you better determine which results in more conversions.

Multivariate Testing

Similar to A/B split testing, Multivariate Testing (MVT) tests multiple variations of a page or many pages to determine which page or element combinations have the best performance.

Measuring is About Statistics

Before starting any CRO campaign, you need a baseline. This involves initially identifying obstacles on your site and determining what your current conversion rate is. You can use Google Analytics, Clicky, or another analytics tool to get data about your visitors. You need to use statistical data, you can’t do this without this information.

The data critical to CRO is as follows:

  1. The number of visitors who took an action that you wanted them to take.
  2. Your Current Conversion Rate: To get this, divide the total conversions that you listed above by the total number of visitors to your site. For example, 300 visitors with 60 conversions is a conversion rate of 30%.
  3. Bounce Rate: The percentage of people who left without taking any action. They land on your website and then leave almost immediately. If you have a high bounce rate, you need to figure out why and improve this first.
  4. Exit rate: What page are visitors leaving on? A high exit rate on a specific page may suggest an issue with that page.
  5. Average time on site: How long a visitor is on your website may indicate how engaged they are with your content. A low conversion rate with a long time spent on your website may suggest that the visitor is interested in your product or service, but your CTA is not as visible as it could be.
  6. Average page views: Another way to measure visitor engagement is to look at how many pages were viewed. Having a visitor bounce around your website with no view of converting is not necessarily a good thing though.

Why Conversion Rate Optimisation is Essential to Your Business

There are numerous reasons why CRO is essential for your business and some of these were covered in the introduction. To further increase your awareness of the importance of this topic, here are an additional 10 reasons why your business will benefit from a conversion optimisation strategy.

A Website Can Always be Improved Further

One of the biggest misconceptions in website design is the idea that a website project is ‘finished’. There is always a better way to expand your customer’s experience. Always a quicker way to get them to make a purchasing decision. A website is never finished.

Get A Better Return on Investment

If out of every 100 customers, 1 makes a purchasing decision, you have one of two options; Increase your traffic or increase your conversion rate. Most marketers have chosen to do the former option, and as a result, paid advertising has become competitive and expensive. CRO helps you to increase your sales without hurting your return on investment.

Get the Right Customers

One of the biggest mistakes a lot of business owners make is trying to sell to everyone. Because CRO focuses on customer experience, through surveys and visitor testing you will get a better idea of who your ideal customer is and how to sell to them. After all, has selling to the wrong type of customer ever led to a good outcome?

It’s Essentially Free

Assuming your website is already getting traffic, CRO utilises the data produced from this traffic once analytics software has been added to your site. It is already there; you have to start measuring and start testing it. CRO isn’t about getting more traffic to your website; it is about getting that traffic to do something when they get there.

Your Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) is Reduced

Let’s Use the previous example of 1% conversion rate on a sample of 100 visitors. If you use Google Adwords to drive traffic to your website at $5 per click for a highly competitive keyword, that is a CAC of $500. By increasing your conversion rate to 2%, this CAC drops to $250. Same traffic, but better results.

CRO Helps maximise profits

In the previous example, you reduced your CAC to $250. This means your profit margin increased by $250. This is the only way to maximise your profits.

Increase Your Traffic Flow

Because you saved yourself $250 in the 5th reason, you can put that toward buying more traffic, increasing your visitor sample to 200. You also have a better idea of where your ideal customer is coming from, and thus create more targeted marketing strategies to bring them into your funnel.

Visitors have a limited attention span, CRO circumvents that

The average visitor has a short attention span while online. Social media, messaging and numerous other distractions make the online world a fast-moving place. CRO helps circumvent this limited attention span by introducing visitors to what they want faster.

Get an Edge on Your Competitors

Jeff Olson, author of ‘The Slight Edge’ came up with the concept of the ‘slight edge’ phenomenon. This concept implies that it doesn’t take much to be better than your competitors. If you are only slightly better, you can and probably will outcompete your competitors and win every time. CRO can be that edge.

CRO creates momentum

By improving your conversion rate, you can afford more traffic; this traffic converts easier, resulting in more customers, leading to more profits, allowing you to afford more traffic and so on. Before you know it, you’re dominating your market.

The Fundamentals of Conversion Rate Optimisation

In the previous section, we introduced you to some basic metrics. Conversion rate was defined as the total number of conversions divided by the number of visitors to your site. So are these total visitors or unique visitors?

You were introduced to some basic metrics in the first section. Your conversion rate was defined as the total number of conversions divided by the number of visitors on your site. There are however two metrics for the number of visitors. There are total visitors and unique visitors, so which one do you use?

Either is fine to use, so long as you remain consistent. If you use unique visitors in your conversion rate calculation, always use it, otherwise, the data will be inaccurate and useless. Consistency is key here.

As an example, consider that a customer comes into your brick-and-mortar office to seek your services. Your receptionist is getting acquainted with them and seeing how best you can serve them. During this process, the prospect receives a phone call and has to leave. They do come back, however, but this is the second visit. The client is a unique visitor but has visited your office twice.

Your website may also attract visitors who are interested in your services but get distracted by an important email. Thus, the total number of visitors will always be higher than the number of unique visitors. For this reason, many CRO specialists choose unique visitors when calculating conversion rates.

There is one small issue with using unique visitors though. Uniqueness is dependent on a persistent cookie being present. The expiration of this persistent cook may result in a false negative result for the returning visitor. Thus, it is often helpful to consider the time period in your conversion rate calculation. Once again, consistency is key; If you measure monthly, always measure monthly; if you measure weekly, always measure weekly.

Barriers in Your Conversion Funnel That Should be Considered

CRO is the process of finding out why your visitors are landing on your website and not converting, then finding a solution to why they aren’t converting. It is a scientific process, not a series of guesses and hunches. This means the scientific method is utilised in CRO for optimal results. That is, determining a differential diagnosis, formulating a hypothesis, determining a method to test the hypothesis, testing the hypothesis and then repeat.

Because customer experience is a qualitative experience, the quantitative results provided by web analytics will help with defining the methodology for testing, but diagnosing the issue and formulating a hypothesis is undertaken using qualitative methodology.

Later in this article, we will go through visitor surveys that provide customer feedback. Before this, however, you should initially try to come up with a differential diagnosis yourself by putting yourself into our visitor’s shoes. Have a good look at your website with special regard for the conversion funnel and try navigating through your site. Is it clear what you are trying to sell? Is it difficult to get to where you want your visitor to be? Does it make sense?

