CRO the Acronym That Can Double Your Sales

Imagine you are looking for a new house. In a street with many houses for sale you find the most beautiful one and decide to go inside. But, what is your surprise when you realize that inside the house has infiltrations, no light and the wood creaks. Without knowing where to find his bearings, the only thing he wants to do is run away. 

It sounds like the scenario of a horror movie... But it is the reality of many websites that manage to drive traffic, but don't have the site ready to receive visitors and convert them into customers.

Knowing how to get the most out of traffic provides sustainable growth for the company.

This guide explains:

  • How can you increase the number of conversions without increasing traffic;
  • what is the conversion rate;
  • how to implement a conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategy.

What is a conversion rate and how is it calculated?

A conversion ratedefines what percentage of your potential customers have completed an action (the conversion). Usually, when talking about conversion, you think of sales, but a conversion doesn't necessarily have to be a sale, it can be filling out a form or subscribing to a newsletter, for example.

Now, let's imagine that we own a real estate company, have run an ad campaign, and are already driving traffic to the website. Our conversion goal is to fill out the contact form. This month we had 1000 visitors to the site, of which 15 became a lead, i.e. filled out the form.

So our conversion rate is 1.5%. The calculation you make is 15 Leads / 1000 visitors = 1.5%. 

Conversion rate - how the formula is calculated

And is 1.5% good?

What is a good conversion rate for my industry?

The truth is that the conversion rate varies from industry to industry, and even within the industry itself. Why does this happen?

The rate depends on many factors, from the product itself and its value proposition to the usability of the site. To put it simply: it is not the same selling an apartment and a shirt, nor can we compare a mass market shirt with a haute couture shirt. 

However, it is important to have a market benchmark so that you can compare your performance with your competitors. See the tables below to see how your business compares with the rest of the industry:

Site Conversion Rate

This chart shows the average and median conversion rate for each industry.
Source: Unbounce, 2021

This graph shows the average and median for each industry. You see, we are talking about site conversion, that is, a solid structure with several pages, whose purpose in most cases is to inform, to make the company and the product/service known. A good site has a main call-to-action and may have other secondary ones. 

Let me give you an example: at Gigantic we have "Contact Us" clearly visible along every page of the site, this being our primary call-to-action; if a user visits our blog page they encounter the secondary call-to-action of "Subscribe" to the newsletter.

What I mean by this is that a website as a rule includes more information, links and distractions that can divert the customer from conversion, and hence the conversion rate overall tends to be lower than that of a landing page.

Landing Page Conversion Rate

As I mentioned before, you can expect the conversion rate of a landing page to be higher than that of a website, because everything is focused on getting the user to perform just one action. In the following chart you can see the performance of a landing page by comparing various forms of conversion: click or fill out a form.

The performance of a landing page in terms of conversion in the form of the click or the completion of a form.
Source: Unbounce, 2021

E-commerce Conversion Rate

In e-commerce, the conversion rate is one of the main indicators, especially when combined with the average ticket value.

The graph showing the variation of the conversion rate in e-commerce according to industry.
Source: IRP Commerce, 2021

Going back to the initial real estate example, our website conversion rate was 1.5%, which is below the market median (2.6%). In this sense, it is important to first understand why and then how we can improve.

Why has the conversion rate decreased?

Falling conversion rates can be a worrying thing, but before you panic you need to evaluate the performance of your digital strategy and the influence of some external factors.  

Using Google Analytics, you start by comparing traffic and conversion rates over time and across various channels. If only one of the channels is affected, then that's where we need to look for our problem. And if all of them are affected? In this case we present you 4 possible reasons and some solutions:

💡 Tip: "Don't put all your eggs in one basket" - It is important to have several sources of traffic, because if you bet only on organic, for example, and from one day to the next Google's algorithm changes, you can lose a large part of your traffic in no time. 

1. change in the website or landing page

Have any changes been made to the site recently? If yes, see what didn't work and if it is possible to fix or reverse it. Put yourself in the customer's shoes, go through all the steps to conversion, is there a bug in the checkout? One of the tools we usually use at Gigantic in these cases is Hotjar, which allows you to visualize the navigation of users within the site and identify their difficulties (such as the password validation failurefor example) and possible improvements.

