A Step-by-Step Guide to CRO for Businesses
Fancy acronyms and complicated jargon can easily overwhelm new and even veteran business owners. But often hiding behind the complex terminology, is a fundamental component of modern business that’s worth taking the time to understand. Therefore, we are going to break down one of the most prominent buzz words in the business and eCommerce world today: conversion rate optimization, or CRO.
Managing CRO tactics can be daunting if you’re new, but we are here to help. Here is our step-by-step guide for putting CRO tactics into practice.
What is CRO?
Conversion rate optimization is the process of increasing the number of conversions made on your website by optimizing your web pages. These actions may include joining a mailing list, signing a petition, sharing on social media, or making a purchase.
In any internet business, there are two key factors in growing sales. The first is traffic generation through channels such as search engines, social media, or paid advertising. The second is conversion rate optimization, where you optimize the number of conversions (or sales actions) that your traffic takes on your website.
Today we are focusing on helping you understand how to leverage and improve CRO or conversion rate optimization.
Why is it important?
CRO is essential. Convincing people to visit your website is useless unless they do something once they get there. You could have all the traffic in the world, but if no one decides to make a purchase, then what is the point?
Traffic is terrific for raising awareness, but at a certain point, you need to shift your efforts to making sales so that your company can be successful. This is where CRO comes in.
How can I make CRO work for my business?
When you are just starting in the business world, or even if you’re a seasoned entrepreneur, implementing something like CRO can seem incredibly daunting. But the benefits and potential increase in sales gained through its implementation far outweighs the initial difficulties.
By going through this process, you’ll not only optimize your website to improve conversions but better understand your customer’s needs, the competitive advantages of your business, and how to be concise and informative. To help you get there, we’ll walk you through some of the first steps you should consider on your way to CRO success.
1. Invest in Your Website
It can be easy for business owners to be more preoccupied with the day-to-day operations of their business over their website. However, the site can easily make or break your business in this digital era. This is especially the case if you operate an eCommerce, SAAS, food delivery, or other business that is directly tied to online platforms.
In short, putting time, effort, and money into the website will pay off in the long run. The best thing you can do is invest in quality upfront and look for cost savings in other areas of your business.
Try to avoid using the cheapest web hosting platforms and most generic website templates if you don’t have to. These money-saving moves will only cost you down the road. A poorly designed website breeds distrust in its visitors and could send your potential customers heading to competitor sites.
We recommend avoiding cheap hosting options such as Host Gator and focus your time on using quality providers like WPX hosting or Siteground. You’ll also want to focus on creating a well-designed website using a theme like Divi or Elementor, which are simple and intuitive ways to make clean looking websites. If designing your own website is a bit daunting or an area you don’t want to focus on, it may be worth hiring a web designer to get you started.
2. Create a Logical Menu Bar
Once you have a well-designed website that is working for your company, you need to take a look at its navigation features. The menu bar must include headings for all the critical aspects of the website that visitors will need to access.
These headings must be logically arranged so that people can locate the page they need in just a few clicks. For instance, if you have a page dedicated to the history of your company, it would make much more sense to place it under an About Us header rather than the Products and Services header.
People are busy, and they don’t have time to scour your website for the information they need. If you can make everything on your website easy to find, then visitors will be more likely to stay on your site and become customers.
Often, it’s best to keep things simple when starting out so you can test a smaller number of options and only increase complexity when you have figured the basics out. Similar to creating an executive summary or elevator pitch, developing minimal and logical menus is a great exercise in simplifying your messaging, product categories, and other elements of your business.
3. Make the Product Description Sing
Now that your menu bar looks good let’s check out your product descriptions. With these descriptions, you have a limited amount of time to catch your audience’s attention before they decide to purchase or leave your site.
Make sure that each word serves a purpose and helps to persuade the reader to purchase the product. If your descriptions are lackluster, then your potential customers might go to a different company whose products excite them more.
For example, if you are selling tea it makes sense to explain the subtle nuances of the flavoring, how to steep the product, and how the customer can expect to feel after drinking the tea. This helps the potential customer to picture themself enjoying the product.
It’s also important that your descriptions are optimized for SEO so that you continue to generate traffic for that page. You can utilize tools such as Google Trends to understand what topics resonate and potential keywords to include for a better chance at your website beating out competitors.
4. Optimize CTA’s
You’ve probably heard this acronym tossed around before and CTA merely stands for Call to Action. A call to action is a short and simple text phrase that encourages the user to take action now instead of waiting.
Basically, you need to make sure that each page on your website includes a clear and concise CTA that supports your conversion goals (ie. add to cart, view pricing). You need to be very clear about what you would like visitors to your website to do and where they can do it. Otherwise, they will likely leave without completing any desired action.
For example, on your product description pages, you should make sure there is a link to your purchasing page. This link should also include straightforward messaging such as “buy now” or “get yours today.”
This will likely take some time and testing to land on CTA’s that resonate with your customers. Any messaging needs to feel natural, influential, and consistent across your website. Be willing to make changes, try not being as forceful or direct, and always keep your customer’s needs in mind.
5. Add Testimonials
Few people make decisions on their own, especially when it comes to making a purchase. We always ask for the advice of our friends, family, or other people who have used the product or service. Since we know that people will seek out this type of information anyways, you will be doing your customers a service if you choose to provide testimonials on your website.
You can even give your potential customers a more exceptional service if you link directly to third-party review sites like Google and Yelp. Using third parties is more reputable than curating testimonials yourself because they seem less biased.
However, if you do go this route, you need to be sure that you monitor the reviews for negative comments. If you do receive negative reviews, then be sure to respond to them with sincerity so that the situation does not spiral out of control. It’s an added level of online maintenance, but worth the effort for building a successful online reputation.
6. Offer Free Shipping if Possible
Most people will go ahead and choose to make a purchase if they see it won’t cost anything extra to get a product shipped to them. If providing free shipping is something that your company could accomplish without causing undue stress, then it is a worthwhile endeavor. You may even consider offering it at a specific price threshold (ie. with a $25 purchase) if providing it at all times is too costly for your business.
So many companies choose to offer free shipping nowadays that many people are disappointed when they come across a business that does not provide this perk. To truly optimize your conversion rate, you need to employ every incentive possible, especially free shipping.
7. Analyze Test Results & Roll Out
Once you’ve implemented the basic points above like adding testimonials, CTA’s, and improving your site design, it’s best to run A/B tests on your top pages to narrow in on the critical sales elements.
Here’s a simple process you can use to test and measure success:
- Determine which top pages generate at least 80% of your revenue.
- Determine the elements on those pages that are clicked most (email opt-in, CTA button).
- Set up an A/B test on these pages testing different variations of your elements using a software tool such as VWO, Optimizely, or Google Optimize.
- Run the test for a few weeks to a month if you have enough traffic.
- Analyze your results and either roll out new variations or make another hypothesis and try again.
It may seem like a technical process, but most of your tests can be done with the help of 3rd party tools such as Google Analytics, Hotjar, or directly through your hosting platform. It’s an iterative process that you’ll likely have to do multiple times a year as you find new and better ways to get customers to make those final purchasing decisions.
Growing your business with CRO
CRO is all about doing whatever you can to keep your website visitors engaged enough so that they make a purchase. Like the rest of your business, it’s built on developing trust, leveraging your competitive advantages, and catering to the customer’s needs.
We hope you will be able to implement the tactics above and make a difference in the digital presence of your business. It’s a necessary and vital part of doing business today that’s well worth the effort.