Things to consider

  • Do you have a clear and easy-to-find CTA?
  • Is there too much text? Are your graphics relevant and well-placed? Do they distract your visitor from venturing further through your funnel? Are there too many images?
  • Is your website easy to navigate? Can visitors find what they are looking for in your navigation bar? Do you need a search bar and is it easy to find? How many pages does your visitor have to sift through to complete key conversions? Is the path from landing page to conversion clear, uncluttered and easy to use?
  • Can visitors feel secure on your site?
  • Does your site provide security for their data, whether that is payment information or contact information?
  • How do you demonstrate that your site can be trusted by your visitors?
  • Have you filled out the metadata for your website? This includes meta titles, meta descriptions, and keywords.
  • Are your images named correctly and do they have alternate tags? Titles should be clear and descriptive. Utilising these methods will help improve your search engine ranking, but more importantly it will ensure that your content is relevant to the searcher. Thus, when the searcher lands on your website, what your business offers will be in line with what they searched for.
  • Are you using social proof to help conversions? Customer testimonials let your visitors know that others have been happy with their decision to purchase from you. This is a powerful conversion strategy.

There are many other considerations, but this will give you a starting point from which you can delve deeper into your website analysis. There is no general rule for what works best for every site. Each website is different and what works for one may result in a decrease in conversion rate for another.

There is a lot of information out there about CRO, and the success people have had with changing trivial things like the colour of a button or moving the contact form to the top. This is not CRO; optimising your website is not about making changes based on ‘best practice’. It is about analysing the data on YOUR website, formulating a hypothesis and testing it to see if your conversion rate changes. Anything other than this is just going to lead you into trouble.

As stated in the previous section, your website is never really finished. There will always be something that works better, there will always be barriers in your conversion funnel, and it is up to your CRO specialist, whether that is yours or someone else, to identify them. There are fundamentals that contribute to your conversion rate though.

  1. Value proposition – A summary of your product or service with special regard to how it will provide your client with more value or solve a specific problem they have. It is a statement to convince your prospect that the value of your product or service outweighs the cost. 
  2. Relevance – Are your visitors landing on your page and finding what they searched for? Do the visitors you are attracting need your services or products?
  3. Clarity – Can your visitor see the value clearly? Can they act on it, aka are your CTAs well positioned?
  4. Uncertainty – Is there anything that causes your visitor fear or anxiety? Are you missing any key details in your offer that may cause doubt or uncertainty?
  5. Distraction – Are there too many elements on the page? Are there too many options? Are there too many entrances to your conversion funnel?
  6. Urgency – Why should your visitors act now? They can come back next month, next year. Is it clear why they need your product or service right now?

Developing An Effective Optimisation Plan

Most people will have seen this type of post, ‘The top 10 reasons your website is not converting.’ These types of articles go on to instruct you on making changes to your website based on ‘best practices’. When developing an optimisation plan, you can implement these ‘best practices’, or you can develop your CRO plan based on your specific results.

Using ‘best practice’ tactics involve:

  • Superficial changes to your website, colour changes, element positioning, adding or removing parts of the website.
  • Copying another website because their website is working for them.
    There is no in-depth analysis involved, it only focuses on superficial changes. There is no examination of your customer’s behaviour.
  • The changes are not based on well-formulated hypotheses and tests, but instead guesses and hunches.

Building a CRO plan

  • Utilising data analysis techniques to determine solutions.
  • Formulating hypotheses based on results of data analysis.
  • Building a CRO plan to test these hypotheses.
  • Utilising the results of these tests to form new hypotheses.
  • Repeating the process to maximise results.

To better examine this, let’s look at an example. You build a new landing page for a new service you offer. Despite your other services converting well, this page does not.

Working from the CRO tactics list, you try changing the green button that matches your colour scheme to a red one to attract conversions better. You also move the CTA from the bottom of the page to the middle of the page.

Conversely, when you utilise a CTO plan based on the scientific method, your first step is to look at your analytics report. Are the demographics different to your other pages? What search terms led them to your landing page? What sources did they use to reach your landing page? You find that the visitors who land on your new landing page are from different cities. You hypothesise that if you change your keywords to better localise where you appear in Google, the conversion rate will increase. You then run a test to prove or disprove this hypothesis.

When testing a hypothesis using the scientific method rather than tricks and guesses, you understand that you can learn as much from a failure as from a success. When utilising tips and tricks in CRO, this isn’t possible. The tip either works, or it doesn’t; You never know why it did or didn’t work.

Now that it is clear where this article stands on using CRO tactics rather than hard data to produce a strategic CRO plan, let’s look at how actually to create one. Because of the cyclic nature of a good optimisation strategy, we use phases instead of steps or stages. Steps or stages also creates the idea that there is a progression toward the end of a cycle, while CRO doesn’t always work that way. In Phase 3, you may jump back to Phase 1 because the test failed.

Phase 1: Establish the Foundations

As suggested in previous sections, a conversion is the fulfilment of anything that you want your visitor to complete. This can be a phone call, a purchase, filling out a contact form, etc. Thus, the first place to start in any optimisation plan is setting the parameters for what a conversion means to you. What is your desired result for a specific landing page?

To provide a better understanding of this, let’s look at another example. You manage an accounting firm and have a form on your contact page that allows visitors to send you an email. This is the conversion you want to measure and optimise.

But what drives this conversion? Testimonials from happy customers? Ad space on accounting and finance blogs? Weekly Financial Blog?

Any of these may drive the conversion, but you won’t know unless you isolate each variable and measure how visitors behave under each set of circumstances. Once again, it is more important to measure than it is to guess or assume that something will drive conversion.

Here is a standard test for the accounting website in the example.

  • You set a goal; To increase the number of prospects that contact you.
  • You have had Google Analytics on your website for a few months, and you determine that most visitors move from your landing page to your contact page with little regard to any other page. Some of these convert, while others do not.
  • You hypothesise that if you moved the contact form to the front page, it would not only capture the current leads but will also capture a portion of the leads that were not converting.
  • You run your original page for another month, making a total of 3 months of Analytics data. You then run the new page with the contact form on the landing page for 3 months. (A/B split testing).
  • You measure the results of each, determine which is more effective at producing leads and then set a new goal. You do this for each variable that you want a better understanding of.

Phase 2: Establish a Baseline

By now you should be starting to recognise how important metrics and visitor input is to develop an adequate conversion strategy. For the information to make any sense, however, you need a starting point; you need a baseline. As seen in the example, the baseline for the accounting firm was their previous 3 months. The changes you make to your website will only make sense if you have established our website’s current performance.

To establish a baseline for comparison, you will:

  • Examine the goals established in Phase 1.
  • Examine the metrics related to these goals. What is your current conversion rate?
  • Review the web analytical data for your website.
  • Determine what you could do better and how you could reach your goals through a visitor survey.
  • Examine what your website visitors are doing on your site by using testing tools.

Your basic toolbox will include the following:

Web Analytics

There is a lot of software available to your online that can track visitors on your website and provide you with reports about that traffic. Some of the better web analytics tools include Google Analytics (free), Clicky (paid), and KISSMetrics (paid). These tools have advanced analysis tools that provide audience segmentation and conversion tracking. Segmentation provides you with data for different segments of traffic. This gives you a better idea of what can be causing delays in conversion.