2. New strategy for marketing campaigns

Often changing your strategy can cause a drop in conversion. If you have recently changed your target audience or keywords, you are most likely trying to reach people who don't know your brand and need more time to convert. Thus, it is important to allow time to see if the strategy is working.

3. Seasonality

Depending on the type of product, the conversion rate can also vary throughout the year. For example, it is normal for a B2B company to experience a drop at the time of summer. In these cases it is important to allocate more budget to the better performing months.

4. Competition

If in addition to the number of conversions there has also been a decrease in traffic and clicks, it is possible that another player has appeared in your industry or that your competition is growing and "stealing" your qualified traffic. It is important to act soon, applying strategies such as: increasing the budget to get more impressions or defining a strategy to appear first in the results (strategy Impression Quota).

These are the possible reasons if your rate has changed suddenly. And, what to do if the rate was always so low, but now they want to increase it? The answer is: CRO!

What is CRO and why is it so important for your business?

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is a process of improving various factors that can influence how people convert. 

Increasing the conversion rate means that more visitors complete the desired action, be it a purchase, form completion, or video viewing. 

Looking at the formula I presented above, we notice two main factors that influence the conversion rate: site visitors (traffic) and leads.

Bringing traffic to your website is important, but more than that you need to know how to manage it in order to achieve your marketing and sales goals. CRO helps you get the most out of traffic, converting it into conversion and sales, below we see how.

Taking the initial situation, we had a 1.5% rate and 1,000 visits per month, so 15 leads per month. Let's imagine that we made an improvement to the site that increased our conversion rate to 3%. So, continuing with the same monthly traffic of 1000 visits, we get 30 leads! This is an example that shows how with the same investment, the same traffic and in the same time period it is possible to increase the number of customers and reach financial goals faster.

Now that you understand the importance of CRO, we will move on to strategy and its implementation.

How to implement the CRO strategy?

The CRO strategy consists of applying several practices that help improve your conversion rate. We can say that it is a continuous improvement of your site in order to make it increasingly efficient and intuitive. Like any marketing strategy, a good CRO strategy goes through several steps:

CRO Step 1: Data Collection and Interpretation

Before moving on to optimization, you need to spend some time researching, analyzing site metrics, running usability tests, and even interviewing your current customers.

Once you have enough data, it is important to know how to interpret it in order to understand not only how customers behave on your site, but also the reason for this behavior and how to better serve their needs.

💡 One more advantage of applying the CRO strategy is to better understand your customer to adapt to them. Remember, Google rewards sites that show concern for their users by "ranking" their pages higher in search results.

If you don't know where to start, start by looking at the top 3 pages of your business:

- Homepage

This is the page, where your users usually "land", when they enter your site, hence it is important to make a good first impression and leave them wanting to stay to explore further. What does your homepage look like? Does the customer know what your value proposition is, what products/services your business offers? 

> Action: Regardless of the type of business, there are several elements that are essential for building a homepage. Check to see if you have all of them, and if the ones you don't already have make sense for your site.

- Product page/price

This is one of the most important pages on the site, because it is here that the first step towards conversion takes place.  

💡 Did you know that 53% of users choose one store over the other with an identical offer, just because the first one offers free shipping? (Source: Statista)

Do you also offer the ports to your customers? And do you have that clearly visible throughout the sales funnel? 

> Action: See other ideas from the e-commerce experts to try out on your product page.

- Landing Page (LP)

I start by saying that, at the beginning, the goal of a landing page is conversion. Does your LP have a very explicit proposition? A catchy call-to-action? And testimonials to put your customer at ease?

💡 The average conversion rate of a landing page is 2.35%, while the Top 25% convert at 5.31% or higher. But, the goal should be to get even higher, to the Top 10%, whose conversion rates are around 11.45% (WordStream).

> Action: Analyze the elements that make up a good landing page and see if you have everything you need to reach your industry's conversion rate. 

CRO Step 2: Test, test, test!

With the data from the previous step, knowing exactly what you should test, A/B testing will make even more sense and fit better with the reality of your site. It is a very complex process, but there are several tools that make it more rigorous and your results more feasible.

💡 A/B testing is a very common practice in CRO which consists of comparing the two versions of the same page/website/application to figure out which one converts better. The first version will be your current page and the second has a slight variation, such as the color of the call-to-action button. If you change too many elements at the same time, you won't be able to know exactly what influenced the change in conversion rate.

