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Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) - 1

 Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) - 1
Perusal Tech Pvt Ltd
  • 19 Aug, 2021

Have you been getting inconsistent results from conversion, optimization or A/B testing, or maybe no results at all? It's probably because you're doing it wrong. Maybe you're copying random tactics from a blog post, maybe you're copying competitors or market leaders or maybe just following best practices. That's not how you optimize a website. There is a process, a framework for Conversion Optimization that is industry agnostic so it works for SaaS or E-commerce, B2B, media, you name it, it works across the board and gets you insane results.




Conversion rate is a mathematical formula. It is calculated by dividing the number of people taking an action by the number of people asked to take an action. So if you have 50 people buy your stuff or sign up to your email, but 1,000 people came to your website or a landing page, whatever it is, you just divide it to two and you get oh, I have a 5% conversion rate. And then of course, for us to make more money, we need a higher Conversion Rate.






Optimization is a continuous process that often starts with creating content that will align with different audience types. As an example, in retail, audiences could be segmented by gender, product, preferences, geo-location or on previous product pages views. For travel, it could be families, couples by age or destination choices. Your content needs to stimulate engagement and encourage loyalty.




BY monitoring the way your visitors navigate your website, you'll be able to better understand the different types of customer journeys and start to recognize patterns of behaviour that can be aligned to the created content.




These customer journeys should become your visitor segments and will be the basis of not just optimization or what's displayed on your website but should also provide a more meaningful focus for SEO and PPC to help drive new business.




Once you have an understanding of the segments and how they behave you can then look at ways to offer your visitors' personalized journeys. At the outset, these journeys will not be individualized but more applicable to a broader audience within the segment. After many cycles of this optimization process, you will uncover more refined behaviours and therefore your segments will become more granular.




Here is where your newly created content within each segmented customer journey needs to be tested to ensure that it resonates with the desired audience. You should consider where the content will be displayed and what calls-to-action will be taken. Techniques such as hello bars, urgency messaging, form optimization and exit intent should all be considered at this stage.




Running each of your tests will require at least a couple of weeks for each one to determine the best outcomes. Once you've analyzed the results and you have selected your optimal content for each journey you will need to deploy these on your servers.


And so the cycle begins again. As you learn greater insight you should continue to develop and extend your optimizations even further.




• CRO is the single highest-leverage activity in your business, where you can increase your results by 2x-10x in many cases, without spending any more money on advertising.


• Raise your Conversion Rate by 50-100 % (Yes, that means troubling your sales), without spending a penny more on traffic.


• Every single conversion is money in your pocket.


Conversion is the most valuable action in your business since that's where your customers give you money.




Let's say you build a brand new website, you just tell your mom about it and she goes to your website, one person, and she buys something. So one visit, one purchase, 100% conversion rate. Amazing, right? Yet you just sold something to your mom and that's it, that's not a business. So, Conversion Rate Optimization is not about the conversion rate.


Another way you can increase the Conversion Rate if you want is like make every product you sell free or one cent. So let's say you build a new Amazon, sell everything that Amazon sells but everything is free. Your Conversion Rate will be insane. Everybody will purchase something for free, but you'll go out of business. So optimizing just for Conversion Rate is silly. Don't do that.


So Conversion Optimization is about Growth. And what is it that we need to do to our website so we could grow our business sustainably and profitably? Now there are multiple ways to do this, and the traditional way is we all have Opinions. So opinions are not a way to optimize anything. You can't have an opinion about these things. Well, you can have an opinion but the odds that you're gonna get something right are very low, it's like playing the lottery. So that's not how Conversion Optimization works.


So the main question is what should we change? Because in optimization, we wanna change something about a website, add something, remove something, modify something so we would make more money, so more people would buy your stuff or you know, become a lead or whatever, it is that we're trying to accomplish. So what do we do? Now if we agree that opinions are the wrong way to go about it, the right way is conducting Research. We need to figure out what are the current problems with our website, where are the problems and why these problems are problems, to begin with? Only if we understand where and why these problems exist, we can come up with a better idea, an idea of how to fix them. We call this treatment. We apply a treatment, maybe we do an A/B test, maybe we just change something on the website.