Visitor Surveys

As demonstrated in the Clint Eastwood movie about baseball, data can only get you so far. Sometimes you must ask your visitors about their needs. By creating visitor surveys, you can gain direct insight from them about how they feel about your website and what can be improved. You can never have too much feedback.

Visitor Testing

Software like Optimizely and other testing tools allow you to observe how visitors are interacting with your site directly. You can test potential changes and document how they play out in real life.

To determine how effective a change is, you need to test it. As indicated in previous sections, there are a few ways you can do this, and there is a tool for each test you can undertake. CrazyEgg is an example of an eye-tracking tool that provides heatmaps and scroll maps to examine what content visitors are looking at and how far down the page they are scrolling. Optimizely provides A/B and multivariate testing.

Now that you have a baseline you can make changes to your site and measure how effective those changes are. You also have a point to return to if everything goes horribly wrong, a safety net if you will. With each success, it may be beneficial for you to create a new baseline to measure against so that you are consistently moving forward in creating an amazing customer experience.

Phase 3: Develop Hypotheses to Test

Once you have established your baseline, you can start formulating hypotheses and testing them. Review the data you received from establishing your baseline; the analytics data, visitor surveys and visitor testing methods. Identify what the biggest barriers are to conversion, investigate these barriers further and design some potential tests.

Looking at the accounting firm example again, you have established your baseline and found that the exit rate of your contact page is on the rise. Visitors reach this page and then leave. To get a better idea of why the exit rate is increasing, you could set up an on-page visitor survey. You could run tests through CrazyEgg to see where visitors are looking and how far they are scrolling on this page. You could even ask your existing client base to have a quick look at your website and ask them how easy it was to use and if there were any difficulties or anything unclear on the site.

Use all this information to produce a testable hypothesis in an attempt to explain why visitors are leaving your contact page without filling out your form. Once you have your hypothesis, consider some alternate versions of your contact page, which leads us into the next phase.

Phase 4: Establish Testing Methods

Every phase up until this point has been about gaining enough data to formulate a hypothesis to test. The last two phases are about testing that hypothesis. This phase focuses on establishing the testing methods that you will employ to determine whether your hypothesis is accurate or not.

In the previous phase, you constructed a hypothesis based on the information that was provided by web analytics, visitor surveys and visitor testing. Review this information again and list issues that could challenge or disprove your hypothesis. It is important to be methodical, ensuring that everything is accurate and that you keep a record of absolutely everything.

Prioritise each item on your list and then start designing your tests. Consider these things when designing your test:

  • Prioritise the smallest changes first. Something easy to change, but has the potential to improve your conversion rate.
  • Change one thing at a time. Making too many changes at once will lead to unmeasurable results. For example, you created a new button, moved your call to action up to the top, changed the colour scheme of your website and added a testimonial next to the call to action. Which worked? There is no way to tell!
  • Try different strategies and test what works best. Don’t just change the button colour to red because “red creates desire and passion.” To squash, the idea of making all buttons red, red also means ‘stop’ and ‘danger’. Don’t be afraid to use red, green, purple or whatever colour you want, but it has to be measured, and it can’t be your only strategy.
  • You are your own worst critic isn’t always true. If you created the website, you might corrupt the results through bias. Get someone else to look at the website to see if there is something that stands out to them.
  • It may be that your visitors don’t trust you enough to enter their personal details. There is so much spam these days, it would not be surprising to find that your visitor hesitates because they are concerned about receiving unsolicited emails. Develop ways to promote trust; if you have a subscription service, it may be offering a free trial. Looking at the accounting firm example, it may be as simple as telling them what you will do with the information they provide.
  • Benchmark your business and conduct a competitor analysis to determine how you compare to other companies in your industry. The Queensland Government provides great information about how to do this.
  • Ensure that you have sufficient tracking in place. Double and triple-check this as it will make the data useless if you are measuring the wrong metrics.
  • You should not end your test too early. Test, test and test again until you reach the end of your testing cycle. Set a sample size and a timeframe and stick to it. Ending a test too early may present you with a false positive, or a false negative, or provide you with a conversion rate that is less than what it could have been.

Back to the accounting firm example; You hypothesise that the high exit rate on your contact page is the result of both distraction and too many steps in the conversion funnel. You discover from visitor surveys that visitors are interested in your service, but they receive an email or a Facebook message before completing your form. You also discover that your form is too long, with visitors having to fill out their ‘first name’, ‘last name’, ‘email address’, ‘phone number’, ‘business address’ and the ‘industry’ they are in.

You decide to run an A/B split test on your contact page. You reduce the size of the form to two sections, ‘full name’ and ‘email address’. This results in an increase in conversion rate by 10%. You decide to make it even easier for prospects to fill out the form, so you put the form on your landing page and split-test this. Your conversion rate increases by a further 20%. You add the text, ‘Are you ready for tax time? I’d love to help; fill out the form, and we will contact you.” The conversion rate decreases by 40%, so you remove the text.

Phase 5: Test Your Hypothesis

In the last section of Phase 4, we provided an example that increased the conversion rate. Determining an increase in conversion rate is part of Phase 5, but it was used to demonstrate how a test will work in the field. As stated at the beginning of this section, the phases are not steps that need to be taken in order, sometimes phases can run together, sometimes separately. Either way, the increase in conversion rate was determined by comparing the metric from the changed contact page to the baseline contact page.

In that last section, you will also notice that the conversion rate increased, improved again and then diminished. It is not always this clear, but the data will provide you with an idea of where to go next. It is important to refine and re-test your page to optimise it as much as possible.

A failure does not always signify the end of a test either. It is just an indication that you need to re-examine the data, make another change and test it. You can learn as much from a failure as you can from a success.

It is important to remember, this is an ongoing process, and there should never be an end goal. There is always something that can be changed on your website to improve your website, and never forget, the market is always changing and with it, your customer’s needs. There is never a point in time when you have done enough testing. Be sure to reward yourself for each success, basking in the glory for a moment, and then go back to Phase 3 and find out what else can be optimised.

User Experience: Optimising Your Funnel for Best Performance

User Experience (UX) is a term that is thrown around a lot in marketing. This is especially true when it comes to CRO, and some people have come to view it to mean how your website looks. UX is a lot more than just how your website looks, it is about how easy it is to navigate around your site, the load speed of the pages, and how easy it is for your prospects to take the action you want them to take. Creating a good user experience is about reducing the barriers and making it as easy as possible for your visitors to get what they want out of your website.