I believe that in the previous step you have already figured out what you should test with your customers. So we have selected just a few examples of the most frequent elements to test in CRO:

- Call-to-action

Call-to-action are buttons like "Add to cart" or "Contact us" that are used on websites and landing pages to guide the user to convert.

As a general rule the button should be clearly visible (size and color), have the contrast to be easy to understand that it is a button, and be located above the first fold.

In addition to the design, it is important to use verbs in the imperative ("download") or infinitive ("download") and to be clear on the action we want the customer to perform.

Want to learn more? We have gathered other best practices, best examples, and more tips.

- Contact Form

According to Dan Zarella of HubSpot, there is an inverse relationship between the number of fields on the form and the conversion rate, i.e. the more fields the customer has to fill out, the higher the dropout rate. The same study shows that 3 is the optimal number of fields that guarantees a 25% conversion, on average. What if we increase the number to 4? The conversion rate drops by almost 5%.

However, as I said, nothing is better than experimenting with what works best for your business. Thus, Gigantic's contact form is longer. The same is also true for Speisse, whose site we built from scratch. Why is that? Due to the type of business and the small budget this was the best way to qualify leads right from the start. 

You can't reduce your form, but you don't want to lose conversions either? Try the following options with your audience: divide the form into 2 steps, where on the first page you have 3 fields and on the next page you ask for 4 more, for example; or ask for the most basic information first and after a few days send an email requesting the rest. Another tip is to include the process bar, who has already filled 60% knowing that it is almost over, will hardly give up. See more recommendations here.

- Testimonials and Reviews

  • According to Trustpilot, 89% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase. 
  • Another study reveals that 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase on a site that has user reviews. 
  • And 72% say that positive reviews make them trust a company more (Source: Search Engine Land). 

These statistics make it clear that the opinion of others has a great influence on the buying process, also serving as a form of social approval.

That said, adding testimonials and reviews to your website increases customer trust in the company at the early stages of the funnel. In addition to conveying greater security in the online buying process, it decreases the bounce rate and helps you convert better.

Changing the color of the call-to-action button , decreasing the number of form fields, or including a section on the site are small tactical changes, but sometimes something more in-depth is needed. 

So I would like to present some more complex strategies to experiment with as well:

- Marketing Automations (Email Marketing and CRM)

Marketing automation is the use of technology to automate marketing actions and processes, reduce manual work and increase the efficiency of actions (Source: RD Station).

We are talking about marketing automations when we get an email about some sneakers we left in the shopping cart. Or when we finish filling out the contact form and immediately receive an email with a calendar to schedule the best date to call us.

The main goal of automation is to manage leads with minimal intervention from the team side: the tools analyze the consumer's behavior, identifying his buying stage and potential interests, sending him the right content to take him to the next stage. Making the customer progress along the sales funnel.

Of course, behind this there is a lot of effort to set up a workflow for different leads, but when done well and adjusted to the company's reality, it is several hours of work that are saved.

Many businesses leave this process in the hands of specialists. At Gigantic we work CRM and automation with different partners, HubSpot, RDStation and Active Campaign, which allows us to choose the ideal option for each type of business.

- Mobile-first

💡94.9% of the entire Portuguese population accesses the internet via mobile (Source: Digital2021). This is the type of device responsible for more than half of all traffic to websites worldwide (Source: Statista).

Nowadays, the customer's journey goes through various channels: it can start on a smartphone, where he does a quick search for a product during his lunch hour, move to a laptop when he gets home to see several reviews, and finally make the purchase in a physical store. 

This process can take several days and therefore it is important to make the consumer return to our site, whatever the device. In this sense and taking into account the numbers presented above, optimizing the site for mobile becomes one of the crucial points in a CRO strategy. 

Take a test on this tool developed by Google to evaluate your site's compatibility with mobile devices. If you are not satisfied and think you can improve, these are some good practices:

  • Buttons and other elements (such as form rows, for example) must be proportional to the screen size to be easily clickable. 
  • Allow login to the site via Facebook.
  • Take advantage of auto-completion to make the search easier.
  • Filling out a form opens up several types of keyboards according to the information requested (See more here). 
  • Reading large chunks of text on your cell phone is exhausting. It is important to keep the same content, but make it shorter or more visual.

By using these techniques you not only make the mobile version of your site more userfriendly, you also benefit from a better position in Google's search results since in March this year Google started favoring sites that perform better on mobile devices.