So as I see, Conversion Optimization consists of two parts. It's researching to understand the problems, and then from the problems, we come up with a hypothesis about what should be changed to address this problem, to fix the problem. And then we don't know what will work, we'll come up with four, five, 75 ideas for treatments and then we'll need to run experiments to see which of these treatment ideas works and which one works the best. So it's research plus experimentation. So stop thinking about guesses, think about data-backed hypotheses and that's how you optimize websites.






STEP 1: DO CONVERSION RESEARCH TO IDENTIFY PROBLEMS: So largely speaking, the conversion rate optimization process always starts with conversion research. You figure out what the problems are, where, why these problems are problems. Then once you have a list of problems, you turn these into hypotheses.


STEP 2: Develop a hypothesis based on problems. 


STEP 3: Design experiments to test hypotheses.


STEP 4: Analyse research.


So the hypothesis is if we change, based on the data X, Y, Z, if we now change this and that, we expect to change this metric. You know, more people will do that, more people will do this other thing. So you have a list of hypotheses, you turn these into tests, into experiments, run A/B tests. And once the tests are done, you analyze the results and maybe you implement, maybe you discard and then you go back to step one, which is conversion research. It always starts with research.




There are multiple ways to go about it, there's no one right way to do this. I would recommend you start your conversion research process by adopting the ResearchXL framework.


ResearchXL essentially uses six types of data. So it gathers data input from six different sources to analyze what are the problems, where and why.


(a) TECHNICAL ANALYSIS: One of the first steps in this process is always technical analysis. So technical analysis means that we wanna figure out whether the website in question works with every single device, every single browser and a combination of the two. So if I'm on a random Huawei phone on a random browser, the website should still work. Because you can have the most persuasive website in the world, but if it doesn't work with the specific browser, device combination I am on, it doesn't matter, right? So it needs to work.


Another thing about Technical Analysis is Site Speed. If pages are too slow, the people you know, might leave and not buy as much. So again, in Google Analytics, you can look at your page speed per URL. And notice I didn't say Page Load Time. So what is Page Load Time? Page load time is really how long does it take for the page to be completely loaded? So if it's a long page, meaning most of it is below the fold, we as users, if we're still looking at the above the fold area, we don't really care how long it takes to load the rest of the page there, even if it takes you to know, 15 seconds, we just don't notice it. What the users care about is document interactive time, which means how long until the website becomes usable? So that's Technical Analysis. This is always the very first step in Conversion Optimization.




Once you've fixed all the bugs and you have no more slow loading pages, it's time to move on to step number two, which is Heuristic Analysis. Essentially, what it means is it's an experience-based assessment of our website. There are various Heuristic Analysis Frameworks out there, and some have 7 steps and some have 17 steps and all that stuff. Essentially, it all boils down to these four steps:


(a)​​​ FRICTION: Friction is something that makes it difficult to use or it's difficult to understand. So for instance, if they want us to fill out a form with like 27 form fields, that's a lot of work. That's friction, like ugh, I don't wanna do that. Or if the website has a kind of scammy-looking design from like 2002, blinking banners and da, da, da, it looks sketchy, that's friction, it's like mental friction. Like ooh, I don't know about this stuff. People need to feel comfortable at your site. If you're Amazon, you don't have trust problems. If you're a relatively unknown site, you're gonna have big trust issues and so Friction is a big, big issue. Anything that causes mental friction or is difficult to do or I don't understand what I should do next or I'm trying to click this button and it doesn't work, it all creates Friction.


(b)​​​​ DISTRACTION: So every single page on your website should have one primary goal. Typically the goal of your homepage is to get people off the homepage, like down the funnel. Or the goal might be segmentation, like choose here, are you like male or female, am I a small business or large business, things like that. Or I'm interested in this service or the other service. So anything on that page that is not contributing to people taking that one action is a distraction. So what happens is like our human brain is designed to detect and follow the movement. But today on a website, as soon as you have something changing every three seconds, it's a distraction. We're gonna just look at it and we're not gonna read the value proposition. We're not gonna understand what your website does and why we should buy from you. We're not gonna fill out this form. So anything that is not directly contributing to people taking that one action is a Distraction. On a product page and E-commerce, the goal is to add to the cart. So anything in there that is not contributing to that, better remove.