Another term that is used often is funnel optimisation. Sales funnels were covered briefly at the beginning of the article, and when it comes to funnel optimisation, UX is essential. For your visitors to move through your sales funnel, it needs to be an easy and enjoyable process. Making the direction you want them to take unnecessarily complicated is not only counterintuitive, but it also leads to a higher bounce rate. Yet it continues to happen, with websites being designed without a specific goal or direction.

There are two primary aspects of UX that should be focused on when optimising your sales funnel:

  1. Increasing the speed at which a visitor moves through your sales funnel by reducing obstacles. This can be anything that gets in the way of your desired goal; Unnecessary pages, slow page load speed, poor navigation (including incorrect labelling), or pushing visitors through too many sales pages.
  2. Make it simple. This could be considered another obstacle, but it is so often overlooked that it needs to be an aspect in and of itself. If your visitors find it difficult to grasp the concept of your product or service, they will become indecisive. They will doubt the product to save face in having not understood the product or service. When there is doubt, there is no trust, and without trust, there is no chance of a conversion.

An initial meeting with a designer will often begin with an overview of the project. The general overview of how the client perceives the website will look after it is finished, the functionality and features that are required, a general goal for the website and who their competition is. While these components are important, they are only the technical aspects of a project, which leaves out how the website will fulfil the goals of the website wide open. UX is only a consideration if that.

Alternately, by rationalising that the technical aspects will generally remain the same from project to project and focusing on UX, the website will fulfil its role as a marketing tool more effectively. Begin by examining the types of visitors the business hopes to attract and how the business wants to interact with those visitors. What is the desired goal of the visitor and how does it align with the desired goal of the business?

Designing or having your designer focus on a design flow that meets both the visitor’s and the business’ objectives will result in a higher conversion rate from the creation of your website. An example of this could be, the visitor searches in Google for information about super. Finding your website, they come across an article detailing the different types of super available and because you’ve read this article, you add a link in the article for them to get in touch with your financial advisor for more information. They click on the link and fill out your contact form. Their email address is collected, and an automated email is sent to them, welcoming them and directing them to an online booking calendar. They book an appointment with your financial planner.

This is a very generic example, but it gives you a general idea. The design flow will change based on what your business offers and the types of prospects you are attracting. It will even change when you use different platforms, with a design flow through a different funnel for Google and a different design flow for Facebook. The engagement for these prospects will also be different, so it is optimal to connect these visitor flows to separate, specific conversion funnels that provide value to the visitor without neglecting your business objectives.

A visitor flow from Facebook, for example, may require more value to push them through the funnel than a visitor from Google would. You may attract visitors from Facebook by the same article about super utilising Facebook Ads for your marketing method. The visitor may be interested in super, or they may have seen an interesting heading that they wanted to investigate further, but aren’t quite ready to start thinking about super.

This type of visitor won’t convert with a contact form, but they may subscribe to your blog if they find the article interesting and want to know more. You won’t know what works without testing, but this is just one example of a design flow you can take. You collect their email and either manually, or automatically begin sending them emails about super and other financial advice. After a few email cycles, you send them a link to get in contact with your business. Because you have built trust with them as a reliable source of information, they schedule a meeting with one of your financial planners.

Ask yourself these questions when designing a visitor flow for your website:

  • Who is my buyer persona?
  • Why are they visiting your website?
  • Do they want a solution to a problem or are they just casually browsing?
  • What problem are they trying to solve?
  • Can my business solve this problem?
  • How can I get their attention?
  • How can I articulate this solution clearly and quickly?
  • What compelling call to action will get our target visitor to click?

To answer these questions, review the data you’ve collected via analytics, visitor surveys and visitor testing. Examine your visitor’s motivations and create a great hook to move them through your sales funnel into becoming a client and eventually an advocate. For this to be successful, however, you need to give your visitors a reason to continue moving through the flow at each step of the way.

Creating a visitor flow is only one step in the customer journey from potential prospect to advocate. In the next section, we will look at how to create a landing page that gets your visitors moving down the funnel with ease. Before moving on though, there are a couple of key points to improve further your ability to keep your visitors moving through your funnel:

  • Express the benefits of your product or service and support their testimonials and other forms of social proof.
  • Create your content and design in a way that supports your call to action rather than distracting from it.
  • Reduce the number of obstacles as much as possible by providing the minimum amount of information necessary to move them through the funnel. This means limiting the amount of CTAs, as well as decreasing unnecessary steps between the desired goal and visitor position in the funnel.
  • Create headlines that are interesting and give your visitor a reason to continue onward through your flow.
  • Stay away from using tricks to speed up the conversion process. This will only harm your reputation and drive you out of business. These tricks include fake endorsements and testimonials, hidden costs, false or misleading content, and clickbait.

Improving your CRO isn’t about converting every visitor. By designing conversion funnels for your ideal clients, you may not convert all visitors, but you will have a better opportunity to convert the right ones. If you keep the right ones happy, they will tell their friends and colleagues about your business, making further conversions easier and cost-effective.

Landing Page Optimisation

The move from a home page to a landing page is a slow progression, with most businesses still having their home page as their landing page. This usually begins with the usual rhetoric; Slider, services offered, team, blog, footer. Pick and choose your features, they are generally the same.

Once you start reading about CRO, you begin to move away from the idea of a home page and into the idea of a landing page with a specific directive. Issues arise however when you start reading about CRO and come across the ‘best practices’ and ‘guidelines’ for building a landing page that converts.

These ‘best practices’ have been spoken of before and assuming you haven’t just opened the article to this section, by now, you know that these ‘guidelines’ are not for you. The results another business has received on their landing page may work for them, it may even work for your website, but it is guesswork. That is not what CRO is about.

Further, when you consider that Google is responsible for 70-80% of the traffic you see on your site, having a great home page isn’t enough. Some visitors may land on a page other than your home page. If you run a blog, they may land on that. Is it optimised to be engaging? If you have a product or service page, visitors can land on that page. Is it designed in a way that people have a specific action to perform or does it provide generic brochure information?

Here’s what it comes down to, following someone else’s standards will provide you with a decent website. In fact, following the age-old design strategy will also provide adequate results. If you want a real return on your investment, if you want to get the most out of your website, you must do the work or hire someone to do it for you. Create a hypothesis and test it to see what works best for your website and what is holding your business back from optimal growth.