- Remarketing

When someone visits our site, the famous cookies track their activity within the site: the pages viewed, the products added to the cart, the checkout initiated, etc. When the user leaves the site (often without converting), the cookie informs our ad platform, which in turn creates a personalized ad, encouraging the customer to return to our site and convert.

In other words, using remarketing is creating a second opportunity to bring the customer to the site and convert. It is the basic action not only for a CRO strategy, but for any marketing strategy.

Again, always remember that what worked for some, will not necessarily work for your site. Even though it is a widely used technique in marketing, applying CRO to your site ends up being a very unique process. The examples presented are for inspiration, but ideally you should test with your audience and figure out what works best.

CRO Stage 3: Implementation and Tracking

Once you understand what works best with your customers, it's time for implementation. Without forgetting that the market is constantly changing and what is working well today, may no longer make sense in a few months. 

This is why a CRO strategy is a strategy of continuous improvement. Monitoring data to find new ways to optimize your site should be a recurring practice, based on planning.

And here you ask which tools should you use and which metrics to pay more attention to? It is normal that with so many free and paid tools at our disposal and the data we can get from them, it is sometimes difficult to understand what really matters.

- Traffic Origin

As I mentioned above, knowing where your traffic comes from and how each channel converts is very important, so you can bet more or less on each source. Also, it is important to be careful not to bet everything on just one channel.

>Tool: Google Analytics > Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels or Google Analytics > Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium (if you have your UTMs set up well you can get a lot of insights from this).

- New User Conversion and Interaction

💡It only takes 0.05 seconds for a user to form a first impression about your site and decide whether to stay or leave (Source: CXL). According to Justin Mifsud, 88% of users will not return if they consider their experience with the site to be horrible.

Think about the image and message you want to convey in the short time you have to create a good first impression. See how users behave on your site, which pages they visit most, and how you can improve their experience to keep them coming back.

In addition to conversion, indicators such as the time users spend on your site, the number of pages they view, and the bounce rate are equally important, as they show that your site has interesting content for your target.

> Tools: Hotjar; Google Analytics > Audience > Behaviour > New vs Returning.

- Cost Per Conversion

When increasing the conversion rate it is important to take into account profit margins and cost per conversion. There is no point in having a conversion cost of 50€, if the average ticket is 20€.

> Tool: Google Analytics > Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels (to analyze the conversion cost per channel).

- Exit Pages

Analyze the pages that make people leave your site. The user who has not completed all the steps is a lost potential customer. So it is important to see which step causes the most difficulty in moving forward in the conversion process.

Exit pages are also an excellent opportunity to remarket to people who visited the site and did not convert.

> Tool: Google Analytics > Behaviour > Site Content > Exit Pages.

- Loading Time

Remember those 0.05 seconds I talked about above, for a user to form a first impression about your site? They are valid here too! If the site takes a long time to load you won't even have time to make a first impression, so you have to pay a lot of attention to the technical performance of the site.

💡Site conversion rate drops by up to 4.42% for every additional second your site takes to load during the first five seconds of page load (Source: Portent).

Site loading speed is important to provide a good user experience and directly impacts the conversion rate. In addition, it is an important factor for ranking in Google.

> Tool: Page Speed Insights.

Regardless of the CRO strategy you use and your conversion goal, it 's important to set it up correctly on platforms like Facebook Ads, Google Ads and Analytics. Before you go any further, review our article "The 5 Most Common Website Tracking and Analytics Problems" which will save you hours of work in case something goes wrong.

Tracking the above metrics allows you to analyze the performance of various campaigns to know in the future what needs to be optimized and act before a small bug becomes a serious problem.

How can Gigantic help?

As you may have realized by now, getting traffic to your site is not enough, you need to know how to work it well; do a thorough site analysis, choose between several CRO strategies to apply, constantly monitor metrics and changes in user behavior, and have the consumer as your focus. 

Also take into account external factors such as Google and Facebook updates that change their engine and can affect the positioning of your site. All this requires a lot of planning, technical knowledge and constant testing, requiring effort and time from the company. 

But don't worry because in Gigantic we have a team of professionals who seek the best strategy for each specific business and niche. We have a vast network of partners and our tools allow us to make a complete analysis of your online presence and define based on data the best way forward.

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