There’s this thing that sometimes happens with digital campaigns: A big, sexy campaign is devised. A media plan so smart that your pennies are going to make piles of dollars. A creative execution so insightful, women and children (who happen to be the exact target) weep and gnash their teeth.
And then, at the last moment, someone pipes up to say, “So, where are we driving the millions and millions of clicks we’re going to generate? And what are we expecting people to do when they get there?”
Look, I know that’s not you I’m describing. You’re savvy. If you’re going to invest time and money directing users to your website, you know you should also invest in conversion rate optimization (CRO).
But for those other folks out there, those who believe the media and the creative execution of the paid campaign are The Thing, I have a message for you: Conversion rate optimization is your friend.
OK, but what the heck is conversion rate optimization?
Conversion rate optimization is a process of making improvements to a webpage in order to increase the percentage of visitors who take your desired action. More simply put, conversion rate optimization is a system for making sure that as much of your website traffic as possible does exactly what you want it to do.
The bottom line: The time and money you spend on targeted messaging or search and banner campaigns is useless if you aren’t doing all you can to make sure that traffic converts.
Converts into what? You get to define what your conversion is. E-commerce sales, qualified leads, whatever.
Where the CRO magic is
As entrepreneur and online marketing expert Neil Patel says, the magic of CRO is, “you just optimize what’s already there and thus create more profit from your existing customers and traffic.”
Did you hear that? It’s money making magic.
When you optimize your conversion rate, you’re able to lower your customer acquisition costs. You get more value from the visitors and users you already have! See? MAGIC.
You may be asking, “Gee this sounds great. But how do I do it?”
The fact is, it’s probably not as hard as you think. It can be boiled down to two (multi-part) steps.
1. Test the elements of your landing page.
Change your on-page website elements like copy, placement or design to see which variation of your site leads to the highest conversion rate.
Yes, it’s your old pal A/B testing — or, if you want to get fancy, multivariate testing. You really can’t do CRO without it.
Whatever way you handle your testing, it’s essential that you actually TEST. No like, it continues to surprise me how many marketers still aren’t testing the elements of their landing pages.
Test your headlines. Test your CTA. Test your colors. Test your buttons. Test your images. Test your layouts. Test, test, test.
You don’t have to have a huge team or an expensive product in order to do it, not when there are tools like Google Optimize available to you.
If you’re not testing, you’re leaving conversions on the table, and I truly believe you’re wasting media spend.
Another thing you should be thinking about on your landing pages? Building in urgency.
Digital marketing guru Avinash Kaushik recently wrote about this subject on Occam’s Razor, and I’ve recommended reading it to a number of clients since then.
Kaushik isn’t talking about adding flashing BUY NOW banners to your page. He’s talking about nudging people to make a decision. Specifically, he defines nudging as, “A gentle incentive that creates a shift in behavior.”
But what’s important is this: These nudges can create statistically significant changes in behavior. A few examples he gives of behavior nudges:
- Listing in-stock status on e-commerce pages
- Dynamic pricing (“Seasonal promotion! Expires Friday”)
- Direct competitor comparisons
- Delivery times based on geo/IP/mobile location
- Social cues (“1,846 Pins on Pinterest”)
Does all this sound familiar? Perhaps you’ve seen some of these cues on the biggest shopping site in all the land, the name of which rhymes with Shamazon?
Or maybe you’ve been on Hotels.com lately and seen how they take this a step further by showing you how many people are looking at the same hotel, how many rooms are left and how many people have booked it in the last 24 hours. Talk about urgency!
No one likes to miss out (hello, FOMO) and creating a sense of urgency by using emotion is a sure way to improve your conversion rates.
2. And then think beyond your website.
Way back in 2016, Larry Kim wrote about CRO on the Moz blog. In this article, he encourages us to “think about not just what’s on your landing page, but also what happens before and after they see it.” It’s still smart advice.
Brand awareness may not traditionally be a part of conversion rate optimization, but brand familiarity has a huge impact on conversion rates.
Brand awareness and affinity are important because the people who are most familiar with your brand are more likely to do what you want them to, whether it is buying a product or signing up for something.
But even if people are unfamiliar with your brand, they will be more likely to do what you want if your offer is timely and if it stands out from your competitors. More people would take advantage of your offer on discounted mittens during winter than summer.
It may be an obvious point, but the idea is simple: Change your offer to increase conversion rates. But keep in mind, the novelty of your offer means that your gains may not last over time.
“As is the case with ad fatigue, once you reach a certain point, your offer will bring diminishing returns. That’s why you can’t optimize your way to infinity,” Kim writes. “Should you still do A/B testing? Yes! A/B testing is absolutely worth your time. You need to do it. However, just realize that this isn’t a growth strategy — it’s table stakes.”
Couldn’t agree more.
Conversion rate optimization is not about finding a quick fix. Don’t think you’re going to make a simple font change and make it rain. It requires a research-oriented and data-driven approach and plenty of analysis. Above all, you need to be creating more compelling user experiences that motivate people to act.
Everyone can improve on their current conversion rate. And I’ll say it again: If you’re not thinking about how to maximize conversions when you’re running a campaign, you’re wasting money.