(c) MOTIVATION: It is more important than Distraction and Friction. So Motivation is about making people want to take action. So the amount of friction is very relative compared to the amount of motivation. Now of course your product is not a free Tesla, right? It's something else. It's not as good, it costs money probably. But still, you need to sell people on the value of your offer. So your first goal when you're trying to get people to take action, whether it's to click somewhere, add to a cart, fill out a form, is to make them wanna do it. Or not make them wanna fill out the form but make them yearn for that outcome that they're gonna get.


(d) RELEVANCY: So, Relevance is that you can have an amazing value proposition and really short forms and like beautiful design and minimal distraction. So you need to be clear who this is for. The higher the relevancy, the higher the odds that I'm going to convert. So you wanna make sure that you address the fact that if I am your ideal target audience member, target user, why should I buy from you right now? So build that path so people would read it and recognize, this is for me. And if you're using ads to drive traffic to a page, of course, you want to make sure there's continuity from the ad copy, as well as design if it's a visual ad; and the landing page, copy and the visual, the way it looks like, it needs to match.




Next in our Conversion Research process is we're gonna gather Qualitative, as well as Quantitative data to either validate or invalidate our observations. Digital analytics will show you what is happening, where and how much. So for most people, it's Google Analytics, but you can use whatever other web analytics tool that you know, is a better fit for you.


(1) Is everything being measured? So every single thing that a user can do on a website and every single thing that a user can experience on a website should be tracked and measured. Because if things are not being measured, we can't improve stuff.


(2) The data that we're measuring, is it accurate? It's so often that the data that, the funnels that have been configured and so on, it's not true. Sometimes you see websites where they have a really low bounce rate. So if you have the GA code loaded twice on the page, your bounce rate will be off and below 10%. If you have an event that is firing and it's not set to non-interactive, engagement is being recorded, again your bounce rate is artificially low. So those things can screw up your data. The final purchasing count or the revenue does not match what we're seeing on the backend in our content management system or on our E-commerce system. So you need to verify that all these things are active, that they make sense. If you cannot trust the data, you cannot be data-driven. So these are very, very important first steps.


Now assuming that everything is all right, we can trust the data, everything is recorded, now for conversion optimization purposes, digital analytics helps us identify three very important things.


(a) LEAKS: Where are the leaks? Every single page on your website is leaking money. Meaning users are dropping off, they're leaving your website. And you have, some sort of a typical customer journey, a funnel, and so you wanna understand in which of these funnel steps people are dropping off the most? So typically, let's say on the E-commerce cart page, 50%, proceed to checkout. So if you're on your site, it's like 20% to 30%, you have a big, big problem with your cart page. Or on your product page, typically an average site is like 10% of people add something to the cart. If for you that's 1% or even less, something's wrong with your product page, either you have the wrong people on the site, a relevance issue in your checkout.

So what is the checkout completion rate? Should be around 90%, which would be good. If only 20% of people finally put in the credit card and finalize the payment, again it's probably the checkout that has the problem. Of course, these are all hypotheses, we don't know what the problem is but we can see where they're dropping off, very important. And again, you have to look at this across devices separately. So mobile separately, desktop and so on.


(b) CORRELATION: So the people who are buying something, what other behaviours are correlating with high purchasing rate? Now what you don't know is, like, is it that people who were gonna buy anyway, use site search or they just know what they want? Or was it that using the site search helped them find more relevant products, which increased their likelihood of making a purchase? So if that is the case, we should try to get more people to use the search and we will make more money. Make the search box may be more prominent and bigger and so on. So we wanna understand what are people doing or not doing and how does that correlate with conversion rate or revenue per user?




What's a quick and easy way to figure out what people are doing or not doing on your website? Heat Maps. There's another category of analytics tool usually referred to as customer experience tools or mouse tracking tools. Essentially, what they do is they give you a Scroll Map. So it's a visual representation in a form of the Heat Map to show how far down people scroll on a given page.


Or another way why this is important, we wanna understand where is this moment where people are dropping off? It's usually something about the design of the page that makes people stop scrolling. It's typically a change in the background colour.


CLICK MAPS: Click Maps show you a Heat Map of where people are clicking on your page. You can see this data in Google Analytics, but the nice thing about showing it in a Heat Map form is, you quickly see where people are clicking or not clicking. And executives love this kind of report so it's very easy for everybody to see a click. And also, you can see things that people are trying to click on that is not a link.


