Top 10 Conversion Rate Optimization Best Practices
Change is the only constant.
If your organization’s experimentation culture assumes this to be true, you are on the right track (and in good hands). Agility in your optimization efforts enables you to push and explore new boundaries with every experiment, which can get you nailing your CRO game.
In this blog post, we have shared a few common and not-so-common practices and expert tips to fetch you wins in your optimization efforts.
Do bear in mind that your focus should be on making these conversion rate optimization best practices a constant in your strategy, and you should strive to make the most of every impression, every click, and every visitor.
What is conversion rate optimization?
Conversion rate optimization or CRO is a process of boosting the number of visitors who take the desired action on your website. It is an ongoing process where you improve the website experience by analyzing visitor behavior, thus improving the chances of visitors completing a specific action (conversion).
But there is a catch! You cannot define CRO in one dimension.
For instance, there are a number of approaches to optimize your homepage or landing page – from improving the UX to making the copy more persuasive.
However, there is no single practice that will guarantee immediate results (and testing every practice that you adopt is a great habit indeed!)
Let’s take a closer look at some of the top conversion rate optimization best practices that you can implement right away.
1. Know your visitors to identify leaks in your funnel
It’s tough to coax people into taking actions that translate into a business goal when you don’t know them. Delighting them is even harder. Study your visitors’ interests, requirements, demographics, and behavior on your site well to know who they are before setting up a good CRO strategy for your conversion funnel.
- Utilize visitor behavior analysis tools such as heatmaps, session recordings, and click maps to understand their hesitation on the pages critical to your business. This is a good CRO practice that helps you discover usability issues, which usually sit in the blind spot.
- Run enter and exit surveys on your landing pages to dig deeper into your visitors’ psyche and identify leaks in your website that can be fixed. For example, you may trigger an NPS survey for your power users upon entry, and exit surveys to ask drop-offs the reasons they are not moving ahead in your funnel. The reasons could be many, ranging from pricing and value proposition to features offered.
2. Have well-defined goals and specific hypotheses
Your goals and hypotheses for an experiment should be backed by data from your qualitative and quantitative research. Don’t fall for the ‘obvious improvements’ and ‘no brainer’ assumption traps while experimenting.
Having a clearly defined hypothesis is one of the most crucial CRO best practices because without it you would not know what you are testing, why you are testing, and how to interpret the results. Goals should pave the way for your optimization journey to become better with every experiment.
3. Prioritize your CRO roadmap
One of the most important CRO best practices is to prioritize and build a solid roadmap. Shoot-from-the-hip guesswork leads to random testing, which in turn leads to sluggish conversions. Without a proper roadmap in place, you end up testing every other page every month and end up deriving inconclusive results. These results neither have a clear conclusion on your visitors’ behavior nor do they contribute to conversions.
A good CRO practice is to have a prioritized CRO roadmap planned, well in advance, for your experimentation efforts to yield fruitful results.
- Pick up the bolder, impactful, and targeted tests first to gain larger returns in the shortest time.
- Prioritize easy-to-implement tests that promise a high financial impact.
4. Measure micro conversions
Every step in your conversion funnel has a conversion goal. You can imagine conversions as a spectrum. On the right-hand side, you have the main goals that directly impact your business’s net profit, while on the left side, you have intermediate metrics such as the number of sign-ups your button generated or the click-through rate (CTR).
These metrics, also known as micro conversions, contribute to the main conversion goal at every stage of your conversion funnel. Hence, it’s a good CRO practice to measure them.
If your website does not drive colossal traffic, make use of these micro-conversion metrics for your subsequent experiments as they are much larger in number and can be instantly measured.
5. Don’t tweak your running experiment
Many testing software allow you to stop a running test so that you can make the changes suggested by early test data. However, CRO experts suggest that this should be avoided as it harms the data.
Ensure that you keep running your tests until they reach a statistical significance of 95%. You can calculate your test duration to estimate how long you should run a test, and also check whether your results are significant, using readily available online tools.
This is a good CRO practice as you avoid the risk of making any premature changes or tweaks to a potentially successful experiment.
6. QA your experiment
One of the most basic yet important CRO best practices (read: hygiene) is to perform a quality check on your experiment before running it. Ensure that your goals are defined and are getting tracked correctly in your testing software. It is also important that the test is being rendered correctly for your targeted audience, across browsers, devices, etc.
7. Design: Prefer a Stanley hammer any day
Always optimize your product’s core functionality—a Stanley hammer is designed for hammering. You can optimize it for hammering different kinds of nails into different materials. However, the last thing you should be optimizing it for is looks and aesthetics (unless you are a home decor brand!).
Similarly, your product’s functionality should be the DNA of your web page design. Aesthetics are not a substitute for testing and research. So a good CRO practice would be to focus on the functionality of your product/services and optimize elements that speak for your core. Marketers can fall for competitor’s designs and get influenced as design impacts your emotions.
If you already have a high-converting landing page and you still want to beautify it, ensure that your designs follow your brand style, are easy to comprehend for your audience, and are easy to update.
8. Document and extrapolate your learnings
One of the best techniques for CRO is to make sure that you document your learnings from the test. These learnings can be about setting up the test (so you don’t repeat errors), the hypotheses and corresponding observations, targeting, QA process and steps taken, final metrics of the test, deep-dive into segments, and other qualitative knowledge gathered, etc.
Try to apply your learnings further—from getting better at testing to even using the winner attributes in other strategies, channels, segments, etc.
Also, here’s an interesting conversation we had with the Product Lead at Amazon, Seshadri Vyas, on how you can effectively communicate the value your team provides and build a strong culture of experimentation.
9. ‘Zoom out’ to have your next test planned
CRO is an iterative process. Every test brings with it a set of learnings. Successful ones that lead to high conversion rates give your competitors a tough time and present you with many opportunities for further optimization. If your test does not win, you haven’t lost anything.
Instead, you learn from it. Have a look at your conversion funnel and fix your eye on the next thing in your optimization pipeline.
10. Have the right tool in your arsenal
Watch a webinar on what not to do while doing CRO:
One of the most important and often overlooked aspects of any CRO program is the tool(s) it uses. Being a scientific and logical process, CRO warrants sturdy processes, and a tool makes for the foundation. CRO programs are typically started off using existing systems (email, sheets, etc.) While this may turn out great for a start, it can very quickly get out of hand. Therefore, a good CRO practice is to be mindful and onboard a tool well in advance.
There are many tools out there – both free and paid. Choosing the right tool, at the right time is imperative. For example, VWO has all the best practices structured in one holistic platform, with so much more. Get a VWO free trial or take a demo to give your CRO program the structure it warrants.
Experiments can be quite volatile in the beginning. You must understand that CRO is a marathon and not a sprint. The conversion rate optimization best practices mentioned in the blog post will have a deliberate and incremental effect to give you an initial push.
Also, the agility in your strategy and patience in your experimental temperament will take you a long way while you build upon your existing optimization efforts.