I am Kiruba Sekaran, a Search Engine Optimizer and I’m curious to learn new things every day. Although I have been coming across conversions and conversion rates every day in my SEO reports, I always felt that I need to learn the fine techniques that CRO Specialists use. SEO and CRO seem to be dealing with many common things like copywriting, but CRO is completely about giving the users a great experience inside the website, an experience that persuades them to drive conversions. What is the point in just bringing in a lot of traffic to the website which only leads to a bounce rate and no conversions?
At times I have read that SEOs and CROs have different views and opinions from each other. To mention an example, as an SEO I was very particular about having detailed product descriptions that will optimize the product pages for search engines, but I recently came across an interesting case study by CROs that says that a cheap bookstore for college students has increased their conversions by 10% after removing the detailed product descriptions. It is conflicting, right?
Hence I find the CXL Conversion Optimization MiniDegree a great opportunity to learn what I should be doing to keep the visitors happy after they visit the website. I also got the opportunity to review the course, where I’m going to be sharing my experience while undergoing it.
What is CRO?
CRO deals with the process of collecting data to understand how changes to the website are going to impact your visitors in performing certain actions like sign up, purchase, etc. on the website. Three basic things about CRO that one needs to understand are
- Ideas/Hypothesis — You need ideas, lots of great ideas. Writing hypotheses is the first step in CRO.
- Supporting Data — The data need to support your hypothesis.
- Sample Size Quality — You need a significant sample size. To understand this better, we can think of a scenario where we choose to have dinner at a restaurant with 4 stars from 450 people over a restaurant with 5 stars from only 10 people.
Example: If I make the ‘buy’ button size large, I expect the number of purchases to increase, as measured by Google Analytics Conversion data.
In the above example, increasing the button size to get more purchases is the idea and the Google Analytics conversion data is the supporting data. To perform this experiment we need a quality sample size depending on the business.
Brian Massey gives a deeper knowledge in the above areas and also shares a great spreadsheet for individuals and teams to plan and analyze their hypothesis. He also gives an introduction to A/B tests that are performed to show different versions of your creative and analyzing which one of them delivers more. The important point that he mentions is that this process is double-blind.
Peep Laja, the founder of CXL gives a wealth of information about the CRO best practices in the following areas of the website/app to give a sophisticated experience to the users by reducing the friction that users tend to have.
- Web forms
- Ecommerce category pages
- Buttons and call to actions
- Fold and page length
- Ecommerce signups
- Incoming phone leads & call tracking
- Principles of persuasive design
- Typography and content
- Radical redesign vs. evolutionary design
- Home pages
- Pricing and pricing pages
- Website speed optimization
- Visual hierarchy
- FAQs on websites
- Importance of visual design
- Internal search
- Shopping cart pages
- Ecommerce checkout pages
A few of these best practices are
- A longer form can be split into multiple steps
- Error messages can be included right next to the fields than giving them during form submissions.
- The font size can be reasonable bigger as studies show that larger texts tend to dive more conversions
- While working on long page content keep the most important content on the fold
- One in four people abandons conversions since they are forced to register/sign up before purchase. It is good to have a ‘purchase as a guest’ option
- Try avoid answering in the FAQ page for the questions that need the answers to be in the product page
- Although the home page is the top landing page, the necessary CTAs should be identified and placed to take users down the funnel to other pages
- Ecommerce websites need category pages to arrange things and make it easy for the user to narrow down their selection in the most efficient way
Although we need to ensure that the best practices are ensured in the above areas of the website, he mentions that this can be used as input to design hypotheses and not as final decisions. Always make your design decisions data-driven.
Value Proposition is a statement that gives a promise of the value, the reasons to choose you over your competitors. It should not be confused with a Slogan or a catchphrase.
A good value proposition is short and precise, communicates the solid results that consumers will get from the product/service, and reasons out why your product is different from your competitors’ while avoiding hype.
Where should they be placed? The value proposition should be on the homepage as well as the main landing pages of a website. Additionally adding boosters like “free shipping “, “fast shipping”, etc favors your value proposition.
The below example shows a great value proposition which talks about the benefit a user will get from Spotify, that it is free to use, no credit card is needed, and that their collection is huge with millions of songs.
Now you have a copy with a great value proposition model, it is time to review and improve your copy. There are two ways to test a copy
‘Would you read more?’ Test
This is a test performed by asking peers to read and rate the copy. This is not to get Comments and criticism, but to measure the reader’s gut response after reading the copy. This process is followed for the different parts of the copy including the headlines, lead, sub-headlines, paragraphs, and CTAs
Value, Clarity, Credibility Test VCC Test
In this test, it is advised to evaluate each statement of the copy for value, clarity, and credibility.
Is there a value to the user?
Is it clear enough to persuade the user?
Is it believable? (Does it have specific sentences supported by proof)
A small but very beneficial takeaway from this section is that
“people prefer specifics over superlatives and hype”
Ex: “We are the largest brand in the USA” vs “We serve 10 million people in the United States”
We prefer the latter as it is more specific and avoids hype.