HOVER MAPS: Then there are Hover Maps that'll like a show where the mouse cursor has been moving, some call it attention maps. That's completely useless, it's kind of a scam that these vendors are selling you so don't trust that all because the premise is that people look where the mouse cursor is so it's kind of like, poor man's eye-tracking but it's BS, it's not. Like imagine, think about the last time you read an article on a website. So with your mouse cursor where you're doing like this, like a reading line by line? Didn't think so. So we are just scrolling down and we're reading with our eyes. So this is completely useless, don't do it.


SESSION REPLAYS: So anything that users are doing on your website is filmed or like recorded as a clip, a video clip that you can playback without audio. So you don't know what they're trying to accomplish, you have no idea about their intent or what are they experiencing, but you can see what they're doing. So usually if in digital analytics I see a page where a lot of people are dropping off, they're like leaving the site, I wanna watch some videos of what are people doing or not doing on that page. And often you find something interesting.



Why aren't more people buying your stuff? And when they see your offer, what are they thinking? So when Quantitative Research can answer questions like where what and how much; Qualitative Research answers the question why. Why do users behave this way or that way, why did they do this or that or why didn't they? It's not perfect, we can't answer everything with 100% accuracy, but to me, this is the most insightful part of any research process because we're talking to our actual users. This is so, so, so important.


Now, there are multiple ways how to do Qualitative Research and we'll go over this real quick:


(a) CUSTOMER SURVEYS: So you wanna survey people who just bought something from you or they signed up for something. So now you wanna survey them, you wanna send them out a survey within like 24 hours, 48 hours of them purchasing something while they still freshly remember their purchasing experience. Because if you survey them 12 months later, they don't remember the details of your website or what went on, they're gonna bullshit and lead you astray. So you wanna survey them fresh. You send the survey over email and you wanna ask open-ended questions. No multiple choice. You know, you can use multiple choice for segmentation if that matters, like male, female, your age range, something like this, whatever is relevant for your business or maybe none. You don't wanna ask multiple choice because that will assume that you already know what the possible answers are.


So what do you want to ask? So one is you wanna ask about the Friction in their purchasing process. You wanna ask what was the one thing that nearly stopped you from buying from us? You also wanna ask about their Motivation. Like, what kind of a problem where you're looking to solve for yourself? There's a problem, there's a solution, there's a use case and you wanna understand their motivation, the user intent. You also wanna understand how your offer compares to other offers. So how many other websites did you check out before deciding to buy from us? What made you buy from us and not these other guys, to understand what, in their mind, was a competitive advantage?


(b) ON-SITE POLLS: So basically, this is serving people on your website who might or might not buy anything. These polls you wanna trigger when they're visiting one of your high exit pages, so pages where people are dropping off. And close to the money, so like the checkout page, cart page, one of those pages. And so you wanna trigger a poll, a question, when they're leaving the page or when they've demonstrated above-average engagement.


And so what you wanna do is you wanna ask only one question and also open-ended like, So on a checkout page, what's holding you back from completing this purchase right now? Or on a product page, what's holding you back from getting this product right now? And people will tell you, it's wonderful.


You can sometimes get a higher response rate if you start with a yes/no question. That's like, is there something holding you back from making this purchase? Yes/no. Because it seems it's really easy to answer so they click yes there is. Now then you ask them, type in what is the reason. So you can do that as well. So for instance we had this case where on a cart page on an E-commerce site, massive drop-off, people are not moving into the checkout and we're looking at the page and just you know, coming up with all kinds of hypotheses why that might be and then we ran this poll and 90% of people said it's the high shipping costs. Just by looking at the cart page, we couldn't figure out that the highest shipping cost was the reason for people to abandon the page. But yeah, people told us, we asked them, they told us.


(c) INTERVIEW: You should Interview actual customers, just talk to them one on one, and your moderation skills are everything.


(d) LIVE CHAT: Finally, if you have Live Chat on your website, and you should, it works. Read through the transcripts of what they're asking, what are the common questions. And again, you wanna pay attention to patterns. Like some questions, I guarantee you, are asked more often than other questions.




You can learn a lot by just observing users, just by looking at what they're doing on your website. User Testing essentially means that we're gonna recruit people that represent our target audience, and we'll have them use our website, we'll have them perform certain tasks and we're gonna just observe how they go about performing these tasks and whether they encounter any problems, usability issues, any sorts of friction.