Elements of an effective Landing Page

In the previous section it was suggested that you should not use ‘best practices’, but this isn’t entirely true. You should read material about what has worked for others, but where CRO differs from following guidelines is in the process. Review the posts about building a great landing page, find common elements and test them for yourself to see if they work for you. Some of the common elements that you could start testing on your website include the following:

  • Headings – Headings grab people’s attention. The reason clickbait is so effective is that it gets people intrigued. Create that same intrigue in your headings without the negative aspect of clickbait, and you are on to a winner.
  • Hero Image – Similar to the old slider, a shift toward using hero images has emerged. These are effective as a call to action or in combination with your heading.
  • Proof Points – Why did your visitor click on your link? Did you provide them with what you boasted about in your heading?
  • Form or Call to Action – Your landing page may be designed to collect data about your visitors, or it could be about getting them to make a purchasing decision. Whatever the case, make sure you have a form or call to action on your landing page.
  • Social Proof – Testimonials build trust in your brand through social proof. If someone else has bought it and is happy enough to write a review, it must be good. We have the predisposition to make similar decisions to those we believe are similar to us.
  • Appeals to Authority – No doubt you have seen the ad where 9 out of 10 dentists recommend a certain type of toothpaste, or was it a toothbrush? What about the sports legend who drinks Gatorade because it is great after a big workout? These advertisements aren’t true, but they do appeal to your sense of authority, so you are more inclined to think of buying a Gatorade after a workout. You’ll also buy Colgate instead of a lesser-known brand because it was ‘recommended’.

A Landing Page That C.O.N.V.E.R.T.S

If in doubt, remember the mnemonic that Beth Morgan offered in her blog on KISSMetrics, ‘How to Make a Landing Page that C.O.N.V.E.R.T.S.’

C = Clear Call to Action
O = Offer
N = Narrow Focus
V = VIA: Very Important Attributes
E = Effective Headline
R = Resolution-Savvy Layout
T = Tidy Visuals
S = Social Proof

Long vs Short Landing Pages

Should a landing page be long, offering a long scroll through social proof and appeals to authority with a call to action placed at strategic points along the way? Should a landing page be short, taking a minimalistic approach, the bare essentials to get visitors converts? Contenders for either camp will suggest that the opposing side is incorrect and that their side provides optimal results, but the truth is they are both good for different websites and different reasons.

If you need to explain a complicated product or service, a longer landing page may be more effective. A longer landing page may not be required for an easy-to-understand product so a short landing page may be more effective here. It comes down to how much trust you have to build with your visitors and how easy it is to build that trust.

Optimising Landing Page Copy

The elements on a landing page and the length of the page are only part of the optimisation process. Landing page copy is also fundamental in providing customers with an experience that will lead them through your sales funnel and have them coming back for more. Here are some strategies that can be implemented in your tests.

  • Visitor attention is a waning commodity in the online world. You have about 5 seconds to grasp their attention. That is why you should streamline your content to make a clear, concise and attention-grabbing point. By condensing your material into a clear message that your visitors can understand quickly, chances are, your conversion rate will be improved.
  • The key to any landing page is engagement. If your website copy is not engaging your visitors, it will significantly harm your chance of converting your visitors.
  • This is more of a follow-up on elements, but be sure to position your call to action behind engaging web copy. If you present your visitors with a call to action when they are not engaged, they won’t be ready for it. Introduce them to why they must have your product or service, then show them where they can sign up for it.

More About Call To Action

  • Be sure to make your call to action obvious. If you want them to click a button, give them a reason to click the button, then point to it very obviously. The most important parts of a landing page are the parts that create engagement and the parts that create action. Everything else is secondary.
  • Provide only one call to action. The choice is only good when you’re talking politics. Providing more than one option leads to indecision and can be overwhelming for visitors.
  • Mix up the types of content you provide. Not all people enjoy reading, some prefer to listen to content, while others prefer to watch it. By creating different types of content, you will find it easier to convert a larger range of visitors.
  • Where did your visitors come from? By using your analytics software, determine where your visitors are coming from and determine whether your landing page fits in with what attracted them to your website in the first place. If it doesn’t, this can cause visitors to bounce.

The best landing pages include only the essentials. If there is one surefire way to optimise a landing page, this is it. Only include those parts that engage and result in your desired action to be taken. Remember, these are only suggestions. Conversion rate optimisation isn’t about taking these ‘guidelines’ and using them as best practices. This section is provided as a starting point. Start creating your hypothesis around creating more engaging content and test that. Alternately, try one call to action on one page and multiple on another and split test each to see which is more effective. You may find that multiple calls to action are more effective.

Reducing Bounce Rate

There is no worse feeling than when you start using analytics software and see a high bounce rate. It happens, even with a well-designed website. Visitors come to your website, and then they leave for no apparent reason. When this happens, it can seem like a major waste of time and money having completed the website project, to begin with.

Don’t despair! This is exactly what conversion rate optimisation is about. Taking your website from that initial design and making improvements to decrease the bounce rate and increase activity. In the first section Bounce rate and Exit rate were briefly defined. In this section, these terms will be expanded on, and solutions will be suggested as to how these can be reduced.

Exit Rate

The exit rate is a metric that indicates which page was the last page your visitor viewed before leaving your website. If a specific page has a particularly high exit rate, this could indicate that there is an issue with that specific page and is in serious need of optimisation.

For example, if your services page has a lot of traffic, but this also has a high exit rate, it could indicate that visitors are not finding the service that they were looking for. This could indicate that your services aren’t clear, or that there is no clear action to be taken after they have found the service that they want. Further, it could communicate to you that visitors are coming to your website under false pretences and that you need to view where they are coming from to get a better understanding of why.

Bounce Rate

Your Bounce Rate indicates the number of visitors you receive who land on your page and leave, almost immediately, without taking any further action. There is a bounce rate for each page, but these three pages are key indicators of an issue on your website:

  • Landing pages connected to Adwords campaigns or other paid traffic sources.
  • Product, contact or call to action pages.
  • Pages that attract a lot of traffic, but have high bounce rates.

The higher your bounce rate, the lower your percentage of engaged visitors. Your bounce rate can be affected by your page, but also by the quality of the traffic coming into your site.
A high bounce rate can indicate a lack of engagement with your visitors. This may be the result of the page, or it could be that the traffic you are attracting isn’t your ideal customer in the first place.

What Constitutes a Bounce?

Hit the back button. A bounce is when a visitor lands on your website and then hits the back button. It can also be when a visitor types in a different URL without taking any action on the page. If a visitor closes the window or tab without taking action, this is a bounce. As is if they click an external link or if they time out.

But how do you find your bounce rate?

Assuming you’re using Google Analytics, your bounce rate can be found on most basic analytics reports. For a more specific location, log into Google Analytics and click Audience > Overview. The bounce rate will be under the graph, the sixth one along.

Previously, we created a basic toolbox; Analytics, Visitor Surveys and Visitor Testing. This toolbox will be used once again to determine what is causing your bounce rate and how best to fix it.

Analytics: The bounce rate for any given landing page is too vague to provide you with a good overview of what is happening on your website. By viewing a detailed page-level report, you will be provided with a better overview of what is going on. View where your traffic is coming from to determine whether the traffic you are getting is based on your marketing efforts or just randomly appearing. If you have enough traffic, view their demographics to try to better understand whether they are your potential customers. If they are coming from an internal page, e.g. from your landing page to a services page and then bouncing, consider optimising the services page.

