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Understanding Conversion Rate Optimisation Techniques

Alec Sharratt

by Alec Sharratt on 14th March 2012

Video Transcript

Conversion rate optimisation is the topic of today’s video. To start with the most basic aspect of this all: What is a conversion? Well, a conversion is simply an action that you would like someone to take when they are on your website. Now this could be filling out a form. It could be buying a product or subscribing to a newsletter. It could even be the increase of the average time they spend on page. It is, in essence, an action that you want someone to take when they’re on your website.

This normally has commercial intent behind it, and in 99 percent of cases it’s going to be buying a product or buying a service, or filling out a form for a lead generation website, that kind of thing. So that’s what a conversion is.

The rate aspect of conversion rate optimisation is literally the ratio between which the people convert at to the rate at which they don’t. So let’s give you a real world example. If you’ve got a website that receives about 1000 visitors a month and 10 of those people buy something from your website, and that’s the action that you wanted them to take, then 1 percent of your traffic is converted. Now, it’s a bit of a misconception, I think, traffic directly equals profit for a website. Although it’s very strongly connected with that, it isn’t the primary or driving force behind it. It’s actually the rate at which things convert at. I mean, you can deliver thousands and thousands of people to a website with no real call to action on the page, and you won’t get a single conversion. That’s not going to equal business.

So this is where conversion rate optimisation comes in. Using different techniques, skills, and best practices, you can increase the rate at which the website traffic converts, and nearly in every case, this is going to increase profits significantly.

So when should you actually do conversion rate optimisation? If you’ve just got a brand new website and you’re just getting 30 or 40 visitors a month, this isn’t really the time to do it. In a very similar way to AdWords and paid advertising in general, you need quite a bit of data and a regular supply of that data in order to make educated or informed decisions about where you’re going to steer the website next.

As this graph shows, this is traffic over time, to give you an example. This isn’t going to be the case for every website, obviously. In the initial phases of a website, you’re going to see a relatively sharp increase in traffic. As time goes on, traffic goes higher and higher and higher. It’s going to plateau slightly. This is the time at which conversion rate optimisation really comes into its own. At this point here, you could be receiving maybe, say, 10,000 visitors a month, but if you’re only converting 100 of those into conversions, then that’s still only a 1 percent conversion rate. In order to get 200 conversions a month, you’ll either have to double your traffic to 20,000 visitors, or double the rate at which they convert, from 1 to 2 percent. At this point, that is a lot more achievable through conversion rate optimisation than it is through standard SEO techniques, and this is where conversion rate optimisation really comes into its own.

As these lines explain here, roughly the time for both of these parts of the graph are roughly equal, yet the rate at which they’re increasing is obviously reducing quite considerably. And this is the point you’re going to come to where you’ve got a website with so much traffic that in order to double it, it’s going to take months and months and months. Conversion rate optimisation is a new way in which you can then tweak that traffic and get the most out of it.

So now we’ve discussed what it is and when you should use it. I’ll give you a few tips on the methodologies behind it. Really, there are two schools of thought when it comes to conversion rate optimisation. The first is to test first and analyse later, which is a bit gung ho. The second is to do research first, market research, try to understand your target audience’s desires and needs and really fulfil those in a better and more apt way. Now I prefer an amalgamation of those two techniques, really. I think, firstly, the research aspect can be done very easily, especially if you’re a smaller company and you’re not a super brand. You can look at what the super brands are doing. And if you’re generating leads or you’re trying to get people to fill out a contact form on your website, it’s very easy to look at competitors, bigger competitors, and see what they’re doing.

To give you some other real world examples, you’ll quite often find, especially with things like quote forms, that the quote form is offset on the page slightly. It will be the largest object on the page. The submit button will be a different colour to the rest of the form and the rest of the page in order to make it stand out. There will be other aspects on the page as well that will draw your attention to the form or create a call to action. Quite often, the content will be hidden underneath the form, not hidden completely from view, but hidden from underneath the fold, and the form will be the main focus of the page. Now, don’t copy the form exactly, but replicate that on your own website, using your own brand colours and your own identity and your own styling.