(a) REMOTE UNMODERATED USER TESTING: It is the easiest, fastest, cheapest way of conducting User Testing. So this is when you use several sites and specify the number of people you want, more or less what the demographics should be like then you plug in your website URL and write down the tasks you want people to accomplish and bam, done. It's fast, really cheap. Now ideally the people performing tasks on your website represent your target audience. But anybody is better than nobody. Your website should be usable for everybody.


(b) REMOTE MODERATED USER TESTING: Then Remote Moderated is basically, you can use Skype or Zoom or any of these tools where the person that you're interviewing, you're moderating a user testing session. So they're sharing their screen and using your website and you're giving them prompts on what they should do or what not to do. This is only successful if you're a good moderator. Because a terrible moderator will ruin this process. So you don't wanna do this.


And finally, you wanna have them complete the funnel. So like complete the checkout, buy the product, etc. And you wanna recruit five to 15 people. So less than five, it's hard to tell which user was an outlier and like, just weird. And more than 15 people is unnecessary because the same issues keep coming up and you don't get any new insights. So the ROI goes down beyond 15. So you recruit five to 15 people.


And it's important that you just pay attention to what they do, not what they say. Figure out what the problems are, fix them and do a new round of User Testing to see if those problems persist or the fixes that you implemented maybe dissolved the issues. But you'll discover new ones.




What works the best? Does this work better, or this one? By how much? A/B testing is how you find out. So once we've completed our Conversion Research Process, we have a list of problems that we are aware of. Now you gather a team of people from various teams, you know a designer, a developer, business expert, you know, whoever. And together, you hypothesize what should be changed to tackle this problem that we have identified? And you wanna come up with as many different ideas as possible for treatments. Based on your traffic, you have to decide how many variations can you test at once? Because A/B testing is A/B/n testing, it could be A, B, C, D testing. And A/B testing and the statistics around it is pretty complicated and the rabbit hole goes deep.


So once you've figured out what are treatments you wanna test, you can do some calculations around how many treatments can you test at once? Because there's a very important test. If we run an A/B test or A/B/C test, when is it done? When is the test over and we can say this worked or didn't work? So it's about stopping rules. You need to take into consideration three things, and one is Sample Size. Do we have enough people in the experiment to have statistical validity? Because we need a certain sample size, a certain population to be part of the experiment to be able to detect a difference between variations. Because you know, we're gonna compare which of these variations is going to increase sales the most.


For calculating how much sample size, how many people you need per variation, there are all kinds of sample size calculators out there. So just Google the A/B test sample size calculator, you'll find one, there's not much to it, it's pretty easy. So this is the number one criteria. So the sample size calculators will tell you how many people you need, and then you can look at your traffic and determine how much time do I need to get that amount of people to be part of my experiment?


When it comes to building A/B tests, somebody needs to design them, somebody needs to code them up. So depending on the changes you need to build those treatments that are addressing the problems that you identified in the research process, the tests can be simple or complicated.


Now, the number one test result killer is a broken code. So meaning that you create an A/B test, you run it, your variation B is losing heavily, like minus 50%. Oh, our idea was bad. But in fact, very often and most often, the reason is that it just doesn't work, the variation B doesn't work in most if not all browsers, there is a bug in there, something is off. So quality assurance testing for the A/B test is extremely, extremely critical. You cannot miss this step.


So once your test is done, now there are three choices of what may happen. Nothing at all, meaning it's flat, there's no significant difference between the two. Well then, there's something else. Or your treatment was a winner, implement the winner. Now in case it was flat, or in case it was a loser, it's still learning.


Now you might go and look at your, analyze the test results per segment. So you wanna look at how the people in your test responded to the treatment. If you look new versus returning or different traffic sources, and of course you should always test mobile and desktop separately. If you combine them, you wanna look at them separately. But the same rules apply here. For you to analyze results within a segment, you need enough sample size inside a segment as well. So if you have a low traffic website, you can't do any segmentation here. But if you also discover things that don't work, that's progress. You wanna understand what works and what doesn't work. So learning, there are no losses, it's just only learning. But yeah, the A/B test helps you figure out what works and put an end to opinions and arguing or what is better. Just test it.


Link to Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) - 2 https://www.perusal.in/blogs/conversion-rate-optimization-(cro)---2/51