Visitor Surveys: Quantitative data can provide you with a lot of information, but there will always be something missing. Some questions can only be answered by your visitors themselves. This is where visitor surveys come in; Whether you direct your visitors to a survey or have them complete one directly on your website, getting this kind of feedback can be invaluable.

Visitor Testing: Through this article, it has been indicated that true CRO is about using the scientific method to produce accurate results. Visitor testing is where all of this comes together. You have reviewed the data in your analytics program, you have completed the visitor surveys and have actionable feedback. Now is the time to formulate a hypothesis. Based on the quantitative and qualitative data, why are visitors bouncing? Change something, test it and review the results. Programs such as CrazyEgg can be useful in visitor testing for its heatmaps.

To decrease the bounce rate, these common culprits may help you by providing a starting point from which you can investigate further:

  • Your website does not look visually appealing. The copy is great, the navigation is easy, and the structure is solid, but the website is just plain. Great web design promotes credibility and excitement, don’t underestimate the negative impact a poorly designed website can have.
  • Your website looks great, but no one can understand how to get from A to B. Your layout is difficult to understand, and the labels on the navigation send visitors to areas on your website that they aren’t interested in being in. Your copy convinced them that your product is great, but they can’t seem to find where to buy it.
  • Your marketing promised a specific service, but when the visitor reached your landing page, it was not available to them. It wasn’t that you were out of stock; the service you directed them to isn’t offered on the landing page. You want to make it as easy as possible for visitors to get to where they can make a purchasing decision. Creating a ‘one-size-fits-all’ landing page for all of your services will make it confusing for your visitors.
  • Similar to the last culprit, attracting the wrong type of customer can produce a high bounce rate. If you a producing irrelevant content or linking to websites outside of your niche to try building backlinks to improve SEO, your visitors may not be relevant to your business.
  • Your website is visually appealing; check. Your landing page is optimised to make it as easy as possible for relevant visitors to make a purchasing decision; check. You left out the call to action; bounce. Having a great-looking, easy-to-use website is great, but if your visitors don’t know where to go next, they will take the next best option, your competition. If you don’t have a call to action, this could be the cause of your high bounce rate. Make it very clear what you want your visitors to do, ‘subscribe’, ‘buy now’, ‘call us’, whatever your call to action is, make it easy for your visitors to figure it out.
  • Too many calls to action can also be of concern. It can become very cluttered and confusing if you are getting your customer to ‘sign up’ for a free trial and then you want them to buy your book on the same page, followed by a subscription to your weekly blog. Centre the purpose of your landing page around one topic per page. Anything more than this and it will become very difficult to convert even the most ready-to-buy visitors.

As a real-world example, you own a brick-and-mortar clothing store. You spread the word throughout your social media accounts, in the newspaper and across your email list that you are having a huge sale on winter coats. Heaps of people show up on the day, only to find summer fashion is on display out the front and no one can seem to find a single coat. Fifteen customers find a coat and buy one. The rest go across the road to your competitor, who also knew about your sale and put winter coats out the front of his store.

Your website works the same way. If you make it difficult for your customers to find what they are looking for, they will find an easier option. Be certain that when you are linking to something, the purpose has been well thought out and every aspect of each page is directing them toward this purpose.

Rest assured though; there is usually a number of solutions to try for each reason a visitor bounces. Usually, these solutions are easy to initiate and test as well. Let’s have a look at some of the solutions:

Your website is unattractive

If you’re using an older design, it may be time for an updated website. It could be that you’re using a DIY website builder like Squarespace or WIX to create a site that has no uniqueness to it. You may be using heaps of stock photos, or your visitors may be met with a massive pop-up that interrupts their viewing of your website. Going over the visitor feedback can be invaluable here. What parts are unattractive? Is your ‘minimalistic’ approach making your website look bare? Are your colours contrasting too much making it look like your daughter has gotten into your makeup kit? Whatever the case may be, the solution usually requires a designer to redesign the website, so reviewing the other aspects leading to a high bounce rate may result in a better website overall.

Your website is unusable or lacks navigation

The easiest fix here is to actually put yourself in your visitor’s shoes and explore your site.
This is probably the easiest issue to fix and the easiest to diagnose. Put yourself in your visitor’s shoes and explore your website.

  • How long does your website take to load?
  • Did it load completely, without errors?
  • Can you follow a logical path through your landing page?
  • Do the links on the page work?

If you designed the website yourself, you could be a bit biased. If this is the case, you could have a friend explore your website for you or outsource it. Sometimes the best option is to get a person in your family who is not technology oriented to have a look at the website and see how easy it is for them to use it. If they can use it, your visitors will also be able to.

Your website doesn’t meet what you marketed

First, ask yourself these questions:

  • Where did the visitor come from?
  • Did they search Google? If so, what did they search for?
  • Did they find your ad on a website?
  • What was the ad about and did you deliver on what you promised in the ad?
  • What link did you share on your social media account? Did your visitor get what they expected when clicking the link?

If the answer to any of these leads you to the conclusion that the content provided is not relevant for the ads or search terms that led your visitors to the page, you need to change it. To determine where your visitors are coming from, use Google Analytics and view Acquisition > Traffic Sources. Examine the source, review the ad and then the page and see if what is promised is delivered.

Similarly, if you are using search engine optimisation, ensure that the search terms you are ranking for are relevant to the services or products you provide. If you sell fishing rods and only fishing rods, but you are coming up for the search term ‘sporting goods’ you may have a high bounce rate because people are looking for tents. It may seem counterintuitive, but creating more specific search terms when trying to rank your website will often result in a smaller amount of traffic, but this traffic will be much more targeted.

Additionally, requesting visitor surveys on your website may also provide you with some insight. Asking your visitors why they came to your website will provide you with much more information than a keyword ever will.

There is no call to action

There is rarely if ever a website where you have no further actions for a visitor to take. Yet so often a website will only have a contact page that offers an action to the visitor. If you haven’t realised by now, it is optimal to have a series of landing pages that tell a story about your business, leading the visitor to the desired action. Each page should be set up to lead the visitor to an easy, informed decision. Your visitors are often looking for something specific; give it to them.

Too many calls to action

You need to guide your visitors toward the desired action, but be sure to have only one specific desired action for them to take. It is easy to get excited and offer them a trial, and then a subscription to your blog, but having more than one call to action will only lead to confusion.

Back to the clothing store example…

You send out your marketing material for the winter coats, and instead of leaving them at the back of the store like in the first example, you bring them right up from and centre. You create a big, bold sign that points to the coats, which reads ‘Winter Coat Sale, Get Your Coat Here!’. Nothing else, no other advertisements, no products, just a clear path from the door to the winter coat.