This is a really good point to start from, because you’re learning from the mistakes of others already. If you’re using a super brand’s website to base what you’re doing on, you can rest assured that they’ve spent a lot of money investing time into developing the form, into testing the form, and into making sure that it works properly and that it’s well-positioned on the page. The colours are correct, the fonts are right, and so forth. And this can give you a good steer as to where to go next.

The other aspects of conversion rate optimisation that you would like to consider, split testing is really where it’s going to come down to in the end. Are you going to be running one page against another page? If you’re not familiar with the idea of split testing, the basic principle is that you’ve got a Page A and a Page B. You run them against each other, to the point where they’ve both had a relatively even number of visits. Whatever page has converted at the highest rate is kept. The lowest converting page is removed, and a copy of the highest performing page is made and a slight tweak made. And then pages are run against each other again, and the process is repeated over and over. And through doing this, you’re going to refine slowly, over time, the conversion rate so that it comes up and up and up to the better levels.

This is really the essence of conversion rate optimisation. It is the process of increasing the rate at which your website traffic converts at, and there are lots of different ways that you can do that. As I said, you can research first. Research is always a good idea anyway. You can go straight in with the testing, the split testing, collecting data, competitor analysis. But you can also employ market research groups and consumer groups to do research for you to find out what your customers are looking for in a website. There are different agencies that you can employ to user test your website, where people are given specific goals to reach, and they’ll score your website and rate it based on those. You can then use that data to optimise the customer experience on the website to make things easier to find or simpler to find or less confusing for them.

And that’s it really. If you’d like to find out more about conversion rate optimisation, please visit the Koozai website at www.Koozai.com. Or you can find us on Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening. My name’s Alec Sharratt. I’ll see you next time. Goodbye.

Alec Sharratt

Alec Sharratt

Alec Sharratt will be writing about his passion; the technical aspects of search. Well experienced within the IT industry, Alec has bags of knowledge on everything technical from simple spreadsheets that will save you hours right up to news and tips to make search that little bit easier.

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  • Dean Marsden

    Dean 14th March 2012

    Good video Alec, I would like to iterate one of the biggest rules in Conversion Rate Optimisation and that is to Test, Test, Test and Test again.

    One of the biggest retailers, Amazon is constantly testing ideas, even after years of doing it. There is no ideal website design, you should always strive to improve on your conversions.

    I highly recommend follow the Koozai CRO blog posts to learn more and get ideas on what to test: http://www.koozai.com/blog/category/search-marketing/landing-page-optimisation-search-marketing/

    Reply to this comment

  • Brian Greenberg 7th April 2012

    As the owner of SEO Services I must say this is a brilliant video. I think successful seo companies are going to have to start offering conversion rate optimization to their clients.

    While running a/b testing… does it have any negative impact on the search engine ranking for that page? I guess I could put a canonical tag back to the real page when doing a/b testing. Is this how you guys do it?

    Reply to this comment

  • Alec Sharratt

    Alec 10th April 2012

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks for your reply, its always nice to see our videos appreciated in the industry by other professionals like yourself. With regards to a/b split testing; this won’t necessarily damage your rankings, so long as you are using Google website optimizer and integrating this with goals in Google Analytics, Google will see / know what you are doing.

    Once the split testing for a page is done and you have chosen one variant, then I would stick a 301 redirect on it (a canonical tag will also do). I always use 301′s whenever there is an old or now inaccessible page on one of my sites. I think this keeps the whole site tidy and tight and as I explain in another video it protects your SEO investment in that page.

    Also using PPC as a way of testing new page layouts, designs and other CRO elements can often yield interesting results, which can be applied to the rest of the site. This carries the added advantage of having the pages excluded from the index and isolated from the rest of the site, thus enabling you to control the traffic to the page.

    Take care

    Reply to this comment

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