Video Content to support the page
Do you need video content for all pages? The answer is no. A quality video content is very expensive and studies say that only 10% of the visitors play a prominent video and hence the conversion rate is not guaranteed. However, they are the best to have for a novel product to show stuff while explaining, for physical products, and for consultants to help build relationships faster.
To measure and analyze the performance of a video, three things are tested
Unique visitor/play ratio — The number of unique visitors who played the video of the ones who visited the page. Measuring this helps to increase the number of video plays. Some techniques to optimize this are adding a call to action above the video that says the use of watching it, moving the video to a more prominent spot, making it big, changing the thumbnail, and enabling autoplay.
Audio retention rate — How many of them watched it till the end? The number of drop-offs in a short period. This can be improved by having a great opening.
Impact on conversion rate — Did the page with video convert better than the one without it? This helps you to understand if video content is required.
Momoko Price in this portion, explains the following strategies to improve messaging through customer research and analysis.
Conducting a Copy ‘Teardown’
It is important to perform a conversion-focused tear down of your sales page, quantify the existing copy, and identify the right solutions to improve the sales copy. If it is hard to understand how you can quantify the copy of a page, there is a great formula suggested in this lesson.
Message Mining is the process of identifying key messages that customers or prospects communicate about you or your competitor’s brand from reviews, forums, etc, and swiping memorable copies. The information is collected through surveys, interviews, and user tests. Surveys are made for the two categories, audience, and customers.
Pinpointing your Best Value Proposition
For the high awareness established products a good Value Proposition has to get to the customer’s point quickly. But for the niche or unknown products, the best Value Proposition should be made after listing customer pain points and starting to connect them with your solutions.
Creating a Messaging Flow for your Sales Page
It is important to have a framework for storytelling. Understanding the content of the story is the first step and the rest of them will fall in place. We again come across low awareness and high awareness products. Low awareness brands need a longer-form content to persuade them and the high awareness brand needs only a shorter copy that is needed to avoid any frictions they might have in their way to conversions
Writing the first draft of your Sales Page
In this step, you will use the data collected in the message mining step through surveys and other means will be used to make a draft. Comments generated by users will be shaped into messages for the users. The data can be organized into five sections UVP, Motivation, Value, Anxiety, and CTA.
Editing your Sales Copy
In this stage, check the draft for clarity and make sure that it matched the mindset of the user. Use quantitative data and try having metaphors. Show and tell as much as possible.
Formatting your Sales Page
In this step, the conversion focussed formatting is applied to the edited copy. Laying out the content in wireframes is helpful. Some things to do here are using high contrast colors for CTAs, making sure the copy over the images is clear, etc.
Momoko Price shares amazing spreadsheets, forms, and templates to work on each of the above strategies.
Psychology in CRO
Persuasion plays the most important role in the conversion hierarchy, understanding and using psychology and persuasion techniques is important in CRO.
Cialdini’s 7 Principles of Persuasion and Fogg Behavior Model is explained in detail with some great examples, followed by a great explanation about the human brain. The human brain has three layers,
- The New Brain, that thinks
- The Middle Brain, that feels and
- The Old Brain, that decides and is mostly concerned with survival.
Your message needs to focus on triggering the old brain, a selfish organ. There are certain things that you can do to achieve this.
- Your message should convey what is in it for the old brain?
- Show changes or contrast with before and after situations
- Give it a tangible input in the form of easily understood words like “more money”
- Use novelty — Introduce the unknown to it
- Always use visuals next to text to communicate key points.
- Use emotional stimuli
There are many persuasion techniques with scientific research examples and online persuasion tips in this part of the course from which I am highlighting a few.
Self Generation Affect Effect
Allow users to generate things on their own. Ask questions, allow them to solve puzzles, make interactive infographics, etc to make the user feel participated and this will give them a feeling of finding the solution on their own leading to more conversions.
Including a face in the content seems to be gaining the user's attention, especially when it is of popular people. At the same time, it can distract people’s focus from the main content. So it is good to use faces outside our content like banners and when using it in the content, it is beneficial to use techniques like “Gaze Cueing” that can pass on attention to the most persuasive piece of content.
Giving a sense of fear seems to be persuading the users when used delicately. For example, showing bad ruined teeth & gums can be shown to persuade people to floss every day.
Peep covers a lot more techniques in this lesson. However, he warns not to go overboard with the persuasion techniques and suggests choosing the principles that are a good fit for your case.
- CRO needs a lot of research and execution
- You need to get people to believe what you write
- It needs not just ideas but also strong sources of data to support them
- Copying a competitor or another business’s case study might not favor your business, the best way is to understand the context and do what is suitable for you
- Use the frameworks suggested by the experts or have our own framework to make the day-to-day CRO work effective
Having gained an amazing amount of information in the first week, I look forward to sharing more of my journey with CXL in the following weeks as well.