As we have stated time and time again, CRO is about measuring your unique position. These are common examples of where websites that have failed, and some of them may work for you. Rather than viewing these as guidelines, however, you must examine your website and create your hypotheses about what is going on there. To state is, lowering your bounce rate is viewing why people are leaving your website and find a solution that works.

Common Misconceptions About Conversion Rate Optimisation

At various points, so far in this article, we’ve touched on the many conversion rate optimisation myths. In this section, we are going to discuss them in a bit more detail.

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about conversion rate optimisation. In previous sections, these misconceptions have been alluded to, but in this section, they will be covered in more detail.

Myth 1: Changing a button to red and following other best practices is what conversion rate optimisation is all about

This misconception has been addressed a couple of times throughout the article, but this is because it is one of the most common misconceptions around. Your conversion rate has very little to do with the colour of a button. Whether the button is blue, red, black or rainbow-coloured, it will have little impact on your rate of conversion. Changing the colour from black to red may improve your conversion rate a bit, but it could have been that the black may the website look bad, while the red made the website more appealing. You do not know because it was not the result of the testing.

The barriers to conversions are numerous and simply changing the colour of a button will not provide a solution for these. The only way to determine what these barriers are is to do the work. Put yourself in your visitor’s shoes, test your changes, measure and review.

Myth 2: Conversion rate optimisation is about using experience in the industry and making changes on what you think or guess will work

CRO is not about using guesswork and gut feelings and anyone who tells you it is probably working under the illusion of this myth. While hunches can assist in forming hypotheses, that is about as far as the ‘gut feeling’ goes in CRO. CRO is about creating a plan to get results for your website through testing the ‘gut feelings’. If your website conversion plan is the result of guesswork, you won’t have any idea what elements are working and which are not.

Any changes to the website that you make based on a guess, without any data to back up the change and any testing to review, will only lead you to confusion. You may get a couple of guesses correct and see an improvement, but eventually, you’re going to change something that leads to a dramatic reduction in conversion rate, and you’ll have no idea why.

Myth 3: Adding a lot of content to one page doesn’t work

This was briefly discussed previously, but will be revisited here to iron out any further confusion about this myth. If your visitors are engaged, they will read your content, and they will scroll down to read more of it. Having everything ‘above the fold’ will make your landing page appear incomplete or cluttered, possibly both.

The opposite is also an issue. Having a short page does have its place and providing too much non-essential information to try and make your page longer than it needs to be will only result in a loss of engagement. Page length doesn’t matter as much as a clear, succinct message that engages your visitors and leads them to a call to action.

Myth 4: Copying a successful website in the industry will increase the conversion rate

Copying a successful website in your industry may increase the conversion rate, but you won’t know why. More importantly, though, copying someone else’s design shows a real lack of creativity and a lack of care for your customers. You will never learn what your visitors want by copying anyone else; the only way to overcome barriers on your website is through reviewing your web analytics, asking your visitors about their experience and testing your findings.

Myth 5: Only Conversions matter

Conversions are an important metric, but figuring out what your visitors want is more important. Understanding how your visitor’s search, what they want when they are searching and what keeps them engaged will result in them converting more easily.

This doesn’t mean you should research your visitors so that you can manipulate them into a decision they wouldn’t have made if it were not for your persuasion. Instead, it is about learning enough about your visitors to assist them in making the best decision for them. Keep them engaged because they want to know more about how your product or service can help them. Get them excited about clicking your call to action because they know that their life is about to get a lot better by doing so. Learn how to do this, and they’ll love you enough to promote your business to their friends and family.

You can gain this sort of understanding through both analytics and visitor surveys. How often your visitors are returning to your site can be viewed in Google Analytics under Audience > Behaviour > Frequency & Recency. Meanwhile, a visitor survey can be used to gauge customer satisfaction with your product or service.

There are so many myths about CRO that a book can be written dedicated to this topic alone. No doubt these myths will continue regardless, but this is an attempt to set you, as the reader, in the right direction. Similar to ‘get rich quick’ schemes, any CRO tip that suggests that you can get quick results without the work is a myth and will only lead you toward misunderstanding your visitor’s real needs.

Tools of the Trade

In any industry, there are specific tools required to get the job done well. Without these tools, you may be able to work on an amateur level, but to make any serious progress, you need the right tools. This doesn’t mean paid tools are better than free tools, it is more about the number of tools you have in your toolbox.

Previously, we introduced the concept of your basic toolbox. This included analytics, visitor surveys and visitor testing. However, these are categories, not tools. It is easier to think of these categories as drawers in a toolbox. You can have one or many tools per drawer, and each tool is used for a different task. The number of tools in each drawer will vary depending on your needs and budget.

Drawer #1: Analytics

The most basic and essential tool you can have, analytics software tracks and reports on what’s happening on your site day in and day out. You want an analytics package such as Google Analytics, KISSMetrics, Mixpanel or similar that allows you to get at the basics (like unique visitors and bounce rate), but also has advanced analysis tools like audience segmentation, cohort analysis and conversion tracking.

Web Analytics has changed the way businesses can target their customers. Although web analytics has been around for decades, it has only started to gain some momentum in the business world. Google has a web analytics program that you can use in your toolbox called Google Analytics. It is a free tool that provides the basics, unique visitors, bounce rate, traffic sources, etc. It also provides more advanced analysis tools like audience segmentation, cohort analysis and conversion tracking.

Segmentation allows you to produce data for different sets of people. This allows you to examine any barriers and pain points in your conversion funnel. If you need to group a set of visitors using a common attribute, you can do this in Google Analytics using the Cohort Analysis. Conversion tracking provides you with the ability to set specific criteria for conversions and to track them.

Here is a list of analytics tools that you can use:

Google Analytics can do a lot of heavy lifting and is often enough for most companies. Other businesses will require another tool to combine with Google Analytics to increase the precision and accuracy of the data collected.

Drawer #2: Visitor Surveys

Now that you have tools for quantitative data-gathering, you need to fill your qualitative data-gathering drawer. Quantitative data collected via Analytics tools can tell you a lot about your visitors, but it cannot tell you about their specific needs, or how they feel about your website, service and products. You need a tool that provides you with greater insight into how your visitors are feeling while they are on your website. This is where visitor surveys come in.

Visitor survey tools are best used in combination, rather than separately from analytics tools. For example, data collected from your analytics tool suggests that visitors are reaching your landing page and then moving to another page, which has a high bounce rate. You’ve reviewed both pages several times and cannot figure out why these visitors are not converting. You implement a visitor survey on the other page to determine why these visitors are bouncing.

When creating a survey, it is pointless creating closed questions. The idea is for visitors to provide you with valuable information, which means good, open-ended questions that allow your visitors to express their concerns.

