Web Optimisation: Eliminate the Guesswork

by Libby Bearman, Head of CRO Browser Media Ltd

Getting people to visit your website is only half the battle. Months of SEO activity and tailored PPC campaigns has resulted in a lift in your rankings, and you’re enjoying increased traffic levels due to your strong position in search. Effective content marketing and a meaningful social media presence means your referral traffic is on the up too. Happy days.

… Except once those people arrive at your site, they don’t convert. Sad days.

If the website isn’t meeting conversion targets, it’s time to talk usability.

Criticism from the crowd

Before you make any decisions about what needs to change on your website, gather some feedback from others. Yes, everyone in your organisation’s got an opinion about the site – Carol from accounting has always hated this, and Doug from the sales team always moans about that – but rather than ignoring their feedback and going on a hunch, use these guys’ opinions to create variations of your site and run some a/b tests.

Conversion Rate Optimisation in a nutshell

Whatever your website’s objectives, engaging in CRO activity should follow a basic framework:

Research – By gathering feedback from users, analysing the competition and and digging into your website’s analytics, you’ll get an idea of where your problems lie.

Design – Use this research to form testing hypotheses (if I change “x”, then “y” will occur) and create alternative versions of problem pages and sticking points on your website. It could be as simple as changing the wording for a promotion, but it might be something more grand like overhauling your site’s navigation.

Test – When the pages are built, you can run split tests using testing tools like VWO (Visual Website Optimizer), Optimizely, or Google’s Content Experiments. Split your visitors in two so that half see the original version of your site, the other sees the variation.

Report – Track conversions for both variations and see which performs best. If you’re using Google Content Experiments, you’ll be able to see which variation has encouraged the most conversions based on any and all goals you’ve set up in GA.

When your test has reached its conclusion, you can update your site to reflect whichever version won, and enjoy your new-and-improved conversion rate. But why stop there? More tests means more opportunity for insight, and more insight means more opportunity for improving conversion rate!

Testable feedback

Embarking on a CRO journey is no small task, and becomes bigger the more feedback you gather. How do you take people’s ideas and turn them into workable tests?

Why don’t we keep everything above the fold?
It absolutely makes sense to prioritise your most important messages, the idea that users don’t scroll is untrue. ClickTale analysed over 80,000 pageviews and found that 76% of users scrolled and 22% scrolled right to the bottom of a page.

Minimise clutter on a page so key information stands out. Test layouts that serve more detailed information gradually as users scroll so as not to bombard those who are less committed to your offering.

Shall we make the Call To Action red so it stands out?
The “red is best” rule is a bit dated, but difficult to disprove without running a test. Hubspot, ran this study and in fact found that red was best, but colour is a major influencer of visitors’ emotional response and while a red button may convert more users than a green one in one instance, that’s not say it will always convert more users in any instance.

Why don’t we use capital letters for this important bit? And that important bit? And we could add more exclamation marks here?
Obviously, highlighting an important message has its merits, but overuse of upper case is actually annoying and difficult to read. Similarly, an exclamation mark can help create a sense of urgency or provide an accent for something exciting – but overuse looks a bit desperate, even amateur.

It’s not about you

The opinions of you and your team can help formulate test plans, but when it comes to CRO it’s all down to understanding what visitors are looking for when they visit your site, and tailoring your design to meet their expectations. Don’t change your website on a hunch, test your theory and revel in the results.


Header Image by www.flickr.com/photos/utnapistim/