Conversion Rate Optimization is a process in which you make changes and improvements to your website, big or small, in terms of design, content and other elements, with the purpose of increasing the number of visitors performing whatever action you want them to perform once they reach your website.
In the case of online stores, the final desired action, the Holy Grail if you wish, is making a purchase. There are other actions that you want your visitors to perform, of course, but making them buy something from your store is, naturally, what your business is all about.
Conversion Rate Optimization or CRO is basically a science now. There are numerous methods and tests you can apply to increase your conversion rates. For instance, when it comes to testing, the most common and the most productive methods are A/B/n tests and multivariate tests. A/B/n tests compare your entire existing page with an alternative version, while multivariate tests look into different components of the website, thus testing a greater number of variations.
Both tests are great and which one you’ll end up using will eventually depend on your needs and goals. Of course, you can alternate and switch between them both, too.
Some Magento merchants may be wondering why in the world they would want to bother. If you are among them, you need to understand exactly why conversion rate optimization is so important. First of all, as already mentioned, conversion rates mean the percentage of your visitors performing the action you want them to perform (click, view, buy, subscribe, etc). The benefit of optimization should, therefore, be pretty self-explanatory.
But many users are put off by the often small changes that result from hard CRO work. You put in so much effort and come out with a 0.1% increase sometimes. Of course it’s frustrating! But the thing is, even such small percentages actually mean a lot in terms of revenue per month.
For example, let’s say that 100,000 visits per month with a 2% conversion rate brings you $60,000 of monthly revenue. Let’s make it a 2.1% conversion rate now. With the same number of visits, 100,000 per month, this conversion rate will bring $63,000 of monthly revenue. Not too shabby, is it?
Setting a Goal
Your final goal, the goal of all goals, is to sell more, right? But let’s scale down for a minute, and figure out which goals you need to achieve en route to this big one. First of all, you need to decide which actions you want your visitors to take.
There are different scenarios that might lead a customer to make a purchase, so you want to set yourself a series of sub-goals and work on them. Generally, you want to set actions that are not too engaging for your visitors, especially if your product or service is an expensive one, or one that requires more consideration and even some extensive research. In this case, you want your actions to include signing up for a newsletter, starting a free trial, requesting your catalog, engaging in your social media platforms and so on.
Bear in mind, not all actions will lead to significant conversion rates. But you know what they say – still water runs deep, and these micro-conversions do matter when it comes to the end result. Not to mention that they are a valuable asset in terms of observing and understanding your visitor behavior.
Picking a Method
It’s not always easy identifying the areas in which your biggest CRO opportunities lie. To find this out, you will probably want to run some analyses. The two main methods are quantitative (user data) and quantitative (feedback).
For quantitative data, your best friend is Google Analytics. Using this tool can help you figure out which of your steps has the highest exit rate, for instance. Enhanced Ecommerce provides insight into shopping activity, showing just how effective each of the funnels is, while Smart Insights offers comparison tools and benchmark data that you can use to improve your conversion rates. CrazyEgg and Hotjar are tools that create heat maps, showing how far down your page your visitors are scrolling on the average and what elements they are clicking on.
As for the qualitative data, here you will have to rely on your visitors’ feedback, which you can gather from surveys, feedback forms and third-party extensions and services.
Changes and Tests
Changes that you can implement on your website can roughly be divided into two categories: cosmetic and behavioral ones. Cosmetic changes are those that affect primarily the appearance of your Magento site, for example the size and color of your call-to-action button (usually it’s the “Add to Cart” button), its location on the page, internal links, personal information forms and so on. Behavioral changes are those that offer additional information that is supposed to incite visitors to shop, such as “in stock” information and information regarding the popularity of a certain product.
While cosmetic changes are known to make some difference on some level, these improvements are definitely way less effective than the behavioral ones. Also, cosmetic changes should be applied near the end of the shopping process, for example in the checkout phase. Visitors in these later phases generally have a higher intent to buy, so you want to make the completion of their purchase as smooth and seamless as possible. On the other hand, product pages are brimming with visitors in the consideration phase. You want to persuade them to buy something, which is why the best idea in this phase would be to implement behavioral changes.
CRO Tools and Tips for Magento
- Pick your tests – don’t test everything. More isn’t always merrier and you don’t need to run a test before making every single change. It’s perfectly okay to make a few small changes without prior testing based on intuition or general best practices.
- Don’t run your tests simultaneously – conduct one test at a time, otherwise you may get mixed or invalid results.
- Don’t expect to get the same results as someone else – just because a test showed great results on one website doesn’t mean it will have the same impact on your conversion rates. What you need is something that will work for your store specifically.
- Don’t get carried away – don’t apply impressive changes or crazy design innovations at all costs. Sometimes these bells and whistles are just that: bells and whistles, without much substance behind them, and they will never be more important than the actual user experience.
- Don’t jump to conclusions – you need to be patient with your test results. These tests usually need some time and volume and sometimes it might take a few weeks to reach a conclusion.
- Draw conclusions from every outcome – whether you get positive or negative results, always make sure to learn from your outcome, otherwise it’s really all for nothing.