Visitor survey tools can also be used in combination with visitor testing tools by creating an A/B split test with surveys running on both iterations of the page. Review the visitor’s response for each version and start formulating hypotheses.

Here’s a list of visitor survey tools you can use:

Visitor Testing

Sometimes it is difficult for visitors to articulate what they need from your website. It may be easier to show groups of visitors different versions of your website, or multiple versions of your website to determine which is preferred by your target audience.

You may also gain great insight by observing how visitors are interacting with your website, examining what actions they took, where they were looking and what engaged them. This is where visitor testing tools come in, but to keep this drawer uncluttered, it is necessary to add a couple of sub-categories.

For heat mapping and click density tracking, these tools may be helpful:

These tools observe visitor engagement, focusing on eye movement to create heatmaps and scroll maps.

For Concept Testing tools (Creating wireframes and mockups), use these tools:

These tools are great for creating wireframes and mockups for hypothesis testing. You can also improve your navigation by creating sitemaps, flowcharts and network diagrams or build on ideas using mindmaps. Browsershots are especially useful as it makes screenshots of your web design on different platforms, e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome.

A/B Split Testing and Multivariate Testing tools are invaluable when it comes to comparing various iterations of a web page.

Add some of these to your toolbox:

Finally, there are Visitor Testing tools. These allow you to get visitor feedback from visitors like yours for your existing site, new product features, or new site designs. These are great for getting detailed qualitative feedback about how easy your site is to use for first-time visitors.

Lastly, there are visitor testing tools. These tools provide you with graphical evidence of what your visitors are doing on your website. You can use a paid service to have skilled people go through your website, narrating their thinking and providing detailed feedback as they traverse through your website. For this testing use For screenshots of what your real visitors are doing, use

It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of tools available. You don’t need to start using all tools at once however, like a carpentry business, you can acquire tools over time as they become needed. By collecting and reviewing tools this way, you find the best tools for your needs rather than focusing on paying for a lot of tools that you don’t end up using anyway.

How To Measure

By now, you will hopefully have installed Google Analytics on your website and have had a look at some basic reports. You may be working toward optimising your landing pages and reducing your bounce rate. No doubt, you’re trying to impress your colleagues and friends with your new CRO jargon by using words like ‘conversion flow’, ‘customer journey’, and ‘user experience’.

Now that you have some basic reports, you could design a few simple A/B tests, but how do you determine which tests are winners and which need more work? Before reviewing the data, be sure to keep in mind these key points:

  • There will be a lot of data available to you in your analytics tool. Keep your goal in mind and stay focused on using it as your guide.
  • Test one specific change at a time and test it more than once. Test every aspect of your website and test it often. Try not to get too carried away and test your entire website all at once; you will not find any valuable data by doing that.
  • Record everything! By keeping an accurate record of your entire process, including the hypothesis, tests that were undertaken and the results of the test, you will have a better overview of what is going on. Without a record, you may unnecessarily repeat tests that you have already completed, or worse, you may miss a change to your website that converts well.

Determining what tests are winners and what tests are not

As with everything in this article, data is key. Your new landing page may look more attractive or have a more minimalistic design, but it doesn’t mean it is any better at converting visitors. Review section 4 to learn how to determine your baseline and then use this baseline to examine how the new landing page is performing. Has the bounce rate increased, decreased or remained the same? Are your visitors spending more, less or the same amount of time on a web page? Review any other metric that indicates engagement and measure it against your baseline.

Keep in mind that the objective of a ‘winning’ test is to improve your website overall. Conversion may be the main objective, but reducing the bounce rate can also suggest a winning result. Improving engagement is another way a test can demonstrate value. The metrics surrounding a conversion that leads to it are just as important in determining a win as the conversion itself.

The test is over when…

In statistics, there is a term known as a confidence interval. It shows the statistical significance of a result and indicates the margin of error or likelihood of a specific result. Generally, the larger the sample size, the smaller the margin of error.

Ideally, you will have a confidence interval of 95%, suggesting that your result has a 95% chance of being accurate. Most good testing software will have this functionality built-in, but it may be called something else. It may come up as a ‘95% chance of beating the original’ or ‘95% probability of statistical significance.’

Thus, your testing round may be complete when you have enough accurate statistical significance to determine whether the changes you made had a positive or negative impact or no impact at all.

Sample Size Matters

As stated in the previous section, the larger the sample, the smaller the margin of error. However, it is not always possible to get 1000 visitors per month. This is perfectly fine, so long as you set a specific sample size and stick to it. Testing tools such as Optimizely and Google Content Experiments recommend that at least 100 people see both variants of an A/B test before your results are considered significant.

Keep in mind though; if you flip a coin 100 times, it will generally result in a 50% outcome either way. If you flip a coin 5 times, however, it may come up heads 5 times in a row. A higher sample size will always provide you with more valuable information than smaller sample sizes.

What happens if the hypothesis is correct?

  1. Determine whether there are any further improvements to be made.
  2. Examine how these changes could be applied elsewhere. For example, a specific layout may produce more conversions. This may result from an easier-to-use interface and can make your website easier to use overall.

What happens if the hypothesis is incorrect?

  1. It could mean that the element you changed was already converting well. It could mean that your hypothesised change was incorrect or incomplete.
  2. Examine the data again, and collect fresh data from visitor surveys if necessary.
  3. Formulate a new hypothesis.
  4. Design and conduct a new test.
  5. Repeat.

There is no such thing as a bad result. You can always learn something from a failed hypothesis. Sometimes you can learn more from a failed test than a successful one. The better you understand what is going on in your website, the better you will be able to serve your visitors with an experience that will prove not only engaging but also get them wanting to convert.

Remember, optimisation is cyclic and continuous. Once you have determined a winning hypothesis, keep going. There is always a way to improve your website for optimisation. Even when everything has been optimised, the market may shift, and you may be left behind if you aren’t staying focused on your CRO efforts.

By now you should have a firm understanding of conversion rate optimisation. By collecting data and using it to measure the performance of your website, you will provide your customers with more value than ever before and with the small changes your make on your website, you should stay ahead of the competition. Good luck and thanks for reading.


About The Author

Meet Steve Jaenke, the digital mastermind who’s been ahead of the game for over two decades! As an early adopter of SEO, Steve saw the power of Google and made it his mission to help SMEs unlock its full potential. As a result, he’s become a leading expert in the field, and it’s no surprise that he’s been a finalist in the Global Search Awards in 2021 and 2022.

But Steve’s influence doesn’t stop there – he’s also a recurrent judge for the Australian Web Awards, sharing his expertise and experience to help others succeed. With his deep understanding of the digital world and his passion for helping others, Steve is the go-to guy for anyone looking to level up their online presence.

So, whether you’re a small business owner looking to increase visibility online or a digital marketer looking to stay ahead of the curve, Steve Jaenke is the expert you need to know!

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